Moving From Transaction To Relationship In Talent Acquisition: Funnel Vs. Infinity Loop

I have a new lens for thinking about the process of talent acquisition. It centers around the idea that we need to show our process as an infinity loop vs a straight line or funnel. Showing our process as an infinity loop is about more than creating a memorable visual, it is about a fundamental shift in understanding what talent acquisition is all about and what our jobs as talent acquisition professionals are.

We are used to showing our process as a straight line, with a beginning and an end point. Sometimes we show it as a funnel. It is depicted as a series of actions that started with a hiring need being identified and ended with us filling that need with a new hire. This is the transaction of hiring. This is order fulfillment. We organize our work around completing as many of these transactions as possible. We measure how successful we are by how many transactions we complete, how quickly and how efficiently.

Here is the problem with this depiction of talent acquisition:

Is that information not important for us to systematically gather, hold onto and leverage for the next transaction?

  • At the end of each transaction only one candidate gets hired. What happens to the rest of the candidates? Are all of the other candidates we interacted with during the transaction waste in the process? Aren’t candidates that are not a good fit for one job perhaps a great fit for a different one? How do we match them up to those other opportunities when the transaction ends?
  • At the end of each transaction you close with the hiring manager and move onto the next transaction. What happens to everything you learned about what the business needs, what the hiring manager needs and how to match the right talent to the organization? Is that information not important for us to systematically gather, hold onto and leverage for the next transaction?
  • At the beginning of each transaction you look to attract candidates for that unique opportunity. Does that mean you have to run attraction efforts for each and every requisition? What do you do with candidates you attract but are not ready to apply to that specific opportunity right then? Do you ignore them?

I believe the infinity loop is a better model for talent acquisition because it focuses on keeping, reusing and leveraging all of the candidates, and the information and experience you gain in each hiring transaction. The infinity loop process does away with the assumption and practices that have talent acquisition teams starting from scratch each time they start a hiring transaction. Here are a few assumptions the infinity loop process makes:

  • Candidates and what we know about candidates evolve over time. Every interaction we have with a candidate, every new experience a candidate gets with us, in other jobs etc., they tell us about, provides us more information to better match candidates to the right opportunities. It make us more efficient, more purposeful and more impactful in our work to support the business with top talent. We want to take advantage of every opportunity to know candidates better and we do that through purposefully managing how we collect, update and leverage the insights we learn about them over time.
  • The more we know about hiring managers, the business and the needs of the organization, the better equipped we are to find the best talent to meet their needs. Every interaction is an opportunity for us to get smarter and more informed about the business and it is our responsibility to carry that knowledge from one interaction with the business to the next.
  • Each interaction and “hiring transaction” we complete is an opportunity to gather more information about candidates and hiring managers. This means it is not just our job to complete a transaction by landing a hire for the requisition, but it is our job to collect, document, and leverage every piece of information we can about candidates and the hiring manager so we can enrich our understanding of them to use the next time an opportunity arises, vs. starting over from scratch. We are not simply collecting information, we reuse it as well.
  • Candidates who are not a great fit for one job, may be a great fit for a different job. It is our job to help match them to the right opportunity instead of waiting for them to find that right opportunity on their own, because in most cases they will not do that and instead just disappear from our hiring pool. We got into this business after all, because we love matching great talent to optimal opportunities, not because we love processing transactions.
  • Every person who enters our pipeline costs us time and money to get there and is potentially valuable.  If not for one job, then a different one. If not right now, maybe later. If not themselves, then maybe their friends or colleagues. Because of this we need a way to manage candidate relationships, expectations and interactions when we are not engaging with them around a specific hiring transaction. Pipeline management is critical.

candidate relationship infinity loop

The infinity loop process has candidates entering the pipeline through various attraction mechanisms, being organized, prioritized and nurtured in that pipeline and when relevant, being pulled out of that pipeline to be considered for specific jobs. During the process of being considered for a specific job we learn more about them, enrich their candidate record and build a stronger relationship with them. If they are selected, great. If not, they are purposefully guided back into the pipeline having deepened their relationship with us, and us having learned more about them so we can better match them to the right opportunity in the future. Every interaction is meaningful and no candidates or information goes to waste. We become faster at matching the right candidates to the hiring needs because we have a pool of candidates who are primed to be considered, who we know enough about to make relevant matches.

The infinity loop reflects that we are in the relationship business vs the transaction business.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn