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Understanding the Hiring Funnel

Understanding the Hiring Funnel

As sailing through the hiring funnel is our goal, spending some time understanding the funnel is well worth our while. As discussed in my previous blog once we understand the hiring funnel we suddenly have a huge advantage over many of our colleagues when competing for a job.

The funnel is made up of ‘gatekeepers’ - people who hold the keys to the gates we need to pass through to get that job offer. We can see these below.

The 'hiring funnel' is made up of five gatekeepers:

  1. The ATS - automated system that processes your resume. (100 Resumes)
  2. The Recuriter - specializes in hiring. (70 Resumes)
  3. The HR Generalist - looking for 'culture fit'. (30 Resumes)
  4. The Hiring Manager - probably your line manager. (25 Resumes)
  5. The Interviewing Developers - some developers who have been roped in. (4-6 Resumes)

At the beginning of the funnel, the gatekeepers are most interested in scanning the set of resumes quickly and filtering out those that do not match. As we progress into the funnel the resume is scanned more and more thoroughly culminating, of course, in the interview.

Also notice that the beginning of the funnel is manned by gatekeepers who are not going to be working with us long-term and thus have less of an interest in us as people and personalities. As we progress through the tunnel, the gatekeepers are likely to be working with us and therefore have a higher interest in ourselves as people and our unique personalities.

Let us look at each of the gatekeepers in more detail next.

1. The ATS

The “Application Tracking System” (ATS) is very commonly used today. It is a document management system tuned to handling candidates applying for a job. It slurps in resume data into pre-defined fields and then allows keyword matching to find relevant resumes.

Most of these systems are designed to handle commonly submitted resumes and expect the data to be in commonly accepted formats. Try and stick to these formats to ensure the system works well with your resume.

2. The Recruiter

The Recruiter is a HR professional who focuses on selecting job candidates. At times, this position is clubbed with the HR generalist role but just as often it is not.

It is important to remember that your interview feedback will be used to judge the Recruiter and so she has strong incentive not to send across candidates that would waste the Interviewing Panel Developers and Hiring Managers time.

To work well with the recruiter, ensure that your resume is short and well formatted and contains the right keywords.

3. The HR Generalist

The job of the HR generalist is to match us for “culture fit” and watch for potential problems. Generalists are looking for us to fit into the company culture, get good reviews, and not cause problems.

To get past a generalist our resume should reflect some positive personal traits and - more importantly - never raise flags by trashing our previous companies (even by implication). Your last boss was an ass? Well you’re leaving him now so don’t let him ruin your chances at a new job as well!

4. The Hiring Manager

The Hiring Manager is the line manager that you are likely to report to. This person is quite technical and cares far less about the “Job Description” and more about our passion and ability.

To make a favorable impression on the Hiring Manager, therefore, we need to share in-depth knowledge about our skills. We should be able to show that we are interested in our profession, are dependable, and can ship.

The way to do this is to describe our projects in enough detail to show that we authentically understand what we are talking about. I have found that this is actually easy and fun for most developers. We love talking about technology!

5. The Interviewing Panel

The ‘Interviewing Panel’ is usually just a fancy name for developers who happened to be free and were roped in for our interview. They are the least trained and least motivated part of the funnel.

These people will spend the most time with our resumes and will sometimes skip to reading the ending bits. Therefore the more interesting we make the resume for them to talk about the less time they will spend grilling us with trivia questions that they discovered the previous week.

Including your interesting hobbies or some mildly controversial technical opinion is a good way to build rapport with these developers and show them your personality.

Now that we understand the basics of the Hiring Funnel, we can use the guidelines from writing an effective resume to write a great resume that leapfrogs us over the competition! For a step-by-step guide on how to do this simply and easily pick up a copy of my book.

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