Hire Faster by Optimizing your Recruitment Funnel

We work with thousands of companies who use CareerPlug’s applicant tracking software to manage their hiring process.

When clients have a difficult time with hiring, they often attribute it to not having enough applicants — or not enough of the applicants they want. But when we dig deeper into their accounts with them, we discover that they have a different issue.

They think they have an applicant problem, but they really have an applicant conversion problem that results in a low recruiting conversion rate.

The Recruitment Funnel: Definition and Overview

Think about your hiring process as one big recruitment funnel. Applicants get poured into the top of the funnel. Some of them get converted into interviews. And then some interviews are converted into hires.

Your effectiveness as a recruiter can be measured by the number of candidates you can move from the top of the funnel to the bottom.

This is critical if you hire a high volume of people for certain roles at your company. But it’s also important if you are only hiring one person. Wouldn’t you want to have several qualified candidates to choose from versus wondering if you are settling on the one person who made it through your interview?

A recruitment funnel is just like a sales funnel. In sales, you want leads coming into the top of your funnel. Then you want to convert those leads to legitimate sales opportunities, and then convert those to new sales. It’s the same thing in recruiting, except it’s Applicants > Interviews > Hires instead of Leads > Opportunities > Sales.

Nothing frustrates a business owner more than potential sales leads being wasted. An ineffective sales process is like a recruitment funnel with a bunch of holes in it. You pour a bunch of leads into the top of it, and they slip through the holes and out of the funnel before they make it to the bottom and convert into sales.

Some people try to fix this problem by spending more money on marketing to pour more leads into the top of the funnel. But they usually just end up with a lot more dead leads.

The same thing happens in the recruiting process. Candidates apply, but not enough of them are converting into interviews (you’ve got a bad ratio of applicants to interview). So you decide to spend more money on job board postings to boost your applicant flow. And often these applicants flow right through the holes in the side of your recruitment funnel. You can get results this way, but it can be expensive and hurt your quality of hire. 

There is a better way to get the hiring results you need and plug the holes in your funnel. I have seen this one adjustment double the number of interviews a company schedules and help them fill their openings twice as fast. Here it is:


Contact Candidates Faster for Recruitment Funnel Effectiveness

I have made this suggestion to several clients over the years and have heard about the impact that it has made on their hiring results. But I wanted to take a closer look at the recruitment metrics to validate this.

We analyzed our clients’ hiring performance to see how contacting potential candidates faster impacts hiring results. We use a metric in our system called Time to Contact. This measures how long it takes clients to contact candidates after they apply.

The median Time to Contact for all of the accounts we analyzed in our system is 35.4 hours (or about 1.5 days). The median Time to Hire for these same accounts is 39.3 days.

Next, we analyzed the top 20% of clients with the fastest Time to Contact, and the results were eye-opening. The median Time to Contact for the faster 20% of our clients is 19.0 hours – almost twice as fast as the entire group. And their Time to Hire was 11.3 days – almost 3.5 times faster!

The data is clear: if you contact applicants faster, then you will make a hire faster.


Faster Is Also Better for Sales

The recruitment conversion funnel is so similar to the sales funnel. I was reminded of this recently when we worked on a project at CareerPlug to improve our conversion of inbound leads to conversations with our sales team.

I shared a research study conducted by Dr. James Oldroyd and Insidesales.com. They analyzed the sales funnel results of 495 companies from over 40 industries. Here is what they found on the relationship between response time and sales performance:

The odds of calling a sales lead and connecting with that person decrease by over 10 times in the first hour. And the odds of qualifying a sales lead as an opportunity decrease by over six times in the first hour.

This information alone was staggering. It’s clear that waiting over an hour to respond to a sales lead can have devastating results on your performance. But it got even more interesting when they dug deeper into the response time in the first hour:

The odds of calling a sales lead and connecting with that person decrease by over 100 times between five and 30 minutes. And the odds of qualifying a sales lead as an opportunity decrease by over 21 times between five and 30 minutes. So you are 100 times more likely to reach a sales prospect and 21 times more likely to qualify them if you contact them under five minutes vs. 30 minutes. Wow.

We put this to the test on our sales team and set a goal to contact all sales leads within five minutes. It has only been a couple of weeks, but we have already doubled the number of sales demos we book each week!

“It’s better to be first than to be better.”  

Al Ries & Jack Trout, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing

This quote reminded me of a conversation I had with a client who recruits in a highly competitive space: hair salons. She told me that there is such a shortage of licensed stylists that when they decide to look for a new job, they are flooded with offers.

She said that if they cannot connect with the candidate within 48 hours after they apply, then they might as well throw the resume in the trash because that candidate has already taken a job somewhere else. Sometimes it’s better to be first.

Take Action

  • Come up with a routine to contact candidates faster. Set a response time goal such as “All qualified candidates will be contacted within 24 hours of applying”.
  • Give priority and focus to top candidates. Regardless of your overall response time goal, find a way to contact your best candidates as soon as possible. CareerPlug has a Fast Track feature that notifies a client when a highly qualified candidate applies. There is even an option to receive a text message notification.
  • Use automation, but recognize its limitations. Sending qualified candidates an automated email is a start, but it may not be as effective as a personalized follow up. Make the email action-oriented, not just a confirmation email. You could use an auto-scheduler in the email so that candidates can book an interview with you (CareerPlug offers this as well). Do what you can to make this personalized, as people will not respond as well if the message feels generic. And don’t hesitate to contact qualified candidates yourself if they don’t respond to your automated message.
  • Use text messages to connect with candidates. Clients who use our texting feature to have a 32.1% faster Time to Hire rate. 
  • Do what you can with what you have. Many of our clients work in the field and don’t have time to respond immediately. After all, they are busy running their businesses! Remember that responding within a day is significantly better than responding in a week. If you cannot commit to getting back to qualified candidates within 24-48 hours, you should consider delegating this responsibility to someone else on your team.

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Nicolle Gatlin

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Kacie Sommers

Creative Design Manager

Kacie was born and raised in Houston, Texas, and graduated from The University of Texas at Austin in 2012 with a degree in Anthropology.

Kacie joined CareerPlug as an intern while still in college in 2012. Post-graduation, she joined the CareerPlug team full-time as a Talent Specialist on the Recruitment Services side of the business, eventually working her way up to be the Recruitment Services Manager. From there, she learned her passion for the internal processes of what makes the business tick and explored other roles at the company, including Internal Support, Implementation, and Quality Management, before eventually finding her home in Design. She is now building a Creative Design branch off of the Marketing team.

Outside of work, you can find Kacie walking her dogs Bixby & Bean along Buffalo Bayou, hanging out with friends (and their pets), and tending to her 40+ house plants.

Jenny Leman


Native to Texas, Jenny graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2004 and joined CareerPlug in 2017. She retired her first career path as a Registered Dietitian after 10 years, and has found her true belonging in business operations.

As CareerPlug’s President, Jenny leads all teams to an aligned effort toward achieving our vision. She works to build healthy and scalable internal systems to equip and empower the CareerPlug teams to bring their best for our clients. She loves contributing new ideas and rethinking the status quo. Jenny really connects with the company’s core values, but especially with our intent to “Keep Growing.”

In her non-work life, Jenny enjoys time with her family, playing drums and performing with the Austin Samba School, and finding excuses to be on the lake.

Chris Igou

Vice President of Sales

Chris accidentally started a 20-year career in franchising when he was 18 years old and took a job painting houses for College Pro Painters. That job turned into the ownership of his first franchise (a house painting franchise). While at Monmouth College in IL, he operated his business, played on the varsity football team, and studied to become a teacher.

The taste of entrepreneurship and desire to coach others led Chris deeper into franchising, working with a few franchise brands helping them grow their businesses. He lived in the Chicagoland area his entire life until recently moving his family to Austin, TX.

In his free time Chris coaches youth sports, especially youth football, and spends as much time as he can with his wife and 2 children.

Andrew Robinson III

Vice President of Product and Engineering

Natalie Morgan

Senior Director of People

Leslie Chamberlain

Senior Director of Client Experience

Brad Pilot

Director of Sales

Teresa Hall

Director of UX & Product Design

Canaan Davis

Director of Engineering

Ashley Garia

Director of Product Marketing

Desiree Echevarria

Senior Content Marketing Manager

Ashley Johnson

Implementation Manager

Originally from small town in central Texas, Ashley Johnson graduated from Texas State University in 2013 with a degree in Business Administration. She was hired by CareerPlug as a Talent Specialist in 2014, and moved up to ultimately lead the Recruitment Services team. From there, she pivoted to Implementation, and is now the Implementation Manager.

As the Implementation Manager, Ashley and 3 direct reports function as a transition between Sales and Partner Success in helping our clients get set up and established in our software. She spends her free time raising her 2 dogs, playing cornhole, and perfecting the art of charcuterie.

Tulay Solak

HR Manager

Aiden Kinney

Consultant Manager

Zach Garcia

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Kirsten Penaloza

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Eric Morales

Manager of Account Executives

Brandy Lee

Operational Manager


Use our templates to create an attractive careers page and job posting. Then promote it through our job board partners, as well as directly with your employees, customers, and social network.



Use our notifications and automations to be the first to respond to qualified applicants. Send texts and emails from directly from CareerPlug to convert applicants to scheduled interviews.



Use our prescreen questions and assessments to identify the best applicants. Then use our interview questions and scorecards to evaluate for the right things consistently.



Once you think you have found the right person, use our reference and background check resources to verify them. Then, send an electronic offer letter from CareerPlug to close the deal!



Hiring is hard, but partnering with us makes it easier. From posting jobs to scheduling interviews, CareerPlug allows you to automate certain parts of the process to improve your results and save you time.


Polly Schandorf

Engineering Manager

Joe Lepis

Engineering Manager

Clint Smith

Founder & CEO

Clint founded CareerPlug in 2007 with the simple idea that there was a better way to help employers connect with quality applicants. Today Clint works every day to fulfill CareerPlug’s mission: Make Hiring Easier. Leading by example, Clint loves spending his time developing new ideas and teaching others.

After graduating from the University of Florida, Clint worked in investment banking and strategic marketing; both experiences influenced the development of CareerPlug. He also spent a year away from the business world teaching 5th grade in Boulder.

Clint is passionate about helping others succeed and is involved in numerous mentoring programs. He and his wife, Sarah, are also foster parents. Clint enjoys family time, beach volleyball, and outdoor adventures.