In today’s business world, the term “funnel” is a new trending topic. There are lead funnels, sales funnels, marketing funnels, revenue funnels, even Clickfunnels! You get the picture. Despite its many names, the purpose of the funnel metaphor is the same in sales and marketing: to illustrate the gradual decline in the number of potential customers as you guide them down the conversion path from brand awareness to purchase.

Some might think a decline in potential customers is a bad thing; but, we all know that’s not the case. Although the number of customers decrease at each stage of the funnel, the possibility of a sale actually increases. So, the farther a potential purchaser travels down the conversion path, the more likely they are to buy from you, and to buy from you again in the future.

What does all of this funnel talk have to do with hiring employees?

Marketers use the funnel metaphor because it acts as a compass for businesses. Funnels let advertisers know what marketing efforts bring in a large audience at the top of the funnel—so they end up with great customers at the bottom. Similarly, if your end goal is to hire top talent for your business, you must begin with the right sourcing at the top. Bottom line, you have to treat your recruitment efforts with the same effort and disciplined action as you do with marketing and sales. Simply hoping top talent will show up at your doorstep is not a strategy.

What is sourcing?

In recruitment speak, sourcing refers to how a company goes about identifying and finding talent – hopefully, top talent – and attracting them to apply for an open position. When a business owner gripes: “There is just not enough good people out there for my business,” this signals a problem with the company’s approach to sourcing candidates. After representing thousands of businesses, we have discovered the strategy most CEOs rely on is hope – they hope the right people will find their way onto the bus (to use a Jim Collins metaphor). In contrast, the most successful CEOs have a plan – a sourcing plan. And, it doesn’t need to be perfect because any plan is better than hope. Below is a sample sourcing plan we use for InPrime Legal. This plan forces us to be proactive and commits us to specific strategies and action steps for searching for our Rock Star candidates.

How many candidates need to apply, you ask?

According to Verne Harnish, author of Scaling Up: How Few Companies Make It …and Why the Rest Don’t, you need a minimum of 20 applicants per position to increase your chances of hiring an “A” player. To meet this minimum goal, you must diversify your sourcing channels through referrals and outbound and inbound recruiting techniques.

As shown on our sourcing plan, we use a candidate referral program (more on that later), an online job posting and industry-specific associations (where our ideal candidates typically congregate) to source candidates. But, our clients have successfully implemented other strategies too.


One way to build a sustainable pipeline of potential candidates is to establish a candidate referral program. Through a referral program, a company pays its own employees to refer top talent. Typically, companies pay between $500 to $2,000 for lower level jobs and $4,000 to $8,000 for higher level jobs. Although this fee may seem steep, referral programs are more productive than hiring a recruiter and less expensive.

Some companies, like Flipboard, for example, go a step beyond payment to ensure the success of their candidate referral programs. Flipboard highlights open positions during weekly meetings. There are regular referral events where employees mine their social media accounts for potential candidates. The company also publicly rewards employees for successful new hires. Flipboard’s extra measures keep the referral pipeline flowing and increase its chances of hiring world class talent.

Here is an example of typical candidate referral program:

SAMPLE – Candidate Referral Program:

  • $1000 Referral Fee to any Employee who refers us a candidate we hire
  • $250 paid upon new hire’s completion of 1st day of work
  • $250 paid upon new hire’s completion of 1st 6 months of employment.
  • Remaining $500 paid upon new hire’s completion of 1st year of employment.

** Employee must have no disciplinary record while employed with Company. The Company has sole discretion to make hiring and termination decisions, to determine whether all requirements for a referral reward have been met, and to resolve any disputes or interpretations of this referral program.

Outbound Sourcing Strategies

Outbound sourcing includes all of the traditional methods employers use to find candidates—including job fairs, online job boards, advertisements, social media platforms and recruiters. But it also includes “live observation.”

Live observation is a method of sourcing where you passively observe an employee performing his job for another employer. Based on that observation, you decide whether that employee would be a good fit for your company.

Although “live observation” seems unconventional, it can produce some great results. Here’s how we’ve used the “live observation” technique at InPrime Legal. Our CEO noticed that a barista at a local coffee shop provided some of the best customer service. As a frequent patron, she constantly impressed him by the way she took care of her customers. After making these observations over some time, our CEO decided to offer this rock star barista a receptionist position at our firm. From his live observations, he knew that she would take care of our clients just like she cared for her customers at the coffee shop. In the end, not only did she turn out to be a rock star at InPrime Legal, but she also referred two other baristas for administrative positions at our firm. And as we will discuss in future posts, education and experience are usually less important in qualifying top talent; attitude, values, cultural fit and core aptitudes are much better indicators of success. A quick legal “fun-buster” note: be careful about recruiting by live observation from competitors. Notice, we recruited from a coffee shop – clearly not a competitor of a law office. If the solicited employee has in place a non-compete, the act of soliciting could give rise to a claim of tortious interference with contractual relations (at least under Georgia law). So, consult an attorney before engaging in competitive recruitment. Or, just stay away from competitors altogether. Aptitude, attitude, empathy, trustworthiness, etc. are not industry-specific. Be creative.


Active inbound sourcing also means ensuring that you have a good flow of people coming to you—proactively seeking employment with your business. People should want to work for you based on your business presence and reputation, and bigger vision for the future (like Henry Ford’s vision of putting an automobile in every garage).

To do this, your website and other marketing channels must paint an accurate picture of your company, its culture and its values and tell the company’s story. And by story, we don’t mean when you first formed the company, who founded it, and how many rewards and accolades the company has received since its inception. We mean telling the story top talent wants to hear – how the world will be in the future if the company is wildly successful in achieving its vision.

Additionally, you must create compelling job descriptions for any open positions so that your ideal candidate sees herself in the position when she reads it. Our next chapters will discuss the specific mechanics of building out behavioral job descriptions and postings.

Are you ready to source like a marketer and increase the number of candidates applying for jobs with your business? Click here for a sample candidate referral program to get you started. And if you need help with your sourcing plan or avoiding legal “fun-busters,” call InPrime Legal at 770-282-8967 for a no-obligation consultation.