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Top Of Funnel Talent Acquisition Engagement Strategies

"Begin at the beginning," Lewis Carroll famously wrote. That was important advice for the White Rabbit, and it's sound advice for you.

Great hires begin with great candidates in the top of the talent acquisition funnel. The earliest stage isn't just for acquiring as many people as possible. That's where some recruiters get it wrong. The more selective the process on the front end, the better the hiring result. If you start with the best, every layer of the funnel will improve.

RELATED: What Talent Acquisition Learns From the Marketing Funnel

What's in the Top of the Funnel?

Awareness, says Jibe, is what attracts candidates. If you want a say in applicant quality, you'll need to think big.

Some people find their way into the talent acquisition funnel almost by accident. But the chances of a premier candidate stumbling in are fairly slim. A multifaceted awareness and sourcing strategy gives you better control over this important level of the hiring process.

Jibe explains:

"Fact is, the ways in which people first encounter job requisitions have altered drastically in the past few years alone. And applicant sources that weren't even created or an option at the turn of the millennium like social media and smartphones now play a major role in recruiting efforts."

JobVite ties the top of the funnel in with employment branding. It's not the company name from a consumer standpoint, but the reputation it carries as a great employer, that matters.

How does brand connect with talent sourcing? Sourcing of any type is more effective with the right people when the brand is known for excellence.

How Can Your Team Maximize Candidate Quality?

Talent sourcing almost knows no bounds, and more possibilities pop up all the time. JobVite notes social distribution, job boards, career sites, and referrals as top picks.

Social recruiting in all its many forms accounted for about 73 percent of hires in 2014, according to JobVite's Social Recruiting Survey. It's for good reason. Social lets recruiters interact with passive candidates, promote open jobs and build the all-important relationships.

Job boards and career sites bring loads of applicants into the top of the funnel, says the survey. And instead of posting ads and hoping for the best, which was the method of the past, big data analytics and targeting help improve applicant quality.

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Perhaps no sourcing tactic is as dependable as referrals. Current or past employees know the company and its culture, and they know the candidate. They're uniquely positioned to promote the job with a trusted voice to the right people. Referrals account for a much smaller number in the top of the recruitment funnel. But when it happens, it's magic.

Which Tools Make Top-Level Strategies Better?

Technology sometimes gets a bad rap. There's a learning curve, and implementation often means changing the way you normally work. But when it's the right technology, change is for the better.

More recruiters are moving to a full-fledged candidate relationship management (CRM) system over earlier applicant tracking system models. An ATS still works, but a high-level CRM does what an ATS does for online recruiting, plus a lot more.

While an ATS keeps data that you can access and review, a good CRM lets you communicate with and track candidates, says JobVite. You can email, use social media and "build a steady pipeline."

Programmatic recruitment advertising is revolutionizing the way employers and recruiters place job ads. It does what was once impossible. Instead of just posting an ad on a high-traffic job board, it analyzes candidate data in real time and places ads on the most relevant job site. That puts every ad where the right candidates will see them since high traffic isn't always the right traffic.

Programmatic streamlines the process because it minimizes trial and error. It also streamlines the recruiting budget. When fewer as flop, you get more for your money. With predictive analytics, ad performance continually gets better. More data to analyze means more fact-based ad placement.

The top of the talent acquisition funnel isn't a catchall for anyone who wants to step inside. In many ways, it's the most important part of the entire journey, both for recruiters and job candidates.

When you begin at the beginning, job openings have a better chance of ending with a great hire. It's not the number of candidates that makes a difference, but candidate quality. With technology that keeps improving, targeting the best takes less guesswork than casting a wide net once did.

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