6 Steps to Help Your Talent Team Win At the Top of the Funnel

A top of funnel playbook is more than a target company list and message templates. 

It’s a go-to guide for tackling an in-house talent team’s biggest challenge, a roadmap for attracting and converting top tier talent.

Without a playbook, your talent team will either have to work it out themselves or shadow team members, which leads to inconsistency and can perpetuate bad habits.

So what does a playbook contain? Playbooks typically include information about your sourcing methodology, the ideal candidate personas within and across teams, role level EVPs and metrics to track. They also provide principles and frameworks for nurturing and engaging talent. 

Let’s look at it step by step.


Step 1  – Define your sourcing methodology


This informs the principles and best practices that determine how your talent team run outreach. 

What we advocate and what has worked for over 100 partners is a high touch, multi-touchpoint outreach campaign as opposed to a ‘one and done’ methodology. Sending one message and assuming that’s enough isn’t going to work.



Step 2 – Determine key performance indicators (KPIs)


Which metrics should your Sourcing team focus on the most?


Activity metrics 


  • Candidates enrolled in the campaign
  • Number of calls each week
  • Number of submissions each week 


Funnel metrics 

talent team recruitment funnel

  • % of messages responded to = Shows quality of message and targeting
  • % of phone screens that become submissions = Shows the quality of targeting and ability of talent person to convert on call 
  • % of submissions that become 1st stage HM interviews  = Shows profile matching ability of talent person
  • % of 1st stage interviews that go to 2nd stage = shows the quality of talent found 

Make sure you’re clear on how your talent team’s performance is measured and how metrics on your ATS connect with their activities.


Step 3 – Tailor messaging


Provide both written and ‘on call’ messaging for explaining your company value proposition, the role-level value proposition as well as core information about the opportunity.


Message outline Talent team recruitment funnel - Messaging

Custom Subject Line – The subject line needs to be specific to the individual

Ego Boost/Personal Appeal – Appeal to their ego by congratulating them on an achievement or praising their exceptional skill

Relevant Personalisation – Warm up your outreach by referring to the persona’s pain points or highlighting the relevance of the opportunity

Persona Pain Point / Value Proposition – Keep it specific to the persona, how you can solve their pain points and how the value proposition (VP) pertains to them

About Us – 1 sentence about what you do and how they fit into that

CTA – Encourage the candidate to book a call or move to the next stage to find out more


Step 4 – Leverage shareable content


Most relevant if your company is not a household name. You may want to add a link to a press release talking about a large funding round to show financial buoyancy or news related to corporate initiatives that show the mission and values of the organisation. 

Additionally, when your teams have practical resources and content at the ready, they are far better equipped to engage, tailor solutions, and provide expert insights.

Examples of resources include:

  • White papers
  • Testimonials
  • Blog posts
  • Case studies
  • Articles


Step 5 – The Plays


Taking a cue from sales, we’ll look at “plays”. In sales, “plays” refer to the steps taken and best practices proved to move a deal forward. This can be applied to the recruiting funnel as well.

Qualify a candidate’s suitability for a role. N.B. We’re talking at the profile level, (only things you can see on paper as we are determining your outreach strategy, not their ‘fit’ in an interview.)

This has an impact on the amount of effort you will make to get them on a call. Of course, this impacts your whole approach.

Generally, there are 3 tiers of candidate persona.



  • The best in the market
  • Fits all the criteria and is also quite rare e.g. from a top tier employer 
  • Approach – Highly personalised, multi-touch (3+) cadence — often with the hiring manager or leadership reaching out directly within the cadence



  • Excellent fit on paper but less rare  
  • If you don’t convert them there will be a few more options
  • Approach  – personalised messaging from the internal talent team with a 2/3 touch cadence



  • Good fit but there are many who could feasibly be contacted in this tier 
  • Approach  – Scalable personalisation at the segment level (e.g their industry) not their interests, so some bulk messaging (shock horror) will work here


Step 6 – The Outreach Cadence


Cadences are a great framework to follow when doing outreach to potential candidates. A cadence includes every contact attempt, including emails, phone calls, and voicemails – all specifically timed and coordinated in such a way as to nurture connecting without annoying. 

Below is an example of an outreach cadence that has worked well for competitive markets:

Talent team recruitment funnel - Outreach Cadence

Final thoughts

An outreach playbook is essential for talent teams. Without a structured approach, it will be difficult to accurately predict time to hire and other key metrics that are often a data black hole when talking top of the funnel. 

As your team scales, a structured approach to outreach becomes critical. Ultimately your funnel playbook becomes a manual for driving hiring success.