Until recently, product sales models looked remarkably similar to candidate pipeline funnels, you put leads in the top and, over time, reduced numbers of customers appear at the bottom.

However we all know that of the 26 typical steps or interactions in a recruitment process, some have greater impact on the candidates themselves and their perceptions of your brand than others.

In 2005 Proctor & Gamble coined the term “first moment of truth” to refer to the five seconds it takes consumers to decide whether or not they’ll buy a certain product. P&G positioned that the “first moment of truth” occurs when consumers come across a product on the shelf. They consider it quickly and, if their attention is adequately captured, they will buy.

Google then came along with the term “zero moment of truth”:  which is described as the process where consumers research a product online in order to decide whether or not they want to buy it. If “the first moment of truth” revolutionised product marketing, the “zero moment of truth” fundamentally changed the relationship between consumers and companies. Now armed with the knowledge base of the Internet, consumers could scrutinise companies and products in new ways and make more informed decisions about their purchases.

This process is equally true in the recruitment arena, where we know that candidates for specialist roles research an average of six sources of information on an employer before applying. These candidates will go back to an employer’s careers site an average of eight times in the rercruitment process for insight into the company and to also validate their decision (source: Glassdoor Research).

In 2009 McKinsey developed the loyalty loop (see image below), which moved the funnel model forward and focussed on customer experience and advocacy.

McKinsey pointed out that the funnel approach failed to take into account customer experiences and resulted in missed opportunities. In their view, the consumer journey was not a mere narrowing of options, but a more circular process driven by real interactions with a brand. They advised brands lessen their focus on pure awareness and pay more attention to the ‘loyalty loop.”

So what can recruiters learn from these giants of consumer marketing?

McKinsey’s vision was met with great enthusiasm among marketers. Yet at its core it still largely represents the same old thinking. Rather than merely targeting messages based on past behaviour, consumers increasingly expect marketers to adapt in real time and make personalised suggestions. The same is true for candidates, s we need to seriously rethink the candidate decision journey.

Clearly it’s important that employers focus on inspiring advocacy. However, what McKinsey’s model doesn’t take into account is that technology has shifted candidate expectations, leading to a fundamental change in their behaviour.

A study by Bloom Reach found that 87% of consumers prefer to buy from brands that are able to personalise experiences the best and a majority of the respondents specifically said that they expected brands to either predict their intent or to learn their behaviour and adapt the experience to them.

This represents a major shift because it suggests that marketers need to do far more than simply adapt their tactics to take new “touch points” into account. Rather, it points to a fundamental change in how recruiters need to think about how they serve their candidates.

The best recruiters are taking an ever-more personalised approach to recruiting. They are developing personas for candidates that provide a richer portrait of them. Looking beyond demographics and career history, to include a behavioural understanding of the candidates expectations, hopes and concerns at each point of the candidate decision journey.

Using this insight, they provide enriching, personalised experiences throughout the candidate journey to create differentiation and support candidate decision-making.

What’s more they’re taking a much more agile approach to their recruitment model; using data and insight gained by measuring the candidate experience much more closely and adapting their processes accordingly.

Does this sound like your organisation?

If not beware. A new chapter in the war for talent is beginning.