Talent Pipeline Building and Management

Those new to the world of recruitment often confuse a candidate pool with a candidate pipeline. While the two terms are closely related they are not one and the same. A broad pool of un-vetted candidates comprises a talent pool. A talent pipeline consists of a pool of talent that has been partially or fully prequalified for an open position. Most recruiting managers dream of having a pipeline filled with talented candidates. However, building one takes significant time, hard work, and effort on the part of the recruiter. This blog can help you jumpstart that process.

Talent Pipeline Explained

In the simplest terms, a talent pipeline is a pool of candidates who are ready, willing, and able to fill key, relevant roles as soon as they become vacant. This pipeline might consist of both internal and external candidates. Internal candidates are often employees who show promise and prove their readiness for a promotion. External candidates are those whom you source from external channels – referrals, career pages, job boards, and other sources.

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A pipeline also consists of both active and passive candidates. With a pool of the right talent in place, you can significantly cut the time and cost associated with filling a newly-vacant position. Having a mix of active and passive candidates allows you to proactively manage your workforce instead of waiting for candidates to reach out to you.

Prioritizing Your Needs

Before you can build a pipeline, you need a comprehensive strategy in order to determine how best to construct one suited to the needs of your company.  The first step in accomplishing this is to clearly define your needs. A savvy recruiter looks at both long-term and short-term organizational needs to construct the most efficient pipeline. Let’s say, for instance, that you’re a tech recruiter building a tech talent pipeline. The necessary first step is to liaise with all stakeholders to clearly define your technology staffing needs and to prioritize them accordingly.

Research Thoroughly

The next step in the process involves extensive research. A pipeline is only as good as the quality of candidates that comprise it. It’s imperative to engage with stakeholders to determine the exact mix of hard and soft skills and experience needed for any current or future open positions. Once known, you can limit your search to individuals that meet those requirements. Simply put, it’s all about sourcing and qualifying the candidates best suited for particular job roles. If you have a clear idea of goals and requirements from the outset, building your pipeline accordingly becomes that much easier.

Understand Candidate Personas

Consider the characteristics that define your ideal employee. This semi-fictional mockup of a candidate is what is referred to in recruiting circles as a candidate persona. Having a candidate persona in mind helps to narrow down your search parameters and quickly identify and segment professionals with particular talents and skills. Building upon the research you do upfront, you can start to build a pipeline for specific roles with greater clarity of purpose.

Develop an EVP

Part of your talent pipeline strategy includes the creation of a winning Employee Value Proposition or EVP. An EVP defines the benefits a candidate might enjoy when working for you, the employers. It also details what the employer expects from the employee in return. You may have come across EVPs in discussions about employer branding techniques. However, a well-made EVP is a useful tool to supplement your pitch to passive candidates.

Track Sourcing Metrics

The times when people had to work without metrics and analytics are long past, even in recruitment. To build a viable pipeline, you need to look at the data and analytics generated by your efforts. These will help you quantify how well your pipeline is working, and what areas need improvement. Determine the most important metrics to your pipeline, and start monitoring them from day one.

Collaborate with Others

A collaborative approach to building a pipeline works best. If you need a hand finding candidates for building a talent pipeline, just ask for it. Reach out to other recruiters, employers, and even employees to expand your sourcing ability. A stronger professional network along with broad contributor collaboration is a great way to quickly source candidates.

Use an ATS

An Applicant Tracking System is one of the most useful tools a recruiter can have. You can leverage an ATS to build your pipeline by mining an extensive pool of current and past candidates. It is fairly simple, cost-effective, and gives you access to hidden gems among your database. An ATS consists of a large volume of information on applicants who applied for specific positions but weren’t chosen. Remember, just because they weren’t the right fit for a prior role doesn’t mean they can’t be an optimal fit elsewhere in the organization. Your ATS is almost a pipeline of candidates in its own right, and it’s right there at your fingertips.

Nurture Internal Talent

Many businesses look for external hires to fulfill an open position. However, in most cases, external hires cost more and yield less productivity than internal employees working the same job. This can be due to any number of reasons, but the fact remains the talent you already have can assume a similar or greater role in your organization. Grooming and nurturing these employees by paying attention to their professional and skill development can help create an organic pipeline.

Create a Referral Program

Creating an employee referral program can also certainly pad your efforts to construct and manage a pipeline. Getting it right can be tricky, however. You need to start out by asking the right questions. Most employees are at a loss to define the ideal candidate for roles with which they’re not familiar. That means you need to frame shorter, easier questions that they can digest and answer more easily.

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To really give your referral program a boost, try incentivizing it. This can be just the motivation employees within your organization need to tap into their personal networks and positively compound your efforts. It doesn’t always have to be a cash reward either. There are plenty of non-financial incentives that are equally compelling. However, if you do decide to incentivize the program, don’t delay in paying out incentives as they’re earned. Consider creative means to promote the program so that employees across the organization are aware of it.

Host and Participate in Recruiting Events

One way to boost your pipeline is to host recruiting events. This also adds the burden of managing a successful event to your talent pipeline management, so it should be carefully considered. With the proper planning, however, you can eliminate many variables and uncertainties. If the liability of hosting your own event is a concern, it may be best to participate in recruiting events hosted by third parties, colleges, or trade schools. In either case, your pitch needs to be well considered before you considering exposing it to such a large talent pool.

Write Compelling Subject Lines

When reaching out to prospective candidates via email, there is a good chance your message will get lost in the shuffle or worse, end up in a junk folder. Even if a candidate sees your email, there is still no guarantee they will click on it. To better capture the attention of a prospective candidate, your subject lines need to be compelling and interesting. These will increase the chances of a candidate responding to your outreach.

Personalize Cold Outreach Emails

The subject line of any email exists solely to grab initial attention and to convey what the message is about. If you really want your cold outreach emails to work, you need to personalize them based on the specifics of each candidate. While this may seem like a considerable amount of work, it is more likely to resonate with discriminating candidates.

Effective Search Techniques

Using effective candidate search techniques is something you can’t do without if you want to build a proper pipeline. Semantic search is a technique that uses contextual meaning to deliver search results. Unlike a search for an exact keyword or phrase, a semantic search can get you more difficult-to-find information based on the context of the query.

Boolean searches are another form of search technique, very different from semantic searches. In a Boolean search, you can combine key phrases and words into a refined search query. Using operators like near, not, or, and, etc. can help you get better results.

Dedicated Careers Page on Facebook

Most businesses already have a Facebook page, which you can leverage as a pipelining tool. While convincing your marketers and social media managers to leverage it accordingly may be challenging, an investment in that channel ultimately pays off in the long run. Revamp your page to make it recruitment-focused. Dell, Facebook, and Verizon are all doing exactly this when it comes to career pages on the social media platform.

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You may also need to tap into related groups and pages on the platform. There are over one billion active Facebook users, opening you up to a vast potential pool of talent. The trick is making sure the candidates you’re hoping to attract are able to find you too. You may need to be active on other pages, especially those related to specific skills and technical expertise.

Use Twitter as a Search Tool

Twitter is more than just a microblogging platform. It comes with a very useful advanced search feature that allows you to really drill deep into candidate searches. Unlike the standard search feature, advanced searches let you refine your granular search to find what you need. Using keywords, phrases, hashtags, and accounts, you can quickly reach out to candidates on Twitter that already work in your industry and possess the quantifiable talents you’re seeking.

To use Twitter effectively, you will need to thoroughly research trending and popular hashtags. Hashtags can help you organize and sort through results in the advanced search. You can also make use of real-time analytics to boost your social recruiting.

Consistent Follow-Ups

There is a fine balance between staying in touch with candidates and becoming an annoyance to them. Many recruiters often neglect the importance of a talent pipeline with consistent follow-ups with candidates periodically. Creating and implementing a pipeline follow-up workflow can help you keep things on track. You should communicate with candidates regularly in order to nurture your pipeline. Pay special attention to each trigger in the recruiting process. Analyze how a candidate reacts to these triggers to come up with a consistent follow-up strategy.

Miscellaneous Pipeline Building Tips

With the power of the internet at your disposal, there is a lot you can do to build a solid candidate pipeline. If your efforts still aren’t what you want them to be, you may find the following tips to be useful.

Internet Job Boards

Internet job boards can yield quick exposure to candidates in specific industry niches. Many of these job boards also offer a database of resumes that recruiters can leverage to search for candidates. A simple Google search can help you find a list of job boards for any niche.

Passive Candidate Timelines

When reaching out to passive candidates, your timing is essential. Determine what the employee turnover interval is for industries or roles you are targeting. Likewise, pay attention to the social media profiles of potential passive candidates. This will give you a better idea of how long they have been with their current employer, and how likely they are to leave their jobs. By proactively mining this plethora of information, your chances of garnering a positive response from a passive candidate increase exponentially.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you build a strong talent pipeline?

Building a strong talent pipeline involves several steps including thorough research, creating candidate personas, writing compelling job descriptions and subject lines, developing an EVP, collaboration, using applicant tracking systems, and much more.

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