Recruiting: The Importance of Talent Pipelining

by | 27 Sep, 2018

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Throughout this series, we have discussed various areas that employers need to address if they wish to improve their recruiting efforts, including the importance of employer branding and the importance of an improved candidate experience. With both of these tactics, there is a focus on drawing in more job applicants, and specifically, drawing in more job applicants that are actually a good fit for the role. Having more qualified job applicants to select from greatly eases the process of recruiting for employers, and lowers the chances of a bad hire. Sometimes, however, a job opening may arise that needs to be filled quickly, and an employer may struggle with finding a high quality candidate to fill the position. They may then be forced to decide whether or not to keep the position open until the perfect candidate comes along, or to hire someone less qualified for the sake of filling the role.

Imagine if, every time a position became vacant and needed to be filled relatively quickly, the employer had a pool of well-qualified applicants who were already familiar with the company and had expressed interest in working there? That is possible, and it is the result of talent pipelining.

Talent pipelining is the process of building longer-term relationships with passive talent, or people who are not actively looking for a new job at the moment but would be willing to consider a new position if the right offer came along. Whereas most recruiting is reactive, or done once there is a position that needs to be filled. Talent pipelining is considered to be a more proactive form of recruiting. Building an effective talent pipeline has many benefits, including:

  • Shortened time to fill for open positions. Without a qualified candidate pool to select from, open positions may sit unfilled if the right candidate does not apply. This can be disruptive to the company, and can ultimately prove to be costly. With talent pipelining, there is already a pool of talent available that has been vetted and knows a fair amount about the company.
  • Improved candidate experience. Because the talent pipelining approach is more drawn-out, it allows for more focus to be placed on candidates. The longer period of engagement gives prospects more opportunities to ask questions and express their needs, which in turn gives recruiters more opportunities to meet those needs and provide a satisfying experience for the candidate.
  • Higher retention rates for new hires. While traditional recruiting can at times feel rushed, the proactive approach of talent pipelining means that there is plenty of time for potential candidates to engage and learn more about the company. Through doing this, those that are not a good match with the company become weeded out, and the candidates that end up applying have already established a degree of trust and rapport with the company.
  • Strengthened employer brand. Building a strong employer brand is something that should be focused on regardless, but building a talent pipeline is a great way to strengthen that brand. Through engaging passive candidates and educating them on the company and its culture, employers are building up a solid pool of people who identify with the employer brand and think highly of the company. This can draw those people into roles with the company, and can also influence them to spread the word to others.

The benefits of talent pipelining are clear, but that does not mean that the process of actually doing so is simple and easy to implement. It is a proactive measure, meaning it takes a conscious decision on the part of employers to invest time and money into building the pipeline. Still, here are some crucial steps that employers should follow to ensure success:

  • Determine current and future needs. The first step to building a talent pipeline is having a clear picture of what the current and future needs for talent are, and identifying where there are gaps to be filled. This includes identifying what the ideal prospective candidate looks like, from a skills and qualifications standpoint.
  • Identify prospective candidates. After determining current and future needs, employers should actually identify candidates that have the skills and qualifications to be successful in those roles.
  • Make initial contact. Employers should reach out to the pool of prospective candidates, but they should keep it informal and let the prospects know that they are not asking the prospect to apply for a job that day, but rather getting the conversation started.
  • Nurture prospects. Over time, employers should continue to engage the prospects to keep the conversation going without being too overbearing. They should give prospects opportunities to ask questions and should continue to assess the potential fit of the prospect within the company.
  • Funnel select prospects into the application process. When there is an opening, employers should select candidates from the talent pool that they believe would be a good fit for that role, and encourage them to formally apply.
  • Leverage the established relationship to ease the candidate experience. Employers should use information that they’ve gathered from engaging with the prospective candidate over time to inform the final stages of the process and increase the likelihood of offer acceptance. This includes identifying certain prospects’ needs, such as salary expectations or relocation assistance, and finding ways to meet them.

Talent pipelining is a crucial component to an effective recruiting process. It serves to strengthen the employer brand while drawing in and nurturing qualified candidates that are a good fit for the company. Through talent pipelining, employers can shorten the time-to-hire, thus minimizing disruption to the business when a position is unfilled. In addition, sourcing talent through a pipeline improves the candidate experience and increases both offer acceptances and overall retention rates.

This post is part of a series on recruiting. Check out the other posts in the series:

Recruiting: The Impact of Quality Candidates

Recruiting: The Importance of Employer Branding

Recruiting: Improving the Candidate Experience

Leah Bury
Leah Bury was former Marketing Manager at Navigate PEO, and holds a BS from Northeastern University. She contributed pieces and HR tips and created The Compass, our monthly newsletter!

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