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What Is a Talent Pipeline?

When looking for great talent, the importance of a talent pipeline cannot be denied. But what is a talent pipeline and how can it benefit organizations? A talent pipeline refers to a group of people who are qualified to fill a job opening. This can be both internal and external sources of talent, so it may include current employees at an organization, as well as those who come in from places like recruitment events, job boards, and referrals. The people in a candidate pipeline have been vetted, so recruiters are familiar with their qualifications—thus making the hiring process easier.

What Is the Difference Between a Talent Pool and a Talent Pipeline?

A talent pool refers to a broad category of candidates who have expressed interest in working for an organization. This can include people who attended job fairs, passive candidates identified through a talent sourcing strategy, those who applied for a previous position and weren’t selected, and job seekers who expressed interest in an organization through social media.  

On the other hand, a talent pipeline is a more narrow category of people who recruiters have already qualified for certain positions. Since recruiters nurture these candidates for a while, they know who to turn to when a specific position becomes open. In this case, recruiters have already done the legwork to learn more about candidates and develop a relationship with them, making it much easier to confidently encourage talent to apply for jobs. 

What Is a Healthy Talent Pipeline?

A healthy talent pipeline is one that is filled with candidates who have been nurtured effectively enough so when a position opens, they’ll be engaged and interested enough to apply. In order to create a healthy candidate pipeline, recruiters must be proactive in keeping people engaged, so regular contact, which could last for a long period of time, is necessary.

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Benefits of Creating a Talent Pipeline

Creating a strong talent pipeline may be a lot of work, but recruiters can reap many benefits when they do. The following are some of these advantages.

Benefits of creating a talent pipeline

Understanding long-term hiring needs.

Having a healthy talent pipeline is impossible if companies have not defined their long-term hiring needs. By creating a candidate pipeline, recruiters have the opportunity to partner with hiring managers in order to understand their needs in the present, as well as the near and distant future. This will allow recruiters to make decisions about how much they need to devote to sourcing at any given time to prepare for the ebb and flow of hiring goals.

Reducing time to hire

Companies that are tracking recruiting metrics know exactly how long it takes on average for positions to be filled, so if it's taking too long, creating a talent pipeline can help reduce the time to hire rate. Considering that it can take months to find the right candidate in some cases, having people who have already been qualified by recruiters in the talent pipeline can go a long way toward shortening the hiring process, which will also contribute to reducing the organization’s cost per hire rate.

Connecting with passive candidates

Although engaging with passive candidates may seem like a fool's errand, it can actually pay off because according to a study by LinkedIn, 90 percent of talent is actually interested in hearing about new opportunities—whether they’re looking for a position or not. This means that any time dedicated to nurturing passive candidates is time well spent. It's important for recruiters to remember that active candidates are only active for the length of their job search—then they turn into passive candidates. As a result, most people recruiters will encounter when building a candidate pipeline will be passive.

Improving diversity

Companies that have a diversity recruitment plan should definitely add building a strong talent pipeline to their activities. This allows recruiters to specifically source candidates from diverse groups that aren’t represented enough in the company, and build relationships with them. This is an excellent way for companies to meet their diversity recruitment goals, especially if they have trouble getting talent from underrepresented backgrounds to apply for positions through other methods.

Creating a better candidate experience

Getting candidates excited about possibly working for an organization begins with the candidate experience, which is especially important when recruiting early career talent since Gen Z workers will make their decision about an offer based on how well they were treated during the recruitment process. In response to this, recruiters should personalize the candidate experience by finding out more information about people’s goals and interests, while providing information that sells the organization.

Building a strong employer brand

For companies that may not have the brand recognition of their larger competitors, a talent pipeline can help fill the void. Giving one-on-one attention for an extended amount of time can help to create a good impression among potential candidates, which will build a strong employer brand—even when companies are new. In addition, businesses that may not have a great employer brand can use their pipeline as an opportunity to correct negative perceptions.

Improving acceptance rate

As recruiters engage with talent in the pipeline, they sell their organization, and make candidates more excited about applying for a job there. In addition, recruiters can learn more about the candidates in their pipeline and build bonds that make it much more likely that talent will accept a position.

Attracting better quality hires

Unfortunately, sometimes hiring is a game of chance that recruiters play hoping they make the right choice in a high-pressure situation—especially if they're facing staffing shortages. When recruiters nurture their pipeline, they’re not scrambling to find someone to fill a position. Instead, they've taken the time to become familiar with what candidates bring to the table, while deciding if they would be a good fit for the organization. This takes a lot of the guesswork out of hiring and leads to better quality employees.

Boosting retention

As companies communicate with people in their talent pipeline, they’re providing vital information that people need to make an informed decision about working there. The more transparent recruiters are, the fewer surprises there will be after candidates have accepted an offer. This will help to increase a company's retention rate because new hires will be less likely to regret accepting an offer.

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How Do You Build a Talent Pipeline?

Building a talent pipeline can be a long process that may not initially feel worth the effort. However, it's worth the energy and there are several strategies recruiters can use to increase their success. 

Determining goals

The starting point of building a talent pipeline is to identify what companies want to get out of it. Whether they want to increase their diversity hiring or ensure they have enough talent for the periods when staffing must be ramped up, recruiters should determine what their goals are, track their progress, and make changes when needed.

Choosing sourcing channels

Sourcing talent can be done in numerous ways, whether recruiters look for people during events, or use job boards and social media platforms. Whichever channels recruiters choose, they should monitor how effective they are, and change them if they're not yielding good results.

Creating a referral program

Great talent begets great talent, so companies can implement a referral program to fill the pipeline with the contacts of staff members. In order to get everyone invested in this process, the organization should offer some type of compensation, whether that means bonuses given out after a referral is at the company for a certain amount of time or incentives like extra time off.

Personalizing communications

Part of the point of having a candidate pipeline is taking the opportunity to communicate with talent. However, for this strategy to work, the communication has to be personalized. Canned responses will only make people feel like they're just a number, which defeats the purpose of having a pipeline in the first place. Recruiters should touch base with each person in the candidate pipeline with custom-made messages targeted to their interests and experience.  

Keeping the momentum going

Building a healthy talent pipeline is an ongoing process, so recruiters should never rest on their laurels even when they think they have an adequate amount of potential candidates. There is no such thing as too much qualified talent, so it's a good idea to continuously add candidates to the pipeline.

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