How to improve your talent pipeline
According to TalentLyft, a talent pipeline is ‘a pool of potential candidates, either company’s employees who are promotion prospects or external candidates, who are qualified and ready to fill a position’. Having a talent pipeline means that instead of advertising a vacancy when it becomes available, and having to wait for applicants to come to you, you can call upon qualified candidates who you are already familiar with to fill the role.
What are the benefits of having a talent pipeline?
There are several advantages to having a pool of candidates ready for a vacant position. These include:
- Reduction in hiring costs – especially if your pipeline includes current employees.
- Quicker hiring process – already having a shortlist of suitable candidates saves company time and minimises disruption.
- Quicker measuring of cultural fit – if you already know a candidate, you will have a faster understanding of how well they could fit into your team and company.
- Aids career progression and employee morale – again, if your pipeline includes current employees, they will appreciate promotion opportunities and will be more likely to stay at your company.
As Heather Parrot puts it, having a talent pipeline is a way of building long-term professional relationships with passive talent. This focus on relationship building means that it’s important for your company to consider the type of person you might want to hire in the future, and devote time into getting your pipeline strategy right. With this in mind, here are some tips on how to improve your talent pipeline.
Consider your employer branding
Your employer brand is what gives any candidate a first impression of who you are, what your mission is, and what you value in the workplace. Candidates may find this information on your careers page, or through social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor. Take a look at what is being said about your company on these platforms, as this can make or break a candidate’s interest in working for you. By taking the time to do this research, you can evaluate what works and what needs improvement in any aspect of working life at your company.
There are several ways you could improve your employer branding, which in turn will help improve the chances of your talent pipeline being successful. For example, you could refer to feedback from previous applicants to find out what drew them to apply for a role at your company in the first place, and whether you are still maintaining this appeal. Additionally, you could ask current employees to provide testimonials as part of your recruitment efforts, and highlight these across your social media pages. Having current employees give this kind of feedback is an invaluable step in the talent pipeline building process, as this will help establish trust from a potential candidate early on – and having this trust is key to the professional relationship-building that an effective talent pipeline depends on.
Identify your future business needs
While you should think about positions that currently need to be filled, you should also consider how future growth or changes in the company will affect your staffing needs. Are there any plans to significantly expand in the next few years, perhaps in a new location? Are there any mergers or department restructures forecasted? What kind of industry developments do you anticipate will have an impact upon your company? In this instance, it’s best to adapt a ‘what if’ mentality. It’s best to prepare for these future changes as much as possible, so your company has a plan in place to respond to them quickly and efficiently, and the means to utilise your talent pipeline to fill any future vacancies.
However, alongside the practical business needs, you need to consider exactly who you want to fill these roles and how your talent pipeline will facilitate this. While it can be difficult to predict who you might want to hire for a role that isn’t vacant yet, you can consult your recent hiring information to determine certain patterns that might give you direction. If the bulk of your hires tend to be from a particular background, your current talent pipeline strategy may be actively sabotaging your search for more diverse talent. For example, if you find that you aren’t attracting many female candidates, you may want to consider a recruitment campaign that specifically targets this. When developing a new pipeline strategy, it is important to make sure you are casting as wide a net as possible to attract a range of potential candidates. Certain skills, experiences and character traits may be needed depending on the requirements of a specific role, but make sure no stone is left unturned and that you are exploring every possible avenue to attract future applicants to your company.
Don’t forget the importance of networking
Jobseekers are told time and time again how important it is to network with those they have worked with previously to secure future opportunities, but rarely do we hear of companies being given the same advice! A strong talent pipeline is one that draws candidates in from as wide a range of sources as possible, both in-person and online. Attending industry events and conferences is a great way to get your company name out there, and having a strong and unique social media presence will also help draw attention to your brand. Identify the right sourcing channels for your industry, as this will make your search for talent a lot easier.
Your employees’ networks can also be a valuable resource when building your talent pipeline. If you have a vacancy to fill, give your employees an incentive to advertise this within their networks – having some kind of referral scheme in place would be a great encouragement. However, don’t just rely on your current staff: former employees could be wanting to work for you again, and this gives you the additional benefit of already knowing who they are and what they are like as a worker. Don’t be afraid to reach out to previous co-workers to let them know about a new opportunity if you believe they are qualified for it.
Stay visible and accessible
According to research carried out by The Recruiting Office, only 35% of Fortune 500 companies have career sites that are mobile friendly. In today’s digital era, your online presence matters, and you should make sure that your careers information is easily accessible across all platforms. In order to keep your talent pipeline growing into the future, you need to make it as easy as possible for people to be able to follow what your team and your company is doing. Social media platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn have facilities available for businesses to post job adverts and manage applications, so you should familiarise yourself with these and incorporate them into your digital outreach strategy.
Of course, capturing a potential candidate’s attention is one thing, but getting them to consider you for a role is another task you need to dedicate sufficient time and expertise towards. In your first contact, you should be honest and say that while you may not have any current vacancies, you are likely to be hiring soon – but only say this if you are certain about this. Respect their time by keeping your initial correspondence to the point, and show genuine interest in their current work and career aspirations. Remember, you are trying to convince them that you are the employer they want. If all goes well, and they are interested in finding out more, ask them how they would prefer to keep in touch. You want to keep your company’s name in their minds, but let a potential candidate decide how to maintain contact in a way that is most appropriate for them. If you communicate effectively and remain approachable and accessible to a potential candidate, you are more likely to have them become an applicant when the right vacancy is available.
Know how to identify successes and failures
Setting up a talent pipeline strategy is not just a one-time effort. You should be keeping an ear to the ground and following industry developments to make sure that you are searching in the right places, and adapting your strategy accordingly. Furthermore, by keeping an eye on your employer brand and what people are saying about your company online, you can stay one step ahead of the competition and work out what might need improvement. For example, if a current or former employee leaves a review where they discuss a need for more managers, you will be able to adapt this into your pipeline strategy and help ensure that your company grows in the right direction.
In fact, your current employees are once again an invaluable resource in this regard. By conducting stay and exit interviews, you can figure out what makes them want to stay with your company, or what has caused them to leave. There might be aspects of company culture that need changing, and if your employees have expressed a desire for these changes, you should heed their advice in order to both retain current and attract new talent. Companies who visibly act upon feedback from their employees generally enjoy greater levels of trust from their workforce, which in turn makes them more attractive to potential applicants. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as these will provide learning opportunities that will help improve the success of your talent pipeline, and ultimately your company, well into the future.
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