How to Create a Talent Pipeline and Expand It in 10 Easy Steps

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…

Well, that might be a bit dramatic. But, it does describe the landscape of talent acquisition right now. The workforce is not panicking, but it’s certainly approaching frenetic.

Those companies who know how to recruit quickly, manage service providers, and select an HR Technology stack, will be successful. However, the candidate pools seem to be dwindling. 

After all, unemployment is incredibly low, and in-demand candidates are well…it’s in the name. It feels as though no matter which recruitment or TA strategy you employ, it’s going to be hard to hit hiring goals.

As the business landscape continues to change, one of the top concerns for our new clients seems to be Talent Pipeline Strategy. Everyone has positions to fill, but not many are catching the eye of the top talent in their industry. 

What is a Talent Pipeline?

Talent pipelines are the steps potential employees take to become employed. They include the steps candidates take from leads to employees, for instance. As prospects move through the pipeline, they proceed to the next stage. As with other modern recruiting methods, talent pipelines were influenced by proven marketing and sales concepts. 

A talent pipeline is crucial for organizations looking to hire and retain top talent. Employees who feel that they are contributing to an organization’s talent pipeline are more likely to stay with an organization for a longer period than those who do not. In addition, they are more likely to recommend their company to others.

In every department that generates talent, such as customer service, sales, product, engineering, marketing, accounting, or human resources, talent pipelines should be set up. Then, talent will be available when you need it. 

A good talent pipeline includes people with deep industry experience who can move candidates seamlessly between your organization and your open requisitions. Rather than JUST filling open positions, you’re now focused on candidate relationship management. 

Developing a long-term talent pipeline is beneficial for any company, large or small. Among the many benefits of diversifying your talent pipeline are providing individual candidate experiences, enhancing the employer brand, and diversifying your applicant pool.

Building or optimizing your talent pipeline strategy is a smart way to solve today’s issues and begin building your strategy for whatever comes next. But how? The good news is this: We’re here to help you stop being reactive and start getting predictive. Here is how to build and revitalize your talent pipeline.

How to Create a Talent Pipeline

  1. Define talent needs. You cannot manage what you don’t measure. A tired adage? Sure, but not because it’s not true. The talent needs of your organization must be the first step in revitalizing your talent pipeline strategy. Why? Because requirements have changed, and so has the workforce. From your potential new hire’s desire to work in a hybrid environment, to your current team suffering from hidden burnout, it’s crucial to see your workforce and talent pool for what it is right now rather than what it was before.  
  2. Source talent aggressively. Just using LinkedIn will no longer cut the mustard. Every sourcing channel at your disposal should be in use. Search your ATS for candidates who “got away”, bring in an on-demand team to fill the pipeline, use alternative social sourcing methods, and network away (safely.) In order to have a healthy pipeline, you need to get the candidates in there, and moving. This will help measure against your current employees to assess culture fit, identify skills gaps and assist with succession planning (a part of healthy talent pipelines.) 
  3. Build relationships. If sourcing aggressively and building relationships seem to contradict one another, you’re not the only one. However, building relationships doesn’t have to be at odds with an aggressive sourcing strategy. In fact, once you have built your candidate experience roadmap, you can take every newly sourced candidate through it easily. Haven’t built one yet? Give us a call.  Even if you don’t have a formalized candidate experience journey or process, you can still ensure you are building relationships with every candidate touch (email, phone call, social contact, etc.) 
  4. Ensure talent experience is consistent across all stages of the recruitment journey. Speaking of the experience, how DOES talent make its way through your processes? Have you checked them in a while? Going through your own ATS, career site, interview rubric and more can really open your eyes to what candidates experience when they come through the proverbial door. When you see a screw a little loose, tighten it. When you notice a gap, fill it. This could be as simple as training your hiring managers on faster interviewing or implementing a simpler onboarding form.  
  5. Make the talent pipeline an integral part of the leadership team’s objectives. If leadership isn’t backing it, it will be extremely hard to continue to focus on talent pipeline strategy. Focus on getting your colleagues to buy into the concept NOW, when the pain is the most acute. Your actions and plans laid now will create a much brighter talent acquisition strategy overall tomorrow.  
  6. Optimize talent pipeline over time with talent analytics. When you can easily see your time to hire, cost per hire, velocity to hire, retention per manager, onboarding and training time, and all the talent analytics a good platform offers visibility into, you can more effectively tweak and optimize your talent pipeline over time. If you don’t have these analytics in place, work with a knowledgeable consultant to get them implemented while you focus on recruiting. 
  7. Stop thinking about talent like a transactional process and make talent central to company strategy. This is becoming more clear to leadership all the time. Company strategy depends on talent, from the boardroom to delicatessen, and we are all learning that right now. The issue is, many have short memories. Strike while the iron is hot to ensure that even when the candidate market gives us room to breathe, your talent strategy has become so interwoven with company strategy, it’s impossible to untangle them. How do you do this? One key initiative many of our clients are doing is to tie financial data to people data and find the correlations to help them make smarter, more proactive choices.  
  8. Make the talent pipeline part of the talent growth strategy. This seems obvious, no? But for many, talent pipelines are a “nice to have” and not a crucial part of the talent growth plan. We believe this is shortsighted and will ultimately backfire. Building a pipeline of talent is always a smart move because while a company’s memories are short, people’s memories are long. They remember how they’re treated and acknowledged during both good and bad times. 
  9. Look beyond talent acquisition metrics and build a talent management process. Talent pipeline doesn’t stop at the first-day orientation. It’s a longer play than that. Your current employees are also part of your talent pipeline whether you believe it or not. In fact, many of the Great Resignation numbers being touted in recent months are those who retired early or decided to stay home due to a need to care for a child, parent, or loved one. The recruiter inside me says those folks could be persuaded to make a move back into the workforce. However, if your company has poor talent management processes or drops the ball on engagement or retention, how can you expect them to return (or even entertain a referral conversation?) 
  10. Optimize talent pipeline through continuous improvement every day. You knew it was coming. What we do daily becomes a habit. Just like keeping clean data makes your business run more smoothly, so too does keeping your pipeline healthy and flowing. Some TA professionals do this by “batching”, managing all candidate info requests on one day, calling their “almost there” candidates another. Others focus on specific roles at specific times rather than where they are in the funnel. Still more focus on time since the last interaction. Whatever method you land on, just ensure you are keeping the talent flowing through the pipeline, lest they become stagnant. 


What if you already have a talent pipeline? Here are 4 steps to get your pipeline revitalized and ready to take on 2022:

Talent Pipeline Boost #1: Refresh Your Employer Brand 

It might be time to brush up on your marketing skills. Often the first step in building a strong talent pipeline is to rethink your company’s branding approach. High-quality candidates will come to you because of your reputation as an employer. Especially in a market that’s beset by a pandemic and is in need of greater racial diversity. Creating a brand that reflects the values, culture, and vision of your organization is essential.

As the world moves towards a post-covid future, it will become even more crucial. Candidates can observe how organizations responded to the crisis. Ultimately, what matters is what we do, not what we say.

In difficult economic times, some of the “employers of choice” were among the first to announce furloughs and layoffs. As a result, awards and titles mean very little in the real world to candidates who suspect they may not be totally true.

Creating a great employer brand might seem like something you do when talent is a little easier to find. Why now, when you have enough on your plate? Well, employer brand is one of those things that can be tough to get off the ground but pays dividends well into the future. If you are reading up on talent pipeline strategies, you’re likely already familiar with employer branding and may even have a very well-established one.

Employer brand also takes a hit when companies cast large recruiting nets and then barely speak to candidates. Be tactful in how you nurture those relationships so when you approach a candidate, who has likely already heard from six other recruiters today, they feel recognized as a person and an asset instead of just a body in the building. 

That said, the market has changed so drastically, that many of the tactics used by successful “best places to work”  just a couple of years ago are now either outdated or just not currently useful. For example, UGC (user-generated content) as a cornerstone of your employer branding strategy may not work right now, because many of your employees are too busy to contribute. 


READ NOW: The World of Work Has Evolved—and So Should Your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)


On the other hand, working with an expert to revamp your candidate experience, assess and improve your Glassdoor rating, or taking the time to build a better showcase for your benefits or DEI programs might be just the ticket. Focus on what matters to candidates now, like meaningful work, companies who support causes they care about, benefits that impact their lives every day, and flexibility to learn and grow. 

The net takeaway here? Employer brand is more than just what’s on the glossy surface. Employers must dig deeper to understand what makes candidates come to the party and what specifically makes employees stay. 

Talent Pipeline Boost #2: Identify High Priority Roles

Generally speaking, there are usually openings within a company that are more immediate than others or existing roles with higher turnover rates. Identify which roles take precedence and base your search on candidates whose skills fit those roles well. You may even consider internal candidates in more stable departments interested in moving to a more in-demand role. In order to identify these roles, try asking yourself and your team these questions: 

  • What are your short- and long-term business goals?
  • What skills do you currently have?
  • What traits do you need in your future employees to navigate the next crisis?
  • What skills do your current employees have that may be transferable?
  • What trends can you see in your industry?
  • What skills will you need in the future?
  • Which jobs may become redundant due to automation?

This strategy is two-fold because your current talent is at risk of leaving if they don’t see a future with your company. Allowing opportunities for advancement while filling your own high-demand positions is a win-win. 

DEEP DIVE: Learn more about Internal Mobility with our in-depth look!

Develop Your Existing Workforce

Speaking of your current talent, it’s a great strategy to start developing their skillset now. Ensuring your current workforce is equipped with the skills and knowledge to succeed is a great way to build a pipeline of talent you already know and trust. The next time an opportunity comes available, you’ll have the perfect candidate ready and waiting.

Talent Pipeline Boost #3: Simplify the Candidate Journey

Future applicants will thank you for streamlining the process. Real talk? Candidates are in incredibly high demand at the moment, and unemployment and inflation are poised to stick around for the foreseeable. The market WILL cool down, but until it does, no one is going to:

  • Send a resume and cover letter after they’ve been cold-sourced for a job
  • Dig around on your site looking for the careers section
  • Fill in an application that asks for the same information as is on their resume
  • Go through a multi-screen application and assessment that doesn’t save 
  • Apply for roles that aren’t upfront about compensation
  • Schedule several interviews during the workday
  • Spend more than 15 minutes on an application for a job they’re qualified for
  • Waste time on a company that never responds back

Imagine someone is actively looking for a job and starts poking around. Your resume parser takes ten minutes to fill out while the next company’s application process takes an hour. You could have an interview scheduled with this applicant before they even finish applying for the next job. Throw in automated scheduling, chatbots to answer questions about salary and benefits, quick start dates, and gamified assessments, and you’ve made an arduous task almost enjoyable. 


CLOSER LOOK: Talent Attraction: The Rules Have Changed, Are Your Recruiters Keeping Up?


Simplifying your candidate journey makes it easier for passive candidates to easily apply. If they’re gainfully employed, a mild curiosity may not be enough for them to complete that hour-long application, but it may be enough for ten minutes of their time. 


Revitalize your Pipeline Step #4: Partner with a Pro

You’ve likely tapped your network, and in this climate, you’re not alone. When you team up with a recruiting agency, you acquire their network as well. You receive professional, round-the-clock help in your efforts to fill your pipeline and your next open role. Managing a business is hard, but building a strong workforce is even harder. PREDICTIVEHR can help you gain access to candidates that you might otherwise never know existed.

It boils down to how you plan, strategize, and use technology to support long-term business needs. Get ahead of the curve to hire better talent since the demand for the best candidates is only going to increase.

Recruiters ought to take advantage of this opportunity. The job market today is vastly different from years ago. Managing a business is hard, but building a strong workforce is even harder. PREDICTIVEHR can help you gain access to candidates that you might otherwise never know existed.


Contact Us to build your pipeline with the best in the industry.