Knowledge Center

What Is a Talent Pipeline and How Do You Build It?

Quick links
Join The Shortlist
Get the 5-minute newsletter for talent leaders!
Are you missing top talent?
Try your first search for free.
Let's Findem

When a new role opens, do you already have a group of vetted candidates you can tap into? Or, do you enter “hunting mode,” trying to source as many active and passive candidates as possible?

Mostly relying on outbound recruiting increases time-to-hire and makes it difficult for recruiters to meet the hiring manager’s deadline. By building talent pipelines, you can adopt a proactive recruiting approach and take the stress out of filling a new role.

What is a talent pipeline?

A talent pipeline refers to job candidates who are able to fill an open role at your company as soon as there is an opening. It consists of external candidates that entered your network via job boards, referrals, and other channels, as well as current employees that have the needed competencies to step into a new role.

As opposed to a talent pool, which consists of all the candidates in your network, a pipeline includes candidates you have already screened and labeled as qualified for specific positions. Pipelining talent isn’t necessary for every role – most organizations prioritize building a pipeline for niche or senior positions that are more challenging to hire for.

Why should you invest in creating a candidate pipeline?

In 2020, 67% of companies were building talent pipelines as they prepared to exit the pandemic-induced hiring freeze. But a pipeline is beneficial in any kind of market conditions – pandemic or not – allowing businesses to proactively handle any challenges posed by the job market.

Chief among these challenges are talent shortages and the demand for upskilling. By 2025, half of employees will need to be reskilled to keep pace with new technologies. Companies are investing in upskilling as part of a talent pipeline strategy to stay competitive and minimize the impact of a potential shortage. Microsoft and Google are some of the businesses that are funding upskilling programs to fill their pipelines with skilled candidates. According to Jaimie Francis, the vice president of policy and programs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation, candidate pipelines are directly linked to an organization’s ability to win over talent.

“If companies aren’t making data-driven decisions about their skills and job needs, working within and across industries to partner on building pipelines of talent, and identifying and working with preferred providers of education and training, they are losing in the competition for talent.”

With a talent pipeline, you are also able to fill open positions more quickly than with reactive hiring. RingCentral, a cloud-based business communications provider, built a candidate pipeline with the help of Findem and found that these candidates had a higher conversion rate and resulted in highly motivated hires.

How to build a talent pipeline 

Creating a talent pipeline is a process that requires careful planning and help from sophisticated recruiting tools. To get started, follow the steps below.

1. Align your talent pipeline strategy with your long-term needs

When building a pipeline, it’s easy to focus on your short-term hiring needs. But they shouldn’t take over the entire strategy. Your candidate pipeline should also factor in the business goals one year (or more) into the future. For example, are you planning to expand to a new territory? Will a new product launch create demand for new teams, such as customer success?

In the case of CruxOCM, a startup that develops software for automating heavy industry control rooms, the company had plans to double its headcount over two years. With this long-term goal in mind, CruxOCM used Findem’s Sourcing Accelerator Service to find more high-quality candidates to fill its pipeline.

If your long-term business needs include niche skill sets, upskilling programs for both current employees and external talent will also fill your pipeline with more skilled candidates who are ready to take on a new role.

2. Prioritize hard-to-fill roles

Any job that demands a unique skill set or a high level of experience should be a pipeline priority. When a key person in your organization leaves and their seat sits empty, it has far-reaching consequences on the business and team morale. Potential project delays could affect business performance, and you also risk increasing turnover rates as team members add more responsibilities to their plate.

Instead of backfilling an important role or scrambling to source candidates who can replace a key player on your team, your talent pipeline will already have a number of potential hires. Even better, these candidates will already be familiar with your company, so you won’t have to start building a relationship from scratch.

3. Leverage technology to source candidates and fill your pipeline

Sourcing is the process of discovering, reaching out to, and screening potential candidates. According to Findem’s 2022 recruiting trends report, the sourcing process yields the most qualified applicants, followed by inbound applications and referrals. With the right technology, you will accelerate the sourcing process and populate your pipeline with top talent. 

You may already be leveraging several channels to source talent, such as online communities and job fairs. While these channels are effective in discovering highly qualified candidates, they have a scaling issue. Manually toggling between tools to source and research candidates is time-consuming, prone to bias, and gives a shallow insight into your talent pool.

A talent acquisition and management platform such as Findem helps you increase efficiency and search with precision, discovering candidates with the right mix of skills and experience. Plume, a provider of smart home technology, saw a 10x increase in the number of high-quality candidates with Findem and saved each recruiter 1.5 days per week on sourcing and reviewing profiles.

This is possible with attribute-based search, a technology that aggregates data from over 100,000 external sources, such as GitHub, Research Gate, or public company data and delivers unique talent insights that are impossible to glean from a resume or LinkedIn profile. Attributes can be related to their previous experience (for example, seeing a company through IPO or working at early-stage startup) or personality-based (entrepreneurial spirit or relationship builder).

4. Nurture candidate relationships

Once you have sourced top candidates, the next step is to build a relationship with your pipeline. Engaging talent with personalized content is one of the best ways to keep your organization on their radar.

A talent CRM is key to nurturing trust and increasing awareness of your employer brand at scale via email campaign outreach. Effective relationship nurturing ensures your pipeline prospects are excited to hear from you when a new opportunity surfaces – not left wondering who you are.

Personalized email campaigns can target audience segments such as marketers, developers, or people in leadership positions. The more granular your audience segments are, the higher your chances are of increasing pipeline engagement.

What kind of challenges should you expect?

When implementing a talent pipeline into your recruitment strategy, different issues may arise, from a lack of diversity to inefficient technology. 

Lack of diversity

If you don’t have the right strategy and tools in place to source job seekers from underrepresented communities, your pipeline will suffer from a lack of diversity. You can overcome this issue with the help of talent acquisition platforms that track diversity metrics and include powerful filters that discover underrepresented talent.

Marin Community Foundation, a nonprofit organization, leveraged the diversity dashboard in Findem’s platform to track the composition of its talent pool based on gender, ethnicity, race, and other parameters. The foundation was then easily able to prioritize diverse candidates throughout the sourcing process.

Lack of personalization in email nurture campaigns

Personalization permeates every aspect of our lives. When scrolling through social media, we expect the content to be tailored to our interests. On music streaming platforms, we are used to curated recommendations based on our listening habits. The same expectations apply to email campaigns.

Emails that are tailored to your candidates’ job title, seniority, or other interests will positively impact engagement and minimize the risk of your newsletter being sent straight to the trash folder. But most importantly, personalized emails are more helpful, fostering trust with your audience.

Technology that doesn’t contribute to candidate quality

Talent sourcing tools make it easier to find more candidates – but many fall short when it comes to finding quality candidates. As a result, recruiters end up with larger talent pools with no way of quickly filtering the top candidates for their pipeline, which increases their workload.

Your recruiting tech stack shouldn’t create more work than it relieves. It should include tools to easily find the top candidates and give time back to the hiring team to focus on meaningful conversations with the talent in your pipeline.

Fill your pipeline with superstar talent

One of the biggest obstacles to building an effective talent pipeline filled with top performers is judging candidates based on resumes or LinkedIn profiles. They offer a static, incomplete snapshot of a person’s professional experience, and recruiters must invest considerable time in separating the unqualified from the qualified candidates.

Start with the warmest leads

Turn your talent acquisition strategy inside out with Findem
Request a demo