To find out what’s keeping employers awake at night, talent acquisition software solution iCIMS recently surveyed its clients.

What it found: 72 percent of employers say building talent pools is their No. 1 priority in 2019.

This makes complete sense. Given that nearly every employer faces labor shortages, investing in a pipeline of candidates who have already expressed interest in a company’s vision and culture is the surest way to source and hire great talent in these tough times. In exactly the same way a sales team builds and engages with a database of prospects, more recruiters are using candidate relationship management (CRM) solutions to build long-term relationships with potential candidates they can tap when new roles open up.

Below are the three key strategies employers can use to build effective talent pools this year:

1. Engage Passive Candidates With Relevant Content

One of the most common mistakes employers make after establishing a pool of interested candidates is to bombard them with too much self-serving information, like irrelevant promotional emails.

Instead, employers should share content that will be helpful to the candidates in terms of their work and careers. For example, recruiters at one of the world’s leading children’s medical research hospitals are tasked with identifying and hiring top clinical pediatric researchers. After building a pool of top candidates, the recruiters keep them interested by sharing the hospital’s latest clinical research and findings. The recruitment team shares compelling content created by the hospital’s physicians to get passive candidates excited about the work they are doing. The proprietary research the recruiters share informs the candidates’ own research and work, supplying real value that can impact their careers. This approach has led to more than 1,000 completed applications from passive candidates being added to the research hospital’s talent pool.

2. Start Your Talent Pool With Former Candidates and Employees

A common issue recruiters face is finding a fantastic candidate but not having the right position open for them at the time. A good strategy to fill roles more quickly is to stay engaged with these past qualified candidates so you can tap them when the right role does come along.

For example, to fill 2,000 seasonal positions, a national summer camp organization continuously builds a large pool of qualified candidates made up of former employees, recent graduates, and teachers. To hire at such a large scale each year, the organization sources from its repository of qualified candidates already in the system, which is regularly augmented by new batches of candidates typically sourced at career fairs. Like the hospital, the camp keeps its talent pool engaged by regularly sharing valuable information about future openings, company news, and events. The camp can easily find the talent it needs within its talent pool each season.

3. Personalize Your Communications

Recruiters should take a page from marketers and treat their potential candidates like customers by giving them consumable, personalized information that leaves them curious for more.

For example, a Fortune 500 company that is also one of the largest automotive retailers in the US — with 8,000 employees across nine states — recently implemented a CRM solution to build its own talent pools. Prior to using the CRM, the company was experiencing a high amount of candidate drop-off during the application process. With the CRM, the company can now offer an alternative for applicants who do not want to apply for a job right away, and recruiters can keep these candidates warm with frequent, personalized communications. This strategy has reduced candidate drop-off, eliminated costly recruitment advertising expenses, and doubled the number of job applicants the company receives on average for new requisitions.

Talent pools give employers the biggest return on investment when used right. By tapping into a network of engaged passive candidates, companies can cut time to fill significantly and spend less on recruitment advertising.

Amy Warner is director of talent acquisition at iCIMS, Inc.

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