7 Ways to Build Effective Talent Pools

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flowMost recruiters are stuck in reaction mode for so long, that their state of constant catch-up becomes the normal mode of operation. Recruiters who take their department from reactive, to proactive are building talent pools to stay ahead of talent needs and forecast-ed trends in talent acquisition and their industries. Talent pools act as sort of a queue line for recruiters as they are comprised of potential candidates that best suit the employer’s needs. Building a talent pool is an effective way for recruiters to ensure a constant flow of candidates are available if needed.

A special thank you goes out this month’s Leadership Sponsors: Zoho and TheLadders. Please visit their sites to understand how these quality services can elevate your recruitment practices.

laddersWhile there is some debate among recruiters and analysts about what constitutes a talent pool versus a talent community, it’s mostly semantic. With the new social search technologies talent pools can be “tended” and kept dynamic nearly automatically, reducing the need for community type management. Talent pools are essentially small, targeted groups of candidates that are available because they are already pre-screened, pre-assessed and potentially ready to work for the company (this is inferred due to previous interest in a job posting). The following steps are critical in building an effective talent pool.

1)    Create a process that continuously assesses talent needs.

In an ideal world, recruiters have a stack of applicants ready and willing to fill each position that opens up. In reality, there is almost always going to be a disconnect between the right candidate and the right opportunity or time, and this is why talent pools are vital to driving and maintaining momentum in business.

For each organization, this process can look different, but the goal is best defined by talent analytics professional, Josh Bersin:

“A process during which organizations consider different variables that affect the future supply and demand for talent, such as strategic plans (e.g., expansion into new geographical regions or new product lines) and limitations on access to qualified talent (e.g., number of engineers graduating annually). Talent forecasting is much more than a simple headcount analysis.”

2)    Be sure that your current practices are fostering your talent pool efforts for the future.

zohoThe whole premise of building talent pools for recruiting is that what recruiters are doing now, strongly affects the success of the company in the future. Human resources expert, Stephen Bruce talked about building talent pools in a recent HR Daily Advisor article:

“The next important step in the recruitment and retention process is to explore what skills, education and experience the company seeks. Don’t rely on old job descriptions! In fact, you might even want to develop a brand new job description based on what you perceive are the organization’s needs.”

If your efforts are outdated, or inaccurate now, they will only hinder future efforts. Your talent pool needs to know about future needs, not the needs you had five years ago, when all of your job listings were created. Zappos, the online retailer has eliminated job listings completely with its updated career page,  Inside Zappos. Although this may not be ideal for every company, it represents an increasing need for employers to set themselves apart from competitors with innovative hiring practices.

3)    Turn to previous applicants.

Qualified applicants that reach the last round of interviews should not be completely dismissed by recruiters. Candidates who have already shown interest in the company by applying and have been assessed throughout the interview process are ideal for your talent pool. Recruiters must provide an enticing candidate experience to applicants who near the end of the hiring process but may not actually get hired.  Providing these candidates details as to why they didn’t get hired is crucial so that when the time comes for them to be considered again in the future, they will have had constructive feedback to help improve their employability with the company. These candidates are valuable inclusions into the talent pool because they have been previously considered and are aware of what they need to do to become a better fit for the employer in the future.

According to HR thought-leader Dr. John Sullivan, it can vary by company or position, but each corporate job opening receives an average of 250 resumes. Take a moment to consider that of the 249 applicants that did not make the cut, there are potentially dozens that have the appropriate skills and fit for another position within the company.

4)    Assess your current candidates. 

Just as there is the potential for many previous applicants to fit any number of roles within the organization, you also have a huge pool of current applicants that should be considered for both current and future roles. When recruiters make the leap into talent forecasting, they are opening up opportunities for current candidates in the future. Both parties can then plan for the transition, with little or no gaps in talent planning.

Again, this pool of talent has already expressed interest in working for the company and they have already dedicated resources to the hiring process. Recruitment technology specialist Michael Macking said:

“Anyone who has expressed interest in working for your company would be a prime member for your talent community. This also includes job seekers who applied for an open position but weren’t the right fit or applicants that may be the right fit for an open position in the future. Existing employees looking for internal opportunities are also great additions to your talent pool.”

5)    Looking internally to build talent pools is also a very powerful option. 

In almost all instances, sourcing and recruiting gets more challenging, more expensive and takes longer, the higher up the ladder the position is. Internal talent pools save on almost every resource that recruiting for these positions can cost the organization. External hires have been reported to be 61% more likely to be fired from a new job than an internal candidate. This can be attributed to how internal candidates are already part of the company culture. They also have extensive training and they already have a certain degree of familiarity with the position.  Leaders in talent management, Successfactors, believe in creating highly-skilled internal talent pools:

“A critical element of a successful talent management program is the generation of “talent pools” within a company—a reliable and consistent internal source of talent and a valuable piece of the succession planning process. The development of skilled talent pools makes it easier to develop desirable skill sets in a broader group of employees, resulting in higher performance across all levels and functions. By cultivating talent pools internally you are ensuring that you will have experienced and trained employees prepared to assume leadership roles as they become available.”

6)    Find a platform and create a community. 

The company career page is a great place to create a community for all of the organization’s talent needs. Recruiters should invite and engage current, past and retired employees, recruiters, HR professionals and job candidates. Recruiters can also start groups on LinkedIn or Facebook, or they can use their recruitment software to create an internal network.

These are the people who know the culture and have some sort of investment in the success of the company. Encourage them to share listings and information about the company to those in their own network that they feel would be interested, or be a great fit for the organization. Engagement, education, calls-to-action and gratitude are going to be huge part of this endeavor. Recruiters need to build give and take communities. Requesting one-sided efforts will cause the community to fade out quickly. Kes Thygese, co-founder at RolePoint, a social recruiting suite, said to Mashable:

“Your talent will want exclusive, behind-the-scenes information about your organization, spotlighting employees and company culture. Send updates via an e-newsletter, or provide information on career advancement in the form of blog posts, webinars, videos, or other shareable online content. Hold contests or invite members to contribute opinions on certain topics and compile quotes into a blog post. Connecting on social media sites is also a great way to keep talent communities engaged.”

7)    Social media is also a powerful and cost-effective way to foster your talent pools. 

Social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have proven to be fantastic mediums to target candidates, engage them and inform them of opportunities. 92% of companies use social media networks for recruitment purposes, and the effects of social recruitment have proven to be beneficial. 42% of those companies say that the quality of its candidates have improved from using social recruiting techniques. These outlets are also very useful in getting the brand and culture in front of candidates, peeking interest and therefore forming talent pools.  Dominique Rodgers from Reputation Capital Media said:

Social media platforms are a great way to extend your recruiting message’s reach and make contact with a more diverse mix of candidates. In addition to general sites such as Facebook and Twitter, many industries have their own group chats or meetups. This can be a great way to reach a diverse pool of applicants within a specific market…”

Mediabistro revealed that 14.4 million job seekers in the US use social media in their job hunt. 29% of their survey respondents use social media as their primary tool in their search. Online communications specialist Jessica Palmeri said:

If you haven’t incorporated social media into your recruiting process yet, this means social media could be a new opportunity to expand your talent pool.”

When recruiters invest their time and efforts into building and maintaining effective talent pools, they are generating forward momentum for employers. They are able to cut back on almost all of the traditional resources that go into recruiting. They are also safeguarding the organization against costs associated with positions that go unfilled for long periods of time. Talent pools grant recruiters access to better quality candidates when it matters most, not when it’s too late.

Ultimately to build an effective talent pool, recruiters need to broaden their traditional mindsets to include a wider range of candidates and use the already data-heavy process of application to their advantage. Adding in social search and dynamic contacting functions will help make talent pools less maintenance. As recruiters are facing talent shortages, the need to build and expand each talent pool is becoming more apparent. However, in the future, it is highly likely that the walls of these talent pools will become more fluid and allow companies to “fish in each others’ ponds”. Social search engines may be the death knell for all but the most devoted of company talent pools (and likely those that are already a true community and have their original roots in the consumer base.)

A special thank you goes out this month’s Leadership Sponsors: Zoho and TheLadders. Please visit their sites to understand how these quality services can elevate your recruitment practices.

Read more in Sourcing

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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