3 Questions to Consider Before Implementing a Talent Pipeline

Jun 4, 2014
This article is part of a series called News & Trends.

Screen Shot 2014-05-20 at 12.22.06 PMThe challenge of building a talent pipeline has been a headline topic among recruiting strategists for years, but a majority of firms still don’t see the need or don’t feel they have the resources to do the job right.

A recent survey we conducted found that just 38 percent of employers continuously recruit throughout the year — despite the fact well-managed pipelines can yield real benefits. Two-thirds of those who continuously recruit say their strategy shortens their time to hire and 54 percent say it lowers their cost per hire.

Maintaining and using a pool of interested, qualified candidates for positions that aren’t yet open can be a daunting task. If your organization is still on the fence about talent pipelining or if you are simply not sure about the best course for implementation, the answers to these three questions should provide motivation and direction.

Is the Recruiting Status Quo Costing Your Organization?

If the answer is yes, gathering the right evidence may be all you need to convince leadership to green light a pipelining strategy.

Usually that evidence is found in the effects of frequent, extended job vacancies. Eight in ten employers who currently have unfilled jobs say that positions remain open for eight weeks or longer on average. A recent skills gap survey found that extended vacancies affect company performance in a variety of negative ways:

  • Lower morale due to employees shouldering heavier workloads — 41 percent
  • Work does not get done — 40 percent
  • Delays in delivery times — 34 percent
  • Declines in customer service — 30 percent
  • Lower quality of work due to employees being overworked — 30 percent
  • Employees are less motivated — 29 percent
  • Loss in revenue — 25 percent

If vacancies in high-turnover positions are restricting an organization’s potential, continuous recruitment ostensibly becomes a necessity.

Is Time or Money the Inhibitor to Continuous Recruitment?

Nearly half of recruiters and hiring managers (46 percent) cite “lack of time” as the primary reason for not building a pipeline — 17 points higher than cost (29 percent). In-house HR managers at small and mid-sized firms often juggle multiple responsibilities, so deprioritizing pipelining seems like an inevitable and justifiable tradeoff.

I recently spoke with Kelly Kudola, Americas recruiting manager for Kelly Services, about this issue. She explained that lack of time shouldn’t stand in the way of continuous recruitment for one key reason.

“Pipeline management and proactive recruiting will only save time in the back end,” she said. “There are so many more resources used in the reactive interviewing and screening process that our recruiters don’t have the time not to continuously recruit.”

In fact, proactive recruitment doesn’t have to be nearly the upfront time investment one might think. Companies should only be pipelining for functions that experience high turnover or are projected to grow in headcount. And candidates can do most of the work, much like the job-application process.

How Will You Engage Your Prospective Candidates? 

A static database of candidates who were at one time interested in working at your company does not constitute a pipeline — or at least a functioning pipeline. Before you implement a continuous recruitment plan, consider how you will initially communicate with the candidate and how you plan to follow up with them as opportunities matching their background arise.

“We want to be respectful of the fact that job seekers are likely in need of a position as soon as possible,” said Kudola. “So if we are interviewing a candidate for a pipeline, we are very clear about the process and what they can expect. There may not be an immediate placement, but as part of our network, we want to position them as the person who gets the next opportunity.”

This philosophy runs counter to the tactic of advertising an opportunity for a pipeline as if it’s an immediate job opening. This will result in loss of jobseeker trust and a degradation of your employer brand more often than not. The only way to keep prospective candidates warm is to keep the conversation going, and when the time comes, deliver relevant career opportunities.

This article is part of a series called News & Trends.
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