The Many Benefits From a Talent Pipeline – And How It Improves Quality of Hire

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May 16, 2016
This article is part of a series called How-Tos.

If you’re looking for a powerful strategic recruiting approach that has powerful long-term impacts, you really only have two choices: employer branding, and a “recruiting talent pipeline.” While almost every major corporation is investing heavily in building their employer brand, it’s quite rare for one to actually have a high-performing external recruiting talent pipeline. A recruiting talent pipeline approach is known by a variety of names, including a “recruiting prospect inventory,” a “recruiting pool,” or a recruiting network. It is designed to give you a continuous supply of high-quality and interested external recruiting prospects to choose from. It is strategic because it has a long-term talent-supply focus, which means that critical jobs can be filled faster and with higher quality and more interested prospects.

A recruiting talent pipeline is also known as a talent/candidate pool or network. It is an inventory of qualified individuals who could quickly move into your future job openings.

The Top 12 Business Benefits From Having a Recruiting Talent Pipeline

There are many benefits that result from having a well-executed recruiting talent pipeline or recruiting inventory. When you’re building a business case, for one, be sure and include these business impact factors:

  1. You will hire better-performing new hires — with more time to find them, you will end up with a large number of high-quality prospects. And once the best are identified, you will have much more time to build a trust relationship, which is required in order to get top prospects to apply. There will also be more time to more accurately assess them and to effectively sell them. And because you keep an open slot for exceptional currently employed inventory members, you can hire them immediately when they consider entering the job market. These factors taken together will result in higher-performing hires. And with more spread out and thorough vetting and reference checking, your percentage of “weak hires” will decrease dramatically (46 percent of hires are failures). And the chance of hiring a complete “hiring catastrophe” who must be released will be almost nonexistent.
  2. You’ll hire exceptional talent that you couldn’t with standard recruiting — this candidate-centric process makes it possible to hire individuals who literally could never be hired with a traditional hiring process. This type of approach is essential for successfully recruiting innovators, industry icons, and senior executives. With a better candidate experience and extended two-way communications, you’ll be able to customize both the jobs that you offer and your sales pitch to each individual high-value target.
  3. You will be able to identify more and higher quality recruiting targets — because there is pressure to fill the job immediately, most normal sourcing is so rushed that it misses numerous top prospects. Still other desirable prospects will be missed under the traditional model, because they would not be actively in the job market at the precise time when you’re looking. And with more time to get to know them, extended sourcing gives you time to ensure that they have the right skill set, fit, and to convince the very best to agree to apply. With a high volume of high-quality candidates, managers will no longer have to settle for “butts and chairs” hiring.
  4. You can identify developing talent early — because there is no rush, you can identify those prospects who are still developing but who have a promising career trajectory. Over time, you can build a relationship and interest (when other firms have no interest in them). So when this developing talent finally reaches the required skill/experience level that you need, you can formally recruit them.
  5. Higher retention rates among new hires — because the standard hiring process “rushes” candidates into an immediate decision, a significant percentage (over 50 percent) end up regretting their hiring decision. However, because prospects in the recruiting inventory are not rushed into applying and deciding to take a new job, they have more time to thoroughly learn about the company. There will be no surprises after they start because of that deep knowledge and the commitment they had built up over time. This lack of surprises and knowing exactly what they will get will result in a much higher retention rate from new hires who were in the recruiting inventory.
  6. Higher offer acceptance rates — because those in the inventory have had more time to learn about and like the company, they will be more convinced of the advantages of joining. In addition, because of the two-way communication over a long period of time, the firm is more likely to capture and understand the unique needs of those who they target. As a result, their offers will be sculpted to meet those unique needs. Taken together, this will dramatically increase your offer acceptance rates from those who were in the inventory.
  7. Lower salary costs — the very best active candidates are in high demand. And because they are often fought over, their salary expectations go up. However, because you hold open slots, you can hire exceptional prospects immediately before they actively enter the job market. The stretched out talent pipeline approach also gives you more time to identify under-the-radar prospects who will be completely missed by other firms. Taken together, this means that there will be fewer head-to-head competitions. This reduced competition and bidding mean that you can land quality prospects without having to offer them higher salaries.
  8. Critical open positions will be filled more rapidly — critical positions must be filled with exceptional talent. However, under the traditional “rushed sourcing model,” often no qualified candidates can be found, so positions go vacant for extended periods of time. And in cases, positions are literally never filled. Extended vacancies in critical and revenue generating positions directly cost the firm revenue and they also slow progress. The pipeline approach can fill jobs almost immediately because a large volume of talent has already been pre-identified, vetted, and presold. The large volume of talent in your inventory also means that almost no positions will go unfilled.
  9. You will provide your firm with a competitive advantage — if you’re using a talent pipeline approach, your firm’s managers are undoubtedly highly competitive. Because most firms don’t have an external talent inventory at all, with higher-quality applicants and faster hiring you will be providing your firm with a competitive advantage over their talent competitors.
  10. Hiring manager satisfaction will increase dramatically — the rush of normal panic sourcing means that there will be some “turkeys” in your candidate mix. However, without the rush and with more time to vet, the pipeline process will deliver candidate slates with a higher average “quality of candidate” and zero disinterested and not-qualified candidates. As a result, hiring managers will waste less time dealing with inferior candidates. And that coupled with a noticeably better quality of hire will dramatically increase hiring manager satisfaction with the recruiting process.
  11. A superior candidate experience — a talent pipeline process is candidate-centric, meaning that it focuses on identifying and meeting candidate needs. With more time for engagement, answering questions, and two-way communications, candidates will have a better experience both before and during the hiring process.
  12. More diversity prospects and hires — the best diverse prospects are hard to find and harder to sell. However, because you have more time to find and then convince diverse individuals to apply, you will have more diversity hiring choices. And with less of a rush to assess and sell, more diversity hires will accept your offers.

Seven Recruiting Function Benefits

In addition to the important business impacts that were covered above, there are many ways that a recruiting function directly benefits from having a successful recruiting talent pipeline model. Those benefits that the recruiting function receives include:

  1. Less stress on recruiters — the rush to hire often requires “panic sourcing” and the rush to accurately assess candidates puts a great deal of stress on recruiters. The pipeline approach meets the reality of overworked recruiters, which is unlikely to change at most corporations. Stretching out the process means less stress on recruiters but better results. Incidentally, there is also less stress on hiring managers, so that they will be less likely to dread the hiring process as much.
  2. Fewer candidates will drop out during the recruiting process — one of the primary goals of the talent inventory process is to build commitment to the firm. That commitment increases when a prospect is provided with more information, when they have their questions answered and when a trust relationship is built over time. With an increased level of commitment, fewer candidates in the inventory will find reasons to drop out of even a prolonged hiring process. Fewer dropouts will mean better quality hires, less wasted time, and lower hiring costs.
  3. The talent pipeline approach is ideal for landing the so-called passive — the most desirable and the largest percentages of ideal prospects are currently working and they are not actively looking. As a result, they will not see or be attracted by your firm’s job postings. The pipeline approach allows your recruiters to find them and make contact without ever mentioning an immediate job opening (which might scare employee prospects away). After a relationship of trust is built, the recruiter can gradually raise the possibility of someday joining your firm. This slow and deliberate approach is often the only successful way to hire the so-called passive prospects (they are not passive individuals; they are simply not actively looking for a job).
  4. A talent pipeline helps to overcome a weak employer brand or location  under the traditional rushed “fill-an-immediate-opening” model, there is little time for the recruiter to sell potential applicants and candidates. This is especially a problem when the firm has a weak employer brand image or if the job is in a less desirable location. Under the pipeline model, recruiters have much more time to sell and to overcome these limitations.
  5. Recruiters won’t have to rely on “coincidence hiring” — under most hiring, it’s simply a “coincidence” that an exceptional candidate is ready for a new job at the precise time that you have their ideal job open. A pipeline allows you to create “evergreen jobs” or reserved slots that are always open, so you can hire whenever an exceptional candidate become available. This can reduce recruiter frustration because they often find perfect prospects, but they can’t do anything with them because there is no open requisition.
  6. You will be able to attract better recruiters — the best recruiters prefer the talent pipeline model because just like the executive search approach, it allows them the time to really get to know and to hire truly great individuals. The existence of a large external talent inventory and a stretched-out approach will on its own be enough to attract many exceptional recruiters.
  7. It’s easy to prove that the pipeline approach is superior — many corporations have no recruiting talent inventory simply because of a lack of funding. Fortunately, it’s easy to make a strong business case for this approach because of the many advantages cited above. But it’s also especially easy to prove that this inventory approach works because some hires will come from the talent inventory while other hires will come from the traditional just-in-time sourcing. And as a result, you have a perfect “split sample.” And when you’re making a business case, the split-sample approach is the most credible method for proving too cynical executives that a program works. This natural split sample allows you to compare the performance of a control group’s hires (normal hires) with the new-hire performance from the experimental group’s hires (those from the talent inventory). With the percentage of increase in on-the-job performance, more diversity, and higher retention rates in hand, you can show and then quantify the many powerful business impacts of the talent inventory approach.

Final Thoughts

A talent inventory approach provides a firm with an alternative to the standard “fill-an-immediate opening” approach. With its many business impacts in a major corporation, it can produce millions of dollars of additional revenue and productivity by hiring better quality people, faster, and with fewer errors. It provides so many benefits, it’s a crime to have a poor-performing one or not to have one at all.

Note: Next week on 5/23/16 the third and final installment of this series on talent pipelines will cover how to develop or update your corporate talent pipeline so that it produces exceptional results. The first article in this series covered who should be in your talent pipeline. It was published on on 5/9/16 and was entitled Your Talent Pipeline Needs a Roto-Router Because It’s Not Producing.

This article is part of a series called How-Tos.
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