6 Steps to Building a Talent Pipeline for Your Business

Companies hire new talent for a number of reasons. Perhaps they’re growing, or have new goals and needs, or an existing employee is leaving, etc.

But, modern recruiters can’t simply wait for one of these things to happen before they start looking for new job candidates. Given the fast-paced and increasingly competitive hiring landscape, recruiters must develop a proactive approach to cultivate a group of potential hires — even before they need to fill open positions.

Enter, the talent pipeline.

Today’s blog post provides a comprehensive guide to talent pipeline development for your B2B organization. Keep reading to learn how you can fill your talent pool with high-quality candidates using this strategy!

What is a talent pipeline?

A talent pipeline is a group or “pool” of qualified job candidates your company may want to hire into existing or future positions. It benefits recruiters to have a talent pipeline filled with high-quality candidates — because otherwise, they’d have to start a talent search from scratch each time they want to fill an open position.

Of course, a talent pipeline won’t fill itself. Building a pipeline requires a proactive approach, as recruiters must create a framework to develop and nurture long-term relationships with potential hires. While many companies follow a similar framework, your specific strategy should be tailored to your company’s needs, culture, and overall business goals.

Benefits of creating a talent pipeline?

Developing a talent pipeline strategy accomplishes much more than simply provide structure to your hiring process. Let’s look at some of the key benefits of establishing a talent pipeline framework:

1. Reduce time-to-hire.

When recruiters struggle to fill open positions in a timely manner, the hiring team — and often the entire company — suffers. According to LinkedIn, only 30% of companies are able to fill a vacant role within 30 days, while 70% take anywhere between one and four months to process a new hire (source). 

A successful talent pipeline streamlines the hiring process and drastically reduces your time-to-hire. By developing and nurturing relationships with qualified candidates, you put yourself in a position to hire more quickly.

2. Hire better candidates.

When you’re scrambling to fill an open position, you’re prone to making hasty and potentially ill-advised hiring decisions. A talent pipeline framework enables you to be more strategic, think long-term, and plan in advance. As a result, you’ll be more likely to hire the best possible candidates — rather than suffer the high-cost of a bad hire.

3. Improve candidate experience.

A talent pipeline requires a hands-on approach, as you must develop and nurture candidates throughout their journey to being hired. This is a much more candidate-friendly strategy, as opposed to the traditional method of posting job listings and waiting for applications. 

By engaging candidates on their own terms, you provide them with a more positive and informative candidate experience — which will help them make an impact when and if they choose to accept a role at your company.

6 Steps to Creating a Talent Pipeline Framework

Now that we’ve explained the benefits of a talent pipeline, let’s get into the key steps you should follow to develop a talent pipeline framework.

1. Identify your company’s long-term goals and needs.

Start by developing a comprehensive understanding of your company’s strategic direction. In other words, think about the positions that currently need to be filled, while also anticipating future growth or changes that might impact your hiring needs. Consider the following:

  • Is your company planning to expand significantly within the next one, two, or even five years?
  • Are you changing locations?
  • Does your company plan to expand or restructure a specific department?
  • Is your company anticipating any potential mergers, acquisitions, or other major changes?

It’s wise for recruiters to adopt a “what if?” mentality. Prepare for any potential outcome that might impact your hiring strategy. This may be the most difficult step in the development of your talent pipeline framework, as it requires extensive brainstorming and discussion across departments. But rest assured, this step, sometimes called talent mapping, will pay off in the long-run. You’ll be able to pinpoint the kind of talent you need now, while also keeping an eye on the future.

2. Develop a candidate sourcing strategy to fill your pipeline.

Once you’ve identified your company’s needs, it’s time to fill your talent pipeline. Of course, this step isn’t a one-time process. Filling your pipeline is an ongoing strategy that requires you to proactively search for qualified candidates.

The phrase candidate sourcing refers to the process of actively searching for candidates, rather than waiting for them to apply. We won’t go over every single effective sourcing method, but here are a few of the most essential tactics:

  • Social sourcing: Search LinkedIn and other social platforms for specific keywords related to your hiring needs. LinkedIn is the most effective sourcing platform, as many users’ profiles will include the job-specific keywords you’re searching for.  
  • Referrals: Develop a referral program in which your employees can refer you to candidates and receive a reward if their referral results in a hire. 
  • Networking events: Networking events provide a great opportunity to engage with job candidates. In-person interaction allows you to immediately establish stronger connections with passive candidates compared to the standard online outreach.
  • Recruiting databases: If you don’t already have a candidate database to pull from, consider partnering with a data provider who can provide access to a large quantity of high-quality candidates. 

3. Establish contact with new candidates. 

Now it’s time to start building connections with the candidates you’ve identified. At this point, you’re not reaching out to candidates to ask them to apply for a specific job. Rather, you want to make an honest and organic connection that you’ll continue to build over time. 

Focus your early conversations on getting to know the candidates in your pipeline. Ask them informed questions about their own goals, experiences, and plans for the future. Establish trust early on so you can continue to develop relationships with candidates who may not be ready to pursue a new job.

4. Assess your talent pool.

At this point, you’ve created a talent pool and started making connections with candidates. Now it’s time to assess how their talents align with your company’s needs. Below are some questions to consider when conducting assessments of your talent pool.

  • Is the candidate a good fit for your culture?
  • Will their past experiences be applicable to a potential position at your company?
  • What challenges might they face, and are they equipped to overcome those challenges?
  • What new skills will they be able to develop at your company?
  • Can your company fulfill their personal goals and needs?
  • Does the makeup of your talent pool align with your company’s diversity initiatives? 

This is one of the most essential steps of managing your talent pipeline. Assessing your talent pool allows you to identify certain traits and qualifications you may be missing. From there, you can tailor your sourcing strategy to improve the quality of candidates in your pipeline. 

5. Nurture the candidates in your talent pipeline.

Your work doesn’t end once you’ve filled your talent pipeline with high-quality candidates. It’s your job to nurture the candidates in your pipeline, as many of them may be passive candidates who aren’t currently looking to switch jobs.

Nurturing candidates requires a delicate balance on the recruiter’s part. You want to continue building relationships with the candidates in your pipeline, but you don’t want to irritate them. Don’t bombard them with job listings — instead, send them relevant, engaging content that pertains to their interests or the previous conversations you’ve had with them.

6. Prioritize ongoing training and development.

Once you’ve built a strong talent pipeline, you may want to pat yourself on the back — but your work certainly does not end there. Even after you’ve hired candidates from within your pipeline, you should invest in their ongoing employee training and development within your organization.

Some companies oppose learning and development programs because of the time and monetary expenses they require. But, statistics show that talent development programs yield a number of key benefits: 

  • 70% of employees said that job-related training and development influenced their decision to stay at their job (source). 
  • 87% of Millennials say that professional development and career growth are significant to them (source). 
  • 71% of Millennials are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed (source).

As you can see, talent development is critical to employee engagement and retention. Beyond your standard onboarding, we recommend you establish an ongoing training program that helps employees develop their skills as they progress through their new roles. 

Key Takeaways on Building a Talent Pipeline Framework

The talent pipeline framework transforms the old-fashioned recruiting process into something organic, ongoing, and equally beneficial to both the company and the candidates. 

Creating a talent pipeline may seem like a lot of effort upfront, but it’s a worthwhile investment no matter the size and characteristics of your company. Not only will you streamline your recruiting process, but you’ll also hire more qualified, engaged, and happy candidates who will make a difference at your company.

Learn more about ZoomInfo’s recruiting platform by reaching out to our sales team today. Our tools can help you identify, connect with, and hire better candidates today!