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Talent Candidate Search outsourced recruiting

5 Key Steps to Building a Proactive Talent Pipeline

May 31, 2024

This article on building an effective talent pipeline strategy was originally published in October 2018. All relevant statistics and copy have been updated as of May 2024.

The strength of your team today and tomorrow is a huge predictor of your business's success. It's all about figuring out, attracting, and nurturing the right blend of talent to push your growth forward. Sadly, too many companies hit the panic button and start looking for new talent only after someone leaves. This wait-and-see approach only puts them at a disadvantage in snagging top talent for their open roles.

To keep the talent stream flowing, businesses need to build proactive talent pipelines. These pipelines focus on creating strong relationships with candidates and cultivating a dependable recruiting process before the need for a role to be filled arises.

Why is This Important?

Building a proactive talent pipeline means an ideal candidate is ready to fill the gaps in your business when you have someone unexpectedly quit or if you suddenly find your team handling levels of growth you weren't quite ready for.

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The drawbacks of not having a proactive recruitment and sourcing model go beyond not having suitable talent on hand fast; it can compromise your existing team and limit company growth. No matter what industry you're in, having a plan for finding and keeping potential hires is key to meeting your staffing needs. Let’s look at five essential steps to build and optimize your talent pipeline:

1. Lay a Strategic Foundation

To build an effective and proactive talent pipeline, recruiters need to fully understand their company’s strategic direction, including current needs and plans for growth. Before building a sourcing and recruiting plan, it’s important that everyone is on the same page about which roles are critical to reaching business goals.

Pro tip: Chart out your current and future hiring needs. Understanding what your business will need down the line and the crucial roles to hit those targets makes it much easier to figure out where to channel your hiring efforts.

Another thing to consider is potential employee departure. What would happen if your key team members ever decide to leave? What if they leave mid-project or mid-quarter? Running through these scenarios ahead of time will help reveal any gaps in your current talent pipeline.

Next, identify the immediate areas of improvement, such as sources of hire, turnover rate by department, open jobs vs. filled positions, time to hire, and the offer-to-acceptance ratio. Leveraging this data helps you measure the success of your current talent pipeline and make educated decisions regarding how you and your team move forward.

2. Attract the Right Talent

Shift from a reactive hiring strategy to a proactive one by crafting an employer brand that resonates with potential candidates. However, remember that a strong employer brand may attract individuals who are more interested in the company culture than in the actual work. Ensure that your employer branding efforts attract candidates who fit culturally and are also aligned with the work and the team's needs.

Your brand should appeal to those who share your values and encourage others to look elsewhere. Applying for employer awards, like Best Places to Work, can be a strategic move to enhance your brand's visibility. By actively building a pool of interested and qualified candidates, you create a reservoir of talent to tap into when needed, streamlining the hiring process.

Remember: Just like your internal corporate values, your brand won't be for everyone.

3. Assess Candidates

Thanks to today’s advances in tech and hiring data, customizable assessment tools can significantly streamline candidate evaluation. These tools offer a quantifiable means of analyzing candidate profiles and competencies, ensuring a more objective selection process.

For example, assessment tools like those provided by Caldwell Analytics help create an even more robust selection process. Rather than relying solely on gut feelings or standard interview processes, empower your hiring with data-driven insights found while using Caldwell Analytics. You can use these tried-and-true tools to make informed decisions that harmonize not just with the job requirements but also with the team’s profile and direction.

Additionally, quantitative data gathered from Caldwell Analytics helps you validate nominations to your high-potential pool. For example, a “micro-manager” may be very successful when working with subordinates; however, in a peer group of other managers, the peers may rebel against the micro-manager style. When it comes to hiring for your organization, you want to be certain the people you invest in are the right ones for your job and company.

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Don’t compromise your standards when you approach hiring, whether you are identifying future leaders for your company or hiring frontline employees. Conduct periodic reviews of your talent to ensure that your plans are on track and that the right people are still being developed and rewarded appropriately. Use this review process to help design individualized development plans for your high-potential team members.

4. Train and Develop

Building your talent model pipeline isn’t just about finding the right people – it’s about continuously developing your teams to put them in the best position for success. After you’ve identified assessment criteria, you can build a dedicated program aimed to address any skill gaps and provide ongoing training opportunities for development. This could include internal and external coaching, cross-functional experiences, and internal assignment opportunities both nationally and globally.

Your business can have multiple programs, like regional or global leadership development programs or dedicated executive training programs. The important part is developing a brand and identity for your program and communicating it widely so all team members are aware of the initiative.

Tip: Take care to focus on the intent and branding of your training and development programs. These initiatives can also serve as a great selling tool to attract future talent to your business.

5. Check, Measure, Improve, Repeat

The last step is all about checking in and keeping an eye on things. Now's the time to see how well your talent pipeline model is working and spot where you can make it even better in the future. Think about:

  • What's going well?
  • How can you get the word out about your brand more effectively?
  • Where could your training and development efforts use a boost?

Answering these questions will give you a strong game plan moving forward.

Tip: Review your outcomes regularly. We recommend at least every six months, but adjust the timing to fit your business's needs.

Set KPIs for different areas and monitor these outcomes to quantify your success. It’s important to note some KPIs are based on metrics while others are based on soft skills. For example, the effectiveness of your employer brand can be measured by the interest you receive for available positions, while development programs can be measured by employee turnover rates.

Be sure to identify who your top talent is and reward them accordingly. Tell your top performers who they are, thank them for their contribution, give them exposure to your top management, and ensure that they feel both challenged and supported.

By following these steps and embracing a proactive mindset toward talent acquisition, you can secure a bright future for your business. Remember, a strong talent pipeline is not just about filling roles—it's about creating a culture of continuous growth and development.

With 85% of HR leaders agreeing that a strategic talent pipeline is essential for business success, it's time to invest in building yours. Reach out to IQTalent today to explore how implementing a talent pipeline can drive your organization’s growth.