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Candidate Search outsourced recruiting

5 Essential Steps to Building an Effective Talent Pipeline Strategy

March 3, 2022

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 March 2022. 

The strength of your current and future talent is a great indicator of your business's success. Businesses need to define, attract, and develop the right mix of critical talent to support their growth. Unfortunately, many businesses wait for employees to quit before searching for replacements. This reactive process sets them behind on finding the best talent for their newly vacant positions.

To ensure a flow of the right talent for these roles, businesses need to practice having proactive talent pipelines. This means maintaining a continuous stream of growth with candidate relationships.

Why is this important?

Because it means you’ll have an ideal candidate ready to fill the gaps in your business when you have someone unexpectedly quit or if you suddenly achieve levels of growth you weren’t previously prepared to handle.

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Flipping the point here, a lack of proactive recruitment and sourcing can compromise your existing team and limit company growth. No matter which industry you’re in, it’s critical to have a talent pipeline or candidate relationship framework in place to support your hiring needs. Here are five essential steps to build and optimize your talent pipeline:

1. Plan

To build an effective and proactive talent pipeline, it’s essential that recruiters understand their company’s strategic direction. Leaders need to be informed of both their current needs and plans for growth. Before building a sourcing and recruiting plan, it’s important to understand which roles are critical to reaching your business goals.

Tip: Take time to map out where your hiring needs are and where you expect them to go. Analyzing both the future needs of your business and the key roles that will aid in reaching these goals will help you prioritize where to focus your hiring efforts.

Another important consideration to make is employee departure. What would happen if your key team members ever decide to leave? What if they leave mid-project or mid-quarter? Contemplating these topics and questions will help to reveal any gaps in your current talent pipeline and map out your succession planning strategies.

The first step is identifying the immediate areas of improvement like sources of hire, turnover rate by department, open jobs vs. filled positions, time to hire, and the offer-to-acceptance ratio. Once you have this insight, leveraging this data helps you measure the success of your current talent pipeline plans. 

2. Attract Talent

Rather than always take a reactive role with candidates, employers should focus their efforts on creating an employer brand that helps potential candidates choose them. When it comes to employer brand, one important thing to note is the drive and motivation of the talent coming in.

Think of the phrase, "too much of a good thing is a bad thing."

This mentality applies to employer branding; sometimes having a great employer brand can attract talent that's interested in your culture, but not the work you do. As your great employer brand becomes recognized, it is important for you to ensure the talent you're attracting actually fits the scope of your work and your team's needs. 

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

Instead of appealing to every audience, your employer brand should inherently attract those who relate to it while encouraging others to look elsewhere. One way to help build and broadcast your brand is through applying for employer awards (such as the Best Places to Work).

Attracting talent is also a forward-thinking strategy. Building and expanding a future talent pool of interested and skilled candidates means when you do have to look for new employees, you've already got a list of candidates you can engage with. This reduces the time your teams need to spend actively finding talent to fill your pipeline.

3. Assess Candidates

Nowadays, there are countless simple, customizable assessment tools that can be used to help quantify data and candidate profiles. These tools can be used alongside your hiring manager's judgments to get a solid picture of a potential employee's performance, skills, and values.

@IQTalent Partners says that building your #TalentPipeline isn’t just about finding the right people, it’s about continuously #developing your team. Check out the 5 essential steps to building a talent pipeline in their latest blog:Click to Tweet

Quantitative data 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-managers 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. 

Do not 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 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, such as regional or global leadership development programs, or dedicated executive training programs. The important part is that you develop a brand and identity for your program, and communicate 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. Monitor Efforts

The final step involves evaluation and continuous monitoring. At this point in the process, you need to evaluate how effective your talent pipeline model is, and pinpoint any areas of future development.

  • What aspects are working as intended?
  • How can you better broadcast your brand?
  • Which areas are your training and development initiatives lacking? 

Determining the answers to these questions will help you to build out a solid action plan for the future. 

Tip: Review your outcomes on a regular basis. We recommend at least every six months, but adjust the timing to fit the needs of your business.

Set KPIs for different areas and monitor these outcomes to quantify your success. It’s important to note some KPI’s 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.

Additionally, 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 are challenged. Non-cash forms of recognition can serve as a powerful retention tool.

Given the potential problems of unplanned departures and the risks associated with having to bring in external talent, companies must consider the value of a talent pipeline. Contact IQTalent Partners today to discuss the benefit of implementing a talent pipeline in your company.

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