It's time to hire. So you write a killer job description, post it on the job boards, source additional candidates online, and maybe even work with a staffing agency to get great people in for interviews. It's a long process - about 60 days for most companies - and it keeps you constantly scrambling to find top talent.
Well, I'm going to let you in on the best known secret to hiring great candidates, faster: build a talent pipeline.
I think it's important to note here that this is NOT the same thing as having candidates in your ATS. Let's be honest, your ATS is where resumes go to die. Or at least to never see the light of day again. A talent pipeline, once built, needs to be engaged and nurtured.
How to Build a Talent Pipeline
The easiest way to start is by adding candidates you've recently interviewed, but that have not been selected to fill your position. For this reason, it's important that your candidates have a positive experience with your company throughout all of their interactions. This requires communication, at every step in the process. Without this, your candidates aren't likely to want to hear from you again.
Also include past employees in your talent pipeline. During your exit interview, ask them why they're leaving - this could provide useful data in the event that you ever want to hire them back, so long as their reason for leaving isn't a barrier to coming back on.
You may also receive unsolicited resumes from time to time, either from referral candidates, your company's customers (brand advocates can become great employees), or people that are fans of your employment brand. When you receive an unsolicited resume, make sure you reply to the candidate to let them know you don't currently have an opening, but that you will keep them in mind for future opportunities. You may also want to take the time to have a preliminary conversation about their background and goals.
Keep track of your candidates, their contact information (bonus tip: include social media handles!), and your communications with them in a way that makes sense to you, and makes it easy to reach out and engage.
How to Engage your Talent Pipeline
Once you build a talent pipeline, keep your company top of mind by keeping in touch with your candidates. This can be done on a mass scale, by sending a monthly newsletter or writing a blog, or it can be done on more of a one-on-one basis, through email or phone.
Every candidate will have a preferred method of engagement, so try to offer as many options as you're comfortable managing. You can also ask your employees to contribute - for example, writing blog posts or making phone calls to top talent to touch base.
Here are some ideas to help keep your company top of mind for your talent pipeline:
- Employment blog: Put a blog on your career site to share information about your company, what to expect in an interview, why your employees like working for the company, what the management team is like, etc. A weekly blog post should suffice, although more frequency would allow you to share more information. If you're ever in need of more content, invite a colleague to write a post!
- Email newsletter: You can repurpose your blog content into a monthly newsletter that you send to candidates to update them on anything that's happening that relates to hiring. You may also want to include any open houses or career fairs you're hosting or attending.
- Pinterest: Create one or more boards, showing candidates why they should want to work for your company. Some things to include: employee spotlights, fun perks, office pictures and employee events.
- Twitter: Create a Twitter handle just for your recruiting needs. You can use this to post jobs, interact with candidates, source candidates, share your employer blog articles, etc. One of the best ways to engage with candidates on Twitter is to create a list of candidates (I would break it down by job function, but that's up to you), and check it regularly to chat with your candidates, or at least retweet and favorite their content.
- LinkedIn: A common practice is to connect to your candidates on Linkedin, but be sure to log in to your account to interact with your connections on a regular basis. If you see that they've just celebrated a work anniversary, congratulate them. If you see they've updated their profile with a new skill, comment on why that skill is important. Also make sure you (or your marketing team) are regularly updating your Linkedin company page with relevant information, including articles from your employment blog.
Encourage your talent pipeline to follow you anywhere you share your employment brand, and include links on your career page and in your email signatures to get a better reach, and to have people to engage with.
How to Reach out to Talent from your Pipeline, When the Time Comes
When you do finally need to reach out to people in your talent pipeline, do so with the intent of a friend - don't immediately assume they are interested in your opportunity.
Say hi, remind them how you are connected (either a past interview, a referral, etc), ask where they're at, what they're doing, and what they think of the company. Only once they respond (and if you genuinely think there would be a mutual interest), ask if they would be interested in your position. If it doesn't seem like the opportunity will be a good fit for them, tell them you're hiring, mention you wanted to see if they'd be interested but understand if they're not, and ask if they can refer someone to you.
When reaching out to past candidates, remind them of their past interview, why you liked them, and why you think they'd be a good fit for this new role. Do the same with past employees, but also address the reason they left so they know what's changed. Be sure to include some information on why they should consider your opportunity - really sell them on your company!
If this communication does not turn into an interview, ask the candidate if you can follow up with future opportunities, and make note of the conversation in whichever tool you're using to manage your talent pipeline (ATS, Excel, etc).
Why it's Important to do This Right
While building and maintaining a talent pipeline seems like a lot of extra work, you will see that all your hard work sourcing candidates will go a lot further. Not only will you have a talent pool ready when you need to fill a position, you will have the upper hand in recruiting top talent. As the war for talent continues, your employment branding and candidate engagement efforts can give you an advantage over your competitors, who may be going after the same talent. If two companies are competing in the same talent pool, the one that has built and maintained candidate relationships will have the upper hand.
Of course, there are also some less well known secrets to finding talent faster, like using Bright Recruiter - simply upload your job description and we'll instantly surface candidates whose resumes match your opening. No more waiting for applications, or sourcing through passive talent databases that don't have a decent response rate. Try it for free!