talent pools

Talent pools might recruiting’s worst kept secret, but few can say with complete certainty that they’ve perfected the talent pool formula. 

We’ve designed a complete guide for talent pipelines and pools. It’s the one resource your team needs to establish whether you should be building talent pools, and then figure out the most effective tactics to use.

John Bersin

Talent Pools and Modern Recruiting

As people in hiring capacities, we’re constantly treading the line between quantity and quality. 5 years ago, posting to job boards and spending money on advertising may have done the trick but in today’s candidate-driven gig-economy, even brand leaders with massive organic pulls like Google and Facebook are struggling. 

Recruiters now need to think like marketers. And what’s marketing 101? The customer buying cycle. 

lifecycles

Long before a candidate becomes ‘active’ they’re passively engaging with you and your brand whether you have a strategy in place to engage with or not. 

The best recruiting teams out there have moved well beyond reactive job posting. They’re now one step ahead of their talent, creating content and opportunities for them candidates to enjoy way before a role even opens. 

In that perfect storm comes the talent pool. 

What is a talent pool?

A talent pool is a database of passive candidates. They’re made up of candidates who:

  • applied for past roles 
  • candidates you have sourced yourself 
  • candidates that have been referred to you 
  • unsuccessful candidates
  • candidates that have found you organically 

Crucially though, they are not currently being considered for a role. 

Often these people are passive candidates, not actively looking for new roles, but will be prepared to have a conversation if you come to them with the right opportunity.

blank

Talent pooling is one of the more popular ways of maintaining a steady flow of candidates for the company.

Whenever I think of talent pooling I think of the queue outside an Apple Shop whenever a new iPhone launches. Good marketing ensure the queue starts, a good end product keeps them in the queue and, as the queue gets bigger, it attracts more and more attention. 

Likewise, having this long queue of talent in a talent pool makes it easier for leadership to forecast hiring more accurately and reduce time to hire. As soon as a manager approaches you with a role that needs filling you can have 5 or 6 different CVs on their desk by the next morning. 

It’s that effective.

Building a Talent Pool – The First Steps

It’s not easy being a modern day recruiter. 

When you’re not sourcing new candidates, you’re filling requirements. And when you’re not filling requirements, you’re working with internal talent. 

With all this it can seem unrealistic for you to try and adopt a talent pool. 

Firstly, the purpose of a talent pool is to streamline and optimise your time. It should be solving many of the problems, like sourcing and nurturing candidates, you think of when it comes to implementation.

And you’re probably already doing a lot of the things involved in creating a good talent pool right now – you just haven’t framed it that way. 

So, with that in mind, here are a few ways you can get started with building your talent pool.

Mobilise Your Channels 

Take a digital revolution, add a dash of always on technology in the palm of your hand and sprinkle in a bit of social feedback and you’ve got yourself a formula for a candidate that is always looking. 

The fact of the matter here is that we have so many different channels and ways to connect with brands – probably too many! 

If you’re an internal recruiter in a company of any size, you’ve likely already got a whole suite of channels ready for you to mobilise. 

  • Website / Blog
  • Email
  • Events
  • Social Media

A good place to start when thinking about setting up your talent pool is to audit your company. How many of these channels are they using? How many of them can you use to start putting out feelers for talent? 

Once you’ve got a list of channels you can use – you can move on to the next step. 


Read next: Inbound Recruiting


Provide Value

So you’ve got all these channels set up and ready to go, how do you then get talent to engage with you? 

You figure out what problems they’re having and you provide solutions for them. 

But obviously the range of talent is so diverse and you can’t provide value to all of them at once. 

This is where it pays to have a bit of segmentation. 

Sam Levy hinge

Say, for example, you know your dev team is going to be working on a new ios app and will need to hire a few Swift developers in a couple of months it’d be a good idea for you to try and provide something of value to Swift developers. 

That could be anything but here are a few examples:

  • Meet the Dev Team Blog
  • Swift Developer Insight Report
  • A Swift Developer Event or Meetup (Get your head of development to run the event)

Once you’ve decided what channel you’re using and what content you’re providing, you can move on to…

Make It Easy For Candidates To Join

This is probably the most important step – the conversion step. 

All your hard work auditing your channels to find the right opportunity and creating the right content will be for nought if you don’t make it easy for them to actually join your talent pool. 

The most traditional method of signing up to a pool might be through a form submission. The candidate will submit their email address and name in exchange for updates on jobs or further nurturing. 

There are other ways for you to capture the interest of talent:

  • Post your talent pool on job sites 
  • Paid adverts (Linkedin / Google)

Work on Your Data

If you’re gathering all this data, you need somewhere to store it and report on it. 

This is why we’re seeing a significant increase in the number of companies using CRM software to build talent pools, some analysts believe that 80% of future recruiting processes will take place in the CRM.

The power of a CRM system lies in its ability to not only report on the contacts you’re creating but to also nurture those contacts. 

CRM systems like Hubspot are particularly good at nurturing candidates with workflows that automate the delivery of new content and help push them towards a goal. 


Listen now: Extra data, no pineapple – Barry Weich, CIO @ Dominos Pizza


Look at your own processes 

If you take a long, analytical look at your own processes you’ll likely find a bunch of touchpoints for you to artificially build your talent pool. 

Here are a few ideas to get you started.

Unsuccessful Candidates

Candidates who have already shown significant interest in your company by applying are ideal for your talent pool.

The average corporate role receives 250 applications, leaving 249 unsuccessful candidates. You’d expect more than a few might be relevant in the future.

Right now, it’s likely that these candidates are sitting “somewhere in your system”. It’s highly unlikely that anyone from your team is looking at them for any open or future roles.


Read next: Giving Feedback to Unsuccessful Candidates


Internal Talent

It’s easy to overlook your existing talent but recruiting is incredibly expensive. 

A study by SHRM predicts that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a programmer making $90,000 a year (the average developer salary in the US), that’s $45,000 to $67,500 in recruiting and training expenses alone.

For that reason, it’s important to look in your own four walls for talent pool candidates. 

Your hiring manager will already have a pretty solid idea of a candidate’s competency, while the candidate probably has a relatively good grasp of the open role and its requirements. There’s the added bonus of the internal candidate being a good cultural fit and an overall known quantity too.

Careers Fairs and Other Events 

You’re likely already attending a lot of career’s fairs and events, but are you nurturing the candidate’s you’re connecting with at these events? 

Instead of just capturing names, you should be directing your candidates at these events to a landing page where they can sign up to the talent pool. Better yet, bring some devices along with you and walk them through the process of signing up. 

Not only will you get more candidates but you’ll be able to track them better as they integrate with your CRM seamlessly. 

Talent pools are a far more effective way to keep tabs on these candidates. They give you a systematic way to manage and nurture new leads from events, and let you track which candidates end up applying giving you a simple way to calculate the ROI of different events.

talent pool lead gen

Talent Pool Lead Generation

Once you’ve laid the foundations for your talent pools, you need to fill it with water. But how do you get the water?

Well it is, quite literally, all around us. But, just like startups around the world are proving, not all water is the same (some of it comes in cartons). 

Here are a few methods you can use to get a hold of the best talent for your talent pools. 

Blogging 

According to hubspot 75% of job searches now start on Google. And of those 75% of the searches, a large majority of them will be done by candidates who aren’t ready to look for their next role. 

The nature of blogging, a key player in an inbound marketing strategy, is educational and unintrusive. Candidates will only ever find your content if they actually search for it. And the intent from the candidate is pre-baked into the search meaning you’re always providing value. 

Blogging will help you get top of mind with these candidates while still respecting their position as passive candidates. 

But blogging to add talent to your talent pool will seem like a waste of time if you don’t target efficiently. 

Let’s say for the sake of this article you want to add Javascript developers to your talent pool. 

You’d ask yourself: “What problems/changes are Javascript Developers facing right now?” and you might do a bit of research and figure out that remote working is a hot topic right now and a blog about Software Companies with Remote Working Strategies would be something a Javascript Developer would get some value from. 

Once you’ve optimised the post (we recommend working with a content specialist to help with SEO) you’ll need to remember the advice we gave above and make it easy for a reader to join your talent pool. 

A call to action to join your talent pool and an accompanying form at the bottom of the blog will be enough to capture the talent.


Read next: Inbound Recruiting


To increase your conversion ratio on the blogs, keep the form simple. First name, last name and email is all you need. 

Recruitment Blogging FAQs

What Kind of Content Should I be Posting?

Post content that provides answers to your potential candidate’s problems. 

Recent changes to the Google search algorithms have reaffirmed the importance of the following aspects when writing content:

  • Natural Language
  • Long-form content (1200+ words )
  • Regularly updated content 
  • Keyword placement

If you’re using a wordpress site to post your content, we recommend downloading the Yoast plugin. It’ll guide you on how to optimise your content while you’re writing it. 

How Often Should I be Blogging?

That depends on how much time you can commit to it. The size of your team etc. 

If you can commit to weekly content, do it. If not, no worries. 

Where Shall I Post My Blog? 

It’s likely that your company will have a blog already. Speak to your web master and get permission to post. 

If you don’t have a company blog, you can use Medium as a host for your blog. It’s free to make one and you get the added benefit of being part of the Medium domain which is highly authoritative. 

But, on the flip side, you won’t have full control over how that blog looks and, if you do have a website, your medium blog would sit separately, adding friction for anyone wanting to visit your site from a blog. 

Online and Offline Events 

Events, both online and offline, are a magnet for highly engaged and motivated candidates. 

Think about it. Attending an event isn’t something you’d do if you weren’t serious about the subject matter and those who are serious about themselves are usually serious about development. Perfect candidates for your talent pool. 

But events, regardless of whether they’re online or offline, aren’t easy to set up. If you’re serious about running events to attract the best talent, a change of perspective is needed. 

Think of talent hunting at events as the icing on top of the cake. It makes the cake so much sweeter but you only really ever put it on at the end and the cake would still be fine without the icing. 

The fact of the matter here is this: it’ll be very unlikely you get a chance to run an event where the main objective is to attract new talent. Why? Because the best talent for your talent pool isn’t always looking for a new role and wouldn’t attend an event focused on finding them a new opportunity. 

If your company is already running events, you just need to get yourself there and put your feelers out for good talent. 

If your company isn’t running events, you’ve got a harder job cut out for yourself and your time might be better spent on some of the other lead generation tactics listed in this article. 

Or you could focus your time on online events.

Online Event – Ask Me Anything

An Ask Me Anything (AMA) is a simple and effective online event that you can have set up in no time at all. Plus they’re a great source for your talent pools. 

All you need is a subject (the person being asked anything) and a place for the questions to be asked and answered. 

That subject is usually someone in a unique position who’s experience and knowledge will be attractive to potential candidates. We’ve run AMAs in the past with the likes of Peter Donlon, CTO @ Moonpig. His title and status will attract potential candidates who will be eager to learn from him. 

Looking inside your company for subjects for an AMA is a good idea too, just follow the same logic stated above: unique position with lots of experience. If you’ve got someone like that in your company, great. They’ll be able to talk about your company, it’s values and more. 

Once you’ve got a guest, you’ll want to start marketing the AMA. Mobilise your channels again. Advertise it on social media, across your website and any other channels you have access to. 

Finally, you’ll want to make sure there is a sign up process so you can capture the people who want to be a part of the event and bring them into your talent pools.