Pipelining talent – not all Grad fairs and free lollies

Being a professional recruiter for almost 20 years I have spent the majority of my time at the pointy end of things. The reactive vacancy given to us to fill ASAP. Organisations can save a lot of recruitment dollars in pipelining talent for their organisation. In the article below I aim to demystify the art of talent pipelining whatever size of team or organisation you run. I will also walk you through how you pipeline for experienced talent.

What is Talent Pipelining?

Pipelining means building a constant supply of what you need. A supply that you can turn on and off when required. Pipelining talent is a crucial part of your talent ecosystem. In larger organisations your HR team should be on the case. Equally though it can be done in smaller businesses or even within a single team.

Data is key

Think of your talent pipeline as a product or series of products coming from source to where it is required. Looking at historical data of hires within the last year is a useful tool to start the pipelining process. What product or job family does your business need more often? Most organisations will have 2 or 3 job families that are recruited for frequently. Also look at the really hard to fill roles, lower volume but can take 6 months to secure the right person.

Agile pipelining

If you are an organisation who is growing, then modelling future requirements will keep your pipeline relevant, reviewing this often will mean your pipeline delivers relevant talent to your business when it needs it. There is no point spending time, as an island pipelining talent, only to discover when you look up the requirements within the business have changed.

Quick wins | Retrospective pipelining

You have to start somewhere  – In order to deliver what your team or business requires now it is useful to start with some quick wins, so start with some retrospective pipelining.

Retrospective pipelining is essentially keeping a record of people that have applied for roles in your business within your chosen job families. As you screen and interview them, rate them and keep their details. Maybe they weren’t right for this role but maybe suitable for future roles. Set the bar high from the start but don’t forget the “fit for purpose” applicants – you don’t always need to hire the next CEO. Applicants that you offered but turned down the role (appropriately) are often forgotten or discounted. Make sure you record these people, your organisation may not have been right for them at that time but in 1 or 2 years’ time they may be looking again and there was a reason you offered them in the first place.

There are some great ATS Applicant tracking systems available to buy off the shelf that will track these candidates for you. However if you don’t have access to these tools then simply create a cloud based file that can be constantly updated. It is a good idea to ask all of your team members to do this regularly ensuring that when they leave the business the knowledge of previous applicants they have interviewed doesn’t walk out the door with them.

Longer term pipelining | Investment in the future

The data you collect on historical hires, combined with your future growth plans will enable you to identify your ideal candidates. The next step is to time travel, take your ideal hire and identify what role they would be doing before they join your business.

The easiest example is graduates but don’t limit yourself to this. For example, if you are constantly looking for Clinical Team Leaders in NSW have Clinicians in NSW as your target. If you required Case Workers, then maybe Youth Workers would be your target.

The Holy grail | The exclusive candidate

So, you have identified your 3 job families, what they are doing now and where they live. Next you need to reach out to this community. If you have an HR and Marketing department then get them working together to build out this community and stay in contact with them. If you are doing this on a smaller scale, then reach out to them on a social or professional platform such as Facebook or Linked In. Create groups or ask people to follow you. Then post information about the great things your organisation is doing and vacancies within the business. This is an investment, it builds awareness and trust, so when it is time to engage you are potentially engaging with talent that isn’t applying actively with all of your competitors. Nor are you paying a recruitment fee.

Graduate pipelining

The first question you should ask yourself is whether you actually use graduates in your business. Presuming the answer is yes, then the next stage is to identify what qualifications they will be currently studying towards.

Then go to the strong Universities and TAFEs that provide those courses and reach out to the Faculty Heads. Graduate employment is at an all-time low in Australia and Universities are always looking to improve the number of graduates getting employment straight out of University.

There will be formal Graduate Fairs you can attend but also opportunities to talk to groups of students once you build up a good relationship with Faculty Members. The offer of free Pizza at a careers night is an old tactic but it works. The University or TAFE will be looking for an authentic and consistent partner that can offer good opportunities for their students so ensure you have a compelling case before reaching out to your chosen education establishment.

Postgrads | The forgotten few

Some organisations find that although not high-volume recruitment the hardest to fill roles and therefore most business critical are those that require a Master’s or PhD. They have many applicants with Bachelor’s however they cannot hire them for these niche roles.

The same process applies. Identify the strong Universities offering postgraduate courses in your area. Reach out to the Head of Faculty and give them a compelling case why you should have access to some of their greatest postgrad minds. Be authentic and consistent and you will build a great pipeline of future leaders.

To summarise

  • Identify what you need in your business for quick wins. High volume roles or niche positions are best to pipeline for.
  • Retrospective pipelining can be started immediately. Keep a record in the cloud of the good candidates you have interviewed.
  • Don’t forget the people who turned offers down – there was a reason your offered them in the first place
  • Ensure your team do the same to reduce loss of IP if they leave.
  • Travel in time – identify the roles one step down from what you need
  • Create groups on social or professional platforms or ask them to follow you and engage with them. Information on great things your company are doing is as important as posting vacancies.
  • Graduates and Postgraduates are good to pipeline and Universities are always keen to partner long term with an authentic employer.
  • Raising awareness of you as a manager and your business during this time will mean when it is time to engage they trust your “brand”, understand your culture and are likely to already be in line with your values.

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