How to develop your talent pool in 6 steps

Last updated:
June 18, 2021
December 16, 2021
min read
Sim Samra
Recruitee
Table of contents

Sourcing can become every recruiter’s nightmare within a split second.

Between skills shortages and the sky-high price of LinkedIn Recruiter or specialist job boards, sourcing great talent is becoming increasingly complex and expensive.

Today, recruiters can use many recruitment tools, shortcuts, and hacks to cut down on sourcing costs and track down suitable candidates.

However, the reality is that connecting with the best talent (not just qualified talent) will be a consistently tricky task because it relies on developing relationships over time.

But there is an answer: developing a talent pool. Considering you won’t have to reach for your company’s debit card, the only investment you’ll have to make is an investment of your time and effort. And, to clarify: your return on investment is pretty priceless.  

Talent pools can help facilitate a once long-term mission. So, let’s break down how to develop a talent pool in 6 steps.

What is the definition of a talent pool?

In short, talent pools (otherwise known as ‘candidate pools’) are groups of candidates that are compiled over time and kept within your ATS.

They sit at the very start of your talent pipeline. These are candidates who have been qualified and categorized based on skill or location. It’s a little like your own candidate database. And like a good candidate database, it must be constantly maintained, curated, and nurtured.

This may sound like a lot of effort, but maintaining a healthy pool of candidates has some enticing benefits. It can:

  1. Keep qualified talent engaged with your brand and in your network.
  2. Save time on sourcing when a new position opens.
  3. Reduce recruitment costs by sourcing candidates from your network.

As long as you have open vacancies or you are actively sourcing candidates, candidate profiles will start to build up in your ATS.

Talent pools are about making the most of these profiles by sorting them according to skill, location, and other defining features to help you engage with these candidates.

How to develop your talent pool in 6 steps

Now that you understand the definition of a talent pool and recognize the benefits of this recruitment technique, it’s time to implement it.

1 - Begin your proactive search for great candidates and fill your talent pool

Great candidates aren’t as common as we’d like to believe. Posting a job description and crossing your fingers that you recruit the best of the best is a dangerous risk.

Say, for example, you have 30 applicants for a vacancy. Out of those 30, you interview 5. 2 candidates don’t cut it - they aren’t qualified enough and you don’t get that fire in your tummy. However, three candidates are evenly matched. You consult with your collaborative hiring team, and every member has a different opinion.

You can’t hire all 3 of them. There’s only one vacancy. So, after a lot of deliberation, you decide to hire candidate number one. You reject candidates 2 and 3, and you go about your life.

That’s where the mistake was made. Hiring candidate number one is great - and I’m sure they’ll be a fantastic asset to your organization. But what about candidates 2 and 3? They’ve been sent on their way, and 3 months later, candidate 1 has left - or they’ve gone on maternity leave - and you need to fill the role again. Chances are, candidates 2 and 3 won’t apply for the same position as they were previously rejected.

However, suppose you’d kept their details and developed your candidate pool. In that case, you could pluck candidate 1 or 2 out of the pool and reach out to them, potentially filling that vacancy, being as successful as candidate 1, and reducing your time to hire.

So, step number one is simple. Start with the applicants you already have. If any of the candidates you interview tick your boxes, add them to your candidate pool.

3 ways to get candidates diving into your talent pool

Use sourcing tools

The wonders of the modern, technological world have a massive impact on recruitment. Use sourcing tools like Hunter and Shapr.

This allows you to hunt for potential candidates. You don’t even need to message them initially. However, capturing their contact details for when a role arises will help you save time. Plus, if a candidate feels that they’ve been reached out to first, they’ll feel special, making them less likely to reject the job offer should they be successful.

Set up a referral scheme

Your employees are likely to have many contacts. If they were working in other companies within a similar role, it’s likely that they know some valuable assets to your organization.

While your employees may know of a few matches, it requires extra effort for them to come forward with their contact details.

However, setting up a referral scheme in the form of rewarding existing employees is a great way to extend your candidate pool.

The reward doesn’t need to be financial, either. It could be a benefit of the organization, or a gift card. Even offering half a day of holiday is enough to entice your existing employees.

This step will allow you to develop your candidate pool, building on the previous step. Remember, the key is to actively search, and search with purpose. Employee referrals is a great way to do that.

Use social media (and don’t solely rely on LinkedIn)

Building an extensive and diverse candidate pool relies on sourcing candidates from multiple places. As we’re living in the age of social media, why not reap the benefits?

Some companies fall into the trap of using LinkedIn to build their candidate pool. This isn’t a bad thing - in fact, you should be doing this. However, the problem arises when it’s the only social platform that’s being used.

And while nothing awful will happen directly if you skip out on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Tik-Tok, you may end up missing the best candidate you’ve ever interviewed.

Ultimately, search everywhere, and don’t stick to LinkedIn to develop your candidate pool.

A social media campaign is super effective, as you’re able to capture contact details immediately, and it’s reliant on them showing their interest.

2 - Manage your talent pool with ease and professionalism

Filling your candidate pool is only one part of the puzzle. Just like a pool party, you can pop people in the pool, but it doesn’t make it a party yet. Luckily, there are a few things you can do to make sure your talent pool flows beautifully, allowing it to be an easy system to view, use, and save time.

Segment your candidates

Take it from us: if you don’t segment your candidates, you’ll spend hours scrolling through various options. The only way to make sure your talent pool isn’t overcrowded and causing mayhem is by segmenting it.

While the categories you use to segment will be dependent on your industry and organization, ordinarily you can do so according to potential job roles, department, and/or past experience.

3 - Show the people in your talent pool how great it is to work with you

Having candidates in your pool is great, but unless you can warm them up and communicate with them, there’s still a chance of a rejected job offer should the situation arise.

You need to keep them warm, and you do so through communication.

You can use a wide range of content forms for this to happen. It could be a simple weekly email newsletter, where your employees share a ‘win of the week’. Or, you could go all out, publishing blog posts and webinars frequently.

We do recommend that you schedule in time for a regular message about job openings. Do so consistently, and share the details with your candidates.

4 - Update your talent pool

There’s no point in using your talent pool if you’re going to allow it to collect dust. If you have a candidate filed who has moved to another country, there’s very little chance of them taking a role with your company. So, delete their records and replace them.

Remember, candidates are more than just candidates. They are human beings. And human beings don’t stand still. They move home, get new phones, get new jobs, go back to college - the possibilities are endless. It’s your job, then, to accommodate this for your talent pool, and ensure that all your data is up to date.

How do you do that? Through the power of communication. Regularly check in with those in your candidate pool to catch up.

5 - Measure the data

As with any process in an organization, you must analyze the data to monitor the impact.

Track every step of your process to develop and strengthen your talent pool. This includes the size and quality of the pool, considering how many candidates were offered the role, how many agreed to the role, and the quality of their interview.

You should also keep track of where you found each candidate, as this will give you an indication of the location your ideal candidates are spending the most time in.

Don’t forget to consider the success of the communication between yourself and your candidates. Evaluate your analytics on social media, networking events, and your email responses and open rates.

6 - Learn, change, and better your process with valuable feedback

Feedback is the ultimate learning material. With everything you do, you should be requesting feedback. This is applicable for large corporate companies to the sole trader.

Ask for feedback from your candidates, focusing on their recruitment experience. This will help you add details to your data in step 5.

5 talent pool examples you can implement

1 - Niche & in-demand candidates

When a skill set is in high demand or in low supply, recruiters will be sourcing candidates for that skill set year-round. Suitable and qualified candidates will be scarce, so it becomes crucial to develop relationships with candidates who may not be ready to join your company now, but maybe in the future. In these scenarios, talent networks can add a lot of value, making them one of the most common examples of talent pools.

By creating a candidate pool for each skill set and placing the relevant candidate profiles there, you will automatically generate a go-to call list whenever you have a vacancy in that field. If you qualify candidates as you place them in the pool, you’ll save yourself time in the phone screening process.

2 - Employee referrals & network

Some of your best candidates will come from employee referrals. However, keeping track of these referrals can be challenging unless you have a set referral system in place.

Create a unique candidate pool of referrals from each department that you can reach out to whenever a vacancy becomes available.

3 - Sourcing candidates through meetups & events

Attending and hosting events can be an excellent method of actively sourcing fresh talent. At these events, you’ll often meet great candidates though you may not have a position open for them yet.

In these cases, talent networks can be a helpful way of keeping in touch. If you attend a reoccurring industry meet-up, create a talent pool of the candidates you’ve met there.

Keeping these candidates in their pool will help you create targeted outreach when you have suitable vacancies.

4 - Sourcing candidates through social

If you’re always on the hunt for great talent, you’ll be no stranger to social recruiting channels.

Once you contact candidates on social channels and are not available (or looking), it can be challenging to keep in touch. You may be missing out on great talent when they do decide to look for a new opportunity.

Keep track of these candidates by building a unique candidate pool for each platform. This way, you can reach out to candidates who you’ve already spoken to when you have an appropriate vacancy.

5 - Build an interviewed network

There will inevitably be some positions that do not suffer from skills shortages. Sometimes you may be disappointed to have to turn down so many great candidates as you only have one position. In this case, you most certainly want to keep in touch with the candidates.

Build a talent pool of candidates who have been successfully interviewed but just didn’t make the final cut. Given that you’ve provided a great candidate experience, they could be great candidates for future openings.

Plus, if you continue to incorporate them into your network, you may find that your employer brand gets some positive promotion through word of mouth!

Talent pool checklist

To keep your ATS tidy and your talent pools working for you (and saving time), it’s essential to make sure your talent pools are complete.

Here is a small talent pool checklist to make the most of this resource:

1 - Develop a policy

  • Identify which talent pools are being built: Agree with your team on which talent pools everyone is contributing to. This way there is no overlap or siloed networks. Additionally, having everyone aware of each network will help them grow faster.
  • Standardize information: Determine what information needs to be on a candidate profile before it can be placed in the network.
  • Align on purpose: What does it mean for a candidate to be in a network? What kind of information will they receive?

2 - Build a process

  • Engagement: How often do you share updates with your candidates? Who is responsible for updating each pool?
  • Vacancy updates: When do you share relevant vacancies with your pool?
  • Expiry dates: For legal purposes, it’s essential to set an expiry date on candidate profiles, even those in talent pools. Build a process to either delete profiles or ask for consent.

3 - Maintain the candidate pool

  • Assign responsibility: Who is responsible for keeping the pools updated, engaged, and clean?
  • Occasionally clean them up: Make sure to delete old profiles and update candidate information as it becomes available.
  • Regularly engage: Stick to your engagement process and periodically update the candidate pools with company information and upcoming vacancies.

Improved candidate sourcing & placements

Building good talent pools with qualified candidates takes dedicated time and effort. They are also not built overnight.

In the long run, however, they can help you cut down on your recruitment costs, save time filing requirements, and help you engage with outstanding talent.

Add to your different pools gradually and ensure the quality of each candidate you place in it.

Over time, you’ll see actual results when it comes to not only sourcing candidates but also making better hires.

Sourcing with tech
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