No matter the state of the labor market, your business should be prepared to quickly fill job openings. One solution to this is developing a talent pipeline — a reliable, accessible and ever-renewing pool of qualified candidates. While this may take extra effort at the outset, it can save your business significant time and headaches when you need to hire quickly.
To help you with your recruiting efforts, we asked the members of Business Journals Leadership Trust how to build a reliable talent pipeline. Below, they share 16 strategies you can use to develop a strong pool of qualified candidates for your business’s needs.
1. Invest marketing resources into your HR efforts.
Seldom do businesses commit as many resources to marketing their labor brand as they do to generating new sales leads. Just like business development and sales growth, building a talent pipeline is an ongoing process that takes considerable expertise from the marketing department. HR alone should not be accountable for creating a talented future workforce. – Paul Weber, EAG Advertising & Marketing
2. Become a mentor to students.
As the leader of a nonprofit working to build a diverse talent pipeline in our K-12 schools, I believe a strategy that would be helpful to education would be carving out time to speak with students or become a volunteer or mentor. Those in the workforce who are underrepresented are the perfect advocates for diversity and inclusion. Female CIOs and CTOs show girls what is possible by example. – Kathleen Schofield, Northeast Florida Regional STEM2 Hub
3. Actively manage your company’s reputation.
We actively manage our reputation within the professional community. People will seek us out. We do this in a variety of ways, including through our website, social media and professional events. The second (and most productive) way to build a talent pipeline is to have everyone’s eyes open to potential new talent. The best people are already working. We seek them out. – John Berendzen, Fox Architects (St. Louis)
4. Stay active in your industry community.
Always continue networking, and stay active in all areas of core competency and the community. You never know when that gem is in the audience waiting to shine in your organization. – Jessica Hawthorne-Castro, Hawthorne Advertising
5. Create an unrivaled company culture.
Invest in your current talent pool. Create an unrivaled culture. If people like where they work, they are going to talk about it. There is nothing stronger than a referral from a current employee. Job seekers look at sites like Glassdoor. If your team loves what they do, building a talent pipeline is as easy as calling on them. – Lane Conner, Fuzse
6. Mobilize your team as ‘talent scouts.’
I encourage all of our team members to think of themselves as “talent scouts,” constantly keeping their eyes out for great people who might be good fits for our organization. There’s nothing better than great, happy employees wanting to make their company better by helping to identify and recruit other talented individuals. – Chris Hogan, Benefit Commerce Group, an Alera Group Company
7. Pay attention to your employer reviews.
Improve your presence on employer review sites like Glassdoor, Comparably and Kununu. Candidates invariably look at these sites today in deciding where to apply for jobs. The more reviews (and the more five-star reviews) you have, the better your chances of growing a strong talent pipeline. – Scott Baradell, Idea Grove
8. Create an employee referral program.
Companies can create a reliable talent pipeline by creating an employee referral program. The best hires often come from referrals from existing teammates who are familiar with a job candidate’s values, work ethic and past performance. Many studies have shown that referred hires are cheaper, onboard faster and stay at their jobs longer than traditional hires. – Vincent Phamvan, Vyten Career Coaching
9. Develop a formal succession plan.
One key strategy is to build an internal pipeline through formal succession planning, mentoring, training and understanding individual employee career aspirations. To support this strategy, new employees are hired based not only on their fit for existing positions but also on their ability to grow into future, more highly skilled roles. – Shawn Kitchell, Madico, Inc.
10. Focus on a culture of well-being.
One way to always have a talent pipeline is to create a culture of well-being. When you have a true well-being culture, people love their work. You then become an employer of choice. Now you can recruit top talent for any role in your organization. Creating a culture of well-being is a journey that your organization has to go through. It’s all about the employee experience. – Debra Young, Sheer Velocity, LLC
11. Volunteer as a guest speaker.
We send speakers to MBA classes that teach our subject areas. That connects us with a broad labor pool and helps us identify the best candidates from that pool. – Reed Holden, Holden Advisors
12. Leverage digital recruitment platforms and networking events.
There are tons of options for recruiters to hire both part-time and full-time employees. It’s hard to pinpoint where you can establish a pipeline, but it would be good to be on digital recruitment platforms and network at every conference that you can attend. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
13. Partner with university career services departments.
Partner with university career services and be a resource for them. Rather than always being on the receiving end of a résumé, we try to show how we hope to help the universities build talent by offering free classes, volunteering to do résumé reviews or mock interviews, and participating in club activities. Knowing that we’re not only adding value by hiring keeps us top of mind. – Jordan Lofton, Golden Source Consultants
14. Build your internal pipeline first.
Consider whether you should build it or buy it and under what conditions. Look internally and hire from within whenever institutional knowledge is required for the position. Build an internal pipeline through formal succession planning that includes a mentorship program, employee learning development opportunities and dialogues to uncover employee career aspirations. This helps increase engagement. – Katie Wahlquist, Star Bank
15. Volunteer to serve on curriculum advisory committees.
Leverage partnerships with two-year colleges to create internships and co-ops, and promote openings through student career centers. Consider mentoring, and help ensure the curriculum is up to date and meets current and future industry needs through volunteering on curriculum advisory committees. Consider youth apprenticeships in high schools, and be sure your organization supports diversity, equity and inclusion. – Vicki Martin, Milwaukee Area Technical College
16. Build a ‘virtual bench.’
Building a virtual bench has been a success factor for us. We never stop recruiting, even if we don’t have any job openings. Having one to three candidates lined up for a position is helpful, and the best hires have most often resulted from building a long-term relationship with someone before hiring them. Sometimes the relationships are built over years. – Kent Lewis, Anvil Media, Inc.