Blog & News

Talent Pooling: Myth or Silver Bullet?

Written By
Riges Younan
SVP ANZ

By now, everyone gets the need for proactive recruiting. TA needs proactive strategies to align with your organization’s people strategy, hiring needs and to compete for top talent. Additionally, digital transformation and disruption are pushing many companies to recruit in areas where their brands are not particularly well-known. Talent pooling is touted as the strategic solution, but is it working for you?

Three Kinds of Talent Quagmire

Perhaps this situation sounds familiar: you are dutifully sourcing candidates for future openings, and maybe you even make your first hire. Only a few months later, the requirements for the next hire in that job family have changed, and the same candidates who were a good fit just three months ago are no longer right for the role. Many companies find it difficult to keep up with changing business and candidate needs, and as a result, the talent pools being built might be too narrow to meet evolving needs. Or perhaps you have a robust pool but not an agile one, so that when a requisition evolves you lack a way to easily source and identify profiles that are relevant given the new requirements.

If your organization hasn’t designed the most optimum TA operating model or appropriately invested in TA resources, your talent pools will become a static database that requires extensive time and effort to mine. You need an ATS or CRM that works with you to update profiles using a variety of approaches, such as AI, events, Talent Community sign-up pages, surveys and personal messages with links for candidates to update their information themselves in your database via a portal. By making these approaches a part of every recruitment campaign—something easy to automate using workflow automation—you can maintain up-to-date databases. Dashboards that permit recruiters and sourcers to view their own data easily can also help them have ownership over redundancies and gaps in their data.

No candidate wants to languish forgotten in a talent pool. Yet too many organizations are guilty of these scenarios: silver-medallist applicants are forgotten when future positions open for which they’d be perfect, or high-quality talent is sending over their CVs but there is not always a role for them when they drop their info in your ATS. If you never engage with them, when a role does open, how likely will they be to apply again based on the first experience with your company’s application process? What’s worse, in today’s world they are increasingly likely to share that bad candidate experience on social media, and if your applicant is also a customer, research shows that they are likely to stop buying from you. Talent pools are effective when you engage with candidates in a reciprocal and relevant way, which can be accomplished by applying recruiting segmentation and automation of basic interactions.

Talent Pools or Talent Pipelines?

Stagnant talent pools will never be effective, which is why the term “talent pipeline,” with its emphasis on movement and interaction, is preferred by some. Whether pool or pipeline, creating communities is what enables TA practitioners to be ready for, and not reactive to, requisitions. Talent pools enable you to create a curated pipeline of talent who are engaged, qualified and interested in a particular requisition and then share them with hiring managers.

Because you’ve already engaged with and qualified them, candidates in your pipeline have a deeper connection to your employer brand and EVP, which results in more productive conversations between TA and hiring managers.

High demand necessitates proactive recruiting, whether because of talent scarcity or how critical those people are to your business strategy. Even Google and Amazon, who actually have top talent knocking on their doors, make operational decisions around aggregations of talent (Barro, “Why Amazon and Google Chose New York Instead of a Place That Needs Them More”, New York Magazine, 11/10/18). Pooling alone won’t solve TA, but when combined with industry intelligence and executed with the right timing, it becomes a business differentiator.

When TA is executed successfully, it reduces time and cost, drives workforce diversity and innovation, and ultimately boosts business performance. People analytics should inform your strategies for sourcing and attraction, which will, in turn, affect the size, composition, etc. of your talent pools. As you analyze historical and predictive data, ask yourself what are your source effectiveness ROIs? How are your conversion ratios from top of funnel to hire? Which KPIs do you segment by job family, geography, etc.? The deltas of these data points should drive decisions as you adjust sourcing strategies for your talent pools development.

Recently I participated in a LinkedIn conversation on the value of talent pooling with Rebecca Houghton and dozens of other HR professionals. Although frustrations with talent pooling were mentioned, I suspect they were mostly due to a lack of effective strategy, optimal operating model, and/or the resources to execute, rather than inherent problems with talent pooling as part of their TA strategy. What I find extremely interesting is that no one nominated an alternative, so I leave you with this question: assuming your organization is doing some form of workforce planning (future view of talent demand) which is aligned to the business strategy, other than building talent pools how else can you proactively ensure TA can supply the talent needed to meet that demand?

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