When the supply of talent is plentiful and good jobs are at a premium, companies often feel they can afford to take a relaxed approach to recruitment and retention. If new hires don’t work out, there are always plenty more fish in the sea, right?
This just-in-time approach to talent management has never made much sense for ambitious businesses at any time. In the current climate, where human capital is our most precious commodity, it’s a strategy that feels positively reckless.
Preparing your pipeline
Maintaining a dynamic pipeline of candidates is the cornerstone of successful workforce planning. Having ready access to a rich pool of talent – within and outside the business – not only cuts recruitment costs and timescales but feeds more organically into an organisation’s HR ecosystem, providing a steady stream of skilled candidates ready to step up to key roles as departments flex and grow.
Naturally, none of this happens by accident. Neither is it enough to capture market trends, or to monitor and predict workforce patterns – although these activities are part and parcel of every well-oiled corporate machine. You must first establish an employer brand that appeals to your target candidate persona, to more closely align your talent pipeline with your broader business strategy.
Building a positive employer brand
Weak brands will struggle to attract top talent, especially when good candidates are thin on the ground. Taking your brand seriously is the first step to creating the kind of talent pipeline strategy that will shorten time-to-hire and optimise your chances of finding the best people.
Most job seekers will research an employer’s brand before applying for a position. As you’re looking for candidates who are aligned with your mission, it’s important to be authentic; employer branding isn’t about attracting all talent, it’s about attracting the right talent. Remember that effective employer branding starts from the inside – candidates will soon spot whether there’s a disconnect between your company’s public profile and its employees’ experiences.
Make sure your candidate journey – from job descriptions through to onboarding – is consistent and gather as many insights as you can from your current workforce about what makes your organisation a great place to work – as well as what would elevate it to the next level (more learning and development pathways, for instance). Getting your employer brand right is the logical product of a happy employee experience – not the other way around.
Stocking the talent pool
Every good pipeline starts with a talent pool that includes the type of candidates you’re most likely to need in the coming months and years. Job descriptions are important, but they don’t go far enough. You’ll also need to pinpoint the core skills for each role – and be prepared to revise these regularly to identify the skills and abilities that may be critical to filling future positions.
Grow internal talent
Promoting from within has lots of benefits – not least that internal candidates are already likely to be a good cultural fit. Companies that are serious about nurturing talent should not only prioritise employee engagement to tackle attrition but should also implement a succession planning programme that features opportunities for promotion and continuous professional development at every level.
Source external talent
Recruiting external talent is no longer the one-touch transactional approach that used to dominate. Rather, it’s become a two-way process designed to develop and maintain long-term relationships with prospective candidates who can enrich the talent pool and fill roles as they become vacant or are created to underpin growth.
Taking a proactive approach to talent acquisition
Effective management of your talent pool will mean embracing a more-or-less continuous commitment to scouting for talent.
The easiest place to start is with so-called ‘silver medallists’: those candidates that have already applied for positions but have been pipped at the post. Ensuring that the recruitment process a rewarding experience, even for candidates who don’t make it into the winner’s enclosure first time, will stand you in good stead should you wish to re-interview applicants for another role.
Some other options to consider:
Set up a referral programme encouraging current employees to recommend their contacts for consideration.
View industry events and conferences as broader opportunities to forge links with passive candidates that may turn into future hires.
Connect with people via social media platforms to open up dialogue with potential candidates.
Employ an applicant tracking system to give you the best chance of discovering great future candidates.
Don’t leave it to chance
The war on talent is raging. We already know that Millennials and GenZ are increasingly keen to work for purpose-driven companies that aren’t afraid to tackle some of the most significant and urgent challenges of our time. For some candidates, this so-called ‘Purpose Premium’ is even more compelling than how much they earn.
If they are to succeed in the long term, organisations will need to focus on creating and curating an agile and dynamic talent management pipeline that doesn’t just help maintain the status quo but will act as a springboard to growth in the toughest times.