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How to Build a Talent Pipeline and Measure its Effectiveness

Many recruiters tend to focus on activities that bring immediate results and don’t find time or reasons to start working on long-term strategies. However, the latter approach brings multiple benefits that can be observed in the long run. Pipelining talent is one of such strategies.

What is a talent pipeline and what are its benefits?

If you’re a recruiter trapped in short-term thinking, tasks related to ongoing recruitments are probably at the center of your daily routine. You don’t think about the job openings that are to come in the future, you’ve got enough workload without it, right? In fact, this approach might be actually hurting your future efforts. Dedicating a fraction of your time to building a network of potential candidates would bear fruit in your future recruitments, with tangible results such as reduced time to hire and cost of hire.

That’s exactly what the talent pipeline is about. In a nutshell, it’s a system that helps you develop, engage, and nurture a network of passive candidates with the potential of filling roles in your company in the future. This means a shift from passive to proactive recruiting, based on building relationships and reaching out to the right people at the right time.

Having this network of identified and precisely segmented talent, you’re ready to reach out to the passive candidates from your talent pipeline as soon as a new position opens in your company, instead of sourcing from scratch or relying solely on the applicants that are actively looking for a job. Pipelining is extremely useful in particular when you’re recruiting for hard-to-fill roles, such as technical staff or senior executives, as it can save your time to a great extent.

How to build a talent pipeline in 5 steps

As you can see, the perks of developing and making use of a talent pipeline are numerous. If you’ve decided to try out this strategy yourself but are not sure how, these steps will help you kick off.

1. Plan your work

You need to invest a significant amount of time to see results. It’s highly probable that without proper planning and including talent pipelining tasks in your everyday schedule you’d put other, more urgent activities first. To avoid this situation, decide how much time you’re able to invest on a regular basis and book your time

2. Build your brand as an employer

Passive candidates that are often reluctant and not interested in changing employers won’t give you any attention if your brand is weak. That’s why you should make sure that they’re aware of what your workplace has to offer. Be it a good atmosphere, career development opportunities, organizational culture, or extra employee benefits: you have to communicate how your company stands out to attract the best candidates.

3. Find the right talent

This phase requires constant dedication and is the daily bread in talent pipelining. It consists of sourcing candidates that could potentially be interested in joining your company in the future and have the desired traits: skills, experience, culture fit, etc. How to identify these candidates if they’re currently not applying actively for jobs? These sources are worth trying:

  • Social media. Some social media networks like LinkedIn or Twitter may be obvious, but don’t forget about other, more specialized platforms, especially if you’re recruiting experts in a given field. For instance, GitHub may come in handy if you’re looking for software developers, Dribbble and Behance are great if you want to connect with designers, etc.
  • ATS data. Former employees or past candidates make a great source for your talent pipeline because they’re already engaged and familiar with the company.
  • Referrals. Ask your employees if they could refer valuable specialists. Even if they’re not on the job market now, they might become available in the future.
  • Industry events. No matter if we’re talking about events organized by your company or the ones you’re attending as a guest, they’re a great opportunity to start building relationships with experts in their fields.

4. Create talent pools

As soon as you’ve identified great talent, you need a tool to manage these contacts. Creating a spreadsheet might be not enough when your network grows, and won’t help you properly segment and manage groups of candidates. Making use of the talent pool feature in your ATS software will be a much better idea. You can create separate pools and group candidates based on position, department, location, or any other factor you consider relevant.

5. Engage candidates

Maintaining a relationship with your contacts after the initial approach is also a must. You can keep them up to date and engaged by sending a regular newsletter for those that agreed to receive email communication (e.g. via subscribing on your website). Adding candidates to your LinkedIn network and interacting with them is also a great, non-intrusive way of building long-lasting relationships that may result in a job interview in the future.

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Measuring talent pipeline effectiveness with the right metrics

The above steps will help you bring the talent pipeline to life, but your role doesn’t end here. Your talent pipeline effectiveness can and should be measured like many other HR processes. What metrics will allow you to keep track of the results of your talent pipeline strategy?

  • Source of hire: thanks to this metric, you will be able to identify the most effective talent sources. Then, you can optimize your activities based on this information: either focus on the best performing channels, adapt the recruitment budget, or stop using the sources that don’t bring the expected results.
  • Cost per hire: one of the main goals of talent pipelining is to reduce hiring expenses, so this metric will give you an idea if this long-term strategy is making a difference in the financial field.
  • Time to hire: a talent pipeline should also contribute to a drop in the time needed to fill a vacancy, so it’s a good move to keep an eye on this KPI.
  • Candidate experience: one of the metrics you can track in this area is candidate NPS. Net Promoter Score surveys with a simple question sent to candidates after the recruitment process is a fast and easy way to evaluate their experience. You can also consider adding qualitative questions that will provide you with more detailed insights on how potential employees or new hires perceive the process they’ve just finished.


Seeing the results of your talent pipelining strategy will require time and effort, but surely your perseverance will be rewarded in the long run. It’s one of the best ways to ensure you’ll have a steady stream of qualified applicants even for the job openings that are the toughest to fill, at the same time improving the key HR metrics.

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