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Tips to master your pipeline recruitment

August 30, 2019

Tips to master your pipeline recruitment

As you’ve likely heard, pipeline recruitment is becoming more and more popular among recruiters into today’s competitive talent landscape. That’s because pipelines offer a long list of benefits that are not found with other, more traditional recruitment techniques. 

Pipelines help to streamline recruitment, making it more effective, efficient, scalable and repeatable. They position recruiters as strategic partners in the business, rather than just requisition fillers, by enabling proactive recruitment that’s in line with company goals. 

Pipeline recruitment has many benefits, and it’s easy to see why it’s all the rage right now. What might be less clear, however, is how to master the concept of pipeline recruitment. 

This article will help get you there, but first, let’s step back and define what we mean by “pipeline recruitment”. 

What is pipeline recruitment?

It’s easy to get confused with all of the pipeline-related terms out there in the recruitment blogosphere. There’s recruitment pipelines, talent pipelines, talent pools, and candidate pools. For the sake of this article, we’re going to focus on the terms recruitment pipelines and talent pipelines, and explain how they go hand in hand.

Recruitment pipelining can be thought of as the process by which you move candidates through your recruitment funnel. It’s often a way to visualize your hiring process from start to finish and includes specific milestones along the way, such as: 

  • Sourced
  • Applied
  • Phone screen
  • Assessment
  • Hiring manager interview
  • Job offer 

Recruitment pipelines can be as simple or as complicated as needed depending on the company and position. 

Talent pipelining, on the other hand, is often described as the process by which recruiters create a network of qualified potential candidates from passive talent which may be used to fill future opportunities. It can be thought of as a backlog of high-potential candidates that can be mined whenever a new position becomes available. 

Talent and recruitment pipelines are two sides of the same coin, of course. By backfilling your network of contacts, you can reduce or bypass time-consuming steps in your recruitment pipeline, thus improving overall efficiency. 

So, to reap the core benefits of the recruitment pipeline, it’s important to build and maintain a well-curated pool of talent that you can push through your funnel whenever needed. And the first step in doing so is to know how to create and fill a recruitment pipeline in the first place. 

How to fill a recruitment pipeline

In order to be effective, it’s important to lay the proper groundwork when creating a new recruitment pipeline. It’s not enough to start hoarding new applicants from your recent job postings and reach out to them each time you have a new job opening. 

Instead, you should be strategic about who you add to your recruitment pipeline, how you identify qualified candidates, and how you manage them. 

With that in mind, here are some of the key steps and tips you should follow when creating and filling a talent pipeline. 

  1. Establish needs. Meet with strategic partners and key stakeholders in the company to determine what your future skills and talents needs are likely to be. From there, you can determine what types of candidates and skills you’ll need to fill your pipeline.
  2. Plan ahead. Bring in hiring managers and other recruiters to start laying the groundwork for how your recruitment pipeline will work. Establish who will be in charge of managing the pipeline, who will handle outreach and networking, and how you will manage future requirements.
  3. Create targets. Analyze your company’s future goals and skills requirements, and establish quarterly and yearly goals that address those needs. Ensure that your targets and clear and attainable, and assign specific goals to each member of your staff. This will ensure that you are working towards a common cause, and will have an overall benchmark for whether or not your recruitment pipeline is successful. 
  4. Get hiring manager commitment. Ensure that you’re involving the hiring manager whenever a specific role is targeted by the recruitment pipeline. Hiring managers will have decision making power, and can also provide valuable insight into what the best candidate will look like. Use hiring manager input to guide how and where you fill your recruitment pipeline. 
  5. Focus on employer branding. Establishing yourself as a desirable place to work is a surefire way to continuously pull interested candidates into your pipeline. Making your company, culture, and values as attractive to high potential candidates as possible will make engaging and enticing them to work for you that much easier. 
  6. Identify potential talent. Once you’ve laid the groundwork, you can begin the identify the specific candidates that you’d like to add to your pipeline. This can be a candidate personas that you match to actual people, or it can be a shortlist of high-value talent that you target specifically. 
  7. Source candidates where they are. Knowing your ideal candidate will enable you to find and engage prospects where they spend most of their time. This can include industry groups or pages on social media, trade shows or networking events, or event professional forums. 
  8. Network. Spend the time to network and connect with people across roles in your industry. The more people you connect with, the more likely it is that you’ll find high potential candidates that can be added to your recruitment pipeline. 
  9. Prioritize skills and pre-screen properly. When vacancies arise, it’s important to have a firm grasp on the job requirements. Prioritize which skills a candidate will need to be successful, and mine your talent pipeline for candidates who fit the bill. Of course, you’ll likely need to do a second round of screening with the hiring manager. 
  10. Use modern sourcing and screening tools. Automating time-consuming tasks like posting recruitment ads and screening resumes will free up your recruitment team to focus on improving your recruitment pipeline. Invest in recruitment technology that makes your life easier. 

Once you’ve created a strong base for your recruitment pipeline, the next challenge is keeping it as clean and efficient as possible. Like a car, that means your recruitment pipeline will need regular maintenance and tune-ups. 

Maintaining an efficient and clean recruitment pipeline

It’s obvious that you don’t want to go to all of that work to create and fill a recruitment pipeline, only to have it fall apart in a few months’ time. To prevent this, it’s important that you and your team follow some simple pipeline maintenance tips to ensure that everything remains in working order. 

Here are some tips for how you can ensure pipeline efficiency: 

  1. Stay organized. Use your recruitment stack, or tool of choice, to create a single source of truth to help keep your team on the same page. This should keep track of your core recruitment metrics, current, and future vacancies, and provide regular access to your recruitment pipeline candidates. By ensuring that you have transparency around your key metrics and that all information is easily available, your team can adapt and respond to changes as they happen. 
  2. Source proactively. Don’t wait for candidates to come to you. Your recruiters should be proactively connecting with and engaging high potential candidates to continuously fill your recruitment pipeline. 
  3. Continuously assess talent and skills needs. Establish a regular meeting with strategic leaders and key stakeholders to review skills gaps and human resources requirements. It’s also advisable to establish an internal process that continuously communicates and assesses talent requirements for the organization. 
  4. Treat your pipeline contacts with respect. Finding and engaging high-quality candidates for your recruitment pipeline takes time and effort from your entire hiring team. The last thing you want to do is squander those connections. Always ensure that you’re delivering on your promises to pipeline candidates. Respect their time, respond to messages in a timely manner, follow-up when you say you will, and always ask them how often they’d like to be contacted. 
  5. Engage your pipeline. Filling a pipeline is one thing, but keeping them interested in your company takes a whole different layer of effort. Sending out friendly and personalize messages to your candidates (when appropriate) is a great way to remind them that you’re still interested in their services. 
  6. Personalize your messaging. Sending out mass communications to your pipeline candidates is not the ideal way to make them feel valued. Instead, recruiters should make the effort to reach out to pipeline candidates directly through channels like social media, email, or telephone calls. Sharing articles related to a conversation you once had with a candidate, for example, shows that you’re personally engaged in that professional relationship. 
  7. Leverage technology. Like in the planning phase, it’s important to leverage your recruitment tech stack when maintaining your pipeline. Many platforms include analytics and reporting features that let you keep track of your core metrics, and maintain your single source of truth. 
  8. Measure progress. As always, it’s important to always monitor and review the success of your recruitment pipeline strategies. Identify issues or roadblocks, and continuously improve your processes to achieve sustained success in your recruitment pipeline. 
  9. Recognize success. Finally, it’s always important to give credit where credit is due. Call out team members who have gone above and beyond to make your recruitment pipeline a success, and reward them appropriately. 

By planning properly, maintaining discipline, and ensuring that you regularly assess and tweak your methods, you too can start to reap the many benefits of pipeline recruitment. 

Remember, recruitment pipelines are only as effective as the quality of the people you connect with. Always ensure that you spend the time to identify your company’s needs, and go after the people that would make the biggest impact, even if they’re not looking for a new opportunity right now.

Brendan is an experienced writer and content marketing professional with experience working for various HR tech and SaaS companies in Canada. He has an extensive background in web content marketing and journalism.