Talent pools: the secret to sourcing candidates for free

Sourcing can easily become every recruiter’s nightmare. Between skills shortages and the sky-high price of LinkedIn Recruiter or specialist job boards, sourcing great talent is becoming increasingly difficult and expensive. Today, there are many recruitment tools, shortcuts, and hacks recruiters can use to cut down on sourcing costs and track down suitable candidates. But the reality is that connecting with the best talent (not just qualified talent) will continue to be a tough task because it’s about building relationships over time. Thankfully, talent pools can help facilitate this long-term mission and do so at no additional cost.

What is a talent pool?

Talent pools or candidate pools can be a powerful technique to source candidates for free. In short, they are groups of candidates that are compiled over time and kept within your ATS. They sit at the very start of your talent pipeline. These are candidates who have been qualified and categorized based on skill or location. It’s a little like your own candidate database. And like a good candidate database, it must be constantly maintained, curated, and nurtured.

This may sound like a lot of effort, but maintaining a healthy pool of candidates has some enticing benefits. It can:

  1. Keep qualified talent engaged with your brand and in your network.
  2. Save time on sourcing when a new position opens.
  3. Cut cost by sourcing candidates from your own network.

As long as you have open vacancies or are actively sourcing candidates, candidate profiles will start to build up in your ATS. Talent pools are about making the most of these profiles by sorting them according to skill, location, and other defining features that can help you engage with these candidates. Below we’ll go over some helpful ways to use talent networks in your day-to-day.

Talent pool examples:

1. Niche & in-demand candidates

When a skill set is in high demand or in low supply, recruiters will be sourcing candidates for that skill set year-round. Suitable and qualified candidates will be scarce, so it becomes important to develop relationships with candidates who may not be ready to join your company now, but maybe in the future. In these scenarios, talent networks can add a lot of value making it one of the most common examples of talent pools.

By creating a candidate pool for each skill set and placing the relevant candidate profiles there, you will automatically generate a go-to call list whenever you have a vacancy in that field. If you qualify candidates as you place them in the pool, you’ll save yourself time in the phone screening process.

2. Employee referrals & network

Some of your best candidates will come from employee referrals. However, keeping track of these referrals can be challenging unless you have a set referral system in place. Create a special candidate pool of referrals from each department that you can reach out to whenever a vacancy becomes available.

3. Sourcing candidates through meet ups & events

Attending and hosting events can be an excellent method of actively sourcing fresh talent. At these events, you’ll often meet great candidates though you may not have a position open for them yet. In these cases, talent networks can be a helpful way of keeping in touch. If you attend a reoccurring industry meet up, create a talent pool of the candidates you’ve met there. Keeping these candidates in their own pool will help you create targeted outreach when you do have suitable vacancies.

4. Sourcing candidates through social

If you’re always on the hunt for great talent, you’ll be no stranger to social recruiting channels. Once you contact candidates on social channels and they’re not available (or looking) it can be difficult to keep in touch. You may be missing out on great talent when they do decide to look for a new opportunity. Keep track of these candidates by building a special candidate pool for each platform. This way, you can reach out to candidates who you’ve already spoken to when you have an appropriate vacancy.

5. Build an interviewed network

There will inevitably be some positions that do not suffer from skills shortages. In fact, sometimes you may be disappointed to have to turn down so many great candidates as you only have one position. In this case, you most certainly want to keep in touch with the candidates.

Build a talent pool of candidates who have been successfully interviewed, but just didn’t make the final cut. Given that you’ve provided a great candidate experience, they could be great candidates for future openings. Plus, if you continue to incorporate them into your network, you may find that your employer brand gets some positive promotion through word of mouth!

Talent pool checklist

To keep your ATS tidy and your talent pools working for you (and actually saving time), it’s important to make sure that your talent pools are complete. Here is a small talent pool checklist to make the most of this resource:

  1. Develop a policy
    1. Identify which talent pools are being built: Agree with your team on which talent pools everyone is contributing to. This way there is no overlap or siloed networks. Additionally, having everyone aware of each network will help them grow faster.
    2. Standardize information: Determine what information needs to be on a candidate profile before they can be placed in the network.
    3. Align on purpose: What does it mean for a candidate to be in a network? What kind of information will they receive?
  2. Build a process
    1. Engagement: How often do you share updates with your candidates? Who is responsible for updating each pool?
    2. Vacancy updates: When do you share relevant vacancies with your pool?
    3. Expiry dates: For legal purposes, it’s important to set an expiry date on candidate profiles, even those in talent pools. Build a process to either delete profiles or ask for consent.
  3. Maintain the candidate pool
    1. Assign responsibility: Who is responsible for keeping the pools updated, engaged, and clean?
    2. Occasionally clean them up: Make sure to delete old profiles and update candidate information as it becomes available.
    3. Regularly engage: Stick to your engagement process and regularly update the candidate pools with company information and upcoming vacancies.

Improved candidate sourcing & placements

Building good talent pools with qualified candidates takes dedicated time and effort. They are also not built overnight. In the long run, however, they can help you cut down on your recruitment costs, save time filing requirements, and help you engage with great talent. Add to your different pools gradually and ensure the quality of each candidate you place in it. Over time, you’ll see real results when it comes to not only sourcing candidates, but also making better hires.

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