HR teams searching for the right recruits do not have an enviable task. The market has virtually dried up, particularly when trying to get people to apply for IT and STEM roles or, in fact, pretty much any role where scientific and technical skills are needed. Leading recruitment professionals such as the Berlin start-up “Talentwunder” are receiving 150 job requests in these areas – every single week. Companies that don’t want to spend money on an external service provider have a choice: they can either search out the talent themselves at careers fairs and in portals such as LinkedIn and Xing, or they can create their own talent pool.
A growing number of companies are opting for the latter. This is backed up by a study on recruiting trends the University of Bamberg carried out in 2019, which found talent pools were the favorite active sourcing channel of the 1000 companies that took part. What’s more, half of those companies are now applying this approach to high potentials.
The right people for the jobs are already there
Fundamentally, a talent pool is a database or online platform full of expert profiles. These might be the profiles of experienced in-house staff or even external contacts such as the people who applied for a post and just missed out, but are still fully qualified for future roles. This ensures these people can be contacted quickly when hiring for another appropriate role.
The value of a high-quality collection like this emerges virtually of its own accord. On the one hand, it makes focused succession planning simpler, since experts with the necessary key qualifications are already in the system and can be accurately identified using the relevant profile. On the other hand, it also makes it easier for the in-house HR team to find much sought-after high potentials. Instead of hiring expensive head-hunters and external recruiters, they can look to their in-house talent pool, where they may well find the candidate with the desired skillset.
The benefits for companies are clear. They include, for example:
Taking strain off HR operations by saving time and lowering costs.
If a post needs to be filled quickly, the people responsible can find suitable hires quickly while avoiding the need to advertise externally and saving the time, work and expense that would involve.
Less risk of picking the wrong person.
Finding the perfect match is easier. Since people in the talent pool have been pre-selected by HR or even by others – as in the case of B candidates from previous rounds of hiring, for example – the selection process can be both condensed and optimized. The top talents will already have had some contact with staff at the company and therefore both sides usually have a much better idea about whether things will work out on a personal level, too.
Improved employee satisfaction and loyalty.
Talent pools are also a useful tool for succession planning, helping to ensure jobs are filled more quickly from within the company. Once suitable successors have been identified early on, they can be “added to the list” and prepared for the new position. They can thus make the most of their potential and nurture their personal development at the company, which ultimately will give them more job satisfaction and increase their sense of loyalty to their employer.
A positive influence on employer branding.
Companies can reinforce their employer brand through relationship management and regular communication with talented potential recruits.
Given that they offer all these advantages, some might wonder why talent pools haven’t long since become a core element in every HR department. The bottom line is that they have to be done right! As is usually the case for all innovations, a certain amount of investment is essential.
It all comes down to relationship management
Ultimately, just as in “real life”, every relationship takes work. If you want to keep a relationship alive, you need to keep a dialog open, which takes time, but is worth it.
Exactly the same applies to talent pools. The employers who stay in touch with possible future recruits tend to come out on top. By contrast, organizations that archive the details of potential new hires but otherwise do nothing come out empty-handed. The various ways to consolidate a relationship aren’t all that difficult to put in place. After all, why not send relevant information such as articles about the sector or company to your contacts on a regular basis? Why not keep qualified potential candidates up to date about vacancies and invite them to webinars, insider events and communities?
Unfortunately, many organizations don’t make the most of this recruiting measure and neglect their talent pools, categorizing them incorrectly and not communicating with them enough. That is a shame, since one study has found that every applicant who has been turned down would – despite being rejected – still utilize a talent pool as a second chance and can see the benefits of such a tool. However, instead of being full of praise, three out of four people surveyed are critical of this particular approach to hiring because of a bad experience they’ve had with it. One in three complain that the positions they’ve been offered weren’t suitable and almost half say they haven’t received any information about vacancies at all.
Five questions that lead to success
Although establishing and maintaining a talent pool isn’t rocket science, there are a few rules to bear in mind. If you can answer the following five questions, you’re on the right track.
Question 1: Who is a suitable potential recruit?
The first thing to do is set out the conditions that potential new hires need to meet before they can be added to the shortlist. Is the impression they made during telephone interviews, in CVs or at an assessment center enough? What skills do they need to have? Do those skills fit with the employer’s aims? The requirements for the software and the candidates are just as varied as the industries and companies themselves.
Question 2: How do you find the right people?
There are plenty of opportunities to make contact with quality candidates – job advertisements, careers fairs, other events, recommendations, social media campaigns, etc. However, before a company adds a person’s details to its collection, it first needs to get their consent and then has to tell them which information is going to be stored and for how long. This is important to make sure requirements under the General Data Protection Regulation are met.
Question 3: What’s the best way to manage the talent pool?
The organizations that are most successful are those that are as focused as possible in their communications with suitable candidates. That’s why it makes sense to categorize the data of potential new staff from the outset, whether by level of education, occupational training or experience. It’s also a good idea to classify candidates on a geographical basis so as to narrow down the place of employment for potential new staff. Every organization will tend to have its own priorities when it comes to grouping candidates.
Question 4: How do I stay in touch?
The best way for companies to stay in touch is to adopt an active approach by supplying the kind of relevant information mentioned above on a regular basis. In doing so, it’s important to make it clear to potential future recruits how they can benefit, but also where the limits of feasibility are. Continuously updating the collection is another important requirement. To keep candidate information up to date, you can arrange to send out automated emails from a certain point in time to check contact information.
Question 5: How do organizations know how a talent pool is actually helping them?
The crucial question here is – what is the feedback from the candidates themselves? It’s also important to know the extent to which the talent pool is improving recruitment. Is the whole process speeding up? Are the candidates of a higher caliber? If that is the case, the HR team should actively track the measures and communication channels that bring in appropriate candidates, so they can improve this positive effect over the long term.
Solutions that help
It all sounds like it takes effort. That’s because it does. The good news is that there is a whole host of software solutions, such as SAP SuccessFactors, that can reduce the outlay on recruitment and make it easier to create and manage a talent pool. The dreaded time-consuming tasks such as endless searching don’t stand a chance. The right software support can also make talent relationship management much more straightforward. For instance, companies can create a branded careers page on their website and use it to address specific target groups directly – from apprentices through to senior professionals. Recruiters can also easily stay in touch with the talent community and utilize targeted email marketing to consolidate company loyalty among the in-house team and candidates.
The companies with the best understanding of how to keep this loyalty alive hold all the trump cards when it comes to competing for top talent. Now it’s down to you to take the next step and play the game to your advantage. Having the answers to the five questions above should make that a whole lot easier.