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Talent Pool: Building a Community of Top Candidates

5 min read

A talent pool can have a make-or-break effect on companies, especially during a labor shortage.

Currently, recruiting managers are finding themselves with vacancies that need to be filled and without suitable candidates to choose from.  When critical positions are not filled immediately, understaffing can adversely affect the health, stability, and overall image of the company.

A talent pool is a recruiting strategy that HR professionals can use to take advantage of candidate’s skillsets and perspectives. By building a talent community, human resources can actively improve their efforts to recruit diverse talent and prevent unexpected employment gaps.  

Find out how to set up a talent pool, what to consider, and how to attract high-quality talent.

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Talent Pool Definition

A talent pool is a database that contains relevant information about applicants, potential candidates, and the company’s former and current employees.  In a nutshell, the data of all qualified candidates are saved for future consideration.  HR professionals can easily manage their talent database with an applicant tracking system (ATS).

HR professionals can use this information to:

It’s important to note that the candidate pool is not the same as the applicant pool. Nor is it to be confused with a talent pipeline.  Talent pools are inclusive of active and passive candidates that have the potential to become employees in the future. 

The Benefits of Talent Pooling for HR

The biggest mistake you can make in recruiting is losing contact with unselected applicants. Although they were not initially chosen, perhaps they are qualified individuals who could fit with the company’s long-term objectives.  Here are some of the advantages of a talent pool.

  • Time and money- With a talent pool, there is less need to advertise and recruit and hire talent from ground zero.  Relevant information is already available and candidates can be pre-selected, lowering your cost-per-hire and time to hire.
  • Less risk- When there is pressure to fill an unexpected gap, the risk of selecting the wrong applicant is much higher. A network of qualified candidates can prevent you from filling an important position incorrectly.
  • Less stress- Timely filling of open positions means relief for recruiters and HR staff.  This also means that time can be devoted to other concerns and increase overall workplace happiness.
  • Increased retention- Considering internal candidates as part of your talent pool is a twofold solution.  It can positively impact retention rates and help to fill difficult senior positions.
  • Positive employer branding- Having regular contact with a talent pool sends the right message about your company.  Also, it increases the likelihood of acceptance of job offer letters.

Talent Sourcing: What makes a Good Candidate?

When searching for a good fit, most HR managers look for a balance between the needs of the company and the experiences of job seekers.  There are many ways to find members to join your talent pool.  Here are some examples of suitable candidates.

  • Previous applicants that were unselected
  • Former employees
  • Interns and trainees
  • Employee recommendations
  • Social media contacts

Like internal vs. external recruiting, talent can be divided between those with internal and external ties to the company.  Here are the differences and advantages of each.

  • Internal candidates- They know the company and the work processes and can be considered for vacancies, especially in higher positions.  These might include former employees and interns.  They already have an understanding of the position, internal communication, and company culture.  Depending on their proximity to the organization, they might need little to no training.
  • External candidates- Although external talent does not have experience with the company, perhaps they have fresh perspectives and skills to offer.  Unselected applicants and other candidates that have already shown interest in the company might be worth the time and effort.

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Diversity Attracts Talent

While thinking about talent sourcing, many companies struggle to appeal to a diverse range of applicants.  In order to attract applicants from diverse backgrounds, the first step is to look at the company’s initiatives and actions.  When thinking about attracting new talent, ask yourself the following questions.

How is Diversity a Priority?

Diversity and inclusion should be the top goals for any company.  If you are recognized as an organization that promotes diversity, you will attract more diverse talent.

Take a look at how your company is tackling unconscious bias in the workplace.  Does your internal talent feel heard and encouraged to participate? Show where your company stands through DEI events, discussions, and training sessions.

Is Content Available for a Wide Audience?

The goal should be to resonate with as many people as possible.  The tone of job descriptions, websites, and blog articles should appeal to candidates from different backgrounds. Consider including blog articles about your company’s efforts towards diversity and inclusion.  Think about readers of different ethnicities, ages, religions, and disabilities.

Where are Job Advertisements?

While recruiting virtually, it is important to advertise open roles on a wide variety of job boards and social media channels.  Consider partnering with historically black colleges, LGBTQ, and women’s organizations to foster a more inclusive talent pool.  Establishing solid community relationships can help to integrate diversity efforts into your company culture.

How to Create a Talent Pool

Manage Sourced Talent

When building a talent pool, try using software to organize potential candidates. To increase efficiency, be careful not to lump all of your talent into one category. It is important that HR managers can target suitable candidates without having to rummage through countless lists of contacts. Talent pool databases should contain the following criteria.

  • Work experience- Organize candidates based on the years spent in a position or by their job titles. This will give you an idea as to how much experience is under the candidate’s belt.
  • Education and training- Sorting candidates by their specific qualifications will help you to find candidates who have the right skillset.
  • Relation to the company- Former employees and interns have an understanding of the company culture and require little to no onboarding.  This can be an important factor for companies that need to incorporate talent quickly.
  • The candidate’s aspirations- The candidate’s plans and career objectives should not be overlooked.  Perhaps an internal candidate’s ambitions coincide with a recent job opportunity.
  • Overall impression- Perhaps a previous applicant possessed great communication skills and motivation.  Or a former employee was an outstanding team player.  These qualities should be considered when searching for suitable talent.

Interact with the Talent Pool

Show your interest in potential talent by checking in with them regularly. By reaching out, you are making the company visible and showing that you haven’t forgotten about them. Ways to maintain regular contact with your talent pool include

  • Company events
  • Training opportunities
  • Invitations to workshops
  • Birthday greetings
  • Job vacancies

Give Feedback

Perhaps members of your talent pool show interest in a recent vacancy.  If someone applies, it’s important to give feedback.  This shows value for the applicants’ time and consideration for their efforts.  If an internal applicant applies for a position, consider meeting with them to discuss their future career plan.

It is also good to keep applicants updated about the recruitment and selection process.  You can send messages to acknowledge their patience as they are waiting for a final decision.  By expressing interest and appreciation, you are offering a positive image and memory for potential candidates.

Tools for Managing a Talent Pool

Without the proper tools, the process of building a talent pool can be a confusing nightmare.

The best way to keep track of sourced talent is with an applicant tracking system (ATS).  It will keep a clear, organized record of all potential candidates in your talent pool.  Making it easy to access the information that you need to hire top talent.

An ATS will cut the amount of time, enhance the candidate experience, and ultimately save you money throughout the recruiting process. Get started building your talent pool with the help of HR software.

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