A common definition: A pipeline of candidates also referred to as a ‘candidate pipeline’ or ‘talent pipeline‘ is a pool of candidates who are qualified to assume open positions when they are created or vacated through retirement, promotion, or someone leaving the company.
To clear up any misconceptions of what a candidate pipeline is, let’s discuss what a pipeline of candidates is not.
A pipeline of candidates is not…
- A Resume Database: Any company with an Applicant Tracking System or file of resumes collected over time technically has a ‘database of candidates.’ Likely those same candidates sent their resume to other companies, which means just having the resume isn’t worth much of anything. Has anyone qualified those candidates or built relationships with the people behind the resumes? Without at least a phone screen, a batch of resumes is no more helpful than a pile of blank paper.
- A Static, On-call List of Candidates: In the world of recruiting, you’re not buying a thing, you’re buying a person. People have wants and needs, and they often change and evolve. People are promoted, switch jobs, change paths, have different priorities, etc., etc. It’s important to stay in touch with candidates and move people on and off the list of qualified candidates. If you’re buying a pipeline of candidates, you should expect that a Recruitment Consultant is staying in touch with the humans on the list and updating the talent pipeline.
- An Exclusive Access Pass to Top Talent: No recruiter has ‘a list of people that no one has. LinkedIn is public and the world is small. Lists may be different but don’t expect that your money can buy something that the company down the street can’t.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, I hope you’ve also learned that developing a pipeline of candidates takes time and requires consistent relationship building. This is what makes a ‘list of names’ investing the time in or worth paying for. Instead of a pile of resumes, a talent pipeline is a list of qualified candidates that have each shared their background, skills, career goals and and interests with a Recruiter and those things line up with your company’s ideal candidate profile.
Building a talent pipeline is a shift from reactive recruiting to proactive recruiting, or recruiting in advance of your hiring needs. So instead of waiting until a position opens or is vacated, you work to fill future openings with talent that is a fit for your business. It means that when you have a new job open or an employee leaves, you can tap your talent pipeline to fill your jobs faster. That’s how a talent pipeline improves your recruiting process.