Building a Passive Candidate Pipeline – A Definitive Guide

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Trish Young

November 24, 2021

    We talk a lot about “passive jobseekers” — but what exactly is a passive candidate, and how is this important to your organization?

    A talent or candidate pipeline is a constantly evolving list of jobseekers who you have either directly or indirectly engaged with, and who might be a good fit for roles you need to fill. Passive candidates are not necessarily looking for a job, but might consider applying if they see something they like, or are interested in your company due to your reputation and brand

    Candidates in your pipeline may already be employed and are waiting for the right opportunity to arise, or perhaps they weren’t the right fit for past roles and you’re keeping them in mind for the future. Having a pipeline of candidates saves you a lot of time by cutting down on sourcing. Instead of starting from scratch every time you need to recruit, you can pull from your pipeline of talented potential hires. By utilizing your talent pipeline as you continue to recruit, your pipeline grows, and your hiring process becomes increasingly efficient.

    Building a talent pipeline can be broken down into three main steps:

    1. Be proactive!

    Planning and thinking about your future needs in addition to your present hiring needs are essential parts of building a pipeline of hard-to-find talent. Some key elements of this include:

    • Employer branding
      Your reputation as a good employer is the first step to building a solid pipeline of passive candidates. Make sure you have an updated and attractive careers page where all your current positions are listed to apply for, along with your company mission and contact info for interested candidates who may not fit any of the current roles being hired.Another way to improve your employer branding is to get feedback on the candidate experience throughout the hiring process. This can help you improve your process along the way.
    • Get your team on board
      Think about who on your team will be affected by a new hire, and which teams might need new talent in the future. Explain to your leadership team why investing in building a candidate pipeline has long term benefits.
    • Determine future roles to be filled
      Ask these teams what they are looking for in future candidates. Make sure they are incentivized to refer people they know to those roles. Your current employees, who already have the skillset you’re looking for, are most likely to know others with the same skillset. It is especially important to have a healthy talent pipeline for roles with a high turnover rate
    • Take stock of both your internal and external pipeline sources
      Your first thought when looking for candidates is often external sources, but your internal pipeline can be just as fruitful. Look at your current workforce and identify current teams or employees that may have transferable skills or flexibility. Hiring internally can lead to more employee loyalty and a sense of satisfaction. However, external sources may help you to build more diversity and fill gaps in various skillsets that may not be represented in your current team. A balanced approach will help you save time and build a stronger organization.

    2. Source Candidates

    Use these techniques to find them:

    • Classic web searches
      Go to Google or your favorite search engine and put in your list of criteria you’re searching for on the right candidate: skills, location, certifications, etc. Take note of the results and perfect your search accordingly.
    • In-person networking
      Sourcing candidates the good old-fashioned way is always effective, especially for building your employer brand. People you meet at online or in-person networking events will be more likely to remember your company and get a feel for your workplace culture, and may even tell their friends about it. These events are often an investment in your passive candidate pipeline because they are more about building relationships than they are about finding an immediate hire.
    • Social media
      In addition to community forums and networking events that are often a part of member-based organizations, passive candidates can be found following the page of your organization or other industry-specific pages. Seek out places where candidates with the skills you need go to talk shop. Get them interested in your company through real dialogue about the work they do.
    • Online sourcing tools, resume banks, and portfolio sites
      Online platforms like the YM Careers Network give you access to resume banks and place your job directly in front of hard-to-find candidates.
    • Your own ATS (Applicant Tracking System)!
      Don’t forget about candidates who may have applied to a role in the past but haven’t been hired yet. They may be a great fit when another role opens! Be sure to keep your ATS updated and accessible.
    • Referrals
      We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again – your current employees are your best sources for referrals. Invest in your workplace culture, and your employees will tell their others to apply. Keep an comprehensive list of all candidates who have been personally referred to you by fellow colleagues, past events, former employees, and the like. You can even get referrals from past applicants or candidates who you’ve reached out to in the past.

    3. Engage, engage, engage!

    Employ these mindsets to win candidates’ attention and help them know you’re authentic.

    • Honesty and transparency
      If you are building a pipeline for roles that don’t exist yet or won’t be hiring for a while, make sure you are upfront with this information. You can say that you are looking for talented people to hire in the future and would like to get to know them. draft a friendly, customizable email template to get started reaching out.
    • Time is a valuable resource.
      Let candidates choose how they want to reach out or be contacted. If they would rather reach out in the future to chat, respect that request and make sure they know how to reach you.
    • Legitimate interest and enthusiasm
      Get a feel for their current projects and future career goals. Do some research on them before chatting if you can, by finding their resume online, looking at their current company, or asking someone who may have referred them.

    Reach out to a recruitment specialist at YM Careers Network today to get help building your pipeline!