Size doesn’t matter

Size doesn’t matter

It’s what you do with it that counts – when it comes to passive talent

I often talk to clients about creating talent pipelines of passive candidates, and whilst it’s something I certainly advocate, I often have to steer them away from focusing on the size of the talent pipeline. By asking why? Why do you want to create an ongoing talent pipeline of hundreds of candidates?

Promotion of employer brand? Short-term hiring requirements? To influence culture change? Because you have a new product? To tap into niche talent where your brand isn’t known? Or is it simply to reduce cost-to-hire?

All of these are valid, (some more than others) and require different approaches. And the size of the talent pipeline need not be the focus. In fact, a large talent pipeline that is poorly managed is more of a risk than not tapping into passive talent at all.

The ‘why’ as well as ‘what’ and ‘how many’

In our infographic last week, we looked at the methodology for sourcing passive talent. The methodology is fundamental, and it is tailored according to an even more important aspect of sourcing – the ‘why’.

Before determining how many individuals you need in your talent pipeline, you first need to assess what you want to achieve and where talent comes from at the moment. You then need to determine the message you want to share with the talent pool and lastly, how many people you are looking to engage with and manage.

Remember this is about choice not cost. if the sole reason for sourcing passive candidates is to reduce cost per hire, then you will not reap the full benefit of your investment.

Step by step

Analyse any recurring hires, succession needs, planned new market hiring requirements based on medium and long term talent data and workforce plans, to assess where passive talent can add most value.

Define KPIs which are not around numbers of CVs. You may want a broad reach if you are looking to build your brand, or a targeted reach for specific niche skills. Either way you should define your audience and create measures around engagement with that group. Apply the rules of marketing to focus on on-boarding the right people at the right time through targeted activity.

Map the market and identify individuals. Treat them as you would treat active candidates and make sure they fit your brief. Here the focus is on quality and fit, not on size of the pipeline or number of profiles identified, just as it is with active candidates.

Approach potential talent and assess them in order to shrink a large pool to a high-calibre puddle! Use systems and methodologies to make sure assessment takes place through a career conversation; avoid the risk of interviewing them. There is a risk of damaging your brand with the people that matter most if it isn’t done correctly so ensure you have the time and resource in place.

Engage regularly with your small but high-quality passive talent puddle. Nothing beats face time, along with tailored content on a regular basis. Be careful not to do anything that will alienate your passive market – avoid the biggest risk which is to create a talent pool that is too big to be manageable and nothing is done with it.

Measure quality of hire including line manager feedback, promotion rate, career trajectory speed, number of hires as well as the simple metrics of cost and time to hire.

Size doesn’t matter

Tailored, engaging, passive talent strategies have the potential to deliver enormous business benefits. Passive talent is an excellent source of insight into your brand, and perceptions of your organisation as an employer. Tapping into passive talent results in reduced time to hire, reduced cost to hire and smooths the on-boarding process. I find it also helps to raise the profile of in-house teams and results in a better quality of hire.

Rather than building a talent pool and setting KPIs around numbers of individuals; be specific about why you are looking to build a talent pipeline in order to guide your sourcing strategy. Size doesn’t matter, it’s what you do with the talent pool (or puddle) that counts. It’s about having the right number of the right people ready to join your business when you need them.


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