These are the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Singapore Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Tuesday 30th September hosted by Cargill’s Tai-Kit (Talent Recruitment Lead), titled ‘Building Effective Talent Pools: What really is Best Practice?’ .
The following summary has been prepared to reflect a segment of the discussion held amongst senior HR and Resourcing professionals from leading businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.
(This Think Tank aimed to look at the topic that was similarly covered in a previous UK Resourcing Think Tank on Effective Talent Pooling but to decipher the contrast in outcomes due to the cultural difference for companies based in Singapore.)
What are the Benefits of Talent Pooling?
Getting investment in Talent Pooling can often be tricky. Businesses want to see the direct ROI from the process or the clear benefits of Talent Pooling. A measurement that can be clearly demonstrated to the business is time to hire. If the talent pool has been selected correctly the time to fill a role should be greatly improved compared to the traditional hiring process. If it’s an urgent hire, a talent pool will mean many candidates with the correct skillsets can be found quickly – rather than having to hire someone who doesn’t have all the necessary skills due to the rush.
How to Build a Talent Pool?
In large companies it is important to define a set number of roles that talent pools should be developed for so that specific focus can be put on these. To understand the best ways to access / connect with potential candidates it needs to be understood where people initially become attracted to working for the company. By understanding these touch points more money / time can be invested in them to ensure they are giving potential candidates the correct message to attract them. These touch points can then be used to develop talent pools and keep them ‘warm’. To uncover this information recruiters need to ask the right questions during the early stages of the recruitment process.
If a larger talent pool is required the lake, ponds and puddles method can be used (discussed in more detail here) to establish the most relevant candidates and people who have a few but not all of the critical criteria. One point raised was that it is key that talent pools should be developed on performance and level of expertise rather than length in a role. This will ensure the most relevant people are in a talent pool.
Online Platforms for Talent Pooling:
- Bespoke internal systems
- Work Day
- Careers website (attraction)
Line managers usually know the importance of having good talent pools to select from and that this is the way forward to be able to find the best people, quickly. They often even have a network of good talent but don’t communicate this to the Resourcing / Talent Acquisition team. Instead they leave the responsibility on HR functions to develop the Talent Pools themselves.
Two separate questions that need to ask managers?
- Do they understand the concept of Talent Pooling?
- Do they understand their responsibility in this process?
If managers don’t understand the benefits of talent pooling these need to be communicated to them to gain their full commitment. Then a clearly defined process needs to be established, so that they know exactly who to contact and how to do this when they want to add people to a talent pool. It then needs to be clear who takes the next step to engage with these talent pools. What will HR do in terms of engaging with this network and how should managers then carry on the relationship by meeting and speaking with these people (keeping candidates ‘warm’)? Training and a set institutionalised approach may need to be developed for the process to be as smooth as possible.
Managers can sometimes be unwilling to pass on their network and therefore the rigor needs to be driven from the top of the organisation – that it is expected that managers know the best talent in their marketplace and should be working in a two-way relationship with HR to develop these into talent pools. The number of people managers are expected to have in their talent pools depends on the amount of hiring being done by the company. If the number of candidates put forward by managers is very low an incentivisation (sometimes a monetary prize) may be used to encourage them to create a strong network. A large amount of money is not always needed, any amount demonstrates to managers how important the talent pooling initiative is being taken.
Line managers’ expertise should be used in engagement materials. Things such as videos of them can help with the engagement process for talent pools. Encouraging line managers to talk at / attend conferences also helps this and allows them to increase their network of talented individuals.
Identifying Critical Skills
Talent pools should not include everyone in the market. They should only include the best candidates who would be a good fit for the organisation. If a talent pool is too large and not pre-screened before being invited to interview a lot of time and resource can be wasted on assessing and turning down the wrong people for the role. Managers’ input should be used to define a list of skillsets for people in talent pools as they are the best people to know what is needed. It also helps restrict the breadth of skills within each pool in order to increase the overall value. Talent pools should also always be shown to managers before engagement starts as they may be aware of bad candidates.
Pre-Screening of Talent Pools
At what stage should talent pools be screened to ensure that candidates are not kept in a pool for six months, engaged with throughout this time, brought in when a role comes up and then realised they are not right at all? Is line manager gut feel enough for ensuring someone is right for the talent pool?
Talent pool screening is dependant on role level; for graduate / entry level roles pre-screening is more essential than for higher level positions. Online tests can be an effective but quick way to pre-screen a candidate’s place in a talent pool. This can be available to users of the website / social media followers. Ones that pass the test can then be considered for talent pools. Most candidates will get fed up with a test that is more than 10 minutes, so questions need to be carefully selected to be quick but accurate. Gamification of these online tests can make response levels higher but also create a good brand identity if this game sits inline with this. Scores on traditional games can lead to clues on the person’s problem solving skills, collaborative solution skills etc. Online screening can give a global consistency for companies too. However, games do need a much larger budget than some more simple online tests and it can be tricky to get buy in from the top unless clear ROI can be demonstrated.
Video interviews can also be used for pre-screening however it depends on the type of role and attractiveness to candidates – if they are passive right now they may well not be willing to take the time to record a video to then just be placed in a talent pool.
Collaboration with Marketing
In this day and age people often look at your recruitment process as an extension and a reflection of the rest of your business. Therefore every step in the talent pooling process needs to be inline with the company’s internal and external brand identity.
Talent aquisition need to work with marketing departments to create both external and internal communication campaigns to generate talent pools. The marketing function can help develop things such as corporate pages on the website to make them more attractive to potential candidates. Marketing departments often profile and create personas for potential customers. They should also be utilised to do this for the potential candidates to understand who they are, so they can be placed into an appropriate talent pool and it’s fully understood how best to engage with them. A social media / online strategy can be designed to tie into meeting candidates at these touch points and convey an attractive message to them.
Analytics can also be used to see what people are clicking on in communications such as email newsletters so that the next message is even more relevant to them and likely to engage the talent pool.
How much Engagement is Right?
When people are added to talent pools it needs to be explained to them exactly what this means. Some people may be put off if they feel happy in their job currently and may not want regular communication about a company and therefore this communication needs to be developed carefully. Quarterly contact is suggested as a good level of communication. However, this is dependant on the type and level of role. One to one engagement should be focused on people in the ‘pond’ category and mass communication can be used for the slightly broader groups. This means that time is focused on the highest scoring candidates in terms of number of critical skills they have.
Whose responsibility is it to keep the talent pool warm? If it is the hiring manager is there a set list of instructions for how they should keep these people engaged? This is probably dependant on the hiring manager – some may want / need step by step instructions and some may speak to these pools regularly anyway.
Methods to Keep Talent Pools ‘Warm’
- Socialising – If asking managers to take members of talent pools out to meals / drinks to keep the network warm this should be paid for by HR
- Bring people from talent pools in to work on small projects – let them know after this that they are being considered for a position in six month’s to a year’s time
- For senior pipelines run events that are of relevance to people in the talent pool. A lot of companies already do this for internal talent but not external talent
- News and updates on company
- Internal network / forum – asking who should be in talent pools and giving info that could be shared with talent pools to keep them ‘warm’ – develop internal talent pools
(Often engagement with employees who currently work for direct competitors need to be developed differently)
Barriers and Challenges Concerning Effective Talent Pooling
- Creating a globally diverse talent pool is tricky. Either the internal network is not there to establish this pool or potential candidates are not willing to leave the country they are from
- Buy in from the top
- Line managers dedicating time to it
- Ensuring talent pools are comprised of ‘top talent’
- Keeping talent pools warm without overloading them with communication.
A factor that’s recently started affecting recruitment in Singapore concerns new legislation that stipulates that firms with more than 25 employees must advertise vacancies for jobs paying less than 12,000 Singapore dollars (circa £6,014.27). These positions are required to be advertised for at least 14 days on a new jobs bank administered by the Singapore Workforce Development Agency before organisations are eligible to apply for an employment pass to recruit a foreign national. Therefore a strong business case is needed for hiring non Singaporean citizens. Companies need to make sure their talent pool processes and groups are adaptable to laws such as this.