RTT – Part 2 – Talent Pooling in Practice: Building Communities and Driving Engagement

Talent-Pool-header2The following summary is ‘part 2’ of the thoughts and takeaways from the latest Resourcing Think Tank (RTT) held on Tuesday 10th June 2014 hosted by CH2M Hill’s , Andrea Laws (Director of International Talent Acquisition) 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 professionals from leading national and international businesses. Specific company details, experiences and examples have been omitted from this summary as all discussions are held under ‘Chatham House Rules’.

Talent pooling is one of many tools in a recruiter’s box of tricks and as outlined in ‘part 1’ of this Think Tank’s summary, the model is never going to be right for all hiring predicaments. It is a Resourcing function’s job to understand key business drivers to ascertain whether talent pooling is going to provide an effective solution or not. So when on paper talent pooling is deemed a viable option, how can Resourcing practically build, manage and engage with these communities to deliver the all important ROI promised to the business?

Remaining ‘On Brand’ and Ensuring Synergy between Marketing and Recruitment

Understanding the employer’s branding and the message they’re attempting to disseminate is important; without this, buy-in from candidates will be incredibly difficult to stimulate. Therefore, resourcing teams need to communicate and align with the marketing department. It is important to use the marketing team to attract people. After all, people are the product. Encourage people to be more informed through digital media; this channel can create a virtual talent pool of sorts. For this, a dedicated marketing recruitment division is a good idea. If this is already in place it is important to ensure synergy between it and the recruitment function. If this is not possible, there needs to be constant communication between the marketing and resourcing teams so that a consistent message is communicated to the talent pool.

Structuring your Talent Pools

One way to tackle this subject is by segmenting your talent pools into Lakes, Ponds and Puddles. This splits the talent pool up into three separate platforms and determines what level of engagement (if any) you have with each group. In a nutshell, ‘Lakes’ are your broad grouping of general skills, ‘Ponds’ focus more specifically on experience, seniority etc. and ‘Puddles’ are smaller groups of hand-picked individuals from your ‘Pond’ who are being spoken to about a hypothetical position in your business. For more information on this model please click here and scroll down to the ‘Effective Talent Pipelining’ section.

Some important questions to bear in mind and consider when you start engaging with your talent communities are:

  • Should you tell people they’re in a talent pool?
  • Will potential employees be interested if there is no specific job or location at the time they are picked for a talent pool?

A further note on structuring your talent pools: it is important to remember that LinkedIn is not an ideal platform for housing your talent pools as all information ultimately belongs to the social networking site, not your business!

Who should you be Talent Pooling?

The key lies in identifying areas that are tough fills and responding appropriately. For instance, when it comes to headhunting within certain geographical regions some candidates won’t be as receptive to this kind of approach; if this is the case talent pooling could provide a viable solution. What’s more, interaction has its own intricacies! And as such, candidates from certain regions will not want to be included on your database. Therefore, in some situations hard copies of CVs can actually be more effective! As with everything, your approach needs to be tailored on a case by case basis.

Screening Candidates in and out

So should every candidate be slotted into a talent pool if they possess the right skill-set and experience on paper? Or should there be an element of upfront screening? For some businesses this just won’t be feasible from a resource perspective. However, it can be a great time saver and quality assurer in the long run. Introducing a degree of situational judgement testing can help with assessing candidates’ behaviours, motivations, values and capability; which is incredibly valuable, if you’re mapping these results back to the business’s requirements. This process also demonstrates to candidates that they’re a good fit for the business and visa versa; indicating a genuine intent from the employer that they take their hiring process seriously.

Balancing Technology with Human Interaction

It is important to leverage technology to a point but when is the time that you step in as a business?

In modern business environments, engagement and communication will coalesce via technology. Therefore ensuring that the business utilises the most appropriate tools is crucial for a Resourcing function focusing on Talent Pooling. Technology can lead to a streamlined process with high levels of continuity. The types of systems that could be used are discussed below:

  • Platforms that act as a hub; holding talent pooling information, tracking the recruitment process itself, and then becoming an internal tool in the subsequent lifecycle of each employee
  • Social media communities; engage with candidates on seemingly unrelated matters. Start by building an emotional connection through sharing content and once this is established follow up with your ‘sell’
  • Referral and alumni networks; cloud based systems that allow colleagues to pool talent in ‘boxes’

Keeping candidates ‘warm’

Often we’ll talent pool for specific sets of hiring criteria without having a role in mind for the group of candidates we’re engaging with. So how can we keep candidates engaged with our brand from an employer perspective and reduce the risk of turning them off?

Firstly, the business needs to create a conversation with candidates. This can be achieved through a variety of methods, for instance inviting them to specifically tailored networking events for the talent pool, getting them to participate in roundtable discussions or by engaging them in online communities, whereby you share useful resources that aren’t necessarily specific to your organisation. However, it’s important that you refrain from mentioning recruitment and concentrate more on marketing your organisation as a great place to work. Talk about the company and build a community that actually adds value to these individuals; this should ultimately create a carousel of talent for future requirements. Use story telling to hook your candidates’ interest and maintain this same messaging throughout the whole candidate life-cycle.

One thing to bear in mind is that it’s essential to understand and be invited into peoples’ online conversations in the first place. You want to avoid jumping in with both feet like an embarrassing parent turning up uninvited at their child’s secondary school disco! The success of engagement comes down to content and the quality of information you can pass on.

Managing Talent Pooling from an Internal Perspective

Talent pooling is resource intensive and shouldn’t be something that you pick up and put down. Below are some tips from our senior Resourcing community on how to embed and manage talent pools from an internal perspective:

  • Split your resourcing function into ‘future hires’ and ‘business as usual hires’ so each recruiter knows exactly where their recruitment activity should lie and who is responsible for managing talent pools
  • Empower hiring managers to engage and pipeline candidates directly; after all they are going to have much greater visibility of the talent that works within their sectors. What’s more being approached by a likeminded professional (not a recruiter) often leads to a better response rate and level of engagement from the candidate perspective
  • Underpin the involvement of hiring managers and other members of the business with a talent pooling related bonus to encourage more people to embrace the initiative

Key Takeaways

  • Talent pooling should be in a state of constant flux and businesses must continue to evolve and strive to be flexible
  • Stakeholder engagement – speak to hiring manages about who they are coming into contact with in their own networks and encourage them to take some responsibility for talent pooling
  • Successful talent pooling is essentially marketing; requiring an outsourced or devoted marketing function
  • Marketing requires the upkeep of a universal brand message which must be upheld continuously
  • The look and feel of talent pools will hugely vary business to business, particularly  when different geographies are concerned
  • Is technology fit for purpose? It must be implemented properly, with a clearly defined end-goal and via continuous assessment
  • LinkedIn is not the Holy Grail! There is a diverse market of technology platforms and they should be chosen based on business needs
  • Tap in to the businesses’ own talent network as this will often be overlooked
Oasis HR

Written by , Network Driven HR Recruitment

Oasis HR is a multi-award winning HR Recruitment Agency based in London that delivers Contingency and Search services within the Human Resource and Business Change Markets. Our client base encompasses all industry sectors and we have a proven track record of delivering permanent, interim and temporary professionals at all levels across all HR disciplines. From a £20k HR Administrator to a £200k HR Director, Oasis HR is well placed to identify, approach and secure the best available talent in the market

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