Building Vibrant Talent Pools

By Veronica Blatt

Today’s guest blogger is Martin Bramall, managing director of idibu, a talent marketing platform that reduces the time to hire and facilitates better relationships between candidates and recruiters.

For lots of recruiters it’s getting tougher and tougher. Rising skill shortages coupled with the possible impact of reduced international talent means it is likely to get worse before it gets better. I believe one way to address these serious challenges is talent pooling.

I can hear some huffing and puffing in the back, so let me clarify straight away: I don’t mean dumping tons of CVs into a database and then blasting them with poorly matching jobs. No. I am talking about segmenting the target market by critical roles, then understanding the motivations of the people that normally work in these roles.

Before we get to that stage we need to look at our candidate attraction strategy which should be based on your understanding of the target market. Where is the talent? What are they looking for in a job, employer and working environment? What are their interests outside and what makes your offer stand out from others in this very competitive marketplace?

As said, finding good people is not as straightforward as it was. We are seeing a significant fragmentation of candidate sources and over the coming years it could be more complex still with social media and company websites further increasing in importance. This will require additional skillsets (for example, content marketing, landing page testing) as well as an open mind, as some of the social networks we know and use will likely be usurped by others.

The foundation of choosing the most appropriate marketing channel and branding message is to research the candidate’s needs and desires. To understand what they really want and to segment them by behaviours and interests, not just sector, skill and location.

Once you understand this, you can work on positioning the offer in an insightful, truthful and attractive manner. Remember, this isn’t just about putting bums on seats but bringing in productive and impactful talent. It is obviously key to build it on reality and not build castles in the sky. You get found out as soon as the candidate interacts with an employee, or even worse after a couple of days in the job. We as a profession need to understand the impact and consequences if we “sell” them a job instead of making sure it really fits with their lives and desires.

Then it’s about segmentation & communicating and interacting with the candidate, by providing relevant and interesting content via the appropriate channel (based on the research in the first step).

Sharing these insights across a team and using software to “hard code” these behaviours (when to communicate, how often, what) driven by the interactions of the candidate, will help make everybody a better recruiter. Key here is to put the candidate in the driver seat, if they step up the frequency, we can step up the intensity. If they lower it, we have to step back. Pretty straight forward.

At the same time, tracking these candidate behaviours and having some triggers that inform what to do next, increases the productivity. It is no different to a sales funnel, only that it is far more automated and driven by data. Now, the recruiter knows the interest levels and can tailor her approach in accordance, leading to a smoother candidate experience and greater success for the recruiter. A win-win!

So, here’s a quick guide to the art and science of building vibrant talent pools.

What is a Talent Pool?

A healthy pool is a body of water with fresh water flowing through it. Without that fresh water it’s just a stagnant pond. A talent pool should be active, vibrant, with fresh talent flowing through it.

One thing a talent pool isn’t is a CV database filled with thousands of outdated and irrelevant CVs. If it’s not segmented and actively worked, then it’s a stagnant pond. Also, it’s really important because of that segmentation to think plural. It’s talent pools not talent pool.

What to consider when building Talent Pools?

When building a strong foundation for successful talent pools…

  1. Define and map the talent pools
  2. Understand your target market – different candidate types you will always want to draw into the business when the opportunities arise
  3. Think about the journey through the talent pools – who moves where and why? What are the triggers?
  4. Map the stages from passive to active
  5. Map the tools for segmentation
  6. Map the tools for engagement – make them appropriate to each pool
  7. Think in terms of the candidate journey. Too often this just refers to application through to start or rejection and doesn’t consider the stages of engaging, retaining and qualifying.

Case Study: Online Fashion Retailer

Set up distinct talent pools: Define the parameters of who fits into the varying pools by skill set and then further segmented by potential fit. For example creating different pools for designers, merchandisers and graduates.

Create bespoke coms for each pool: The right message for the right people at the right time. For example: designers can be informed about new product launches and design awards – not just vacancy alerts. This gives a much better insight to the company culture and where the business is heading.

Become part of the experience: With graduates, our online fashion retailer went a step further and fully engaged with their target market by deploying a double decker bus, offering style makeovers at festivals. The graduate pool was emailed details of their attendance and encouraged to drop by and visit.

Zombie CVs: Bring them back to life

Most recruiters have the majority of their talent pool already in their CV Database. But they are outdated, several years old and bringing these Zombie CVs back to life can be a very onerous task when done manually. As a consequence recruiters fish in the same active candidate ponds like all their competitors. Spend your resources better by focusing on reviving the Zombies and use technology to help you.

Once fresh, updated and revived, make sure they don’t become Zombies again by moving them into the right entry pool and engaging regularly and building relationships.

Zombie Killer: One way we revive CVs is with digital footprints. When you upload CVs into idibu we link the record to social media. This brings people’s current profile up to date and gives a window into industry issues they’re talking about and their character via collating publicly available data.

Candidates: How to grow relationships?

Businesses want every employee who leaves on their own accord to still recommend the company as a great place to work. Recruiters should take a similar approach: Everybody who is rejected at a later stage in the recruitment process should still go away with the feeling that the company is a great place to work:

  1. Focus on candidate experience: Ensure a candidate takes something from the experience. They invest a lot of time and energy in the recruitment process. The obvious win is honest, constructive feedback. People always remember how you made them feel and in today’s connected world they will often share their experience with their professional and social network.
  2. Build great relationships: To a high performing recruiter this is obvious, but feedback we received from candidates is: over half of all respondents chose honesty and regular communications as most important.
  3. Use technology: Relationships should be based on trust, empathy, respect, honesty and consistency, delivered in a personalised way for every single candidate. It may sound time consuming, but some of the process can be automated without losing character or authenticity.

Be patient, nurture and grow the relationship over time and you can turn your flat CV database into vibrant talent pools.

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