What is a Talent Pool? How to Build and Maintain this Crucial Resource

June 16, 2023

Recruiting can be expensive, time-consuming, and stressful. Wouldn’t it be great if you already had a pool of suitable candidates ripe for the picking?

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Recruiting in a competitive labor market can be like swimming in a rip current — as soon as you fill one critical position, someone else leaves for a new opportunity, leaving you perpetually swimming for the shore.

Wouldn't it be nice to have a deep talent pool of suitable, pre-screened candidates that you could draw from at short notice?

Of course it would! But what if your talent pool is at best a kiddie pool? Well, we're going to walk you through top strategies for making it more like a robust reservoir!

Let's dive into the deep end of talent pools—what they are, and how your organization can create and sustain them as a reliable stream of labor for your company.

What’s a Talent Pool?

A talent pool is a database where employers and human resources professionals keep their best and brightest job candidates. They tend to consist of previous (high-scoring) applicants, former employees, and people who have been referred to your company — basically, anyone you already know is qualified and would likely fit right in with your operation.

Think of the talent pool as the fast lane for any job openings you advertise. It’s full of strong swimmers you already know would be a great hire. You’ll have information about their skills, experience, and potential jobs within your company for which they’d be a perfect fit.

Filling a talent pool takes time, but doing so allows companies to foster relationships with suitable candidates. Then, when the time comes, there’s a carefully cultivated shortlist readily available. The difference this can make to your recruitment efforts, both in time and effort, should not be underestimated.

Talent Pool vs. Talent Pipeline

A talent pool and a talent pipeline, while related, are not the same.

Your talent pool is a broader set of candidates that have expressed interest in working for your organization but are not in active recruitment.

Conversely, your talent pipeline is a smaller list of candidates who are currently being considered for a role at your organization.

You can think of your talent pool as a source of candidates for your talent pipeline. And if someone in your talent pipeline isn't hired for a particular role, they can flow back into your talent pool and be considered for future openings.

What Are the Benefits of Filling a Talent Pool?

Let’s be honest. Recruiting for some positions can feel like finding a needle in a haystack.

Talent pools can serve as a magnet that make finding those needles much easier. Instead of gathering and sifting through piles of unsuitable applicants, you save time and resources by already having a bountiful harvest of talent to choose from.

Moreover, talent pools allow recruiters to proactively engage with quality candidates. By nurturing relationships with these prospects over time, organizations can build a strong talent pipeline for each new position and maintain a competitive edge.

Finally, talent pools foster long-term, strategic workforce planning, enabling companies to efficiently anticipate and fulfill future talent needs. Ultimately, talent pools serve as a valuable part of any talent management system by attracting, engaging, and securing top talent for organizations.

How to Build Your Talent Pool

So, we know talent pools are essential tools in modern-day recruiting. But where do you find the right people to build one for yourself?

Look to Previous Applicants

Pay attention to previous applicants who impressed you in previous interviews but weren’t ultimately hired. They might be the perfect fit for a future vacancy, and it’ll pay off to keep track of them.

These individuals have already expressed interest in your organization and may have gained additional skills or experience since their last application.

Reaching out to previous silver medalists can not only lead to successful hires, it also provides an opportunity to build positive relationships and maintain goodwill with individuals who have shown an ongoing interest in your company.

Keep Up with Former Employees

It’s always sad to watch talented people leave for greener pastures, so why not try and reconnect when the timing is right?

It’s crucial to maintain relationships with any former employees who left the door open for a possible return. They already know your culture and how everything works, which would make reintegration a breeze.

Foster Internal Candidates

Sometimes, the best candidates are already a part of your company. If you have an employee you think could prosper in a more senior role or would be well suited to another opening, it’s certainly worth including them in any shortlists.

This approach promotes employee development and a sense of loyalty and motivation among your workforce. Few things are better appreciated than knowing your skills and aspirations are recognized and valued. This can be an effective retention strategy as well!

Diversify Your Recruitment Channels

Actively sourcing diverse candidates is crucial for a robust talent pool. Embracing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) principles and sources broadens perspectives, drives innovation, and enhances organizational performance.

By adopting inclusive hiring practices, organizations can attract candidates from different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives, creating a diverse talent pool that enriches the workplace and strengthens the organization's ability to adapt and succeed.

Go Global

Having a global talent pool to draw from has become increasingly important in recent years. By leveraging remote work opportunities and digital platforms, organizations can cast a wider net to attract talent from around the globe.

Like DEIA, hiring remote employees enables access to a diverse range of skills, expertise, and cultural insights, fostering a dynamic and inclusive work environment.

Ask Your Current Employees

Employees can help build your talent pool too by referring qualified candidates from their personal and professional networks who may be a good fit for your organization. After all, what’s better than a personal recommendation?

Referrals tend to have a higher success rate in terms of cultural fit and job performance, as they come with endorsements from trusted sources — your staff!

Implementing a structured referral program incentivizes employees to actively participate in the talent acquisition process, thereby expanding the reach and quality of the talent pool.

How to Manage Your Talent Pool

Talent pools are a lot like bonsai trees. You’ve got to pay close attention and give them all the care they need for them to flourish. Ignore or neglect them, and the beautiful creation you started out with will wither away.

So, what can you do to ensure this doesn’t happen?

Build and Nurture Relationships

Fostering relationships with potential new hires in your talent pool is crucial for long-term success. After all, if they’re successful, you’ll be spending a lot of time with them! By actively engaging with candidates, you can establish rapport, trust, and a sense of connection.

You can go about this with personalized messaging, targeted content, and networking events to stay in touch and keep candidates informed about relevant updates or career opportunities.

Investing your time and effort into these relationships allows you to cultivate a talent pool that’s engaged, interested, and open to future opportunities.

Continuously Assess Talent

Has what you need from a potential applicant changed? Do you have an agile talent pool?

Regular evaluation of the skills and capabilities of the individuals in your talent pool is crucial to identify high-potential candidates. Ideally, you want a pool that remains adaptable and aligned with your organization's needs.

Make a habit of assessing the people within your talent pool so you can maximize its potential and ensure it’s a pipeline of qualified candidates ready to meet future challenges.

Effectively Segment and Target Talent

You can have the best potential talent swimming in your pool, but without any organized structure, it might be difficult to fish them out.

As you populate your talent database, organize and segment your candidates based on criteria that’s important to you (e.g., skills, experience, industry, location, etc.)

This serves two purposes.

One, it makes it easier to identify relevant candidates when the need arises. You can easily filter your list for the parameters that fit the role you’re seeking to fill.

Two, it makes it easier to tailor your nurture strategy. You can use segments to develop personalized communication, offer relevant opportunities for growth, and create a stronger connection with candidates.

Leverage Technology

Sure, you can store all of this critical information in a spreadsheet on your desktop, but that approach is manual, tedious, and error prone.

To truly build and maintain a useful talent pool, invest in recruiting software. Look for a solution that makes it easy to add leads to a database, store resumes, and has robust search and segmenting capabilities so you can find your star candidates when the time is right.

Building and maintaining your talent pool is an ongoing effort, so it’s important to have the right HR tech at your side to alleviate the administrative burden that comes with this important recruiting resource.

Read More: Employee Recruitment Strategies: Hiring the Top Talent

Fill Your Pool with Star Talent

As busy HR professionals, we all want to make sure our processes run as smoothly as possible, and streamlining your recruitment resources is a big one! By building and maintaining a talent pool, you’ll have a much easier time finding the right people for the right job when vacancies inevitably arise.

Paylocity offers a full suite of HR tools, including a recruiting platform designed to make your hiring process a breeze for you and your candidates. Our recruitment tool contains a robust leads database that allows you to maintain a full pool of qualified candidates.

Paylocity also has integrated communication capabilities that make it easy to reach out to candidates right from our software, making your nurture campaigns painless.

Request a demo today to learn more about how Paylocity’s HR and Payroll software can help you fill your talent pool to the brim.

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The Tools You Need to Attract and Retain

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