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What is a talent pool?

Being able to find and attract candidates, at scale and speed, is becoming a serious advantage in the increasingly tough competition for talent. One way organisations can improve their access to the people they need, when they need them, is to build talent pools.

But what exactly is a talent pool, how does talent pooling work, and what are the benefits of building talent pools?

Let’s take a look at the basics.

What is talent pooling?

A talent pool is a list of engaged candidates who have either worked or applied to work for your organisation in the past, and who have shown the required skills and desire to work for you in the future. You can have multiple talent pools for different roles and skill sets.

Ex-contingent workers, former permanent employees, freelancers, retirees, and even previously unsuccessful applicants (often referred to as silver and bronze medallists) can all be included in talent pools - which are usually managed in an online applicant tracking system (ATS) as part of a managed service programme.

Talent pooling plays a central role in direct sourcing strategies, where organisations bypass recruitment agencies to hire directly on the strength of their employer brand - often saving themselves significant time and money in the process.

Learn more about direct sourcing.

How to build a talent pool

To build effective talent pools, organisations must be willing to invest in providing a great candidate and employment experience, and to ask workers and applicants for their honest feedback and interest in suitable opportunities should they arise in the future.

An individual’s candidate experience is what shapes their attitude towards a business, based on them aspiring to work there or going through its recruitment process. organisations can improve the candidate experience with:

  • Clear and honest job descriptions that accurately reflect the demands of the role
  • Streamlined application processes that only ask for essential information
  • Innovative tech to facilitate faster shortlisting and more engaging assessments
  • Interviewers who are prepared, and prepared to have a two-way conversation
  • Constructive feedback and timely rejections for unsuccessful interviewees
  • Requests for feedback from all applicants, on what worked and what didn’t
  • Good post-interview communication and onboarding for successful candidates

In short, organisations must approach their recruitment with honesty and respect if they want to provide a positive candidate experience. Successful and unsuccessful candidates alike should be left with a good feeling about joining the company at some point in the future.

Other factors that contribute to building a positive candidate experience include employer branding, and how your organisation is perceived by jobseekers, and employer value proposition - which lets people know what you stand for and why they should choose you.

Learn more about improving the candidate experience in our guide, Don’t forget the candidate

Keeping your talent pool engaged

Regular communication with your talent pool is crucial to ensuring past, present, and future candidates are - and remain - excited by the offering you have. Rich and immersive content can be served by email newsletters, social media updates, written content, video or imagery on good news stories associated with your organisation, or to highlight successful employees within the business.

The benefits of talent pooling

The key benefit of an effective talent pooling strategy is that it provides rapid access to a number of engaged and appropriately skilled individuals when your organisation needs them most.

The main benefits of talent pooling are:

  • Lower recruitment costs - by filling roles directly or with the help of a trusted Managed Service Provider, organisations avoid the use of agencies and their fees, which can range from 20% to 40%.
  • Reduced time-to-hire - being able to approach known, suitable candidates without having to enter the market via recruitment agencies can drastically reduce the time it takes to fill your vacancy.
  • Enhanced reputation - research has shown that candidates who enjoy a positive experience will share that information with their peers, thus enhancing your ability to pool talent.
  • Faster onboarding - thanks to their previous contact with your business, whether through employment or interview, individuals are pre-vetted and assessed and ready to be onboarded.

As talent scarcity increases, talent pools can provide a tangible competitive advantage. Being able to ‘retain’ your top temporary workers, either through contract extensions or by ensuring that they would be happy to work for you again in the future, is vital.

Learn more about retaining temporary workers.

Talent pools vs talent pipelines

While a talent pool can include current employees, talent pooling is generally concerned with individuals who are not currently working for your organisation. The idea is to create a list of people who have the talent you may need in the future, and who would be happy to return.

This makes a talent pool different to a talent pipeline, which is more typically associated with identifying current employees who have the potential to become leaders or to fill crucial skills gaps in your organisation.

Talent pipelines should be a central part of any successful workforce management strategy, and are a vital tool for developing, motivating, and retaining your top people.

Learn more about employee retention and internal mobility.

How an MSP helps build and manage talent pools

Talent pools and direct sourcing strategies are typically developed over time as part of a maturing Managed Service Programme, which improves consistency and quality of practices across all recruitment - whether contingent, permanent, or services-based.

With the help of a specialist Managed Service Provider, organisations can build the market intelligence and robust processes that lead to a first class candidate experience - and develop engaged talent pools that can be utilised at speed when the need arises.

Contact us to find out how we can help with your workforce management needs.

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