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ATD Blog

Tips to Develop Your Proactive Talent Pipeline

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

The foundation of any company is its people. Hiring the right people for the right job is sometimes seeped in competencies, sometimes attitudes and mindsets, and sometimes on the person’s connections to that organization or hiring manager. But many organizations still take a reactive approach when it comes to hiring for open positions. A person leaves, gets promoted, or moves, and the hiring manager asks a recruiter to fill the opening with a person of similar capabilities. But this is a backward approach to finding the right talent.

By developing a talent pipeline, your organization can have the right people in mind for openings before the openings even occur. Building that kind of pipeline takes time and strategy. You may not know who will be leaving when and exactly what position will open in the future, but you can develop a pool of qualified candidates per department within your organization.

We offer four tips here toward developing an effective and diverse talent pipeline for your organization.

Develop a Following

Work on your organization’s brand and being known as a great career resource and an organization with an awesome culture. If you build it, they will come. Of course, this isn’t something you can develop overnight if you don’t already have it. But you can start with having your IT team develop an informative and interactive careers page on your website. Talk about the great initiatives your organization has put into play and highlight different team members on a regular basis on the site. Don’t forget about your employee alumni and offboarding them in the best possible way.

“Maintain strong connections with your alumni employees! Make sure they know that there is the possibility to be a boomerang where appropriate, and continuously ask them to send you talent from their network,” said Amy Kelly, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, Vice President of Consulting Services at Jon Gordon Companies.

Look Within

Don’t forget about the talent you already have within your own four walls. Invest in your employee candidate pool. Create leadership and learning programs that will rival the best of them so when that next level-up opening becomes empty, you can promote from within.


“Build world-class learning programs that accelerate careers, and the word gets around. It becomes a talent magnet for the growth-minded professional,” said Kelly.

And don’t forget that starts with interns. If you have an internship program, help the interns grow and succeed. If you don’t have an internship program, start one. Interns can become a source of the next great jet-setter within your organization.

Keep Diversity in Mind

There are innumerable programs and certificates you can take to help you develop your diversity hiring practices. Become certified through a program like SHRM’s Foundation Veterans at Work certification or ADP’s Certified Diversity and Inclusion Recruiter. Beyond certification, you can become a member of different groups on LinkedIn like Diversity, Sourcing, and Recruiting with more than 20,000 members.

Taking courses and becoming an active part in groups like these will create a diverse network of talent that you can continue to grow over the years.


Social Media and Niche Job Boards

Let’s face it—you’re not getting any candidates to notice you without being on LinkedIn, Twitter, and Instagram today. Make sure you are engaging, use best practices for the platforms when you post, and always conduct yourself in the most professional manner, and be personable when reaching out to candidates or potential candidates. Whether you realize it or not, you are an ambassador for your organization’s brand online.

“Communication and responsiveness are key. I always circle back to a candidate with feedback or to simply let them know they didn't get the job,” said Ashley Rigazio, a senior digital creative recruiter in Boston, Mass.
Even if that candidate doesn’t get this job with you, you may have them in mind next time for another opening—or potentially the same opening years later. Always stay professional and responsive so they don’t leave with an unfavorable impression of the company.

Use resources like the ATD Job Bank’s resume database to save potential candidates for future job openings. Some of the most qualified talent development professionals in the business save their resumes with the ATD Job Bank for potential employers to find. You can save those candidates’ resumes to review so when an opening does pop up in your talent development department, you will have the right person to call for the job.

During the COVID-19 pandemic it may feel extra hard to keep that pipeline flowing, but the war for talent is still going on and going on strong. While a lot of people are out of work, there are a lot of those professionals who have decided to take themselves out of the workforce entirely to homeschool their children, take care of family members, or retire. But if you start becoming more proactive in your approach by creating award-winning talent development programs and developing your own organization while diversifying your talent pool and always conducting yourself with professionalism, you will make huge strides in your talent acquisition pipeline.

About the Author

Formerly the senior content manager at ATD for career development and host of the Accidental Trainer podcast, Lisa Spinelli writes about career development and pathways. She is the editor and main author of Teachers to Trainers (ATD Press) and is working toward her ACC accreditation with the International Coaching Federation as a career and transition coach. Currently, she is director of content strategy at Degreed. Spinelli also volunteers her time outside of work coaching and assisting transitioning military service members and spouses as well as disabled entrepreneurs in their new career paths.

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