Building a talent pipeline sounds like this really difficult, intense task and for that reason, many who are first in HR might think of it as an "advanced" activity. Nothing could be further from the truth. The very things that make talent pipelines successful are things that you can put in place from your very first day (and in fact, are often more effective that way!)
The application is what recruiters and HR pros are programmed to wait for and plan around, but when it comes to building a talent pipeline, this can be counter productive. Instead, think of what brings people to your application portal or ATS. Figure out where people meet your recruiting team and how they hear about your company. That's the moment when you should be capturing information. How you do it depends on your company. It could a low-tech career fair or it could be a high tech sourcing tool. Either way, the sooner you reach out, the more likely you are to have their information.Then what?
Follow up with the candidate and let them know when you expect to be hiring, take the time to have a preliminary conversation with the candidate and, if you use assessment testing in your hiring process, ask them to complete those assessments right away.
Lots of marketers don't handle the research and analysis of their target market. Instead there are entire schools of marketing thought (and internal marketing departments) dedicated to customer nurturing.
Sometimes the most effective way to build a talent pipeline is to be willing to reexamine your recruiting strategy from the most basic level. Jackson discovered that by using targeted searches and testing the success of each part of his recruitment process, he was able to attract qualified candidates to positions he had previously had trouble filling through job boards alone.
This is the process of (basically), separating the wheat from the chaff. You divide the people with which you've been in contact (as an organization or team) into groups and once they are divided by your preset criteria, you devise a plan by which to nurture them. While lots of smaller companies prefer to do this with a very personalized feel, most recruiters (and marketers) will tell you that it can snowball very quickly, so it's best to implement some sort of automation station to make it easier on yourself. Remember, you can always reach out personally to the cream of the crop.
Passive candidates are, I am sorry, not a real life thing anymore. At the very most passive end of the spectrum, we're talking 'pactive' at least. So keep that in mind. So called passive candidates are less than 25% of the actual workforce, with between 75-80% of the workforce reporting they "cruise" job sites and other ads at least once a week. So if they are out there and looking, keep your best gigs open-ish. Okay, so maybe you don't have the perfect position, but if talent likes what they see and apply, you have their info and a chance to start a relationship.
Recruitment is Not a Point in Time. What I mean by this is if you are hiring for a nurse position at your hospital, SOP may state that you post the job opening for 15 days, but by doing so you are missing engaging great, qualified, and passive candidates who did not happen upon your job posting that is only published for a short period of time.
Key positions like business development, product marketing, strategic operations can make or break a new business. If you find the perfect candidate, make a place for them and keep the others interested by providing real value and being honest about your pipelining objectives.
You're in it for the long haul. People don't want to be tricked and they don't want to be led on. So if you aren't going to offer them a job or a glimpse behind the 01001111001111010101 (hint:tech) curtain, then offer them something else. Information? A referral option? Timely and useful articles about their industry? I'm not sure. What I do know is that it's easy to curate and distribute content. It's also massively easy to show your culture so that certain candidates (not right fit) will opt out of the process altogether. While this isn't a process for everyone, it is simpler when technology is as widely available as it is today. From video interviewing to social media, giving candidates an inside view of your company has never been simpler.
Consider this from a LinkedIn whitepaper titled:Best Practices for Developing a Strong Talent Pipeline:
Although sourcing is a critical focus in 2012, only 2 percent of
organizations have a long-term approach to sourcing initiatives.
Aberdeen contends that traditionally, pipelining has been an ad-hoc
process, with sourcing efforts growing with a good economy and
shrinking with a bad economy. This reactionary approach has left
organizations unprepared for the future.
Building your long term talent pipeline will NOT happen over night but with the above recommendations you can begin to create a community wherein you can not only be a potential employer but an educator and a resource. Be as transparent as possible when communicating with potential candidates or pre-applicants. Let them know the real facts: how long it takes you to hire, how often a position becomes open, what sort of person makes you bend the rules.