Coburg Banks | Multi-sector UK recruitment agency

4 Reasons Why You Might Need a Talent Pipeline (as a Back up Plan)

By Anthony Hughes | Jan 13, 2015 | Attracting Staff

First things first: We’d always advocate conducting a brand new search if you need to recruit rather than using a database of old applicants.

Whether you choose to do it yourself or use a recruitment agency, in an ideal world you want to attract people that are actively looking for a role right now.

You know they’re interested in your position because they’ve applied to your role directly, and for whatever reason their interest indicates that they’re ready to leave their current job straightaway.

From our experience, the average jobseeker right now is currently taking around 3 months to find a new position and consequently go off the market. Therefore, you have a very limited amount of time to capture an application, store it for future use and find that person a position in your business, before they find something else.

In saying that, if you’re a big enough business to warrant one, and you have developed HR and recruitment processes and/or a high staff turnover, and you have the relevant software to cope with it (or you’re thinking about purchasing it), having a talent pipeline could be a really valuable asset to your business and increase your recruitment ROI.

Here’s 4 reasons why it might work for you:

1. It might save you money

Having a talent pipeline has one massive benefit – it could save you a lot of money versus what you might spend if you used a recruitment consultancy.

Being able to draw on a pot of candidates who are (potentially) already engaged with your business and brand and applied through an advert you placed, means that you don’t need to spend a placement fee with an agency for every person you recruit.

When you consider how much this could be, well the maths is pretty straightforward and the savings are obvious.

All good, right? Well not necessarily so.

If you’re thinking about building a talent pipeline and you want to do it right, you need to have the right software in place to allow you to manage the process effectively.

Applicant tracking systems are readily available for businesses, but they are expensive and are usually the domain of larger companies with developed HR/recruitment teams. They’re normally out of reach for smaller businesses.

You also need to consider the resource to make something like this work. If potentially you’ll be revisiting your pipeline in three months’ time, you need to keep your candidates warm, and that requires constant communication, and that requires resource.

You may have that perfect person in place to do the work – in fact you might be that perfect person. But to do it right you will need someone sat behind a computer and a phone doing quite a bit of legwork.

Expert Recruiter Tip:

If your applicants have initially come through a recruitment consultancy, please, please, please check your agreed terms and conditions before offering subsequent applicants a position at your business.

Most agencies have a clause in place which means that if you recruit someone they have introduced to you within a certain timeframe (normally 12 months) then you are legally obliged to pay them a fee.

2. The ability to target and store people with rare skillsets

If your business operates in a specific niche, or your recruits need very targeted skillsets, then a talent pipeline could really help. It’s particularly relevant for industries such as Accountancy, Manufacturing, Engineering, or IT – industries where you may need individuals with specific, technical knowledge which isn’t easy to come across.
Let’s say for instance that your advert has worked really well and you’re down to the last 3 candidates. All of them are excellent and could do the job. They each have very specific skills that you need but rarely come across. However you only have one vacancy live right now with no budget to offer all three a position.

You know though, that you might have another vacancy come live in the next few months that could be perfect for one of the other two. This is when having a talent pipeline of some sort is essential.
Everything we’ve discussed here though is still relevant. To make it work you’ll need to constantly communicate with these candidates and keep them ‘warm’. Even so, there’s no guarantee that in three months’ time they will still be on the market.

Expert Recruiter Tip:
Candidates who refused your job offer because of counteroffers should be kept on the radar in case things don’t work out with the role they did accept. Don’t take their rejection personal but keep them in your talent pipeline.

3. Speed

Having a talent pipeline using an Applicant Tracking System or some kind of internal CV database allows you to get in touch with relevant candidates the second a role becomes live.

You haven’t got to wait for a response to an advert, which could take a couple of days. The obvious benefit of this is that in situations in particular where you need to act quickly, you’re potentially able to tap into a pool of relevant people.

4. Positioning your company as an employer of choice

If you’re going to use a talent pipeline, and you have the resources and systems in place to make it work, you have the perfect opportunity to present your business as a real employer of choice.

Think about it from the candidate’s perspective: you’ve rejected them from the original position they applied for, yet you’ve kept in contact with them, you’ve made them aware that you’d like to consider them for future positions, and you’ve even sent them the company newsletter to really ram home the engagement.

If you regularly communicated with your talent pipeline with targeted, engaging and relevant information, then seriously, who wouldn’t be impressed by it?

It shows you care, it shows that you’re a slick operation and ultimately it will get you noticed in a positive manner. You’ll be seen as a company that people want to work for and this can only be a good thing.


I still stand by my opening comment that recruiting from a CV database (which a talent pipeline effectively is) is considerably tougher than recruiting from a response to an advert.

CV databases decay incredibly quickly, especially now we’re out of the recession, and even if you’ve managed to successfully turn round someone you initially rejected, the chances that that person hasn’t found a new position in the time it’s taken for you to go back to them, especially if they’re good, are slim.

However a lot of larger businesses that use Applicant Tracking Systems and maintain careers pages successfully use talent pipelines in driving down the amount they spend on recruitment.

Whether they’re right for your business is only something you can decide.

- Anthony Hughes

Anthony Hughes

Anthony is a recruitment veteran of 18 years and is also one of the original founders of Coburg Banks. He now trains recruitment consultants on the best methods to utilise when sourcing and assessing applicants for their clients. 


> More blog posts by Anthony Hughes

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