7 Steps to Building a Better Talent Pipeline

By: Right Management February 16, 2022

There were 11 million job openings in the U.S. at the end of October 2021, which is a record high. The talent shortage is due to the mass retirement of baby boomers, health concerns over COVID-19 and an increased interest in remote or flexible jobs. However, filling those jobs can be difficult and time-consuming. 

Are you feeling the stress of the talent shortage in your business? 

We will let you in on a secret to successfully ensuring your organization quickly and smoothly fills open roles within your company – particularly in leadership. 

Our secret is a strong talent pipeline – a pool of qualified talent – that you can easily and efficiently use to fill needs as they arise. Highly competent management helps organizations create a talent pipeline by proactively planning and vetting employees in addition to outside talent. 

This guide will look at seven steps for building a better talent pipeline in your business. 

Leading With Impact

Building a talent pipeline is an important step in combating future leadership challenges. To learn more about assessing and resolving other leadership challenges, download the PDF below.


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What Is a Talent Pipeline? 

A quick talent pipeline definition is a talent pool of qualified candidates that you vetted and trained in preparation to fill positions within your organization. For example, candidates might be employees prepared to take over leadership or outside candidates you are nurturing to join the company as roles open. 

Example of a Talent Pipeline 

One example of a talent pipeline in action is how organizations train employees to take over the positions of retired workers. 

For example, if one or two key managers within your business are nearing retirement, you might begin looking inwards for potential replacements. Your current managers can mentor and train those employees to take over their positions. In this way, you will seamlessly transition to new leadership using a talent pipeline of trained and vetted employees who take over the positions of those who retired. 

Benefits of Having a Talent Pipeline in Your Business 

Here are five talent pipeline benefits that you will experience in your business if you use the seven steps in this guide for building a better pipeline. 

Reduces your Hiring Time 

A talent pipeline streamlines the hiring process, allowing you to fill empty positions quickly with qualified candidates. Meanwhile, if you post a job listing, it might take anywhere from two weeks to several months to fill the role, depending on the level of qualifications you need and how long the vetting process takes. 

However, if you already have a pool of qualified and vetted candidates, you eliminate the searching and nurturing process by jumping straight to the last hiring stages. 

Boosts the Quality of Your Candidates 

When you are short on time during the hiring process, you might be more prone to rush through interviews or hire the most qualified candidate from the applicants versus waiting for the best candidate for the job. 

With a talent pipeline, you are less likely to make hasty hires. Instead, you have more time to search out the ideal candidate. Some businesses will even create temporary positions for quality candidates to fill until a permanent spot opens. In this way, companies can ensure they don't lose quality candidates after they find them, and the candidate is ready to move into leadership roles when they open. 

Increases the Number of Applicants 

Only 30% of the workforce is actively looking for jobs. The other 70% are passive talent. However, despite the high rate of passive talent, 87% of passive and active candidates are open to new job opportunities. 

You will only see 30% of possible candidates when you post job listings. Whereas, if you actively search out job seekers, you will have a larger pool of potential candidates to nurture since you will also reach passive candidates. 

Adds More Company Diversity 

Company diversity helps businesses perform better by increasing your leadership's variety of experiences, knowledge, and talents. Businesses with diverse leadership also have a 36% greater chance of outperforming those with little diversity. 

With traditional job listings, you only have a limited pool of applicants to choose from. However, with a talent pipeline, you can seek out specific candidates who bring different experiences and talents to your team to give your business a well-rounded perspective. 

Improves Your Hiring Process 

The nurturing process of filling your pipeline is more candidate-centric than traditional job postings, which improves the hiring experience for your candidates. You are more hands-on when you proactively seek, nurture, and fill roles. Instead of candidates feeling like they have to compete for a position, they get to build a relationship with you and others within the company while moving through an informative and personal onboarding experience. 

Methods of Building a Talent Pipeline 

Most businesses use these five standard talent pipeline methods of filling their talent pools with qualified candidates. 

Social Sourcing 

Social media is a goldmine of information on potential candidates, which is why 68% of successful businesses say social media is critical to recruitment. Out of all the social platforms, LinkedIn comes out on top as the best place to search and identify qualified talent. Today, about 93% of companies use LinkedIn for recruitment because it has nearly 800 million professionals, with 45 million users searching for jobs every week. LinkedIn estimates that four people are hired every minute through the site. 

You can find qualified candidates on LinkedIn by searching for job-specific keywords using hashtags or tags then sending messages directly to potential active and passive candidates. You can also search out potential hires by engaging in relevant social media groups in your industry. 


Another statistic shows that referrals are four times as likely to be hired than an unconnected applicant. Business like to find candidates through referral processes because they can hire quality candidates faster and more affordably. 

Setting up referral incentives for your employees encourages them to actively seek out potential new talent for your business that you can add to your pipeline. 


Job fairs, college graduate programs, and business relationships are opportunities to meet new talent. However, you don't have to wait for a job opening to begin networking with candidates. Instead, connect with professionals every time you encounter someone that seems like a good fit for your business. 

Once you make that initial connection, you can build a relationship and add them to your talent pipeline. 

Candidate Databases 

A corporate job might attract around 250 applicants on average in a traditional job application style. Meanwhile, HR will often only hire one candidate. The other resumes are either tossed or saved in a database. 

We suggest the second option of saving potentially qualified applicants in a database. That database works as a valuable method of searching and identifying potential new candidates for future roles without investing in another job posting. 

Internal Recruitment 

One of your strongest talent pools is your own company. You already know, trust, and train every employee you have, making them ideal candidates for new positions in leadership. If you move your employees into leadership roles, you can fill your entry-level positions with new talent pulled from any of the other four previous methods. 

7 Steps to Build a Strong Talent Pipeline in Your Business 

You can increase your talent pool by following these seven steps to a better pipeline. 

1. Understand the Direction of Your Company 

A successful pipeline relies on a proactive strategy of predicting possible future needs before they arise. Some reasons you might need to fill new roles include: 

  • Employees nearing retirement 

  • New mergers or acquisitions 

  • Location changes 

  • Company growth 

  • Employee changes (family changes, house hunting, job dissatisfaction, etc.) 

Even if no changes occur, you know your company best and can predict the average annual turnover rate. That rate can work as a guide for seeking qualified candidates to fill your talent pool before the next position opens. 

2. Create a Candidate Persona 

Your candidate persona is similar to marketing’s ideal customer profile. It is a fictional representation of your perfect candidates, like their experience, education, and other qualifications. However, instead of posting that persona in the form of a job description, you use those keywords to identify quality candidates. 

Consider these examples of information on a candidate persona to get you started building your own. 

  • Demographic information 

  • Education level and certificates 

  • Job history 

  • Personal characteristics 

  • Skills and qualifications 

  • Desired salary and position 

Every position within your company will have a unique candidate persona. However, you should also have a general persona of what makes a good employee at your business as those candidates will help quickly fill positions you didn’t know would open. 

3. Build a Sourcing Strategy 

The average length of time an employee stays at one company is around 4.1 years. Younger employees have a shorter average, whereas older employees tend to stay longer at their jobs. Unfortunately, that means hiring is an ongoing process. 

Creating a successful talent pipeline strategy relies on continuous steps, not a one-time action. Your HR department should regularly investigate and identify ideal candidates using one or more of the five previously discussed pipeline methods. They should also continually assess current employees for potential changes that might indicate future openings. 

4. Contact Your Candidates 

Your first contact with candidates will not be a job offer. Instead, you want to focus on building a relationship with the individual to see if they would be a good fit and to get an idea of their interest level. In those interactions, you should focus on personal questions about their goals and experience. 

5. Analyze Your Candidates 

As you gather information on your candidates, you can begin identifying the best fits for your company. You might even have specific roles in mind for some candidates based on specialized knowledge or unique experience. Other candidates might be general talent that could suitably fill multiple positions depending on where the need arises. 

At this point, you can move those qualified candidates through the pipeline on to the next step for nurturing. 

6. Nurture Your Talent Pool 

At this point, your candidates are in what companies refer to as a talent pool. They are a group of active and passive job seekers set apart as vetted candidates suitable for your business. Your HR team is ready to begin nurturing the talent pool in preparation for open positions. 

During the nurturing stage, you build trust with the candidates, so they are willing and ready to join your company when you make an offer. You might also begin making more direct statements that let your candidates know you are considering them for your company. Some other ways of nurturing include sharing information about your business, inviting candidates to company events, and communicating regularly with them. 

However, some of your talent pool will include passive job seekers who are already employed or are not sure they want to jump back into the workforce. In those cases, your nurturing process is similar to marketing. First, you create demand and solve the pain points of your candidates in hopes that they realize the benefit of joining your organization. 

7. Invest in Training 

Many HR professionals agree that the onboarding process should take about three months, though some prefer to extend it to over a year. During that time, new employees learn about the company, receive job-specific training, and connect with other employees. 

However, you can speed up the onboarding process by completing some of those steps while candidates are still in your talent pipeline versus waiting until they fill a role. For example, you could offer training opportunities, invitations to staff events, or a mentorship program for an employee who has plans to leave their position soon. Then when positions open, your candidates are better prepared to jump into the job. 

Transform Your Talent Pipeline 

Are you ready to transform your talent pipeline with vetted and qualified candidates? 

Our consulting services help you develop better strategies for organizing, sourcing, managing, and growing your workforce so that you will always have a strong talent pool ready to fill any open position within your corporation. 

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