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Building and maintaining relationships can lead to better decisions.
In September, I covered the topic of the current imbalance that exists between available biopharma jobs and qualified talent to fill them. Because of this gap, many companies are scrambling to hire employees. But are they the right employees? This month, I’ll look at why building a talent pipeline is important and how it can help streamline efforts to match top talent to positions, even in a competitive market such as today’s.
A talent pipeline is a way to target ideal candidates early on, building relationships with them, and then approaching them when a relevant position becomes available. It’s not having to start a search from scratch every time an employee moves on. At the core of this concept is the idea of forging and fostering a professional relationship. You can think about it in terms of networking, but between companies and candidates rather than person to person. The goal is to make connections that have future potential.
For example, instead of HR reacting to the sudden departure of its chief marketing officer by posting the position and collecting a generalized pool of resumes, a proactive company would have some top candidates already identified. It’s taking a view of “who would we like to have” rather than “who can we get right now?”
According to the talent operating system Beamery, in its 2019 State of Talent Engagement report, 84% of recruiters source proactively, and 80% said that the quality of hire increased as a result of having a pipeline. It’s clear that talent acquisition is taking on more of a strategic than a reactive role.
“Now, more than ever, employers face immense competition to hire qualified candidates with specialized talent and skills,” says Carl Segerstrom, senior vice president and chief talent officer at Merck. “It is critical to identify and connect with passive talent to create a pipeline to fill talent gaps when they arise. Employers that wait to develop a robust pipeline for future needs may struggle to fill critical talent gaps in a timely way.”
Merck proactively utilizes sourcing resources to find and connect with talent and build its database of candidates for future opportunities. It also has implemented a candidate relationship marketing tool to help the company track and connect with talent, including quick outreach when openings arise.
“While we digitally update passive candidates in select areas with news and progress, and through our social media channels, we find ongoing, live outreach and relationship-building to be our best methods to maintain an engaged pipeline,” says Segerstrom.
If you’re looking to get started building a talent pipeline, Beamery offers these tips:
Identify your targets. What is it that makes people successful at your company? Use historical data, surveys, analysis, and some intuition to create a vision of your ideal candidate. Look at defining characteristics, skills, and traits, and take into account demographics, background, experience, goals, objections, and preferred networks (social media, conferences, etc.).
Fill your pipeline. This ongoing task can be helped by using three tactics: re-engaging silver medalists, creating campaigns to build awareness and attract talent, and employing direct sourcing. Runners-up for previous positions can make great options for new positions; plus, they’ve already been vetted, saving you time. Creating opportunities, such as meet-and-greets, provides potential candidates and companies a valuable platform to share information about themselves. Conveying the fabric of the company in a 30-minute interview is difficult to accomplish; it can be more effective to demonstrate and reiterate company culture and values over time. Finally, slow sourcing allows companies to personalize messages and deliver targeted information to prospects.
Engage your pipeline. Once you form relationships, you must nurture them. Keep in touch with prospects, but be careful not to overwhelm them with messaging. Segment your interaction based on the relationship stage you are in. For example, new liaisons should receive information that introduces them to the company and creates awareness, perhaps through social media. Once they are interested, messaging can become more about company mission and initiatives via newsletters and webinars. Finally, leading close contacts to specific job descriptions and personalized landing pages can help in their decision-making.
In the words of Beamery, building a talent pipeline is like spearfishing vs. fishing with a wide net. By identifying and pursuing the specific candidates you believe can make the greatest impact, the better chances you have of succeeding.
Elaine Quilici is a Senior Editor for Pharm Exec. She can be reached at email@example.com.