An interview candidate man in a talent pool of candidates

What’s a talent pool? Who should you ask for referrals?

Rather than creating a job posting and sending it out for anybody to respond to, the authors of Who recommend you create a talent pool instead. This process involves asking trusted employees for referrals and cultivating relationships with those referrals.

Discover how to create a talent pool of potential candidates.

Building a Talent Pool

After you have a hiring rubric in place, the next step of the hiring process is to create a talent pool by asking people whose skills and knowledge you respect to introduce you to individuals who could succeed in your company. The authors of Who recommend learning how to create a talent pool over traditional applications, as referrals give you a shortlist of talented, endorsed candidates to evaluate when a role opens in your company, increasing the odds that you’ll find a strong candidate quickly and easily. In contrast, applications require you to evaluate many unfamiliar candidates with no assurance that they’ll fit your hiring rubric.

(Shortform note: Almost 50% of employees are hired through referrals—but some business experts say that referrals may not be as effective as people think. Referred employees tend to be more successful only when the person who referred them supports them through onboarding. Otherwise, they perform at the same level as traditional applicants. Encourage your employees to provide this support by offering referral bonuses if the employee they referred stays with the company for over six months.)

We’ll highlight two particular steps in the authors’ advice for creating a talent pool:

1. Ask for referrals every time you meet someone whose skill and knowledge you respect. This includes asking for referrals in unconventional situations from unusual sources. For instance, the authors say to ask for referrals even if your company doesn’t have open roles, and to source these referrals from anyone skilled and knowledgeable, even new acquaintances or candidates who don’t fit the role you’re filling but who still impressed you. Casting this wide net lets you grow your talent pool quickly so you’re prepared when a role does open up.

(Shortform note: These unusual tactics may build a large talent pool quickly, but typical methods have benefits, too. Hiring experts say you’d usually ask for referrals when filling a specific role, and you’d source them mainly from employees. This speeds up the hiring process by narrowing the scope of your search: Since you shared the role’s specific requirements, your employees can refer people who fit that particular role instead of people who could generally succeed in your company, but not the role you’re filling. And since your employees are familiar with both the company’s needs and the potential hire, they can better determine if that person’s a good fit. As a result, people who are referred by employees for a specific role are more likely to both accept and remain in a position.)

2. Cultivate relationships with the referrals you gathered in the previous step by staying in regular contact. By learning more about these people, you can confirm if they’re a good fit for your company or a particular role. Building a relationship also makes them more likely to accept a job if you offer them a position. The authors suggest building these relationships by setting up a rotating weekly schedule to contact promising candidates and chat about their careers, goals, and interests.

(Shortform note: Cultivating a relationship can make people more likely to accept a job because you’ve been gradually familiarizing them with the company, some hiring experts say. As they grow more interested and engaged, working for the company becomes more appealing. These experts recommend using candidate relationship management software (CRM) to automate texts and emails, making it easier to stay in regular contact with every member of your talent pool. This technology can also create and store records on each candidate, making it easier to track their careers and interests and to analyze how they could fit into your company.)

How to Create a Talent Pool: Finding the Strongest Candidates

Katie Doll

Somehow, Katie was able to pull off her childhood dream of creating a career around books after graduating with a degree in English and a concentration in Creative Writing. Her preferred genre of books has changed drastically over the years, from fantasy/dystopian young-adult to moving novels and non-fiction books on the human experience. Katie especially enjoys reading and writing about all things television, good and bad.

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