A man in a suit and tie at a networking event using a recruiting pipeline to talk another person into joining his company.

What’s a recruiting pipeline? What type of job descriptions should you write?

The first step to hiring the right person, Claire Hughes Johnson explains, is to build a recruiting pipeline that attracts talent to your organization. She offers three strategies for developing this pipeline: Write transparent job descriptions, evaluate previous applicants, and use referrals.

Discover more about these recruiting pipeline strategies.

Strategy #1: Write Transparent Job Descriptions

According to Hughes Johnson, it’s tempting to write job descriptions that attempt to win over applicants by painting a warm picture of your company. But she argues that such descriptions are often counterproductive, as they obscure the aspects of the job that allow you to attract the right applicants. She contends that job descriptions in recruiting pipelines should offer a transparent picture of the role and its responsibilities. For instance, instead of highlighting how your team members are all light-hearted people who hang out together on the weekends, focus on the concrete tasks and skills required of successful applicants.

(Shortform note: As well as being transparent, great job descriptions are also specifically crafted to be effective. For example, an effective job ad avoids using internal company jargon, since most job seekers won’t be familiar with it. It also clearly lists the requisite skills to attract applications from individuals with the right qualifications—this saves time when you’re evaluating the applications later on.)

Strategy #2: Evaluate Previous Applicants

In addition to outlining the hard skills (concrete skills, like proficiency with coding languages) necessary for a role, Hughes Johnson recognizes that you also need to attract talent with the necessary soft skills (intangible skills, such as a knack for clear communication). To that end, she recommends assessing applicants whom you’ve previously hired for similar roles, focusing especially on the commonalities between applicants who became successful employees.

For example, imagine you’re hiring for a new software engineer—in this case, you should evaluate your most successful software engineers and look for similarities. If you then discover that most of these engineers are especially effective communicators with exceptional time management skills, you can add these skills to the job description to attract similar applicants.

(Shortform note: Although it’s intuitively reasonable to seek applicants who are similar to successful employees, others point out that this approach can lead to a homogeneous team lacking diversity, which can cause teams to become less innovative and creative.) 

Strategy #3: Use Referrals

Beyond evaluating the skills of successful employees, Hughes Johnson also recommends that you leverage your employees’ networks by leaning heavily on referrals. She reasons that, assuming you’ve hired strong employees in the past, these employees will likely know other similarly strong candidates they can refer. Consequently, by soliciting referrals from your current employees, you can focus on a smaller pool of applicants rather than sifting through hordes of applicants with no ties to your company.

(Shortform note: To incentivize employees to provide referrals, many companies offer a referral bonus—essentially, a monetary reward for referrals that turn into successful hires. Such a reward maximizes the company’s referral pipeline, making it easier to find qualified applicants quickly.) 

What’s a Recruiting Pipeline? The 3 Strategies to Lure Talent

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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