Talent Pool Management and Long-Term Talent Nurture
A talent pool is a database of qualified talent that’s aligned with your company values, and that’s either recently expressed interest in working for you (though the timing wasn’t right), or may one day express interest in working for you if you nurture those relationships right. It’s the most valuable asset a recruiting team has, because it’s talent you’ve already worked to find.
As a proactive and preemptive strategy, talent pools reduce costs, speed up hires, and get you more engaged and quality candidates. And with organizations—once again, this time in the wake of COVID—claiming that attracting top talent is the most difficult issue to navigate, a talent pool is your strongest strategy for overcoming recruiting’s greatest obstacle.
In a recent post, we walked you through how to build a talent pool; it included passive talent sourcing, reengaging former silver medalists, tapping into the talent community you amass through your careers page, and more. But building the pool is only the first step: now you’ve got to manage it. Talent pool management is the range of processes you have in place to cultivate and nurture meaningful relationships with talent while showcasing your employer brand and keeping your data—which is their information—clean. It’s the way to get the most out of that pool you just spent so much time filling.
Our biggest recommendation for talent pool management is simple: get a sourcing workflow or candidate relationship management (CRM) solution that keeps your prospective candidate data in one place, automates outreach, gives you visibility into every interaction you have with talent, and auto-refreshes talent data as they change roles and update their skills. Maintaining a talent pool in a spreadsheet simply isn’t sustainable as you scale. But once your software’s in place? Here are our best practices for talent pool management:
Qualify the Talent in your Talent Pool
A talent pool isn’t about volume; it's about quality. You’ll spend a lot of time cultivating relationships with your talent pool over time; so you might as well make sure it’s the right talent to begin with. Of course, talent will arrive at your org (and into your pool) from a variety of sources. Sourced talent, for example, is likely to be more qualified and aligned with your org than applicants are by virtue of the fact that you went looking for them with a list of qualifications at your side.
When it comes to active talent (applicants or talent community sign-ups), someone who is familiar with the skills or experience necessary for that role should perform a customary review. Take the time to qualify them through LinkedIn or elsewhere. “Qualifying” may mean moving active talent into projects or pools for more entry-level roles. It may mean recognizing they’re not a good fit for any of the roles you expect to open soon, and so they’ll need to be nurtured long-term while they develop skills and experience.
In Gem, you can use a Review feature to rank talent with a star, a check, or an X. Ultimately, you’ll be putting more energy into nurturing those “star” candidates in your talent pool (though your “not-stars” should continue to get updates!). When a role opens up, you can move the “stars” you’ve been nurturing into a sequence about the open role on top of the standard content they’ve been receiving.
When it comes to talent pool management, the “qualifying” process is ongoing. Consider informal, exploratory calls with the talent in your pool you’re most excited about. Ask about their experience, their career goals, and what they want in their next role. But know that you don’t have to learn everything now. One of the many upsides of talent pools is they give recruiters and talent time to assess each other. Talent will use your nurture campaigns to gauge whether your org is right for them; and you can qualify them thoughtfully, through touchpoints, over time.
Segment the Talent in Your Pool
You’ll segment incoming talent by how qualified they are; but you’ll want to segment your pool further than this. That’s because one message doesn’t fit all. Marketers, salespeople, and engineers won’t be interested in the same recruitment content. Talent interested in your Chicago office will need different information than talent interested in your London office does. More advanced segmentation might take diversity initiatives into account—female or Black engineers, for example. The point is to define a series of “personas” that humanize your talent pool management project: you’ll better understand prospective candidates’ enthusiasms and motivations.
You might segment your pool by source, location or region, role or department, skills, experience level, rejection reason, relationship with and knowledge about your org, funnel stage, and more. Start small if this is overwhelming—former applicants v. passive talent, for example, knowing that the latter will need to be sold with broader content about your company’s mission and core values, while the former is ready to hear straight from the mouths of your design team about the projects they’re working on.Segmentation is the beginning of personalization (of course, recruiting automation solutions allow you to further personalize through the use of tokens—name, current role, reason, etc). It inspires talent to be more engaged, invites them to identify with your brand, and ultimately makes them more likely to respond when a role opens. Segmentation is the beginning of personalization (of course, recruiting automation solutions allow you to further personalize through the use of tokens—name, current role, reason, etc). It inspires talent to be more engaged, invites them to identify with your brand, and ultimately makes them more likely to respond when a role opens.
Segmentation is the beginning of personalization (of course, recruiting automation solutions allow you to further personalize through the use of tokens—name, current role, reason, etc). It inspires talent to be more engaged, invites them to identify with your brand, and ultimately makes them more likely to respond when a role opens.
Plan (and Launch!) Nurture Campaigns
What you’ll speak to in your nurture campaigns includes company culture, professional development opportunities, product updates, and much more. List out your available assets and talking points, and begin mapping them out: how can that content be spread over a long-term (persona-specific!) engagement sequence to tell a story about the team or your org?
Remember: this isn’t about sending out job postings each time a new role opens. Talent pool management and prospect nurture are about cultivating relationships with top talent to get them interested and confident in your company as their next-best place to work. It’s a long game.
Once you’ve mapped out the content that will engage your core segments, it’s time to get (and stay) in touch. We recommend a monthly nurture email, which means if you set up a 6-stage branded nurture sequence in Gem, talent will receive automated touchpoints for the next half-year. Here’s a range of content to consider:
Blog posts. You can repurpose what your marketing team is putting out—whether it’s product-related, culture-related, or about best practices for customers and users.
Other marketing assets. Think case studies, solution briefs, white papers, and so on. Talent wants to hear how you’re positioning yourself as an industry leader and what your product is offering your customers.
Content on company culture. Think photos or videos of your team in action, company diversity stats, links to your social platforms, interviews with your executives, and so on. Give talent a glimpse into a-day-in-the-life. Why do people love working for you?
Employee testimonials. You embed these directly in your outreach or link to them. What does your marketing campaign manager have to say about their trajectory at your org? What projects are your engineers working on? How does your sales team celebrate wins?
Industry news and trends. Show prospective candidates that you’re not only tapped into and contributing to the conversation, but that you’re also helping lead it.
Company news. Think new funding rounds, new hires, new offices, awards and accolades, press releases and media mentions, volunteer work, company earnings reports. This is all great information to share.
Career advice and information. This includes interview tips unique to your hiring process, resume advice direct from your recruitment team, available career paths at your company, and tools to help prospective candidates do their current jobs better.
Perks, benefits, and your overall employee value proposition (EVP). This includes personal development opportunities, team-building activities, social responsibility initiatives, work-life balance, health and retirement benefits, bonuses, tuition benefits, and more.
Some of our customers who have their eyes on specific talent—leadership roles, for example—will take it a step further. They’ll set-and-forget emails to say happy birthday, or to congratulate that prospective candidate on a work anniversary. We know sourcers who set Google alerts for their top prospects and message them when they’re in the news to congratulate them on their most recent successes.
We’ve been primarily speaking about email campaigns so far, since that will be your primary channel for consistent touchpoints with your talent pool. But talent pool management, broadly speaking, entails everything you do to keep the pool you’ve built engaged, and your talent brand alive and vital. That includes using social media to showcase your culture. Maybe it includes closed groups on Facebook, or interactive stories on Instagram. It includes ensuring your careers page shouts out your EVP and your diversity initiatives, and organizing stellar events (virtual or offline) to bring your talent pool community together.
Of course, none of these things is separate from your email nurture campaigns: you’ll link or point to them in your outreach. It’s simply to remember that “meeting talent where they are” means being present for more than just their inbox.
Track Your Performance with Analytics
In a multi-channel world, this means many things: website analytics, social analytics, event analytics, and so on. But since our focus is on email nurture, make sure you’re tracking key metrics such as open rate, click-through rate, reply rate, interested rate, and conversion rate. What are your best-performing subject lines? What times of day and days of the week are your most successful emails sent? What content are recipients clicking on most often, and what percentage of those clicks lead to replies? These are invaluable insights. Use them to optimize your nurture strategy.
Over time, you’ll discern what types of content certain segments are most interested in receiving (employee stories, company news, broader industry news, job alerts). Pay special attention to these metrics when it comes to your “star” talent. The more you can understand their goals and interests, the more you can tailor your content to match.
Make Talent Pool Management a Team Sport
While your org at large may not literally have their hands in your recruiting software, work with hiring managers and other leadership to see how involved they’re willing to be in your talent pool management strategies. Is leadership willing to commit to a number of informal coffee chats in a given quarter with the top talent in your pool to keep those relationships warm? If so, which high-level roles are they willing to do this for? Work with hiring managers and other leaders to see if they’d be willing to have recruiting outreach “come from” them. (Gem’s send-on-behalf-of (SOBO) functionality allows you to leverage your hiring manager or VP’s voice, dramatically increasing your chances of receiving a reply.)
Work, too, with your marketing team to keep lines of communication open: which marketing assets are being produced that could serve double-duty as recruitment marketing materials for your nurture campaigns?
Browse and Update Your Talent Pool Regularly
When it comes to talent pool management and engagement, your nurture campaigns will only be as effective as your data is accurate. What you don’t want is to reach out to someone about a role and find out they’re no longer at the company they were at last year (which is the company you mentioned in your outreach), or they’ve pivoted entirely in their career. Plus, dirty data makes analytical insights askew.
So go into your talent pools regularly and clean up or update data that’s out-of-date: experience, skill sets, career goals, the list of roles prospects could be suitable for. Prospect information (job title, company, location, past experience, education history) is automatically refreshed in Gem every 30 days, so that profiles are always up-to-date. But if this data isn’t being automatically updated for you, reach out to talent routinely to see what information has changed. There are a number of ways to approach this, from surveys to personal messages.
“Keeping your talent pool up-to-date” also means performing exit interviews for employees. If you’re losing great talent that would consider coming back, the best way to leave the door open for a boomerang is to add them to your pool. The same goes for internal talent. If you’ve got an L&D program in place (or if you don’t, but employees are upskilling and reskilling regularly anyhow), your internal pools should reflect that.
Finally, browsing, auditing, and reorganizing your talent pool regularly deeply familiarizes you with what’s there. This means two things: setting up an outreach campaign to the right people more quickly when a new req gets handed down, and identifying the gaps in your talent pool at any given point, so you can round out what you’re missing.
Whatever recruiting software you choose for talent pool management should support this entire process—from segmenting prospective candidates into projects, to setting up automated campaigns and managing those interactions at scale, to outreach analytics, to refreshing prospect data and serving as your source of truth. And of course we recommend a solution that integrates with your ATS, so that at the end of the day, you have full visibility of your entire pipeline, from first outreach all the way to hire.