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How to fix your talent pipeline to be more inclusive.

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You don’t have to live in Texas to know that the state isn’t known for its icy winters. So, in February of 2021, many Texas residents (myself included) learned a lot of valuable things for the very first time. For one, to prevent your pipes from bursting before an ice storm hits, it’s important to let your faucets leak. Unfortunately, as I learned by practicing this home remedy, those small drips add up significantly over time.

Which got me thinking about talent pipelines. A widely used excuse for companies when hiring—especially with a focus on diversity—is that the problem is “the talent doesn’t exist” or “there is simply not enough talent out there” or “the talent out there aren’t appropriately skilled.” But there are most likely little leaks that are costing you and your team valuable time and money. In today’s tight labor market, it is absolutely critical to reevaluate your talent pipeline management to make sure you get the right people on your team.

Read on for suggestions on how to build a diverse talent pipeline.

What is a Talent Pipeline?

First things first. A talent pipeline (also called an employee pipeline or talent pool) is a group of qualified job candidates that your company may want to hire for existing or future positions. This is what gives organizations and departments consistent access to qualified streams of candidates at all times. If you don’t have one, you need one.

Check the source

To find the leaks in your talent pipeline, you must follow the pipeline to find and inspect the source. Sourcing talent is the act of proactively finding skilled candidates. If you’re only relying on a “post and pray” method of finding talent (ouch), you are not tapping into numerous talent pools that you could and should reach. When sourcing talent, it is important to get specific about the roles and representation you are looking for and intentionally cultivate those aspects into your sourcing methods. Meet talent where they are. For example, are you leveraging your company’s Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) to learn more about professional groups, social networks, or educational partnerships that you could tap into? Are you nurturing the talent you have sitting in your system once they do apply?

Create accurate job descriptions

If job posts produce your largest source of candidates, it’s important they are written to attract the right skill set and be more inclusive. To resonate with talent, examine how rigid the requirements are and what might discourage candidates from applying in the first place. You cannot afford to have the perfect talent self-select themselves out of consideration. This is a great time to fully align with your hiring team on expectations. Furthermore, job posts are marketing tools and are a great way to highlight company benefits and values that align with the talent you’re recruiting. Things such as flexible personal time off (PTO), maternity leave, and company-paid continuing education can be a huge draw to attract a diverse slate of candidates.

Communicate clearly

In this competitive market, setting clear expectations is a differentiator. Especially when it comes to recruiting talent from various backgrounds, you want to showcase your ability to be inclusive and your DEI culture within your recruitment process. Communicating clear information up front about all the stages of your recruitment process allows candidates to be fully engaged and reduces frustration. Rather than creating an obstacle course for candidates, set clear expectations to create an environment that enables them to be successful. Candidates want to know they are welcome in your organization and feel included in this process. As much as possible, prioritize replying to applicants and active candidates quickly.

Refine your interview process

You worked so hard to get an amazing slate of diverse, qualified candidates, but no one is getting hired, and some are barely making it past the first round of interviews. What gives? To make sure the right candidates are making it through the recruitment funnel, alignment is key. Make sure your team is on the same page:

  • Agree on minimum requirements for evaluation
  • Include a diverse panel of interviewers
  • Standardize interview questions
  • Train teams on unconscious bias
  • Be time-sensitive on feedback and next steps

When decision-makers in the hiring process are left to their own whims, this creates inconsistency. That disparity can not only skew the evaluation process but also leave a candidate questioning if your organization is really the right for them.

Add a pre-close

If you’re losing candidates at the offer stage, chances are you’re not doing a pre-close. Note, a pre-close is NOT a verbal offer. Rather it’s something that allows you to gain insights into the candidate experience. After each phase of the interview, it's good to connect with candidates to share feedback, address concerns, and reconfirm details of the role while simultaneously aligning if there’s a fit. This helps the candidate feel engaged and can provide you with vital information that will be valuable should you look to extend an official offer.

Redirect instead of reject

Many times there’s only one position, but multiple candidates go through the interview process. What happens to those who weren’t selected? Are you letting the candidates that weren’t selected fall through a drain? If so, you’re wasting a valuable talent resource. Redirect them to keep them in your pipeline by identifying other positions that might be a good fit.

If there are not more opportunities, are you communicating the decision in a way that the candidate would still be excited to be considered for another position in the future? You always want to make sure your ultimate decision is a good reflection on your brand.

Audit and Take Action

If you haven’t reviewed your recruitment lifecycle in a while, now is the time. Market dynamics have shifted, and it’s a job seekers’ market. This means many of the ways you used to accomplish your talent pipelining need to shift.

Leaks can be fixed before flood damage occurs. If your talent pipeline is slowly leaking over time, it will create an unrepairable problem further downstream. Don’t let that happen to you and your team. Start working now to improve your hiring processes, and you’ll start noticing a difference in your pipeline in the weeks, months, and years to come!

If you need help building a pipeline and diversifying your candidate pool, our diversity recruiting solution Diversity+ can help. Learn more about how it can help your organization go beyond gender and ethnicity to create a more dynamic and innovative workplace that embraces people and all their differences.

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