5 Ways to Maximize Your Talent Pools

Many talent acquisition teams are preparing to engage and hire top talent as hiring freezes thaw. To beat out competing hiring organizations, start optimizing your talent pool efforts now. 

Already mastered building talent pools? Then focus on improving your talent pools’ performance and efficiency over time. Updating your strategy and processes now can yield significant results tomorrow, like converting more than half of references into passive candidates (see tip #5 below). 

With no time to waste, let’s get to it. We sat down with Dana McKenzie, Harver’s Director of Talent Strategy and Acquisition, to share these 5 tips on how to make the most of your talent pools. 

1. Use assessments to enable one-to-many matching 

While implementing pre-hire assessments won’t grow your talent pool for a role, it will enable one-to-many matching. In essence, it’s like building talent pipelines from one role’s pool to pools for other open requisitions so you can benchmark a candidate against other available opportunities, too.  

For instance, measuring soft skills (also called power skills) is one of the most effective ways to predict fit for any role. With objective measurement of candidate character traits and natural tendencies, your recruiting team can do an even better job finding great fit candidates for specific roles. With her decades of experience, McKenzie points out, “Instead of relying on intuition or trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, you can use objective predictive data to match “round peg” candidates to “round hole” roles.”  

2. Continue engaging with “almost” candidates 

You never know when talent you almost hired will float to the top as situations evolve. It pays to keep strong candidates warm, even if you’ve already filled the role with someone else. Maybe that new-hire attrits early or another vacancy opens up, in which case you’ll be glad to have a qualified candidate at the ready. 

We know that recruiters have a lot going on. However, engaging these runner-up candidates doesn’t have to be time consuming. You can establish cutoffs to keep shortlists manageable. You can free up recruiter time with automated interview scheduling. You can even try AI-powered tools like ChatGPT to create nearly effortless messages to “almost” candidates. 

3. Adopt a build vs buy approach 

Another way to increase the value of your existing candidates and size of your pools is to hire for adjacent skills critical to the role, such as the transferability of retail customer service skills to BPO customer service skills. Whether you’re hiring externally or mobilizing internally, this lets you cast a wider net and close any skills gaps with a bit of L&D investment. 

This hiring approach can be especially useful if you need to do more with less. The key here is having objective assessment data to accurately inform your talent decisions. “I love educating hiring managers on the value of transferable skills like resilience, attitude, handling ambiguity, and effective communication,” says McKenzie. 

With a data-driven build vs buy approach, you can reduce employee attrition and require significantly less time for selection and development hiring support. McKenzie adds, “Adding assessment data to the process allows me to focus on interviewing quality over quantity, which saves everyone’s time.”  

4. Stop artificially shrinking your talent pools 

With ongoing labor shortages and skills gaps, employers can’t afford to continue overlooking talent. Frida Polli, Harver’s Chief Data Science Officer, is fond of pointing out that “the war for talent is self-created.” While external factors do impact the labor market, a wealth of strong candidates still slip through the cracks

Similar-to-me effect and other unconscious biases can cause employers to miss out on hiring female, racial minority, neurodiverse, disabled, and other candidates that otherwise would perform well if given the chance. By adopting a skills-based approach to hiring, organizations can break free of the chains that hold back their hiring managers as much as they hold back diverse talent. 

5. Widen your passive candidate pool 

Passive candidates can be a great pool to tap into. This kind of sourcing can be a long-term play, so why not start now? While this strategy can take time to pay off, you don’t need a lot of time or recruiter effort to widen your passive candidate pool. 

In fact, there are HR tech solutions that can help streamline effort while boosting efficiency. For instance, Harver’s #1-rated reference checking solution cuts recruiter time from 90 minutes per check to just 2 minutes. It also has a ripple effect of broadening your passive candidate pool because 52% of references become passive candidates themselves. Your recruiting team gets more candidates to work with, plus more available time with which to engage and identify the best candidates available.  

Show the results of your recruiting efforts 

As you widen your talent pools and optimize your recruiting team’s ability to hire better and faster, McKenzie has some bonus tips for recruiters and HR leaders out there: “For each role, spend clarifying time with the hiring manager to dig into the job description, nuances, and key deliverables. Investing this essential time upfront is worth its weight in gold.” 

Harver’s head of talent strategy also stresses the importance of measuring results. To help enable your own data-driven approach to hiring, watch our on-demand webinar Connecting Talent Acquisition to Top Line Growth and Bottom Line Profitability

Keith Leong

Keith Leong

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