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What Is A Talent Pipeline & How to Diversify It?

Have you wondered how some companies always have the right person for the job? If you’re envious of short hiring times and hope to avoid settling for second best, you may be a fit for investing in a talent pipeline. Learn how this essential recruiting tool is changing the game for businesses—even when they’re fully staffed.

You can also watch our Zoomside Chat diving into this topic with Chris Murdock, Chief Sourcing Office of IQTalent Partners and William Wiggins, Human Resources Director for the SEIU Benefits Group.

What Is A Talent Pipeline, and How to Diversify It?

What is a Talent Pipeline?

When you collect a network of eligible candidates that are both qualified and interested in potentially joining your company, you have created a talent pipeline. You can call upon these candidates when a role opens up or you wish to expand. 

Talent Pipelines, Pools, and Communities: What’s the Difference?

People often confuse the three terms, but there’s a distinction to remember. You can establish a pipeline by building relationships with talent passively over time (this is why these candidates are often known as “passive talent”). You stay in contact, even if you don’t need to fill a role at the moment.

A talent pool, on the other hand, narrows down a group of potential candidates by characteristics, such as location, departmental experience, or readiness for hire.

A central method of communication is what makes a talent community work. This term refers to any group of candidates who can chat with each other, usually through Slack, social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook), or a message board. 

Benefits of a Talent Pipeline

A group of qualified candidates who you have on standby until you need them sounds like a recruiter or hiring manager’s dream, doesn’t it? Consider these other perks to putting in the work of building a talent pipeline:

1: Better Candidates

You’re bound to get more qualified candidates when you use a talent pipeline. One reason for this is that you don’t depend on “right person, right time” thinking. You keep the right people in your network until you need them and don’t defer to chance. Another reason is that the nature of a talent pipeline requires relationship building over time; you’re not making a last-minute decision to hire in an emergency. 

2: Engage Passive Candidates

How do you get the attention of quality candidates who aren’t looking for work? By keeping tabs on them well in advance of their job search. When you stay on their radar, they will think of you when a new job is at the top of their wish list. This is a crucial step in talent pipeline management.

3: Less Brand Dependency

If your employer brand is minimal or maybe even nonexistent, it’s hard to hire in a pinch. With a talent pipeline, you give people a chance to know you outside of your reputation in the community or industry. Even brand-new companies can get top talent when you market directly to the candidate crowd gradually. 

4: Improved Diversity

If you have goals for hiring more workers from marginalized communities or inviting more diverse candidates to the table, a talent pipeline is one of your best options. You can reach out to communities well in advance of the next hire and let these groups know that you’re on the lookout for future talent.  

5: Better Candidate Experience

The hiring process can feel impersonal or rushed from the candidate’s perspective. What if you could change that with a slow, intentional approach? The talent pipeline allows for this and can help you hire better in even a tight labor market. 

How to Build Effective Talent Pipelines

It takes time to build a pipeline, so starting now is best. Consider these steps:

  • Plan recruitment processes based on business strategy. Don’t leave the process to chance and align your pipeline goals to your overall company mission and values. 
  • Attract the right talent by defining your target groups and clarifying the avatar of your ideal hire.
  • Find the right talent by looking in the places similar hires are being found. Don’t overlook referrals and people in your existing network.
  • Use a variety of methods to vet candidates, including online interviews, skills testing, and background checks.
  • Focus on developing your talent. Once hired, your candidates should have a plan for growth that helps them excel in their field and, ideally, within your organization. 
  • Monitor talent and outcomes, and then adjust accordingly. If your hires aren’t living up to expectations, revise your candidate pipeline plan. Repeat only what works. 

How to Improve Diversity in Your Talent Pipelines

Getting a more diverse workforce won’t happen by chance. Consider these tips:

1: Foster Inclusion First

You can still attract diverse teams to a company that has a long way to go in actually being diverse. Do your best to value the backgrounds and skills of your existing workers. Being inclusive of your current teams is the first step forward. 

2: Create a Culture of Feedback

Schedule formal events to hear what employees think about workplace culture, benefits, and workflows. From town halls to anonymous comment boxes, you should value and take seriously each source for feedback. Let employees know that they are safe to share honestly.

3: Carefully Choose Your Career Page Content

Your website’s career page is often the first thing a candidate will see when considering a future career with you. Avoid generic stock photos, and aim to highlight the wide range of groups working at your company. Invite employees to contribute to your blog and share what they value about their careers.  

4: Revamp Your Job Descriptions

What do your job descriptions say about your company? Using aggressive language, including too many job skills and competencies, or highlighting education above all else can turn off some of the more qualified (but less assertive) candidates. Use inclusive language when possible. 

5: Proactively Seek Out Diverse Candidates

Whether you host meetups, rely on employee referrals, or advertise directly to diverse communities, there’s no excuse for sitting back and expecting underrepresented groups to come to you. Be assertive in your efforts and seek those you wish to hire.


A talent pipeline can relieve much of the stress that comes with sourcing the best talent. Like any recruitment tool, however, it can change over time and needs consistent evaluation. One way to keep tabs on how well your pipeline is functioning is through data collected with an applicant tracking system (ATS). Find out how Comeet’s ATS can complement your talent acquisition goals today.


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