To Talent pool, or not to Talent pool. That is the question!

To Talent pool, or not to Talent pool. That is the question!

October 30, 2018
In my humble opinion, the notion of talent pooling is dangerous and a massively overused concept in our profession.

Who out there can relate to Talent pool scenario A?


Scenario A

Hiring Manager:

“I have a feeling that some of my team might be looking to (insert reason for leaving), I don’t know for sure but it’s possible. Can we “talent pool” so that there are a bunch of fantastic candidates ready to make an offer to just in case?”


Anyone got a wry smile on their face yet? Nodding in acknowledgement? Did anyone jump up shaking their fists in the air with bitter resentment? Good! It’s annoying as hell.

But let’s just dissect this for a second:


What is “Talent pooling?”


“A talent pool is a database of candidate profiles interested in working for your organisation. They could be limited to a specific area of expertise, or focused on a broad grouping of individuals who are capable of performing a variety of job tasks.” – Employment Office

Now we’ve got that nailed on, answer me this:

Is there an actual hiring need here, or at least a data-driven expectation? No.

Is creating a pool of assessed candidates ready to offer an easy process? No

Are candidate’s generally happy investing time and effort to sit in a perpetual “paused” status? No!

Do Hiring Managers get “FOMO” and want to have a look at who is newly available in the market anyway to compare? Yes?

Is this a reasonable request, after all this is what recruitment does, right…? Wrong!


What Does Talent Pooling Mean For Businesses?


*FOMO = Fear of missing out

In my humble opinion, the notion of talent pooling is dangerous and a massively overused concept in our profession. Don’t get me wrong, I am a big advocate of proactive, forward-looking, value-adding recruiting solutions. I am very proud that teams I worked with delivered 1 in every 3 external hires in less than 5 days with solid pipe-lining processes. However, I am also a big advocate of time efficiency, and focusing recruiters’ time on the “valuable” aspects of recruiting.

Talent pooling without a defined need within a realistic time-frame is a huge waste of time, resource and money. There, I’ve said it – don’t heckle me just yet!

A previous blog of mine talked about the similarities between a Recruiting process and a Supply Chain, ultimately focusing on the huge benefits of planning 12-18 months recruiting need, something I know that virtually no organisation does well at all.

This belief has led me to read up a fair bit on the idea of “JITR” or “Just in Time Recruiting“. I’d recommend anyone to check it out to challenge some of your inherent beliefs about recruiting.


What does that mean?


In essence, it could be argued that talent pooling is waste. Simple as that.

Waste in:

Time is spent attracting, talking to, and assessing candidates that may never be “processed” to an end state (offer).

Money is spent on attraction and salaries to do the above.

Time and resource then spent “keeping warm” these candidates for roles that may never arise.

JITR argues that the focus should be on having the best resources available to find talent quickly (both active and passive) to create “inventory” (candidates) when needed, that is exactly matched to the requirement of the business. Rather than stockpiling “inventory” that is semi-suitable and may or may not still be available as and when a requirement might come up.

Now I’m not 100% in agreement with this. We all know how long some of the best passive candidates can take to engage. However, I do strongly believe in the need to make talent pooling valuable and worthwhile.

In fact, I don’t think talent “pooling” should be done at all. Talent “pipe-lining” sounds much better to me. A pipeline is leading somewhere; i.e. a job vacancy. A pool is just a storage facility.



Who wants to sit in a storage facility?


Pipeline away people. Engage candidates early. Assess appropriately with suitable levels of resource and use of technology, and have those candidates “offer ready” just as you need them. Please though, only when there is planned need that you expect to arise, in time-frames that you agree with.

Or, keep pooling away and wonder why your time to hire never really reduces. Your teams remain too busy and your poor candidates stop saying nice things about you!

Anyone agree? Or is it just me?

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