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Recruit the Best Candidates by Nurturing Your Talent Pipeline

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What is a pipeline? And how does it relate to recruiting?

For those of you new to recruiting (or who’ve been trying to cut the mustard as a recruiter), a pipeline is your go-to, steady stream of viable candidates. It’s made up of people you’ve met who made you pause and think, “Wow. This person would be great at my organization someday, somehow. I have to stay in touch with them.”

Your pipeline could be made up of rising star college students you’ll want to hire after graduation or IT pros who need just the right opportunity to relocate from the West Coast. A pipeline often includes people you’ve sourced and contacted. They aren’t quite ready to make that next step, but are open to keeping in touch.

In sales-speak, think of them as prospects.

But building a pipeline isn’t just about gathering lists of names and email addresses. It’s how you nurture those relationships over time, because you never know when the right opportunity will come along. Here’s how to do just that:

1. Ask to stay in touch

Assume nothing when it comes to recruiting. Pipelining is no exception. Once you have someone engaged in a conversation and before you hang up the phone, ask if it’s OK to stay in touch. Then do so.

2. Connect via online networks

It’s so easy to connect through LinkedIn with most professionals you meet. More recruiters are using Facebook to connect, too. So take the first step and send a request that includes a personalized note. Then periodically comment and like information they share.

3. Join your talent community

If your organization has a talent community, encourage your pipeline peeps to join it. Oftentimes, doing so will mean receiving monthly newsletters or other company news. If you don’t have a formal, opt-in community but have a Facebook page or LinkedIn group, offer that as a way to get the inside scoop.

4. Grab coffee together

If you recruit nationally or globally, grabbing coffee at a local java joint is probably not likely. But if you’re in the same town or plan to attend the same upcoming conference, pick a time to meet up.

Put a face to the name and email address. Use the 50 percent rule during your meeting to develop rapport. Take your relationship to the next level.

5. Pick up the phone

As long as you’re not stalking your pipeline, picking up the phone to check in is a good idea. Quarterly? Biannually? It’s up to you. Use your best judgment. Though as soon as you have a new job req that could be of interest to someone … boom, give them a call.

6. Make people feel wanted

People want to feel wanted. Recruiting top talent is no exception. (Click here to tweet this thought.) Think of other ways you can nurture your pipeline.

At my organization, we have a library of e-cards our recruiters can send to people they’ve met. There’s even a birthday card for when Facebook tells us it’s someone’s special day.

Shannon Smedstad is a recruiting leader with a love of employment branding, social media and coffee. You can connect with her on LinkedIn, Google+ or Twitter.

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