It's odd how little you hear about the candidate pipeline in startup conversations, some of our readers might not even know what that means. Startups and SMB's alike are obsessed with new customers and sales growth projections, but many lose sight of the true foundation of all great business which is good talent and solid team building (solo-entrepreneurs, you get a pass on this one). Access to great talent in tech has been listed as one of the top concerns for executives in 2018. Formalizing your talent acquisition efforts into a stepwise process that includes building top-of-funnel sources, nurturing talent, and getting to an offer can also be called building a candidate pipeline and it is paramount for success. Just like a sales/marketing pipeline, this process should be formal, KPI-driven, and approached with a mindset of constant evolution based on feedback from candidates and/or stakeholders. One of the trickiest parts of the candidate pipeline is figuring out how do you best nurture talent?
Below we will share some of our findings & wisdom on how to you can be successful in your talent nurturing efforts through the candidate pipeline:
• Think long-tail about your candidate pipeline
Of course, there will always be short term headcount needs, but a healthy candidate pipeline is built on long term relationships. It is the key to passive recruiting, which is the ideal scenario; less effort with more reward. The vast majority of our clients say that most of their hires from their internal recruiting efforts have been from relationships that started well before the interview process. The candidate search process should not be turned on as needed, you need to keep a hopper full of great people that can be tapped when a position opens up. Ideally, this process is automatic.
• Create a central repository for your pipeline that is easy to manage
Find a way to move candidates down your pipeline in a centralized manner. Meeting notes, referral sources, your pool rockstar candidates that are perfect culture should all be kept in one place. Also, make sure your system can empower prioritization. You need to be able to collaborate as a team around a particular candidate, NOT IN EMAIL.
TIP** - We create ‘candidate marketplaces’ by using Trello and Slack, both are free. Trello is great because you can create a stepwise pipeline with stages and each card is an individual candidate. You can attach documents, images, and comment in a thread with other team members on that specific candidate. You can also use the labeling and filtering functions to keep track of business units, skillsets, rockstars, etc.
• Apply an inbound marketing (inbound recruiting) approach to your candidate pipeline
Building blog posts of valuable industry insight, career advice, or thought leadership content gives you the ammo to both attract and nurture great talent. The blogs will drive organic search traffic as long as you craft them with keyword strategy in mind but you can also share them with your existing contacts to stay top of mind. Systematize the process, make it repeatable and scalable. Hubspot has a great article on how to approach inbound recruiting here.
• Be a leader in engaging the tech community as a whole
Share events your team members are going to, encourage community, don’t be afraid to illuminate the success stories of your competitors. If you don't have the time to build out blog posts and take on a full inbound recruiting approach mentioned above, at bare minimum share events of interest to your candidate pool that your team members are attending or hosting. Invite them to come say hi to the people or person from your team that will be there. Nobody hates being invited to a party. ;-)
• Share unique company culture engagement opportunities
Are there any events, videos, demos, etc. that truly highlight exactly what your company is about? Share them via email. This process is the perfect double-edged sword because candidates will self-select by unsubscribing from the email if they feel they are not a culture fit. This saves you 1-2 interviews worth of wasted time. Boom.
• For all the above, always have “See Open Jobs” in the most findable place you can in your materials
It’s all about conversion, it's all about getting the candidates to apply. Create calls to action, invite people to apply(see what we did there...) Be mindful of making a strong first impression and always following up in a very timely fashion.
TIP** -- If you use job boards - be clear that your jobs aren’t open now, but that you’re building a pipeline and be ready to manage the massive flood of applicants, many who may not be qualified.
Candidate pipeline maintenance is one of the largest challenges for all modern day tech companies. If you do the activities above, you will do better, we promise. Please feel free to reach out to us if you have any questions on how to execute any of these or need more examples, we are here to help!
Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.
If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!