4 Steps to build a strong talent pool
March 1, 2024
min read

4 Steps to build a strong talent pool

Eli McGarvie
Eli McGarvie

When it comes to IT recruitment, having a robust talent pool is a necessity. It's your secret arsenal for not just meeting but exceeding your hiring goals, ensuring you've always got access to top-tier talent at your fingertips.

But let's face it: IT talent acquisition is fraught with challenges. From the scarcity of skilled professionals to the high competition for attracting them, the hurdles are aplenty. That's where a well-constructed talent pool comes into play. By fostering a dynamic and engaged community of potential candidates, you're not just filling vacancies; you're future-proofing your organisation. Here’s everything you need to know to turn the tide in your favour.

What is a talent pool?

A talent pool is essentially your go-to database of potential candidates, but it’s far more than just a list. It's a dynamic, strategic asset in your recruitment toolkit. Unlike other recruitment strategies that might be more reactive, talent pool sourcing is about being proactive. You're not just waiting for the right candidates to come along; you're actively engaging with them, keeping them interested and informed about opportunities within your organisation before they even hit the job market.

So, who makes up this pool? Think of it as a diverse mix of individuals at various stages of their career journey, each with unique skills and experiences. There are past applicants who weren’t quite right for previous roles but showed potential, referred individuals who come recommended by your existing staff, and scouted talent—those you’ve identified as a great fit for your company culture and have reached out to directly. This variety makes your talent pool so valuable; you’ve got a breadth of skills and experiences at your disposal, ready to tap into when the need arises.

The beauty of a talent pool lies in its fluidity and dynamism. It’s not a static list but a living, breathing community. You’re not just collecting names; you’re building relationships. This approach is crucial for strategic human resource planning. It means you’re always several steps ahead, with a clear view of your future hiring needs and a ready supply of candidates who are already engaged with your brand.

Benefits of talent pooling

Utilising talent pooling strategies will unlock a strategic advantage that goes beyond merely filling positions as they become available. Let’s break down how developing a strong talent pool can transform your recruitment strategy from good to outstanding.

1. Reduces time-to-hire

Time is of the essence in recruitment, and a well-maintained talent pool is a significant time-saver. Glassdoor estimates that the average time-to-hire in the US is 23.8 days. With a ready pool of candidates, you can significantly slash the time it takes to hire.

Imagine you have a sudden departure from your IT team. Instead of launching into a full-scale recruitment drive, you turn to your talent pool. Within it, you've got pre-vetted candidates who are already warmed up to your company's culture and values. This means you can skip the lengthy process of sourcing and initial screening, moving straight to the more advanced stages of the recruitment process. It's efficient, it's smart and it keeps your team agile.

2. Lowers recruitment costs

Recruitment isn’t cheap. Advertising roles, outsourcing to agencies, and the administrative costs of processing a high volume of applicants can add up quickly. Data has shown that the average cost per hire is nearly $4,700. Here’s where talent pools show their value. By maintaining a pool of potential candidates, you’re cutting down on the cost for extensive outreach and advertising by up to 50%.

You’ve already done the legwork upfront, building a community of interested candidates. This not only saves you money but also ensures that when you do spend on recruitment, it’s targeted and effective. In short, talent pools make your recruitment budget work harder for you.

3. Enhances quality of hire

Engaging with your talent pool isn’t a one-and-done deal—it’s about continuous interaction and relationship building. This could be by giving regular updates about company culture, industry insights, or go one step further into personalisation and catch-up over a cup of coffee. This ongoing dialogue allows you to better understand potential candidates' strengths, weaknesses and career aspirations. When a position opens up, you’ve got a well-rounded view of who these individuals are and how they might fit within your team. 

This deeper level of insight means you’re more likely to make hires that are not just good on paper but are the right fit for your team dynamics and company culture. Studies have shown that high-quality hires lead to better retention rates, higher employee satisfaction, and, ultimately, a more successful organisation.

How to develop a talent pool

If you want to build a robust and effective talent pool, you're gonna need to be strategic with your methods. Let’s walk through how to lay the foundations for a talent pool that not only meets your current needs but is agile enough to adapt to future challenges.

1. Cultivate your employer brand

Don’t underestimate the power of a strong employer brand. It’s the magnetic force that attracts potential talent to your pool even before you reach out. A compelling employer brand communicates your company’s values, culture, and the opportunities for growth and development you provide. It's about painting a picture of what working at your organisation is like and why it's an attractive place for top talent.

You create an environment where potential candidates are eager to join your talent pool when you're actively showcasing your unique employer brand through social media, your company website, and every recruitment interaction. But don't just make it about DEI—highlight the actual day-to-day of real employees at your company, share videos of company events and show off your company's unique benefits. Harvard Business Review has found that candidates are no longer just looking for a job but to be part of a community and culture that aligns with their values and career aspirations.

2. Engage in proactive/passive recruitment

With a clear idea of the skills and roles you're targeting, it's time to get proactive about recruitment. This is about going out and engaging with potential talent where they are. Networking events, industry conferences, social media, and professional platforms like LinkedIn are all valuable hunting grounds for finding warm leads, to grow a list of people to reach out to before you need them.

Proactive recruitment needs to be about fostering relationships, so personalise your outreach rather than rely on automation. Share insights about your industry, offer value through knowledge, and keep potential candidates informed and engaged with what’s happening in your organisation. This approach can help raise your profile as an employer of choice and also keep potential candidates interested and connected to your brand.

3. Identify key skill sets and roles

Start by taking a comprehensive look at your organisation. What skills are crucial for your success now, and what will you need in the future? You need to have a deep understanding of the bigger picture of where your industry is headed and how your team needs to evolve to stay ahead.

Consider the tech advancements on the horizon or the sectors within your industry that are poised for growth. Mapping out these key skill sets and roles early on means your talent pool will be a strategic asset, ready to support your organisation’s growth and evolution. It helps with future-proofing your workforce, ensuring you have access to the right talent at the right time. Remember, you should already have someone lined up to fill an open position, whether it's brand-new or due to an employee resignation—a talent pool is a great way to ensure that happens.

4. Leverage technology for management

As your talent pool grows, keeping track of everyone can become a challenge. This is where technology comes in. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools are invaluable for organising and engaging with your talent pool.

These platforms can help you segment your talent pool based on skills, experience, or interest level, making it easier to engage with them meaningfully. They also streamline communication, allowing you to send out targeted updates about new opportunities or developments within your organisation. It’s about maintaining a personal touch but at scale, ensuring each member of your talent pool feels valued and engaged.

Tips for talent pooling

To keep your talent pool not just afloat but thriving, adopting best practices is key. Here are some top tips to help you maintain and enhance your talent pool’s impact.

Continuously foster relationships with candidates

Engagement is the name of the game. Keeping candidates engaged means maintaining a line of communication that keeps them interested in your company and aware of potential future opportunities. Regular catch-ups, whether online through messaging or in-person, updates with industry news relevant to their skills, and personalised messages can all play a part in keeping the connection alive.

Regularly update and refresh the talent pool

A talent pool is not a set-and-forget tool; it requires regular upkeep to ensure its relevance and effectiveness. This means periodically reviewing the members of your pool to assess their current skills, experiences, and potential fit with your evolving company needs. It’s also about removing profiles that are no longer relevant and actively adding new talent to replenish and diversify your pool. And when you need new passive candidates to add to your talent pool, consider recruiting through tech communities.

Measure and analyse pool effectiveness

To truly understand the value your talent pool brings, it’s crucial to measure and analyse its effectiveness. Look at metrics such as engagement rates with your communications, reductions in time-to-hire and costs per hire for roles filled through the pool, and improvements in the quality of hires. These metrics will give you a clear picture of the ROI your talent pool provides and highlight areas for optimisation. Analysing these aspects of your talent pool strategy allows you to make informed decisions about where to focus your efforts.

Find a developer talent pool

Building a strong, dynamic talent pool has become a strategic necessity in modern recruitment. In this article, we've covered the essentials that underscore its significance, from what a talent pool is to outlining its benefits and sharing actionable steps and tips to develop and maintain it. Talent pooling should be a pivotal component of your broader talent acquisition strategy, especially when it comes to finding tech talent.

At WeAreDevelopers, we connect you directly with our exclusive network of software engineers, particularly in Europe. Why scatter your role on generic job boards when you can:

  • Reach a targeted audience: Over 1.2M unique visits annually, centred on development and IT.

  • Engage with an active community: A yearly social media reach of almost 22 million and 120k+ members.

We have fostered a developer community that trusts us — and we can help you. We're the platform you need if you aim to make a real impact with your job listing. Ready to get started? Check out our IT recruiting services.


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