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4 Ways to Build a Successful Talent Pipeline

A black and white photo of a woman leaning against a brick wall.
​Stacy Donovan Zapar, founder of recruitment consultancy Tenfold.

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Canada—Maintaining a talent pipeline can help recruiters find qualified candidates for hard-to-fill positions, manage employee attrition and meet diversity goals, according to Stacy Donovan Zapar, founder of recruitment consultancy Tenfold in San Diego.

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Leverage Employee Networks

Employees refer candidates for jobs because they believe in the candidates and in their current employer, Zapar told attendees at the HR Leaders Summit West 2017.

"Referrals are the highest quality hires—they're more likely to stick around, they're more engaged and they're higher performers because someone vouched for them," she added. "Happy employees refer their friends and former co-workers."

According to Zapar, recruiters can lure more referrals by:

  • Holding invite-a-friend happy hours to expose employees' friends to the company's culture.
  • Throwing sourcing parties with colleagues from the department you're hiring for to encourage them to comb through their networks for potential candidates.
  • Asking friends and colleagues, "Who is the best [engineer], [financial analyst] or [sales manager] you know?"

Another approach is asking an HR peer or hiring manager to reach out to candidates in their networks, Zapar suggested. Those response rates are around 75 percent, she said.

Improve Careers Sites

On average, it takes a candidate around 20 minutes to apply for a job—and that's more challenging when navigating employers' careers sites and applying on a smartphone. "Why do recruiters make candidates jump over hurdles to apply?" Zapar asked.

Many candidates use their smartphones to job hunt because they are looking during work, she continued. Yet, only 35 percent of Fortune 500 companies' careers sites are mobile-friendly, according to a 2016 audit conducted by recruitment marketing platform developer SmashFly.

Job postings are a valuable tool, Zapar added, but there's room for improvement.

Recruiters should consider placing branded job postings with videos and photos, as well as targeted, pop-up ads, on social media sites like Facebook, Zapar advised. "By 2019, video will account for 80 percent of online consumer traffic. It's a great vehicle for employee storytelling."

Zapar recommended recruiters create talent communities to capture candidates browsing on company careers pages. This is the foundation of the Zappos Insider program, which focuses on creating long-term relationships with prospective employees rather than posting specific job ads.

Apply Proactive Sourcing

The days of posting opportunities to job boards and hoping a strong candidate applies are in the past, Zapar said. Recruiters need to be proactively sourcing for talent.

According to LinkedIn's 2016 Global Talent Trends report, 90 percent of global professionals are interested in hearing about new job opportunities—whether they are active or passive candidates.

But recruiters need to tap into social media networks beyond LinkedIn to look for candidates, Zapar advised. Sites like software development platform GitHub, networking portal Meetup and community bulletin board Reddit are filled with potential hires.

New graduates, service workers, and professionals in the medical, legal and finance fields are active on Facebook and Twitter; they're not necessarily on a networking site like LinkedIn. "Go where the competition isn't," she added.

Focus on Employer Branding

Employer branding promotes a company to a targeted group. Zapar pointed out that recruiters can attract the right people by addressing what it's really like to work at the company.

"Sourcing is like fishing—you are reeling a candidate in … while employer branding is like casting a net at all your fish," Zapar said.

According to LinkedIn's Employer Brand Playbook, around 83 percent of talent acquisition leaders say employer branding significantly impacts their ability to hire talent. "Employer branding tells a story … a relevant, authentic story," she concluded.

Catherine Skrzypinski is a freelance writer in Vancouver.

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