Are Candidate Pipelines More Like a Pipe Dream?

If you’ve been in recruiting for any period of time you’ve probably heard about the benefits of building a candidate pipeline.  However, it seems that given all of the virtues associated with a strong pipeline, the benefits never materialize.

The concept is solid in theory – create a list of prospective candidates that you can tap into when new roles open up.  Sounds great, right?  Who wouldn’t want to have a list of prospective candidates at their fingertips?!  The reality is that you already have this list.  You likely just lack the appropriate process and mechanism to nurture the contacts into leads and, ultimately, into hires.

Like most things, results happen as a result of execution rather than from the idea itself. Let’s face it, recruiters are great at sourcing new leads and reaching out to them with a call, email or LinkedIn InMail, but that initial outreach is usually as far as it goes.

It’s Easier to Find New People

Recruiters are typically overworked and under tight deadlines to fill 20 roles yesterday.  It’s much easier to email someone and keep moving forward…onto the next prospect.  And so the cycle goes.

You may send out 100 emails and 10 people reply. Five of which aren’t interested, another two-three aren’t a match and, if you’re lucky, one or two are actually qualified enough on paper to schedule a call with.

If that seems like a lot of work, it’s because it is.  What do you do with the person that is a great fit, responds, but isn’t interested?  If you’re like most recruiters, you thank them for the reply and ask for a referral.  That’s the correct thing to do, right?  Wrong.  What most candidates are saying without saying it in those situations is, I’m interested, but not right now.

The correct response would be to thank them for the quick reply and let them know that you will send them a request to connect via LinkedIn so that you can stay better connected in the event their situation changes.  Most of the time they’ll accept your request, which in turn provides you with their email address.

Segment and Automate

Now that you’ve established the next step and have connected via LinkedIn, add them to a segmented list you’ve created (e.g., Sr Android Developers in Seattle – July 2014) and schedule an automated email to be sent out in 6-8 months (or whatever length of time you feel would be appropriate), with another queued to follow another 6-8 months after that one- provided you don’t hear back- and so on.

You can also use this list to send emails containing information that you think this segment will find interesting such as industry-specific news or something related to the technology stack they work in.

Turn the Work You Do Today Into an Investment

See where I’m going with this?  You’re doing a lot of work and contacting a lot of people, why not take advantage of that time and use the contacts you gain as an investment in future searches you undoubtedly will be doing.

Think about the people you initially contacted three years ago that looked great on paper.  Then think about the times that you eventually came across their profile again only to find out that they recently made a move to another company and into a role very similar to the one you currently have open. Chances are, you probably could have had an opportunity to land them if you knew they were finally looking.  Instead, they were buried in your ATS or, worse, a folder on the hard drive of your computer that crashed a year ago.

By segmenting your contacts and adding automation to your communication process, you can easily stay in touch with your pipeline and improve your chances of catching them when they are ready to make a move.  Taking the time to set up automation and establish a workflow will turn the work you do today into an investment rather than an increased workload.

Some recruiters can be very successful by working really hard, but you can be even more successful when you work smarter.


Travis Scott is the Founder of RainierDigital, an inbound recruitment marketing consulting company that specializes in the development and implementation of inbound marketing strategies for staffing agencies and organizations. His background includes over 5 years of marketing experience and nearly 10 years of recruiting experience, most notably as a Staffing Consultant at Microsoft in Redmond, WA.

If you would like to receive a free analysis of your current recruitment marketing efforts or learn more about the benefits of implementing an inbound marketing strategy, use the button below to contact Travis today.


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