I get straight to the point below and I believe this holds true for all companies regardless of their current hiring needs or abilities.
Right now you should absolutely be engaging with people you feel are potential future hires.
You can promote a positive employer brand and candidate experience that will pay dividends for years to come.
So many people are working from home and much more accessible than ever before. They are much more likely to talk to someone at your company whether they are actively looking for work or happily employed.
Remember hiring before the pandemic?
It seems so long ago but prior to Covid-19 you might post a job on your careers page and online portals to try and find your next hire but you may have had to work really hard to find enough qualified candidates amongst the applicants. The low unemployment rate impacted the number of qualified applicants applying to jobs.
You may have also pursued happily employed passive candidates to ensure you fully explored the available talent pool before making a hiring decision. Even following this additional step often meant that a small population of candidates would be motivated to make a change unless your opportunity was a huge improvement from their current situation.
Hiring before the pandemic was challenging for many roles and for reasons largely different than what we see now.
Now that we're hiring during the pandemic we have seen a 180 degree shift in direction.
You can now post a job today and see a lot of qualified and motivated candidates apply within 24 hours. You'll also see a lot of candidates who are not qualified for the role but some of them may be great candidates for other teams that don't have a current need.
Additionally, if you reach out to passive candidates who are actively employed you'll likely see a much higher response rate than before.
What should I be doing to pipeline future candidates?
If you have current openings that you're actively hiring for then this added step of pipelining future hires is pretty easy.
You may not be able to offer them the job now but you can create a short list in your applicant tracking system and let them know you strongly encourage them to reapply. I emphasize strongly encourage because so many rejection emails will say "...we encourage you to apply in the future..." or something like that. You want them to know this is a genuine invitation.
Although you can't hire everyone you can create a positive candidate experience and leave a lasting impression for potential future hires.
If you don't have current openings that you are actively hiring for you should still be engaging with candidates but you need clear messaging to generate positive results.
The most important message you should convey is that while you don't have a current opening you think they could be a future fit.
Why would someone still respond to you if there's no current job? The odds are in your favor that they'll be curious to learn more.
I've talked to quite a few people who are between jobs over the past few months and a common trend I've seen is that most people appreciate the interaction even if we ultimately aren't able to place them in a job right now.
What you can do with every interaction is add some value by offering positive feedback and in some cases you might even offer some guidance on other places or strategies they might explore to help in their job search.
Here are two pipelining approaches that mirror closely what you'd do if you were actively hiring.
These can work independently or together.
1. Advertising a generic future hire/general job posting
This can be a combination of posting on your careers page and LinkedIn or other social media platforms. The job description often captures the company culture and why someone should work there but it doesn't usually outline skills and experience required since this could vary widely.
Using the generic job posting approach may bring some great candidates but you need to take the next step and speak with those you feel are strong potentials.
2. Direct outreach to candidates you feel have the right background and experience for your company or team.
You might wish to target and message individuals that have key skills and experience that you feel make them a strong prospect for future jobs. This approach will definitely require clear messaging but with the right approach you can have some meaningful conversations.
Every team and company should create a coordinated approach that has buy-in from leadership, hiring managers, HR and talent acquisition on whether they want to pursue this talent pipeline approach and how far to take prospective candidates through the interview process. Having all groups involved will help foster the right commitment for time, focus, and getting the right messaging.
I'd recommend piloting the effort with a small group of people and having a brief but meaningful chat with candidates and tailoring an approach that works for your team.
As always, I welcome feedback and would be happy to answer any questions. Feel free to reach out to me at email@example.com or comment below.