Why do you need a tech talent pipeline strategy for your company? What's its main purpose?
Whether you’re trying to build a stronger business or scale up, it’s critical to have an understanding of how people are going to help you get there.
That's why you need a talent pipeline strategy.
In the business world, having a solid plan for how you will bring new employees on board and keep them there is key. With a tech talent pipeline strategy in place, it becomes much easier to identify what holes your business has in terms of skilled talent and how you can improve it moving forward.
Creating these processes won’t be easy, but they are necessary for the long-term success of your company.
Read our scaling engineering teams tips to learn more about how you can build a solid tech talent pipeline from scratch.
Table of contents
- Define Your Talent Goals and Needs (Keep an Eye on the Future)
- Create a Candidate Sourcing Strategy (Think Outside the Box)
- Make First Contact (Without Being Too Pushy)
- Nurture the Candidates (But Don’t Scare Them Away)
- Invest in Employee Learning and Development (Ask Employees for Their Input)
- Wrapping Up
Define Your Talent Goals and Needs (Keep an Eye on the Future)
This step involves pinpointing the type of tech talent your company needs today while also thinking about your future talent needs.
To identify what type of talent you need to target, have a meeting with your team and discuss what skills your company will most likely need in the future. You may want to consider creating candidate personas, which will be like a semi-fictional representation of your ideal candidate.
- Will you have a greater need for junior developers or senior?
- Do you predict you'll need more software engineers or product managers?
- Is there a role that has a high turnover rate?
- Are there any hard-to-fill roles that, when vacant, you're experiencing revenue loss?
Get the opinion of several people across different departments to pin down the type of hires with which you need to fill the tech talent pipeline.
Another thing to mention is the balance between hiring external candidates and promoting from within. In some cases, promoting from within can be a better solution. For example, let's say you need to fill an engineering management position. Promoting a senior engineer who clearly demonstrates ambition and leadership skills can be perfect for the role as they already understand your business.
And what do we mean by "keeping an eye on the future?"
We mean predicting any changes that might happen to your company that might impact your hiring needs.
- Does your company plan to expand significantly in the next one, two, or five years?
- Are you planning on restructuring a specific department?
- Are you expecting any acquisitions, mergers, or other major changes?
Let's say you're planning on scaling your business in a year's time. In this case, prepare for future tech-talent-pipeline needs by filling up your pipeline with the specific skillsets on time.
Create a Candidate Sourcing Strategy (Think Outside the Box)
Once you've identified your company's needs, creating a candidate sourcing strategy is next. Keep in mind a candidate sourcing strategy is not something you do on a one-time basis. You must continuously work on your talent pipeline strategy, since it's an ongoing strategy that involves actively searching for qualified candidates.
One of the leading sourcing strategies recruiters had a decade ago was campus recruitment, which is an okay strategy, but for entry-level jobs. Luckily today, recruiters have more tools and platforms at their disposal for hiring both junior and senior talent.
Before proceeding further, let's clarify that sourcing entry-level candidates is different from sourcing senior-level candidates.
Here, we'll focus more on the latter.
Many sourcing methods can be effective when sourcing senior-level tech candidates, and the best ones for you will depend on things like your budget, type of talent, location, etc.
- Some companies, when hiring tech talent, choose to source from public Slack communities. These public communities are a place where engineers come together to discuss all kinds of engineering topics. Recruiters can identify engineers with the required skills and expertise and reach out to invite them for an interview.
- Other recruiters may look for candidates on sites like GitHub and SourceForge, which is another effective strategy. You'll get to evaluate a candidate's code samples before you get in touch.
- Tech talent networks can be an especially effective strategy as talent at such networks has undergone a rigorous screening process that analyzes their technical skills, aptitude, and personality. You can hire full-time or part-time contractors, scale up and down as needed, and work with 100% remote talent.
- Let's also briefly mention employee referral programs, which are an excellent sourcing strategy, as these programs help you target passive and active talent. The reason why so many companies implement employee referral programs is that these programs tend to yield high-quality candidates. In fact, referral hires come with a higher retention rate and take the shortest time to recruit and onboard.
Make First Contact (Without Being Too Pushy)
So far, you've identified the type of tech candidates you need in your talent pipeline and went ahead and sourced them.
The next step is to make contact and start building connections with them.
The first thing is to do your homework. Take a moment to learn more about that candidate and their work experience. When reaching out, make sure you refer to things they have mentioned in their resume so that they know you've read it.
Keep in mind you won't be asking them to apply for a specific job right away. The goal here is to make an organic connection. Try to get the know the candidates in your pipeline. Adopt a position of a curious researcher than an investigator. Inquire about their past experiences, career challenges, and future goals. Establishing trust is critical so that you build an honest relationship with candidates who may be passive job seekers.
Eventually, you will conduct a tech talent pipeline interview with someone, which will help you create a database of candidates you can nurture and turn into employees.
Let candidates know you don’t have an immediate opening, but you will likely be hiring soon. Inform them that your company is always looking for talented people and offer instructions on how they can join your talent pipeline. Make sure joining your talent pipeline is a frictionless process. Preferably, candidates should be able to apply at their own convenience.
Nurture the Candidates (But Don’t Scare Them Away)
You've identified the ideal candidates for your pipeline and made contact. But to maintain your talent pipeline strategy, you have to nurture the talent in it—you don't want them to forget about your company.
There are several ways you can do this:
- Use email marketing: email marketing is a great way to stay in touch with your candidates. Send them monthly newsletters with the latest company news, upcoming events, and job openings. Make sure to include a call-to-action at the end of your emails to help them take the next step and apply for a job.
- Use social media: you can also use social media to engage candidates in your talent pipeline. Post updates and content regularly to help keep your followers engaged.
- Organize industry events: although this strategy may require more logistics than social media, it's an effective method for nurturing your talent. Holding events can help promote your employer brand and build your position as an industry thought leader. For instance, you can host online webinars on topics relevant to your target audience. Don't forget to promote the events and invite candidates to attend your webinars.
- Stay connected with former employees: if the employee left the company on good terms, there's no reason you shouldn't nurture the relationship—they might be interested in re-joining the company in the future. Keep them in the loop with important updates about your company and job positions by including them on the newsletter email list. They may never return to work at your company, but they might refer you to a friend.
- Gentle reminder: make sure you don't over-nurture the candidates in your pipeline. You want to keep them engaged but not irritate them. Don't bombard them with daily emails or messages on social media. Send them relevant and engaging content that might interest them based on their skills, interests, and preferences.
Invest in Employee Learning and Development (Ask Employees for Their Input)
Once you've hired a new talent, make sure you keep them satisfied and motivated to perform their best. This step should be a part of your long-term talent development pipeline strategy. That's why it's always a smart strategy to focus on your existing employees and offer them opportunities for growth.
Learning and development programs are beneficial for two reasons. For one, they ensure employees are equipped with the necessary skills to do their jobs well. Secondly, they demonstrate to employees the company thinks they are worth investing in, which can boost employee satisfaction and retention. That's why you must also take care of your internal talent pipeline strategy too.
These employee training programs should be designed with the employee in mind. For instance, managers should start by asking questions to gain insights from their employees about what they need. One-on-one meetings are an excellent opportunity to ask employees what skills they're most comfortable with and what skills they want to develop. During these meetings, actively listen to what employees have to say, and avoid judging their opinions.
Research has found that breaking up training content into smaller chunks can enhance learning and improve retention. Instead of asking employees to attend two-day-long workshops where they learn an entire subject at once, create short online courses that can be more easily woven into employees’ weekly schedules.
Learning experiences should also be tailored to an employee's experience. Less experienced employees might require smaller learning opportunities that are structured around key learning areas. Senior employees might benefit from bigger opportunities where they take risks and move beyond their comfort zone. These employees might even be allowed to create or seek out their own growth opportunities.
Finally, don't forget to provide feedback; this is one of the most valuable aspects of learning and development programs. Offer regular feedback to let employees know whether they are doing well and in which areas they need improvement.
All these steps will help you learn how to create a talent pipeline strategy that brings the preferred results to your company.
As a business, you want to attract and retain the best talent possible. To do this, you must have a robust tech talent pipeline strategy. A talent pipeline strategy makes it easier to source and identify the best candidates. It also gives you a better sense of where your business is going and what’s needed to get there. In this post, we've outlined some best practices to help you create a steady tech talent pipeline and retain your best employees. Hopefully, you'll apply these practices in real-life scenarios so that you never have difficulty attracting the right people to support your business as it grows.