The “Secret Sauce” of Talent Pooling

5 min read

Talent pooling isn’t just about finding good candidates. It’s about finding great candidates and making them fall in love with your company.

Talent pooling helps you to solve the problem of hiring the hardest-to-find talent. If you are committed to keeping talent acquisition in-house, but are continually driven by the need to hire significant volumes of candidates with business-critical skills, then talent pooling could be just what you are looking for. It involves engaging with professionals who are probably not currently looking for a job, but who should consider your organisation first when they are ready to make a move.

If a candidate for inclusion in the talent pool looks good on paper one would naturally assume they would be a good fit for the job. But it simply doesn’t always work out that way. So we are going to let you into a little secret: before we even consider candidates for a talent pool, we consider you, and your organisation.

When we say that we “go beyond the beyond” we mean it. We want to get under the skin of your company, the hiring department, and the people who are working successfully in it. We do this because the extra time invested up front really does pay handsome dividends. Further down the line, it will save you from seeing unsuitable candidates. It will save us from wasting the candidate’s time. Most importantly, it greatly reduces the risk of making a bad hire and therefore helps to eliminate the pain and the waste involved with high employee turnover.

For us, this process is always fascinating, for every new talent pooling project. It’s exploration. Exploration into what makes your organisation tick, its mission and values, its corporate culture. And how the various functions and departments work together. We have an insatiable curiosity about all the markets and clients we serve. Because they are all different. This curiosity is the “secret sauce” of building a talent pool and ultimately, making great hires.
So when we get a brief to build a talent pool we generally insist on going through the following steps. It does require some investment of time on your part but we know you will thank us for it!


1. Interview the HR talent acquisition team

We want a top-level view of organisation and its corporate culture and the best place to get it is generally with the HR and TA team. But we want to find out more. We want you to tell us about the environment in which any new hire will be working and who are the key individuals they will be working alongside and interacting with. By asking these questions we will be able to prepare sensible and poignant questions for the next step, and avoid any misunderstandings.


2. Interview the hiring manager

We know, they are busy people. But by arriving fully briefed, we save time. We want to find out what makes an opportunity in the department or business function particularly attractive at your organisation, and what attributes are highly valued for the role: for example, is it entrepreneurial flair? An enquiring mind? Attention to detail? Or maybe the ability to take the pressure of savagely short deadlines? Sure, some of these questions are answered by the job spec or the professional discipline, but it is always worth exploring in greater depth.


3. Interview a successful current employee

If there is a current employee who is performing basically the same, or similar, tasks to those that would be performed by a new hire, and that person is great at their job, we really want to meet them. They will provide the best possible insights into what it takes to succeed in the role, and who would make a great fit in your organisation. Again, this is curiosity with a purpose. It prepares us for the next step.


4. Engage with the “cream” of potential candidates – and seduce them!

They say that first impressions count. We disagree. In fact, many organisations miss out on great hires, or make a bad hire, because of the impression formed on first meeting a candidate. There is a well-known psychological reason for this: confirmation bias, “the tendency to search for, interpret, or prioritise information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses”. But first impressions are a poor way of predicting performance in a particular role.

And herein lies one of the great advantages of a talent pooling solution: it offers an excellent opportunity to engage with candidates over time, establishing a relationship of trust and mutual respect.

So, based on what we learned in steps 1 through 3 we talk to candidates informally to gauge their interest and their motivations as well as finding out more about their qualifications and experience. We may then proceed to a more formal interview process in order to reduce the number of candidates in the talent pool to the “hottest prospects”. Based on what we learn we can be confident that you will only meet candidates who come with our recommendation.

Of course, we don’t just want to assess the candidate. We want them to fall in love with your organisation and be enthusiastic about joining it. Falling in love is not, despite what some people say, about first impressions. It is a process of getting to know you, feeling comfortable in your presence, feeling good about the experience, and then wanting to tell everyone how great you are.

Again, talent pooling provides the time needed for this to happen.

And without a thorough and intimate knowledge of your organisation, the hiring department, and the people who work in it, there could be no chemistry, no mutual attraction. So please don’t mind our curiosity. It really is the “secret sauce” of an effective talent pooling solution!

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