Talent Pipeline Management: Steps, benefits and its Challenges

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It is a known fact that talent is available in abundance in the market. But having qualified talent ready to deploy, on the company’s terms, at the time that they want is a challenge. That is why a talent pipeline is maintained in organizations. A talent pipeline is a pool of candidates that are lined up to fill in the positions as soon as they fall vacant. 

To understand how a talent pipeline works let’s look at an example. When a company pitches for a project with its client, along with the available set of resources, a healthy talent pipeline is also maintained by the recruiters. 

As soon as the project is signed, the onboarding starts. This reduces the hiring time and timely commencement of the project. Having a healthy talent pipeline is a sign of robust planning and management ability. Depending on the size of the organization and its projects, the size of the talent pipeline varies.

What is a Talent Pipeline?

A talent pipeline is a pool of candidates available to fill in positions as soon as they are vacant. Recruiters and Talent acquisition specialists invest a lot of time and effort in building up this pipeline. It is a proactive measure of workforce planning to ensure the timely fulfillment of positions.  The candidates within the talent pipeline are shortlisted and selected but pending hire. They are kept ready to be deployed to work when required. These candidates can be internal employees waiting for promotions or role changes, or externally sourced candidates from referrals, job postings, etc.

How to build a talent pipeline

Creating a talent pipeline can be an easy task provided you are able to meet the steps in creating it.

To do so, you will need to understand the factors that push the organization to create it: 

#1 Company’s long-term goals

The purpose of having a talent pipeline is to know that you have manpower ready when the time comes. This can be done only when you know which direction the company wants to move in and its long-term goals.

#2 Current requirements

If you believe that there are gaps within the system that need to be filled, you will need to address those requirements first. Identifying the existing skill gaps can help you find the talent you need while creating the talent pipeline for the future.  

#3 Sourcing

This can be done through internal referrals, social media sites, job sites, career fairs, etc. There are multiple ways to find talent and exploring all the avenues can help build a more robust pipeline. 

#4 Training and development

Instead of benching the existing and new talent, it is imperative that you implement a training module to keep the recruits updated. 

#5 Retention of employees

It is an unsaid rule but retaining the employee and keeping them engaged is as important as identifying the right talent. The whole idea of creating a talent pipeline is wasted if you are not able to retain and keep your employees happy. 

How to manage a Talent pipeline?

Building a talent pipeline is an ongoing process. It is done to fulfill a projected demand, succession planning, or ramp-ups. Several sourcing channels are used to create a talent pipeline.

#1 Job portals

One of the most popular sources of getting talent is through job portals. List the job requirements on the job portals and have the candidates apply to them. After a thorough selection process, you can have a talent pipeline ready.

#2 Job fairs

Job fairs are a good source to pick huge numbers of potential employees. Freshers or experienced, skilled or unskilled you can choose the candidates out of the pool of candidates that attend these fairs.

#3 Social media

Social media hiring is in vogue as its reach is huge. Almost everyone is on social media these days hence it becomes a great meeting place for recruiters and prospective employees. Find qualified candidates with the right experience and reserve them in your talent pipeline.

#4 Referrals

Your existing employees are your brand ambassadors and can provide you with a steady pipeline through referrals. 

#5 Recruitment Vendors

Needless to say, a lot of staffing vendors specialize in providing skilled and qualified talent. You can use their services to manage your talent pipeline

Once you have a steady pipeline, you can provide them with basic training, and upskill them to ensure they are ready to be deployed the moment the vacancy arises. 

Benefits of Talent Pipeline management

Talent Pipeline management is a proactive step in workforce planning. Proactive measures have their benefits:

#1 Reduced TAT (Turnaround time)

Since you have a talent pipeline, you will be able to fill the vacancy at the shortest notice. You wouldn’t need to spend a long time looking for a resource when the vacancy arises as you have already planned for it. 

#2 Better Workforce planning

While building talent pipelines for various positions, Workforce planning gets easy and falls in place with timely closures of positions.

#3 Cost-efficient

Sometimes when a vacancy arises, and if there is no talent pipeline, the organization ends up paying premium amounts to onboard a resource on priority. But with a good Talent pipeline, that risk is minimized and managed to make it a cost-effective solution. 

#4 Timely closures

Late/Delayed fulfilments of the positions cost money to the organization. Organizations can lose clients due to it. Timely closures are critical for business continuity as well as from the financial perspective as well.

#5 Better client relationships

Having healthy talent pipelines speaks volumes about the company’s management skills and its brand. Be it for a project ramp-up, a new project, or succession planning, getting the right talent on time leads to a better client relationship as it builds the credibility of the company.

Challenges faced in Talent Pipeline Management

#1 Poor planning

While building a talent pipeline, workforce planning has to be accurate. Poor planning has a deep impact on the business and business continuity. There is always a possibility of having an excess of candidates in the pool or fewer candidates in the pipeline which can throw your talent pipeline management off-rails delaying talent fulfillment.

#2 Losing to Competitor

Candidates in the Talent pipeline are selected but not hired. They are kept on hold for the near future. With the market being dynamic, there is a very high possibility of losing them to competitors if they are not engaged during this waiting period. The uncertainty can get to them, making them anxious if they aren’t kept in the loop by the company. 

#3 Redundant talent

Once a talent pipeline is created, the candidates are on hold. During this period the company has to ensure that the candidates are still relevant and qualified. Sometimes upskilling, and re-training might be required to keep them abreast of the requirement. But if not assessed time and again, the same talent pipeline can get redundant and useless for the requirement they were hired for.

Best practices for Talent pipeline management

#1 Robust Workforce planning

Talent pipeline management is about planning the workforce for short-term needs and long-term needs. It is important to know what those numbers look like and what are the projected requirements so that the pipeline can be built accordingly. Predictive analysis and market trend analysis can help in understanding future long-term needs better. The more you know, the better and strong would be your workforce plan which in turn means reliable Talent pipeline management.

#2 Market knowledge and know-how

In the talent acquisition market, one needs to be aware and alert at all times.  The new hiring trends, market analytics trends, study on millennial hiring, most desired skills, newer technologies, etc. all of these will help you understand what is relevant in the market and what is out of practice. Following these trends might also give you a few tips on building a strong talent pipeline with what we have and not just based on what we need.

#3 Use all the sources

Be it using internal sources such as IJPs (Internal Job postings), Referrals, Succession Planning or internal promotion, etc., or external sources such as Job fairs, job postings, recruitment vendors, etc. – use all the possible sources to have a healthy pipeline. Do not fixate on just one source. Having candidates from all the channels ensures a healthy talent mix and also gives more options to choose from.

#4 Build Brand and promote Referrals

While other sources are equally important, it is desirable to build on your brand and imbibe a sense of stewardship among your employees.
This will lead to a set of loyal employees who are willing to refer and help build the brand. This ensures a sense of belonging which is very important in today’s times when retention of talent is a key challenge.

#5 Upgrade, upskill and stay relevant

Candidates in the Talent Pipeline are selected but on hold. They are offered once there is a vacancy. This waiting period is critical and can last for some time. The talent needs to stay focused and relevant during this period. Hence it is important to engage with them on a regular basis from a retention perspective as well as to upgrade or upskill. Any slight deviation in the requirement for the position can make the pipeline redundant. Hence constant touch-point is necessary to keep them relevant.


Building a healthy talent pipeline takes weeks and months. It is a cumbersome exercise. For it to be fruitful, a robust manpower plan is necessary. With eyes on the present as well as the future, one can predict the hiring needs and accordingly plan the talent pipeline. It is never easy to find the right talent at the right time. Talent Pipeline is the best preventive measure to overcome this issue. Select the candidates, create the pool of prospective employees and hire them when the vacancy arises. This can be done effectively only if you have a clear vision of the upcoming recruitment needs. Talent pipeline management in itself is a best practice and answer to many recruitments and timely fulfillment-related woes.

FAQs on Talent Pipeline Management

What is the difference between a Talent pipeline and a Talent pool?

A talent pool is a larger pool of candidates who haven’t been through the complete selection process and haven’t reached the talent pipeline yet while Talent pipeline candidates are part of the talent pool that has been vetted and selected. The talent pipeline is a subset of the Talent pool.

What is the purpose of the talent pipeline?

A Talent pipeline is built to ensure the company has a pool of hire-ready candidates available at short notice when the anticipated vacancy arises. This ensures faster fulfillment of open positions.

Is talent management the same as recruiting?

Talent management is a broader term that means attracting, hiring, developing, and retaining employees in organizations while recruitment means the sourcing, selection, and hiring of employees. Both are not the same.

How to build a Talent pipeline?

With the use of internal sources like referrals, promotions, Internal Job postings, and succession planning, and external sources such as job fairs, job postings, and recruitment vendors Talent pipeline can be built. 

How do you keep candidates in the pipeline?

All the qualified candidates fitting the organization’s requirements are sourced from various channels – internal as well as external. They go through the company selection process and then the shortlisted candidates are kept on hold for future hire purposes. This is how candidates are kept in a pipeline and hired once there is a vacancy.

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