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Create a candidate pipeline to reduce your recruitment costs

September, 2021
Adam Richardson

Candidate pipelining is both a quick and long term fix for companies wanting to reduce their hiring costs while improving the speed of their processes and the quality of candidate they attract. And yet only a handful of companies do it systematically. 

What is talent pipelining

Talent pipelining is identifying and nurturing candidates you may to hire in the future. By building and maintaining relationships with these individuals you increase your chances of hiring them, reduce the time it takes to fill positions and are often able to attract them to work for you more cost effectively. 

Pipelining candidates is particularly valuable for roles:

  • you recruit for frequently;
  • you cannot afford to stay vacant for any period of time; or
  • where candidates with relevant skills and experience are scarce (unicorns, as we refer to them).

How does it work

In the simplest terms, pipelining is a three stage process: talent identification; engagement; and relationship management. At its best it is done proactively but even reactively it can be hugely beneficial. 

A basic (but effective) approach to reactive candidate pipelining

Reactive talent pipelining involves nurturing good candidates who apply to your company but who you don’t hire because a) you don’t have an appropriate role; b) they take a role elsewhere; or c) they turn out not to be your preferred candidate for the role you were recruiting for.

Here’s a basic approach that will develop a solid candidate pipeline

  1. Ensure every candidate who applies is added to your database with notes that will help filter them appropriately;
  2. Acknowledge every application – even if the candidate isn’t suitable they will probably know people who are and if their experience is bad they may well tell others, damaging your employer brand. 
  3. Give detailed feedback to every candidate who gets an interview – these candidates have invested time applying, preparing for interview and attending. Failing to provide feedback about the strengths and weaknesses of their application will leave a bitter taste.
  4. Identify candidates to nurture – too many companies have only two categories of candidate: those they hire and those they forget about. At a minimum add in a third category of “candidates to nurture” (this is your pipeline) and ask them if you can stay in touch.
  5. Create a candidate pipeline programme – the more effort you put in to nurturing your pipeline the better the results will be. The best companies tier candidates by their likely future importance and tailor their approach to maintaining contact accordingly. For example, tier 1 may be allocated a "candidate manager" who touch bases with them every few months, tier 2 simply get a quarterly or monthly mailshot updating them about company progress (nothing confidential obviously) etc.

Proactive pipelining

Proactive pipelining is about identifying and nurturing the best talent in the market, not simply those who approach you. It involves scoping the market and then engaging with the most desirable candidates before nurturing the relationships as appropriate. It is time consuming and the way you engage prospective targets is critical to success, however the quality of candidate you are likely to attract will improve, as will the speed with which you fill roles and the cost of attracting these candidates will likely reduce. Some more details about how we approach it when clients engage us on a project can be found here:

Whether done reactively or proactively, talent pipelining requires a time investment up front but it is one that, if applied with discipline, leads to better hiring in terms of quality and speed and can save you money.

If you would like further details about any of the trends or would like to speak with us about how we can support you then please email me: or call 0330 174 6801.

About the author:

Adam Richardson - Managing Director

Adam has over 20 years’ experience recruiting procurement and commercial professionals across the construction sector.

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