Your complete guide to talent pooling

Thinking about how to build effective talent pools and what tactics to use? This is your one-stop resource for creating talent pools that will give your business the edge in a highly competitive market.

It is no surprise that Australian talent teams consider talent pooling to be one of their top 5 priorities for 2021.1 As we move into the new year, economic and social recovery is set to be swift so businesses will need to be on the front-foot to identify and attract the talent they need to rebuild. A proactive approach to sourcing and managing potential new hires will be critical to that effort.

Government investment in major infrastructure projects and improving consumer confidence will underpin strong growth in many sectors and, despite unemployment tipped to remain relatively high through Q1 and Q2,  top talent will always have choice when it comes to who to work for.  Talent teams are already recognising the need to improve the candidate experience and develop relationships with sought-after candidates.  Talent pools that activate structured and relevant communications and build engagement in the employer brand are a great way to achieve that.

What is a talent pool?

Talent pools are more than just a database of suitable candidates’ profiles. Building a talent pool is a long-term strategy that focuses on developing relationships with top talent and proactively contacting them about job opportunities suited to their skills and ambitions.

A talent pool allows talent teams to proactively source high calibre talent for a particular role or need within their business and keep in touch with those candidates on a regular basis.  Talent pools are also commonly used to manage employee referrals, maintain contact with candidates who were a “silver medallist” for a recently recruited role or who stood out as being a great fit for a future opportunity.

The benefits of talent pooling

Whether your focus is on specific, highly challenging roles or taking an enterprise approach to build a proactive-sourcing culture, talent pooling is a great practice.  Effective talent pools build engagement with your brand and generate referrals, which can result in shorter hiring times, reduced cost per hire and an improved candidate experience.

Nurturing an audience of highly engaged candidates should be a key feature of your proactive sourcing effort and can have a profound effect on your teams’ ability to captivate scarce talent, ensuring you’re well placed to compete for the best candidates out there.

Sound appealing? To get the benefits you’re seeking, building talent pools really starts with the planning.

Here are our top 7 steps to plan, build, manage, and nurture your talent pools:

1.      Review your data

What does your data tell you? Do you have trends of repeat hires? Do they happen at certain times? Do you have any diversity issues? Are certain roles taking longer to fill than others?

Take a deep dive into your human resources data to uncover trends and talent pooling opportunities.  Armed with this information, you will be able to effectively engage with and influence the business – use this – you’ll need that engagement later.

2.      Engage the business

Ask your talent team to take talent identified from their talent pools when taking new position briefs from their hiring leaders.  You can also encourage hiring leaders to make time for ‘talent meets’ - hosting events is a great way to engage talent in your brand and give them the opportunity to meet key leaders from the business.  Use hiring leader feedback on these activities to calibrate your talent pooling efforts.

Collaborating with your HR business partners is a great way to gain better insights from across your organisation, allowing you to work together to create talent pools of external talent to supplement talent development and succession planning strategies.

Talent pools can be used for internal talent too.  Internal talent pools might include employees who show potential for advancement in an organisation or those in the process of acquiring skills or education that will help them to be successful in more senior positions. Managing internal candidate pools can reduce hesitation for internal applicants to apply for promotion or stretch positions and, when senior hiring leaders are engaged, this can lead to more consistent career conversations outside of a traditional recruitment process.

 3.      Create some rules

Now that you have established what your talent pools are for, agree with your team who’s allowed in them! This will depend on your goals, and the level of engagement you have built with your hiring leader community.

A good rule of thumb is to only include those pre-qualified or interviewed by your talent team and hiring managers. This could include those that were ‘silver medallists’ for previous roles, or those that have been assessed and deemed suitable for alternative roles.

By engaging your hiring leaders early and bringing with you great data on talent pooled candidates, those candidates are interview-ready quickly, allowing your hiring leaders to focus on selling the brand and opportunity when it comes time for them to interview.

4.      Make sure you’re getting the most from your tech

A standard applicant tracking system (ATS) will have at least basic search functionality and the ability to create pools or tags, which means you can search tagged candidates when you need to.  This search capability means you don’t need to create static talent pools for every possible role you’ll ever work on, meaning you can set up fewer, more targeted pools using the tagging or talent community features of your ATS.

The great news here is that you don’t need the latest AI-driven tech to build talent pools – instead, leverage the system you already have and simplify your process.  While not optimal, if you don’t have an ATS or CRM, an excel spreadsheet will also do just fine.  Top tip: if the process is simple, it’s easier to repeat across a large talent team to ensure the integrity of your data.

5.      Use talent pools to help with your diversity initiatives

Talent pools will enable you to hire diverse talent, faster. By placing emphasis on proactively sourcing, engaging, assessing and communicating with candidates from diverse groups, you will have talented candidates to call immediately when a role becomes available.

Engaging your diverse candidates in topics, news stories, events and people stories from your company will help cement your brand as an employer of choice. Choosing sponsors from within your hiring leader community to support this engagement is a great idea.

Linking back to point 2, work with HR leaders to determine any diversity initiatives that might be solved through proactive talent pooling. For example, if you are looking to increase gender diversity in senior executive roles and the internal succession pipeline for female executive talent is lacking, building external pools of current and emerging female leaders will help.

6.      Review your talent pools to keep them relevant

It’s little use putting in the work to build a sophisticated talent pool process, without then having a good engagement plan. Build discipline to continually talk with pre-identified talent and send them relevant and targeted company and industry news, and other content.

Your pools should be dynamic, ensuring those candidates that are no longer interested, available or meet your qualification requirements (see your rules back at point 4) are removed from your talent pools.

7.      Ask for feedback

As with any talent process, it is important to measure your success.  Measuring the candidate experience for proactively sourced and talent pooled candidates will help you identify ways to improve your sourcing and communications strategy, or uncover issues such as tardy hiring manager feedback.   Tracking the number of hires, the time to hire and the quality of hire achieved from your talent pools will help you understand the return on investment from your talent pool strategy and continue to build engagement and support from within the business (for more information on metrics - check out this earlier blog).


The near future of recruitment is trending towards automation and AI to optimise candidate search, improvement selection outcomes and freeing up time for talent teams to focus on partnering with their stakeholders and concentrate on strategic sourcing. While these innovations can have a tremendous impact, the importance of a well-planned and managed proactive sourcing approach, underpinned by a commitment to responding to and communicating with every applicant should be your first port of call.  By putting candidate experience first, you will ensure timely feedback is delivered and your ATS remains up to date, helping you to realise the benefits of optimised search quickly.

I hope this article was helpful in demonstrating the value of talent pooling and has given you some useful ideas to get started.  If you would like to know more about how to create a talent pooling strategy or process for your team and would like some support, please contact me at I’d be happy to offer you a free 60 minute consultation to work through your key challenges and objectives and get your 2021 hiring off to a strong start.



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