The ultimate guide to building a pipeline

The ultimate guide to building a pipeline

CEO Miranda Hilton maps out exactly why building a talent pipeline is so important for a a direct targeted search and how it can be the answer for top firms looking to improve their strategic growth plans.

Working as part of an incubator hub for leading recruitment businesses in Recruitment Entrepreneur, we are very used to our CEO and Chairman, James Caan, continually encouraging us to build our ‘talent pipelines’. And now in the legal sector, with some industry areas such as infrastructure globally experiencing a significant dearth of talent, it’s become commonplace. But why build a talent pipeline and what are the key benefits?


So, what actually is a talent pipeline?

This is essentially a talent pool generated, targeted and focused around a firm’s strategic growth plans and needs. The pool is built over time and can be called upon to fill needs which arise – with a deep enough talent pool, there should be individuals who’s timing coincides with opportunities coming live. The perfect talent pipeline consists of internal candidates who are often those open to relocation or promotion, as well as external prospects - which we at Group8 generate via direct targeted search.


Time equals talent


1. You build trust and engagement for the right reasons- Cultiv8: With more time dedicated to the search and with a global approach free of time restraints, you will  improve your stable of higher quality prospects. Implementing a longer-term approach, allows you to attract the very best, by cultivating a trusting relationship with the key decision makers and ensuring that each conversation works toward guaranteeing consistency from your end. Reserving open slots for exceptional talent currently employed, means you can hire them immediately when/if they decide to move. Couple this with thorough vetting and reference checking, and your percentage of “weak hires” will decrease dramatically. 

2. You will hire better talent – time is your friend- Perpetu8: Developing  your talent pipeline requires an identification process that involves discovering and then directly targeting your ideal candidate demographic. Differentiating yourself can be complicated, especially in an industry where people are your business, so you should be looking to attract the very best who could become future leaders. With an improved candidate experience and extended two-way process, you can tailor your process to fit each individual high-value talent target. 

When there is pressure to ‘fill a job’ the focus is about a bum on a seat and individuals will inevitably feel like a commodity throughout the process. Successful lawyers want to feel valued, recognised and be able to see their path to progression. Your business deserves to be filled by high quality targets not the 25% active job seekers in the market.

3. Identify the rising starsGener8: Now that you have more time on your hands, you can identify those promising prospects that look set to light the world on fire - the young guns or ‘up and comers’. Over time, you can build a relationship and interest. When this developing talent finally reaches the required skill/experience level that you need, you can formally get them on board and integration will be far simpler because everyone has already spent time laying the foundation for a strong relationship.

4. Increase retention rates- Amelior8: Normal recruitment processes for an ‘immediate need’ can often rush candidates, giving them and the employer limited time to really work out if it’s the ‘best’ possible hire and decision for both parties. However, because prospects in the ‘pipeline’ have ample time to decide, both parties have more time to build the all-important relationship. Retention rates amongst ‘search’ or pipeline candidates have been proven to be higher because of the deeper knowledge and commitment which has been cultivated over a longer period of time.  



5. Increase acceptance rates- Elev8: There is nothing worse than investing time in a recruitment process only to have the chosen candidate not accept. With a pipeline approach, more time to get to know the company will mean they understand their own drivers more, ensuring they are completely aligned with the firm’s culture and the opportunity.  And a firm can ensure an offer and career path meets both parties’ interests.  Combined, acceptance rates will be increased.

‘Active candidates’ make up only 25% of the market and the very best ones are in high demand. You create a long-term pipeline approach using search, consequently luring in the best in turn ensuring they are focused and locked in on you before they consider looking more broadly. This should also limit ‘salary wars’ between other opportunities.

6. Limit loss of the ‘empty chair’- Consolid8: For law firms, having an open brief can not only mean that clients’ needs aren’t being delivered on, it can also mean other team members are being overworked (leading to loss of your best people); and ultimately means loss of revenue in law firms. Adopting the pipeline approach can ensure that the time where an opportunity sits ‘empty’ is limited and even if managed properly with notice periods, means no time and a decent handover period. 

7. Partner/hiring manager will be more satisfied- Collabor8: Hiring managers will only be meeting top talent, with quicker access to acquire them according to their needs when they arise. As a result, hiring managers will waste less time dealing with inferior candidates. And that coupled with a noticeably better quality of hire will dramatically increase hiring manager satisfaction with the recruiting process, HR and resourcing team. It’s worth noting though that the approach to be taken in meetings with prospective candidates will need to be different – not so much interviewing but meeting to promote the firm and exchange information gradually. As soon as a pipeline (longer term) candidate feels they are being pushed into an immediate need, they will feel more like a commodity and lose interest. This is about building up lots of ‘slow burn’ prospects.

8. Positive brand experience- Accentu8: The pipeline process is candidate driven so it’s more about understanding the prospective candidate initially and assessing if you can meet their needs (which obviously also need to align with the firm’s needs). The individual will leave the process, whether they join or not, with a deep level of insight. With more time for engagement, answering questions, and two-way communications, candidates will have a better experience both before and during the hiring process.


Final Thoughts

A talent pipeline approach needs some planning and also direct targeting to really make it work – it won’t happen overnight. But it can have massive impacts in terms of additional revenue from productivity; increasing retention and limiting the cost of an empty chair.  

For more information on our experience in building a successful talent pipeline, contact us for a full consultation.