candidate pool

Candidate Pool: 4 Steps To Build Your Talent Pool in 2023

Published on January 6th, 2023


If you are a recruiter, a small business owner or a CHRO at a multinational conglomerate, you know how hard attracting and retaining the right talent can be. After several rounds of screening, persuading them to join, and also spending exorbitantly high-end assessments and countless hours of interviewing, you’re confident you have found ‘the one!’ find the one for you. But, what happens to those who make it to the last round? How do you know, for sure that the candidate you have selected is not going to be a mishire? How do you know if they faked it all throughout?

Sure, they have everything you’re looking for. They have the perfect resume, the best of the best cover letters, and of course, an impressive record of work experiences and achievements. But how do you know if they really have it or not?

Staying in touch with those who were or are passively interested in your company and who might be worthy considerations for your current requirements is critical to saving money, time and effort to screen and hire someone from the scratch.

That’s how you begin building a candidate pool to feed and nurture your company talent from all angles, so you can use your resources judiciously in shortening your hiring cycle. In this article, we shall delve deep into how you can create a reliable repository of talent that you can reach to.

Candidate Pool - How Can You Gather Your A-Team?

A candidate pool comprises qualified candidates who are not actively looking to, or making efforts to join your company but are in your database, network and contacts, for you to reckon readily once a vacancy pops up in your company. A healthy candidate pool has screened candidates who have to fulfil basic expectations for the role, in terms of education, skills and experience.

Building a candidate pool takes time, effort and money. You need to maintain a good rapport with all those you meet, project a genuine and positive picture of your company and nurture relationships for them to be prospective candidates.

Why Do You Need a Candidate Pool to Improve Hiring?

There are a host of benefits with a list of pre-screened candidates. This list can solve your hiring problems by half and help you close positions in no time. With a preset list like this, you won't have to worry about losing the best talent to your competitors.

How do you ask?

This is something we also call ‘talent rediscovery’.

This is where you already have a solid base of talent and skills that can be immediately contacted and offered positions to. This way you need not be worried about meeting tight hiring deadlines and hiring the wrong candidate in the bargain.If not for a robust and updated candidate pool, your hiring cycle will be long, with little luck in finding and keeping top talent intact. After all, those who were filtered due to skill mismatch or personality mismatch may be ideal fits for other roles relevant to their work and education credentials and when given an opportunity, they may turn out to be an asset to the team.

How can you leverage the latent potential lying dormant in the market? You build and carefully nurture a candidate pool deliberately, to aid you in hiring at a later point in time.

When candidates learn that your company doesn’t write-off a one-time rejection as permanent, your employer branding game and brand image enhance significantly. Even if the candidates in your candidate pool aren’t available to work at the moment, they are sure to appreciate your gesture and refer a worthy candidate for the role. It’s also about practising a courteous approach in hiring.

Reaching out to past candidates from the candidate pool sends a message that you actually valued their past candidature with your company and stored all their information with you carefully and this increases their chance of considering to come work with you.

Prerequisites to Building a Candidate Pool

Not all companies have a strong and healthy candidate pool. Only the proactive, smart, people-centric and data-embracing companies have a good chance at creating a group of people and kindling/rekindling their interest in working for you. Here are a few prerequisites to building a candidate pool:

People-first Recruitment Strategy

For people to even consider working for you, you need to have a people-oriented approach that treats candidates with the utmost respect, value and integrity. You need to make sure that they feel the human element of human resource management and resources. A sound recruitment strategy where you have absolute clarity on requirements, set expectations, do not back down from negotiations, promise an inspiring future and build a healthy relationship with the candidates. This is sure to create a buzzing candidate pool with candidates looking for every chance to hear from you again.

Compelling Job Specifications

Having competitive job responsibilities, targets and key performance metrics that match your competitors but offer a stronger sense of purpose, direction and meaning is certainly a magnetic factor for people to consider working for you, once again. By defining exactly what you need, you filter out those who don’t fit in the initial stages. Whoever passes the next few stages but doesn't make it to the final round is ideal to consider for an upcoming similar or different job role.

Good Employer Branding

Only when people hear good things about you will they look forward to joining you. You don’t need to be a hotshot brand to earn a good name in the industry. Keep it simple. You want your candidates to relate and resonate with your job descriptions and requirements.

How you treat your candidates, especially those who were rejected, how you care for your employees, your inspiring mission and its reflection of it in your actions say a lot about you, as a brand. Even if they were not associated with the company, filtered or rejected candidates would readily apply to newly opened or vacant positions if they believed the company will take care of their career and financial goals. Hence, good branding can yield solid candidates from your candidate pool.

Solid Database

How do you know which candidates from your candidate pool are worthy of consideration for your recruitment drive? You know by referring to their past data, resumes, other relevant documents and interview feedback. If all your data is scattered, you won’t know whom to contact or nurture relationship with. Hence, it’s important to invest in an efficient ATS, HRIS or master database that is alive with information and insights on all candidates who have ever crossed the threshold of your company.

Top Steps to Build a Top-Notch Candidate Pool

Now that we have an idea of the Since we saw the prerequisites to build a candidate pool now let’s explore the steps it takes to build a strong candidate pool. There is no one sure-shot way to miraculously create a candidate pool overnight. It takes persistence, patience, consistent relationship building, market research, competitor analysis, studying talent trends and stellar candidate handling to make you an irresistible employer even to those who aren’t directly under your radar.

Strong Value Proposition and Candidate Experience

Be it top talent or or ‘not so great’ mediocre candidates, its always good to treat your candidate with respect and kindness, your company needs to treat everyone with due respect, value their candidature, and the time they spend in interviews or assessments and offer them a strong reason to stay connected to your company. These reasons can be the unrivalled career roadmap you offer, the competitive compensation and benefits, burgeoning growth opportunities, an inspiring team and leader to work with, truly remarkable candidate experience where you left nothing to chance, kept checking in on the candidate and truly cared about their present and future with the company. Any effort spent on people is not wasted. When you offer a hopeful and promising future to all candidates suitable for the role, you instil trust and confidence in your candidates. Even if they are not selected by your company and move on to another, if you get in touch with them again, they are inclined to consider your offer, since they know they will be taken care of by you, if they choose to join you. That’s the level of professionalism, high-touch culture and value proposition your company needs to offer, to all candidates in general.

Stay in Touch with all Interested Candidates

Some candidates may cross the basic screening tests but may fail in high-end skill assessments or personality tests, or interviews. They may have basic skills but not advanced skills or knowledge. In such a case, if skill parameters allow, such a person may be considered for a role better matching their persona and skillsets. You can make this match seamless if you stay in touch with all candidates who were a part of your system at least once. You may choose to ignore those who passed your offer or didn’t return your calls, but staying in touch with those who were and are genuinely interested in sending special announcements or news about your company etc., can pique their interest and lure them into joining you.

Proactive Sourcing

Instead of simply sourcing candidates who fit into the mould of your current job opening, look far and wide for real talent. Wherever you find remarkable talent, get in touch with them and start a conversation. You never know, they might have qualities that match other roles in your company. Look for personality traits that say ‘leader’. Skills can be trained, but if you find a candidate with just the right personality and attitude, keep them in your candidate pool. If you find a remarkable talent or highly skilled or greatly accomplished individual in a domain closely related to your business at a networking event, or forum, strike a conversation and build a rapport. You may pitch the opportunity to work with you then or later, but a person of such a calibre can be hired full-time, or a consultant, or in a different capacity if your recruitment philosophy allows for it. Being associated with good talent is the ultimate objective of having a candidate pool and you can achieve the goal by streamlining the sourcing and looking beyond the set criteria and finding true assets for your company.

Look Within

People already working for you may just be the ones you require to lead a team or contribute phenomenally to your team. Your people may have joined you with a set of attributes and competencies, but over time, might have learnt new skills, earned additional degrees, got varied experience and may have truly enriched their skill set. Hence, it makes complete sense to take a pulse check on your employees’ skills and achievements from time to time, and to strengthen talent management initiatives that bring out the best in your employees, so that you know who’s ready for the big promotion. Periodically conducting skill assessments and gauging their overall competencies also is a means of curating an internal candidate pool.

Look Where Others Won’t

Perhaps there was an intern who loved working here but had to return to college, or a contractor or freelancer who was truly great at their job, or an industry forum member, or an ex-employee who had unmatched skills and contributed exceptionally well but had to leave due to different circumstances. These people are invaluable to your company and are goldmines of talent. By staying in touch and nurturing relationships with them, you can build a rich candidate pool and bring onboard exemplary talent.

To Wrap Up

Overall, building a strong candidate pool is a rewarding experience for the recruiter and the company. The business gains because of seamless business continuity and the recruiter gains because of shorter hiring times. By focusing on giving stellar candidate experiences, maintaining an accurate database, and being proactive and thoughtful, you, as a recruiter, small business owner and HR professional, can leverage your people skills into creating a strong, high-quality candidate pool, a gift that keeps on giving.



Radhika Sarraf

Radhika Sarraf is a content specialist and a woman of many passions who currently works at HireQuotient, a leading recruitment SaaS company. She is a versatile writer with experience in creating compelling articles, blogs, social media posts, and marketing collaterals.

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