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Why You Should Be Building Proactive Recruiting Pipelines

Shaun Ricci

April 3, 2018

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About 5 years ago, I had the opportunity to talk to some executives at one of the biggest technical recruiting firms in North America. They pointed me towards one of their recruiters, who was generating more money for the firm than anyone, as well as bigger placements.

proactive recruiting pipeline

The funny thing was, though, she never worked on open requisitions, which was the strategy of 99% of the recruiters employed by the firm. Instead, she simply had built an amazing proactive pipeline, while it definitely took time – now she was just reaping the rewards of said proactive pipeline.

What is proactive recruiting?

In the simplest terms, proactive recruitment is the process of identifying and engaging with candidates long before a position comes open – they’re not actually “candidates” at that point. Rather, they’re people with skill sets in a given geographic area and job role, and you build relationships with them.

That way, when a position is available (when headcount is granted and a salary band is determined), you have a proactive recruiting pipeline of people who can fill the role quickly and, more importantly, will be good in the role.

This is important for a lot of reasons.

Time to hire 

Time to hire can be a damning metric in talent acquisition, but it means a lot — especially in tech roles with road map-driven strategy. You need the right people to start the first project, which leads into the second project, etc.

If you have a proactive recruiting pipeline, you will significantly reduce time to hire. You can often get someone in a role in the same work week (M-F) as the position officially becomes open.

You reduce the hassles of a standard hiring process 

Such as trying to schedule interviews, getting lots of different stakeholders on the same page, and weeding through the dozens of unqualified resumes.

You just see that X-position is open, turn to your pipeline, see that Candidate A is a fit, approach Candidate A, and start working on the terms of the contract.

Is it always that easy? No. There will be hiccups. But it’s a lot easier and more strategic than a “post and pray” approach many organizations still take.

It’s more relationship-driven

Decisions driven by and built on relationships are going to last longer. A standard hiring process is more transactional: candidate gets together their info, applies, goes through the steps, maybe becomes an employee.

Proactive pipelines are rooted in relationships built over many years and different networking events, conferences, etc. There’s more stickiness to it, which can lead to better output (who wants to let down someone they’ve been talking to for years professionally?)

Why aren’t more people doing proactive recruiting?

At that example above, only one recruiter was building a pipeline proactively – and she was significantly more successful than her peers.

Why don’t more people do it?

Simple: time. Proactive relationships take time to build. You need to:

  • Attend networking events
  • Attend industry trade shows
  • Ask for introductions
  • Personalize your content to job boards and resume databases
  • Take people to lunch, dinner, etc.

It takes a lot of time. And many people don’t have that time, because there’s stuff that needs to get down now, like:

  • Screening
  • Sourcing
  • Meetings
  • Conference calls
  • Logistics
  • Budgets

The task work, which is necessary, interferes with the actual work, which would be strategic. That’s a problem.

Can we solve it? Yes.

And the easiest approach is to take that second list of bullets – the stuff that makes you busy and prevents you from being proactive – and automate it.

That’s the great promise of automation. It’s not about taking jobs away so much as freeing up people to do more valuable work.

Let machine learning and AI handle more top-of-funnel sourcing – and spend less time staring at resumes.

When you get back that time, invite someone to lunch and develop a relationship. Maybe they love their current job. Maybe you have nothing for them right now. But that all might change in a few months. The market and business world are very unpredictable right now.

You use automation to get more time. Then you use the time to be more strategic. That’s how you replace “doing stuff” with “being valuable.”