How to Stay Ahead of Hiring by Building Up Your Talent Bench?

By Hardev Zala

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Timing is essential when it comes to recruiting candidates. Ideally, recruitment should be a continuous and planned process wherein recruiters source candidates on a regular basis so that they can have a great talent bench that can be utilized when the actual need arises. But most companies and recruiting teams have a reactionary approach to hiring rather than proactive. They frantically start searching for candidates only when a requirement arises and they are under pressure of deadlines.

However, the window of opportunity for hiring a talented candidate is so small that the last minute rush can result in unstructured job postings, resumes piling up and you praying that the perfect candidate finds you quickly. If you wait until the last minute to fill the position it might be too late. Chaos often results in such a situation wherein you end up taking hasty decisions by recruiting people who are good enough for now but do not have the requisite skills to make your organization grow. This results in a never-ending, vicious circle.

You can save yourself from facing such situations by having a bench of talented candidates in reserve waiting to be hired by you. These talented individuals need to be those who are already interviewed and vetted and not people who need to go through the screening process from scratch.

Think about recruitment, as a part of your daily activity. Even if you believe you have the “perfect” staff in place, it may not take much time for the scenario to change. Your business might expand, resulting in the need for additional staff. Someone might unexpectedly leave your organization for a better opportunity or even worse, one of your current team members might plan to stick around in your organization but perform below par. All these scenarios warrant the need for a planned recruitment process that does not settle for the second best talent.

Given below are the steps to building a talent bench strength that can help you stay ahead of the hiring game rather than playing catch up all the time.

1. Plan your recruitment needs in advance

In order to build an effective talent bench, it is important for you as an HR manager to know the manpower requirements of your organization, both current and future. Before you kick-start the process of building a talent bench it is important to understand the different roles that are extremely vital for the success of your organizational objectives.

By scrutinizing the future requirements of your organization and the critical roles that are vital to reaching the organizational objectives, you can prioritize where to concentrate your hiring efforts. It is also very crucial to visualize a scenario and think about what would happen if a crucial team member leaves the organization. If you have a suitable replacement readily available it showcases the current talent bench strength and vice versa. This is the best way to assure whether you are having an abundance of talent at bay or are facing the dearth of quality talent that can take over critical positions in your organization.

You also need to set up KPIs and monitor the success of your current talent bench strategy - turnover rate by a department, time to hire, offer-to-acceptance ratio, sources of hire and open jobs vs. filled jobs. For example, even if you are able to find a good candidate, if your offer-to-acceptance ratio is low, you may need to work on the pay package that you are offering or on your employer brand.

2. Attract the right talent through push or pull strategy

The next step is to attract the right talent which can be done successfully through a push or pull strategy. A push strategy is when organizations are trying to attract passive candidates who are interested in the job but are not actively looking to join your organization. One way to successfully attract passive candidates through push strategy is by posting your jobs in social media or actively sourcing candidates on LinkedIn.

While a pull strategy is effective when the candidates are actively searching for jobs. The best way to attract the right talent through pull strategy is by promoting your jobs on a job board, career website, etc. Use a good recruitment software to automate your tasks as much as possible and become more productive. Your employer brand is key for both push and pull strategy to work. It also assists the right talent to self-select your organization as a target employer for their next career step.

3. Use the right mix of internal and external candidates to find the right talent

Irrespective of the industry you are working in, your talent bench should comprise of the right mix of internal and external candidates. Initiate the process by building a talent bench of internal candidates who have the potential to succeed in any role or take on a new role as the organization grows. The vital thing is to recognize their talent gaps which can be improved through the right training approach. This can be done through a talent review session throughout the organization.

You can search for external talent by participating in:

  • Networking events;
  • Joining industry groups on LinkedIn and pushing your organization’s news as a news feed, congratulating key members in achieving a career milestone, or wishing them a happy birthday;
  • Recruitment campaigns like graduate campuses and roadshows;
  • Take advantage of your existing contacts by encouraging employee referral programs and making them share any jobs in their own channels and giving incentive to those who refer high-quality talent.

4. Evaluate the talent for future recruitment needs

Once you have built your talent bench, the next step is to evaluate their potential to fill critical positions. The assessment can be done based on qualitative and quantitative needs by answering some of these questions:

  1. What are the particular skill sets and expertise required by the candidates to succeed in critical positions in the near future?
  2. What are the challenges they can face in the near future?
  3. Which experiences can help them overcome these challenges?
  4. What specific knowledge do they need to acquire to succeed?

Answer these questions by discussing with your hiring committee and top executives and refer back to them while evaluating the candidates in your talent bench.

5. Address skill gaps and provide ongoing training opportunities for development

The process of building your talent bench does not end once you evaluate the talent for future recruitment needs. It is an ongoing process which requires constant upgrading from the talent bench in order to succeed in crucial positions in the near future.

Devise a program through which you can identify the skill gaps and correct their skills through ongoing training for further development. This can be done with the help of cross-functional experiences, internal assignment opportunities both nationally and globally along with internal and external coaching.

You can even create a regional or a global leadership development program or conduct dedicated executive training programs. While devising the program ensure that you develop a brand identity which can be communicated widely so that all the participants are aware of this initiative. This is one of the best ways to differentiate your employer brand which can become a key factor in attracting future talent to your organization.

6. Set KPIs and monitor the overall receptivity of the talent bench strategy

After providing successful training opportunities to the talent bench the last step is to evaluate the overall receptivity of your talent bench strategy. This can be done with the help of KPIs for different areas.

For example; if you want to measure the effectiveness of your employer brand when it comes to creating a talent bench, you can do that by measuring the number of unsolicited expressions of interests received for crucial roles. If you want to measure the effectiveness of the development programs it can be done by measuring the employee turnover rates.

Make it a habit to review the outcomes every quarterly, half-yearly or annually. Based on the outcomes you can adjust your model to ensure that your talent bench continues to have a major impact on your business needs.


Building your talent bunch is a continuous process. Never stop even if you feel you have enough candidates for your organization. Always think about the future. You never know when you will strike gold while getting in touch with a new candidate.


About The Author

Shiv Kumar Pandey is the Marketing Head of Talentnow RecruitX, a leading Applicant Tracking System for recruitment agencies with more than 1000 customers from across the globe. Shiv specializes in technology marketing and writes about various aspects of recruitment technology.

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