The days when droves of qualified candidates consistently clamor at your door are over. Predicted labor shortages and a lack of skilled workers means talent acquisition must become smarter, faster and more affordable. One way to recruit more efficiently is to build a talent pool, which gives you access to top talent with just a couple of keystrokes, keeping high-quality candidates at your fingertips.

What is a Talent Pool?

A talent pool is a database consisting of candidates who have shown interest in your company. These candidates may have been runners-up to a position you posted or had skill sets that, at the time, didn’t quite match an existing role. Others may be interested in your company but have never applied for a position (think passive candidates). Talent pools are filled using an applicant tracking system (ATS) that saves all submitted resumes, and also through employee referrals or even from your current workforce, otherwise known as an internal talent pool.

Internal Talent Pools

An internal talent pool is made up of candidates currently employed at your organization. These employees have skills and competencies that could fill internal positions. For example, if your company has a need for a project manager or a specialized IT position, an internal talent pool allows HR and managers to look within to determine if you already employ a candidate with these skills. One of the easiest ways to track the skills and competencies of your employees is by using a performance management or learning management system. These systems provide managers with a clear picture of what skills employees have and are working  to achieve.

Why Build a Talent Pool?

Building a talent pool contributes to a robust recruiting strategy. The more candidates you already have in your pipeline, the easier and cheaper it will be to fill positions. Talent pools help you achieve the following objectives.

  • Reduce your time to hire. Time to hire is the length of time it takes to hire a new employee. A tremendous amount of time is saved when HR doesn’t need to source all candidates from scratch or review hundreds of resumes (remember you’ve likely seen these candidates’ resumes before).
  • Reduce your cost to hire. Recruiting and hiring top talent is expensive. Cost to hire has been estimated at $4,000 per employee or even 12 to 25% of the employee’s annual income. Any point in the candidate journey where costs can be saved is a win for both HR and budgets.
  • Promote your brand. Every time you reach out or touch base with candidates, it’s an opportunity to promote your brand. Building your brand can help grow your company. Be sure to keep all social, marketing and web materials cohesive, reinforcing your message.

How to Build a Talent Pool

Now that you know why you need to build a talent pool, the next step is the how.

Figure out where you stand. 

Before you start building a talent pool, you need to look at your strategic goals and figure out what competencies and skills are required to meet those goals. Do you need more employees with critical thinking skills or maybe more leaders? Keep in mind, you may already employ workers with the skills you need. SHRM suggests using performance reviews, assessments, multi-rater feedback and interviews to help in your quest of tapping your internal talent pool. Once you identify what you have and where you have gaps, you can fill your talent pool with the right matches.

Implement several sourcing strategies. 

Sourcing is different from recruiting as it focuses on simply getting candidates to apply. Sourcing will help fill your talent pool with both active and passive candidates, even when there are no positions to fill.

Use your ATS. 

An ATS not only automatically posts your job description but it tracks every applicant who applied for the position. That information—name, state, zip code, email, resume, etc.—all gets stored in a candidate database that can be viewed, reviewed and searched at any time. Starting your search in your system saves time and  money and builds on the relationship that already exists with past candidates.

Lean on your employees. 

Referrals are an awesome tool to fill your talent pool. According to LinkedIn, referrals are the number one way people discover new jobs. An employee referral program (ERP) encourages employees to recommend and recruit qualified potential candidates from their personal and professional networks. Get the most of an ERP by continually reminding employees about the program and explain about what you’re looking for in ideal candidates. Referred candidates who don’t quite fit the bill for a current position should definitely be added to your talent pool.

Plan a Meet and Greet. 

Career and job fairs, even those done virtually, feature face-to-face meet up which are invaluable for adding potential candidates to your pool. Even if you walk away (or log off) without finding a perfect match for an open position, the new relationships a face-to-face meeting allows you to form are priceless.

Be spectacular on social. 

Your company’s social presence is the one area where candidates can really get an idea of what you’re all about. A great social presence shares your company culture and engages your audience. Not only are social channels instrumental to post open positions but the real value comes from the passive candidates you attract. Engaging, consistent content like videos, blog posts and e-newsletters will make passive candidates stop and look at your company. Then, you can invite passive candidates to enter your talent pipeline for future positions.

Create a learning and development plan. 

A strong learning and development plan will only make your talent pool stronger. It might be difficult or impossible to find candidates who have everything you’re looking for and that’s where learning and development comes into play. Internal and external training and learning go a long way towards building a highly successful team.

recruiting tips

How to Maintain a Talent Pool

Once you build a talent pool, it doesn’t just run by itself. It needs to be maintained and watched over, just like a regular pool (no one wants stagnant water).

Get to know your talent pool. 

Regularly browse your talent pool, staying up-to-date on who is in it and the skills they possess. Knowing your pool frontwards and backwards means when a position or need does arise, you’ll know exactly where to start.

Perform exit interviews for employees. 

Employees quit, it happens, but that doesn’t mean they were unhappy: opportunities present themselves every day. Performing exit interviews for each employee helps you leave the door open for a possible return. Add these exiting employees to your talent pool.

Update your internal talent’s abilities. 

If you’ve implemented a learning and development plan, it makes sense that your current employees’ skills will always be evolving. Be sure your talent pool reflects that. It’s a lot easier to fill a difficult position quickly if the perfect candidate is already working for your company.

Keep your pool engaged. 

Promoting your brand helped hook your candidates, don’t stop posting relevant content just because you’ve reeled them in. Engaging your talent pool through social posts, blogs, emails and newsletters keeps your company on their radar. DigitalHRTech suggests identifying what stage some of your pool’s candidates are in and targeting content directly to them. Are they ready to be hired or just browsing? A helpful piece about your industry could swing them one way or another.

Examples of Great Talent Pools

Water always takes the path of least resistance and so should you when building your talent pool. Looking at what some other companies are doing can help guide you along your own process.


Spotify fills its talent pool with the younger generation. It’s Join the Band program gives students information on programs they can get involved in before graduation. Internships, mentorships and co-ops engage this vital employee group early.


McKinsey makes it a point to remain connected to former employees. The company’s Alumni Center keeps former consultants engaged with the firm, its knowledge and each other. The site allows alumni to sustain the professional relationships they started at the company as well as developing their skills and careers.


PwC divides its talent pool into two categories: entry level and experienced. This shallow-end, deep-end idea allows like-minded candidates to stay connected with each other. It also gives recruiters an edge when they need to fill a position.

Thompson Construction Group

The Thompson Construction Group Talent Network allows those in construction to stay on top of available positions. Members are encouraged to not only apply for positions that would be a good fit but share opportunities on social media.

The great thing about talent pools is they can be adjusted to fit your company’s size and needs. Companies with high turnover will need a deep talent pool but others may a smaller pool. The most important point to remember is to keep your candidates engaged so when you do need to call upon them, they’ll be more susceptible to your offer.

Arcoro’s Applicant Tracking Software tracks and stores every candidate that’s ever applied for a position with your company. With an ATS, building a talent pool could be done in a couple of steps. Take a deep dive into how the solution works by scheduling a demo today.