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Talent pipelining without a workforce plan: Rabbit’s foot or four leaf clover?

Workforce planning can be a daunting task. When I hear the term, I envision bulging spreadsheets, deep analytics, and endless meetings. But don't let that stop you, because it doesn't have to be that way. Granted, the larger your organization, the greater the complexity.

For smaller, less complex organizations it's equally, if not more, crucial to know what skills and qualities are required for your workforce. A bad hire for a growing business could mean the difference between success and failure.

Once your workforce plan is in place, you can start pipelining talent. Everyone's plan is different, as each is aligned with current and future business goals, leadership requirements, and more.

I hear a lot about talent pipelining these days, and it's not just because I work in recruitment process outsourcing. Whenever the topic comes up, I wonder what the organization's workforce plan looks like. After all, don't you need to know what qualities and competencies you are looking for when attracting potential employees? Realistically, you don't know exactly how many staff members you'll need, but you can definitely figure out your potential employee profile, and build your talent communities.

What is a talent community? There are varying definitions, but generally speaking, it's a targeted group of individuals attracted to and interested in your industry, company, employment brand, and content. These community members can opt-in and out, and potentially interact with you and other members of the community.

If you're building those talent communities, then the plan (including ideal candidate profile and business objectives) is crucial for attracting potential employees AND keeping them engaged after the hire.

The point is, if you are building talent communities (and you should be) without a workforce plan in place, you're shooting in the dark. Scaling your internal recruitment resources and executing your recruitment strategy effectively becomes increasingly difficult. Then, when you go to draw talent from the community you've built, you may find the most qualified candidates aren't there.

The financial and employment brand costs can also quickly escalate if you're not continuously assessing required leadership, cultural fit, and skills necessary to meet your company's stated business objectives. Companies that don't have a strategic plan and business objectives aligned with their talent plan better have a rabbit's foot or four leaf clover stashed away somewhere.

This post was written by Doug Lubin, a successful Recruitment Process Outsourcing (RPO) Practice Leader and Consultant, who brings over a decade of expertise building sustainable solutions for clients and partners.  Doug helps firms develop high performing talent acquisition and management strategies locally and globally.  Learn more about Doug.

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