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Welcome to this blog post, a companion piece to our latest Coffee Mornings podcast episode 15. This episode, hosted by Northreach CEO Sam Ingram and senior recruitment consultant Robbie Blake, explores building talent pipelines, an increasingly important topic in today’s dynamic business world. So, grab your coffee, get comfortable, and let’s explore the insights and wisdom shared by our talent experts.

In our previous episode, “Talent War,” we tackled the escalating battle for top talent and explored strategies for businesses to thrive in this fiercely competitive landscape. Today, we’re diving into a topic that’s not only important but essential in this era of cutthroat talent acquisition – building robust talent pipelines.

In today’s hyperactive and ever-changing business environment, having the right talent at the right time isn’t just a goal; it’s a necessity for success. As discussed in our last episode, the ongoing talent war has created unprecedented challenges for companies looking to attract and retain skilled professionals. According to a study by Korn Ferry, the world could be facing a staggering human talent shortage of over 85 million people by 2030. That’s a crisis looming on the horizon. Furthermore, this talent shortage could translate into a jaw-dropping $8.5 trillion in untapped annual revenues by 2030. It’s a wake-up call for businesses to start future-proofing themselves against these impending talent shortages.

“Your talent pipeline is your lifeline to success. It’s not just about hiring; it’s about investing in your people’s growth and securing your organisation’s future.” – Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant

Defining talent pipelines

So, what exactly is a talent pipeline? At its core, it’s a reservoir of potential candidates that organisations can tap into to fill their vacancies. These candidates may include individuals who’ve expressed interest in the company, previous applicants, or even current employees groomed for future roles.

“It’s almost like being first to market, i.e., the market being your candidate, and actually giving them a sense of your company before they’re interested…Start putting the groundwork in now and actually identifying that talent in the market.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach

Building a strong talent pipeline isn’t just about plugging immediate staffing gaps. It’s about having a proactive strategy in place to ensure your organisation possesses the talent necessary to meet its long-term strategic objectives. This is especially critical given the unpredictability of market dynamics, evolving skill requirements, and the looming spectre of talent shortages.

“According to a study by Korn Ferry, by 2030, there could be a global human talent shortage of more than 85 million people. You don’t always need 85 million people in your books all the time, but if you have people in your industry in your talent CRM/ATS pipelined, you can immediately go to them and figure out how to fill those gaps faster when someone leaves. Rather than going reactive with scaling, you’re proactive and have the people there.”- Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant

The proactive management of a talent pipeline can yield immense benefits. It streamlines the hiring process, reduces the time and effort required to fill positions, and, perhaps most importantly, ensures business continuity. Beyond these operational advantages, a robust talent pipeline can also bolster your company’s reputation as an employer of choice. This makes your organisation more appealing to top talent and gives you a competitive edge in the relentless talent war.

In this blog, we’ll explore the strategies for building and maintaining effective talent pipelines and we’ll draw insights from businesses that have successfully fortified their talent pipelines.

Understanding talent pipelines

Sam and Robbie brilliantly lay out the concept of talent pipelines and their pivotal role in strategic talent management. As we discussed in a previous Coffee Mornings episode, the concept of a talent pipeline is firmly rooted in strategic talent management. This broader process encompasses the identification, attraction, development, and retention of employees to meet both current and future business needs. The talent pipeline plays a pivotal role in this process by ensuring your organisation maintains a steady stream of qualified candidates, ready to step into roles as they become available.

Benefits of a robust talent pipeline

Let’s explore the substantial benefits that a strong and well-planned talent pipeline can bring to your organisation:

Addressing the talent shortage crisis

The ongoing talent war has created an alarming scenario where the demand for skilled professionals far outpaces the supply. Consider these startling statistics from a recent survey by Manpower Group:

– 54% of global employers reported difficulty filling open positions, and 69% of employers believe the talent shortage impacts their ability to meet client needs.

A well-maintained talent pipeline is a strategic solution to mitigate this risk.

Proactive recruitment with data-driven results

A talent pipeline transcends the reactive approach of dealing with vacancies as they occur. Instead, it follows a proactive path. A report by LinkedIn talent solutions reveals:

– Companies with a strong talent pipeline reduce their time-to-fill open positions by 32%.

This data underscores the power of proactively identifying and nurturing potential candidates.

“Proactive recruitment is here to stay. You can’t get away from that passive approach.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach

Strategic workforce planning for long-term success

Effective talent pipelines enable organisations to anticipate future talent needs based on their business objectives. The Harvard Business review’s research shows companies that use data-driven workforce planning are three times more likely to achieve higher profitability and market share.

Elevating hiring quality and retention

Engaging with candidates proactively allows you to seek out high-quality individuals who align with your company’s unique culture. According to a study by Glassdoor, companies with a strong employer brand have a 50% higher chance of attracting employees who are a better fit for their organisations.

Ensuring business continuity

Vacancies, particularly in critical roles, can disrupt business operations. IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute found organisations with robust succession planning, a key component of talent pipelines, experience greater revenue growth and higher profits.

Cost efficiency in talent acquisition

While building a talent pipeline requires an initial investment, it results in substantial long-term cost savings. A report by SHRM estimates the cost of replacing an employee can range from six to nine months of their salary. Talent pipelines significantly reduce these costs.

Strategies for building talent pipelines

Building a talent pipeline is a proactive and strategic endeavour. It involves identifying, engaging, and nurturing potential candidates before positions even become vacant. Here, we’ll explore some strategies that organisations can employ to craft strong talent pipelines.

Proactive recruitment

Proactive recruitment is the cornerstone of any effective talent pipeline strategy. According to LinkedIn’s Global recruiting trends report, a staggering 61% of recruiters believe that proactive recruitment is pivotal to building a talent pipeline. This approach involves identifying and engaging with potential candidates through networking, industry events, and leveraging social media and professional networking platforms.

” We kind of spoke about it. It’s the speed of things – how quickly you need to move. If you’re starting from scratch every time, think of all that time that you’re wasting trying to build up that portfolio that platform with people that you can reach out to… So, be proactive in your approach, it makes more sense, doesn’t it? That’s what gives you an edge.” – Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant.

Internal talent development

Investing in internal talent development is a powerful way to strengthen your talent pipeline. Data from Gallup underscores this: organisations that prioritise employee development are twice as likely to retain their employees. We explored this extensively in our previous Coffee Mornings episodes on ‘Upskilling‘ and ‘Skills Taxonomy,’ emphasising the importance of nurturing talent from within your organisation.

Sam and Robbie are of the opinion that investing in internal talent development and upskilling for future roles is a more cost-effective approach than hiring externally.

“How can we help people already in the business that have got 5 out of 10, to grow to higher grade? Rather than having to go external and pay someone… think about the cost to hire for that individual person. It’s certainly more cost-effective to train internal workforce for future roles than hiring externally” – Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant

Succession planning

Succession planning is about grooming future leaders within your organisation. It’s not just a good practice; it’s vital for business continuity.

“It’s like, okay, who’s the successors and who are their successors, and how can we continue to upskill internally and fill future roles more effectively from within?” – Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant

But shockingly, a survey by the National Association of Corporate Directors found that only 14% of companies feel they have a strong pipeline for all their executive positions. This highlights the pressing need for organisations to focus on succession planning.

Partnerships with educational institutions

Collaborating with educational institutions can be a goldmine for entry-level talent. According to a report by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), 90% of employers find recruiting students directly from educational institutions to be an effective strategy for finding new hires. This involves activities like internships, job fairs, and sponsoring student projects or competitions.

Employee referral programs

Leveraging your employees’ networks can yield high-quality candidates.

“Referral programs… I think it’s criminal not having one of these.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach

Employee referral programs are effective in not only finding talent but also ensuring they are a good cultural fit.

“Good people don’t refer tripe.” – Robbie Blake, Senior Recruitment Consultant

These programs can be game-changers, as referred candidates often become long-term employees who thrive within the company.

“With referrals, they tend to be more sticky. I’d hire them in a heartbeat.” – Sam Ingram, CEO of Northreach

Alumni networks

Former employees who parted on good terms can also be a rich source of talent. By maintaining relationships with these individuals, organisations can potentially rehire them in the future or receive referrals for other skilled professionals. The value of this network should not be underestimated.

Talent pools

Creating talent pools from previous applicants or interviewees who were not hired is a proactive approach. These individuals have already expressed interest in your company and may be suitable for future roles. This strategy can significantly reduce recruitment timelines.

Industry partnerships

Partnering with industry associations or groups can open doors to a pool of professionals in your field. These partnerships offer opportunities for networking and promoting your company’s employer brand, which can attract top talent within your industry.

Online communities

Online communities, such as industry forums and professional networking sites, have become treasure troves of potential candidates. Actively participating in these communities not only helps organisations promote their employer brand but also connects them with professionals interested in future opportunities.

Freelancer and contractor relationships

Don’t overlook past freelancers and contractors. They’ve already demonstrated their skills and fit with your company culture. Data shows that many of these individuals may be interested in full-time roles if they become available.

Future-proofing your talent pipeline: Adapting to change

In the ever-evolving landscape of business needs and market conditions, future-proofing your talent pipeline is the key to ensuring it remains not just relevant but also highly effective. Rapid changes, driven by technological advancements, economic shifts, and industry trends, demand a proactive approach to staying ahead of the curve. Here’s how to navigate these shifting tides:

Follow the Educate-Plan-Iterate principle.

Stay informed

The first step in future-proofing your talent pipeline is staying well-informed. This means keeping a close eye on industry trends and forecasts, enabling you to anticipate your future talent needs with precision. Accessing up-to-date data and market insights is crucial. Consider this: 78% of HR leaders say that workforce analytics are essential for their organisation’s success, according to a report by Deloitte.

Flexible planning

Flexibility is the hallmark of a robust talent pipeline. As business needs and market conditions fluctuate, be prepared to adjust your talent pipeline strategies accordingly. This might involve shifting your focus towards different skills, roles, or sourcing strategies. To put it into perspective, 67% of executives believe that their company’s future success depends on the ability to adapt to industry changes, according to a PwC survey.

Continuous learning

In an environment characterised by constant change, fostering a culture of continuous learning and development within your organisation is essential. This empowers your workforce to adapt to changing roles and responsibilities seamlessly. It’s a strategy that pays off – organisations that invest in employee development are 45% more likely to be seen as a great place to work, as per the LinkedIn Workplace Learning Report.

Future-proofing your talent pipeline isn’t just about predicting what lies ahead; it’s about actively shaping your workforce to thrive in an ever-changing landscape. By staying informed, remaining flexible, and prioritising continuous learning, your talent pipeline will not just survive, but it will thrive, even in the face of uncertainty.

The crucial role of ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ in future-proofing talent pipelines

In today’s dynamic business landscape, diversity and inclusion (D&I) aren’t just buzzwords; they’re integral to future-proofing talent pipelines. A diverse and inclusive workforce isn’t just a checkbox on your HR agenda – it’s a catalyst for innovation, better decision-making, and enhanced business performance. Here’s why D&I is your secret weapon for future-proofing your talent pipeline:

A wider talent pool

Embracing D&I opens doors to a broader talent pool. In the ongoing talent war, this expanded reach can make all the difference. Data from a McKinsey report drives this point home: companies in the top quartile for racial and ethnic diversity are 35% more likely to have financial returns above their respective national industry medians. In other words, by fostering diversity, you gain access to a wealth of untapped talent, enriching your talent pipeline.

An enhanced employer brand

Commitment to D&I isn’t just an internal policy; it’s an external statement of your company’s values. This resonates with job seekers. A Glassdoor survey highlights that 67% of job seekers consider a diverse workforce important when evaluating job offers. By prioritising D&I, you enhance your employer brand, making your company more appealing to a diverse array of candidates. This not only attracts top talent but also ensures they’re more likely to stay and thrive within your organisation.

Driving better business performance

The advantages of a diverse workforce extend beyond talent acquisition. Diverse teams lead to better business performance, which is vital for staying competitive in an ever-evolving market. Data from a BCG study speaks volumes: companies with more diverse management teams experience a 19% higher revenue due to innovation. In essence, diversity fuels innovation, which, in turn, drives growth and future-proofs your business.


In the world of business, one constant remains: change. The ability to navigate these changes successfully hinges on your organisation’s capacity to adapt and innovate. And at the heart of this adaptability lies your talent pipeline.

As we wrap up this exploration of building future-ready talent pipelines, let’s reiterate the key takeaways:

– Talent pipelines are the bedrock of strategic talent management. They’re not just about filling roles; they’re about ensuring your organisation is prepared for whatever the future holds.

– Proactive strategies matter. Being ahead of the curve is how you combat talent shortages, accelerate hiring, improve quality, and ensure business continuity.

– Diversity and inclusion aren’t just buzzwords; they’re strategic assets. Embracing D&I opens up wider talent pools, enhances your employer brand, and drives innovation, setting you on a path to future success.

– Adaptability is key. To future-proof your talent pipeline, stay informed, remain flexible in your planning, and promote a culture of continuous learning.

Remember, as Sam and Robbie state:

“Building a talent pipeline is not just about finding the right people for today; it’s about creating a sustainable workforce for the future.”

Investing in your talent pipeline is not just a strategy; it’s a commitment to your organisation’s future. At Northreach, we understand the importance of proactive recruitment, upskilling, and maintaining a strong network of top talent. If you’re ready to take your talent acquisition and management to the next level, we’re here to help. Reach out to us today to explore how we can collaborate in building a robust talent pipeline that ensures your continued success. Let’s shape your future workforce together.