The Ultimate Recruiter: Pipelining

Written by Nick Curtin

*The Ultimate Recruiter is a series of articles that investigates the key aspects of a successful recruiter – breaking down the ‘why’ and answering the ‘how.’ This week we dive head first into Pipelining.


“Ole’ Reliable” – a term of endearment that is bestowed upon living things and inanimate objects alike that provide a steady service to the user. For myself, “Ole’ reliable” was a car, not just any car, but a 1997 Plymouth Breeze. The year was 2005; I had just received my license and was in need of a sweet ride. My Uncle knowingly called me on the same day and offered the Breeze for $1 – it came with over 200,000 miles and a rickety engine, but I knew it would get me from “A to B” and it was going to be all mine. Initially, she (personification engaged) was known as “The Grapevine” for it radiated it’s purple hue in all directions, but after years of dedicated service and nary a incident to it’s record – she earned the title “Ole’ Reliable.” Nonetheless, as I made my way down a steep, snowcapped hill one evening, the brakes gave out. I slide all they way down, off the road, and directly into tree.  To the old bird’s credit, I was unharmed in the accident, but I was filled with a deep remorse because I knew she was beyond saving. Prior to that night, no service report had ever indicated an error in the line; it was hard for me to accept that sometimes even reliable things can fall through. That lesson has stuck with me ever since, and it is a lesson I feel obliged to share with you and the staffing world.

Even the most reliable talent pools stand the risk of drying up. The stock market at best is reliably, unreliable as it animorphs between bull and bear. Therefore it is important as recruiters that we take steps to ensure that our applicant tracking system (ATS) is always stocked with a host of quality talent.

1. The first step is creating specified talent pipelines. Specifications of the pipeline can range from fields, experience levels, and even explicit client pipelines.

  • Those veteran recruiters who staffed prior to the age of the Internet (scary to think about nowadays) will recall a similar approach as keeping an “Availability List.”  Who is working, who is not, and the job requirements for each individual.

2. The second step is to open a search for several of your biggest needs among job banks (Career Builder, Monster, Indeed) and social media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook) and start filling your pipeline.  I am not just referring to active candidates, but passive and prospective candidates as well.

  • To exploit the oft-used restaurant analogy – it does not matter whether they plan on ordering, gawking at the menu, or merely walking past the restaurant itself. Eventually, they are going to eat and when they get that craving, you will be ready to serve them some delectable options.

3. The third and most important step is effective communication. This begins by routinely reaching out (weekly, monthly, yearly) and establishing contact with the candidates via email or phone call.

  • During step 3 it is necessary to collect information about each individual – salary, job types, commutable distances, travel and populate that into their profile.  Furthermore, at this stage you can “G2” the candidates – inquiring where they are interviewing and the rates they were given at those companies.

Pipelining is vital to your success as a recruiter not only as it prepares you for the harsh times, but it will also allows you to select the best person for the job among the depth you have acquired. Running a search with key terms via some job bank is not enough anymore – clients want the best fit, not just a person that can do the job. The clients do not care how we do it and they certainly do not want to hear some sob story about how you tried. This desire for the “perfect” candidate is fueled by the idea (however misinformed) that because we have the Internet or a LinkedIn profile, that have access to the millions upon millions of job seekers out there. You know what? That’s not their problem. It is our problem.

Initially, the pipeline will yield very little results, but as time goes on and the list of candidates becomes larger so to does its value. As Confucius say, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a solitary step.” So stop depending solely on those job banks and start building your pipelines

Not too mention – once you have built your pipelines, you get to experience that “Don Draper” cool, confident feeling when that your client contacts you about a requirement and your response is, “you will have 10 qualified candidates within the hour.”


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