What is a talent pool?

A talent pool is a selection of outstanding candidates or employees, trained to fill positions within a company. When hiring externally, talent pools include qualified candidates interested in working at the company, and when hiring internally, talent pools include high performing and high potential employees who’re ready to assume greater responsibility within the company.

Why should HR leaders care about a talent pool?

A talent pool can promote a smooth hiring process by:

  • Streamlining high-potential employees to open roles
  • Reducing time to hire 
  • Reducing cost to hire

Talent pools enable HR managers to funnel employees into the appropriate roles, without missing a beat. They help HR avoid passively waiting for a quality candidate to apply, or having to retrain an employee on short notice. It’s a time investment to build and maintain a talent pool, yet it allows HR to be ready for expected, and unexpected, personnel changes. Preparing for the unknown by training a reserve of employees is crucial to succeeding in the constantly changing work landscape, and specifically within rapidly transforming industries.

What can HR leaders do to establish a successful talent pool?

Similar to a parent who meal-preps ready-to-eat dinners in advance, HR leaders can build a talent pool of “ready-made,” employees. HR leaders should assess the demands of their company’s current and (possible) future job vacancies. HR consultant Sharalyn Lauby recommends that HR leaders implement these practices to create and maintain a talent pool when hiring internally:

  • Review the strategic plan. HR should reexamine the methods devised during the workforce planning phase. This lays the foundation for creating and integrating a talent pool. HR leaders can also compile a list of essential employee skills and characteristics that align with the job demands and enable the organization to follow through with their plan.
  • Identify talent gaps. Determine the competencies needed for each position, and compare them with employees’ current skills, knowledge, and abilities. Evaluate the areas of overlap between employees’ competencies and the job demands, and assess the gaps. 
  • Train employees to close the gaps. Managers can administer coaching and mentorship sessions to raise the level of employees’ competencies. HR leaders can integrate peer-to-peer feedback for employees to exchange honest, constructive ideas that promote improvement and successful practices. 
  • Discuss plans with employees. HR leaders should check in with employees to ensure that they’d like to continue in the talent pool process. HR can discuss with employees how to incorporate their career goals into the plan. 
  • Audit and adjust the talent pool strategy. HR leaders should routinely evaluate the strategy to ensure it aligns with the company’s goals and the swiftly changing job market.

How can a talent pool improve company culture?

Building and maintaining a talent pool can strengthen a company’s workforce– improving their skills, giving them greater responsibilities, and tightening interpersonal bonds as they work towards a common goal. Training and developing employees can promote a culture of engaged employees, motivated to actualize their potentials while contributing to company success.