Unlike the “Field of Dreams” building a CANDIDATE PIPELINE is not a dream but a necessary component of your recruiting strategy.  

If your goal as a recruiter is to provide your employer with top talent and only top talent, starting from scratch each time you hire is not an option.  Using the once popular “post and pray”  method of finding great candidates, not only doesn’t work, but can waste a lot of time and resources along the way.

Pipelining, which involves proactively engaging with the employee community even when you’re not hiring,  is an essential step in all world class recruiting strategies.

This blog describes the candidate pipelining process, why it’s important, and offers up some pipelining how tos.      

What is a candidate pipeline?

A pipeline is the word recruiters use to describe a pool of qualified candidates who have the talent, skills and actual on the job work experience you need to fill current or future job openings.  In the ideal, a pipeline contains candidates you’ve already interviewed or otherwise vetted to be good fits for future jobs, but,  more practically, a pipeline is made up of candidates whose resumes and work histories appear to be good fits for the job openings you will be hiring for in the future.

Not all job candidates should be invited into your pipeline, but once invited (and accepted) pipeline candidates become part of your inner circle – candidates who you’re interacting with so that they will be ready to be more seriously engaged in your hiring process when the time is right.    A pipelined candidate is put into a “journey” where they get to  know who you are, who you employee, and hopefully continues to express interest in being hired – not today, but tomorrow.  Pipelining is a fancy way of identifying and staying in touch with candidates that you believe would be good hires in the future.

Why Pipelines Matter?

Hiring managers don’t always get a lot of notice when a job comes available.   An unexpected ‘quit”, a decision to terminate a problem employee – any number of scenarios can create a need to search the universe for new talent without a lot of notice, never at a good time!

When a new job becomes available, candidate pipelines are the perfect starting point.  Because a pipeline represents a pool of folks who already know who you are and have been nurtured by you to reinforce their interest in coming to work for you, they are typically ready to start your more thorough vetting process.  Pipelines allow you to…

How to Build a Candidate Pipeline?   

Once you’ve decided to build a candidate pipeline, there are some steps to go thru to create your pipelining strategy….

#1.  Identify Your Long and Short Term Hiring Needs – what kinds of jobs will you need to fill in the next 3 months?  the next 12 months?  sometime in the future?  What skills and work experiences will be essential to your company’s ability to achieve its goals?   What is the ideal profile of the candidates you need to hire – both hard and soft skills? More on your pre-recruit checklist here.


#2. Create your recruiting story.  Decide how it will be messaged. Refining your employer brand before you start to build a pipeline is a must and starts with answers to questions like…

It goes without saying that if you’ve got work to do re: your reputation as an employer you likely shouldn’t start the pipelining process until that issue is addressed.   All the pipelining in the world will not compel candidates to get engaged with you if your reputation as an employer has been tarnished in a marketplace where your reputation as an employer often gets put on full display.  Ask Glassdoor.  They will tell you that you don’t have to be a 5 star to be an attractive employer to the right candidate,  but anything below 3.5 stars is probably going to be a problem!  


#3. Determine what sources you will use to identify candidates for your pipeline.  There’s lots of options here….

    • Decide where the candidates you want to hire hang out. What job boards? What events? Make a point to go where the candidates you want to attract tend to congregate?
    • Sponsor “Open Houses “ or other information sharing formats that will allow you to share information about your company and future jobs without the pretext of having to hire now. Open houses are a great way to introduce yourself to potential employees who have made careers for themselves in the same industry as you or live close by.
    • Whenever you are hiring, make sure your postings describe future opportunities, not just the current opening. “We’re also going to be hiring several new administrative project leads over the next 12 months. If you’re an administrative professional looking for a step up,  check in with us today.”
    • Search thru social platforms such as Linked In to identify candidate profiles that are likely fits for future needs
    • Develop referral programs for your internal employees. Create your own tea of “recruiting ambassadors”
    • Attend or sponsor candidate networking events

The point here is to create an actual plan for building your data base of “possible candidates” – what we call candidate sourcing plans.

#4. Get started – make the calls!  When you’re pipelining for candidates, you won’t have a specific job you need to fill, but you will have a story you need to tell.  Make room to learn about potential candidates not just tell them about you.

“We’re not hiring today, but we plan to add new admin employees to our team  over the next 12 months.  Your background in software development is of interest to me.   I’d like to learn more about what you might be looking for in a job that would take you away from your current employer.” 

Remember, not all candidates you meet should be invited to join your pipeline but those you want to include need to be told so directly.

“I’m building up a data base of potential job candidates who I think would fit in well with our long term business plans.  Based on your resume and what you’ve told me about what is important to you about the kind of job you want to and where you work, Id like to retain your resume in a personal file that I will turn to first when job openings come available.   Does that work for you?” 

#5.  Keep in touch with the candidates in your pipeline. Once you get a candidate into your pipeline, nurturing them is the easy part.  Most of it can be done digitally either in a very personalized way to a small group of candidates in your pipeline or en masse to all candidates in your pipeline.

The goal of pipeline nurturing is to stay “top of mind” when it comes to future employment, particularly important with candidates who are currently employed.

#6. Track what works?  What doesn’t?  Once your pipeline is up and running it will need to be managed carefully.  As new candidates are added, some candidates hired, some candidates will need to be removed because their circumstance has changed and they are no longer available.  You’ll want to know what sourcing channels produce the most and best hires over time, what sourcing channels aren’t worth the time.  The analytics behind pipeline is what ensures its ongoing success.





Okay – I know all this pipelining stuff sounds like a lot of work.   We know the challenges of small to medium sized companies who simply can’t do all the things they know the people side of their business needs  done.  Most of our clients can barely find time to interview the hand selected candidates we refer them for hire, let alone have the time available to build and maintain a candidate pipeline.

How Can We Help?  

If this whole pipelining thing is starting to tip you over….you have one more option – a CALL to PACE! 

Helping you develop the candidate pipelines you need is what we do….

Keep in mind, there are no fees attached to our pipelining services……its our way of being there with the people solutions you need when you need them.

And the benefit to you?  Fast, easy access to candidates hand selected to be part of your pipeline, vetted to be the right fit for your jobs when its time to hire.

And because it’s PACE, not you, who does all the hard work of creating, nurturing, and maintaining your candidate pipelines, you get to spend more time on your core business.  After all you simply don’t have the bandwidth to worry about all the details of the people side of the business each and every day.  We do!

What could be faster? Better? Easier?  than working with PACE to build your candidate pipelines? 

For more information about our pipelining processes and our focus on the unique staffing and rcruiting needs of small to medium sized Northwest businesses,  we’d love to have a personal chat.

You can reach us by using the contact form below, emailing us at partnerservices@pacestaffing.com  or calling us at 425-637-3312.

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