How to build a talent pipeline for the future

Colleagues sitting at laptops.

One of the most strategic moves for any small business is to ensure a constant flow of skilled talent in their organisation. This is where building a talent pipeline is key; preparing for future needs and not just filling immediate vacancies. How do you go about building a talent pipeline for the future that supports your long-term business goals?

What is a talent pipeline?

A good talent pipeline results in a continuous stream of qualified candidates for present and future job openings.

Identify future business needs

The first step in building a solid talent pipeline is to understand the future needs of the business. This means strategic planning to identify the skills and roles that the business will require as it grows and evolves.

  1. Look at the business plan for the next five to ten years to identify key areas of expansion.
  2. This includes potential new markets or new products to launch.
  3. Match the specific talent requirements needed for each of these growth areas.

Analyse your current talent and identify gaps

A skills matrix or thorough inventory of your team’s skills and experiences will give you a holistic view of your current position. This will pinpoint gaps in skills that will be crucial for future growth. This exercise is not only useful in identifying these gaps, but also understanding the skills that are missing and which employees have the potential to be developed internally to meet future needs. Developing your internal team is considerably cheaper than recruiting a new one.

Succession planning

Another essential element when growing the business is succession planning. This involves identifying the key roles within the business that would need to be filled if staff were to leave. It’s crucial for operations, but also for boosting staff morale and productivity.

As part of the skills evaluation, identify the roles that are critical to the operation and success of the business and develop a plan for filling those roles internally. This typically involves training and preparing the next line of employees to step up when senior employees leave or retire.

Read our guide to succession planning.

Create opportunities for development

Once the gaps have been identified, the next step is to create the development opportunities to cater for these. These can include:

  • Professional development courses: based on their skills gaps / areas of employment.
  • Leadership training: to develop the next raft of senior managers in the business and ensure that HR processes are being followed correctly.
  • Mentoring and coaching: offering development opportunities drawing in the experience of more senior staff.

By developing your current workforce, employees can gain the skills and experience needed to fill critical roles as and when they become available.

Look at placement students and apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are a great way to bring young talent into the business and train them in the specific skills the business requires. What’s more, apprentices are more likely to stay and develop with the business – allowing you to build a workforce  from the ground up. Funding is also available for businesses taking on apprentices. Read our guide to hiring apprentices.

Placement students are also a great way to introduce resource to the business. Typically taking a year out from a university course, they can bring a fresh perspective and work across all aspects of the business to gain experience. Read our guide to hiring placement students and our interview with Bespoke HR’s placement student.

Build relationships with educational institutions

Many businesses have seen successful partnerships with universities and colleges. This doesn’t have to exclude small businesses, as these institutions can be a direct pipeline into talent specific to your industry.

Keep your social media platforms up to date

Not only is social media a useful recruitment tool, but it’s essential for showcasing your company and its culture. Regularly update your channels with information about your company culture, success stories and employee testimonials to attract potential candidates. Read our guide to using social media for recruitment.

Build a strong employer brand

Your employer brand reflects the values and culture of your company. Your employer brand is how your business is perceived by potential and current employers. A strong brand promotes a positive working environment, growth opportunities and employee welfare to attract high-quality candidates.

Regularly review your strategy

The job market is constantly evolving, so it’s essential to review and adjust your strategy regularly. This will ensure that your talent pipeline strategy aligns with your business objectives and market conditions. This could also involve reassessing the roles anticipated, the skills required, and the effectiveness of your strategies.

Engage your current workforce

It’s a great idea to involve existing employees in the pipeline building process. They can refer staff, get involved in community outreach or act as mentors and trainers during the onboarding process. Engaged and motivated employees are the best ambassadors for your business.

Start now by building the foundation for a resilient, future-proof workforce that will drive your business forward in years to come. Get in touch if you would like to know more.

Written by:

Nicky Mori
Managing Consultant, Retail, Leisure, Hospitality & Security - Nicky is a fully qualified CIPD professional who brings a wealth of knowledge and experience as a HR generalist. With over 10 years experience working within Senior HR roles in the service industry, Nicky’s expertise span over many HR disciplines including employee relations, recruitment, talent management and employee engagement.