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May 29, 2018
This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.

This is a continuation of the series, The Vision of Pipeline Sourcing

 Identifying “Critical Roles” to pipeline

In a perfect world, we would have unlimited resources to build pipelines for EVERY opening that could potentially come available. This isn’t realistic, efficient and wouldn’t get the return on investment (ROI) to make it worthwhile.

How do you identify your organizations “critical roles”?

  • Ask the business leaders,
  • Ask the HRBP’s or,
  • Guess?

None of the above is the answer.

If you chose the first two options, you might feel it would be better to guess. I know, I am probably going against the norm of what talent acquisition should be doing.

Talent acquisition should be asking what the business wants and then respond to their request.

Let’s pause on this for a moment. If talent acquisition is responsible for being a strategic and consultative partner; why would we go to the business when we possess the current and historical data in hand? We must step up and be that partner to the organization.

How is this done? It depends on where talent acquisition wants to make the most significant impact on the organization while aligning the pipelined talent with the organizations largest needs.

Some ideas?

  • Highest volume external hires?
  • Roles with high time to hire?
  • Geographically where most of the roles are located?
  • The roles with the most prominent financial impact on the bottom line?
  • Tenure of current employees
  • The roles with the highest turnover.

Each of these would be acceptable, but to fully validate the trends of the organization, you need to analyze all the above data points at the same time. This is time-consuming. If you have someone on your team who knows how to create pivot tables, v-lookup, and all kinds of formulas, you will have a tool, which will analyze data and provide a list of jobs, job categories or job codes (however you want to pull the data) which are critical.

If you do this, you will look like a superhero when you go into a meeting with recommendations based on this data and WHY pipelines are being created for these “critical roles.”

Wouldn’t it be nice, to be a superhero as a talent acquisition professional?

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It’s essential to implement a vision the right way the first time. It makes things easier, more efficient and the return on your investment will be noticed sooner versus later. Before you go out and start building lists and calling people, make sure you have the data to back up your vision for pipeline sourcing.

Executing Vision:

Now the hard part is out of the way. Recruiters/sourcers can now go out and start building pipelines full of talent ready to join your organization, right? Nope. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done. Trust me, I’ve traveled this road, and it’s easy to think you are ready. If you don’t correctly bring all the parts of the machine together, it will be a big jumbled mess, with no vision to properly execute.

To complete the vision, you need to: communicate, influence, engage, execute and report. If you take these steps, it will set your organization up to have a well-oiled sourcing machine with all parts moving in unison, which will result in better hires, reduction in TTH and most importantly less stress on the whole organization.


You have done all the hard work, you have collected, manipulated and analyzed the data surrounding what a critical role is. Now it is time to COMMUNICATE the compelling message and share with the rest of talent acquisition and business leaders.

First, explain what pipeline sourcing is. Without this, they will think the sourcers are just recruiters who are helping other recruiters. Explain the strategy, describe the methodology. Share with them how the pipeline sourcing team is going to work with the recruiters and the hiring managers. Make sure you have a detailed workflow, sharing how the process will work, and how it will drive success.

This alone should drive them crazy with excitement. Knowing we are going build pipelines which will allow us to know who the key players are in particular roles in the industry, better yet we will have their contact information and in some cases, have spoken to them. Can you see, business leaders falling out of their seats with anticipation!?

Then lay it on them, share the data supporting the needs to build pipelines for “critical roles.” They will be floored. You know where their talent is, their turnover, tenure, and trends year over year.

We look like strategic partners! WE ARE STRATEGIC PARTNERS!

Communicating sets the stage, gets the ball rolling, makes it easier to influence the decisions they are going to have to make as the pipeline grows mature.


Let’s not get communication and influence confused. Just because what the pipeline sourcing team has been communicated, all that’s been done is peak their interest. Now it’s time to drive it home and influence the WHY.

Why is pipeline sourcing imperative for growth-oriented organizations? How is it going to impact their bottom line? Most importantly Who is going to benefit from the strategic approach in acquiring talent into the organization?

This is where passion and data work together, and talent acquisition becomes consultative and a business partner versus a support function. This drives enthusiasm, engagement and a collaborative spirit.

When setting the stage for the unveiling of the “critical roles” and the supporting data, there needs to be a second set of data included. This data is the market/industry trends with the critical roles.

Why do we need this?

  • It demonstrates the need to cultivate and develop a pipeline of talent.
  • It tells a story about our current time to hire (TTH),
  • Why we may be losing talent and where there may be gaps in the supply of talent in the geographies where it’s needed most.

This data helps the business understand what’s taking place in the market and how it may shift their strategies to make the most significant impact on the growth of the organization.

Strategically we now know what we need to do. This is where proactive hiring is introduced. What is proactive hiring? It’s when the sourcers are building pipelines and come across an A+ candidate we know the organization needs, we present them even without a requisition and get the candidate and business leaders to start the conversation. When it all works out, the manager realizes this person is a must have and will impact their business positively.

They then proactively open a requisition to make a hire. These types of hires may not be familiar in all organizations due to budgets, but many organizations see these as investment hires because the organization envisions these types of hires will have a high ROI almost immediately.

This kind of pro-active hiring can’t be done all the time; most organizations don’t have a lot of flexibility in their FTE count.

Where the sourcing team becomes consultative with the business is if there is a candidate available in a tight labor market and they are engaged with the organization; and we know we are going to have an opportunity come available, it would be mindless not to start the conversation and get the candidate in the process. As mentioned earlier, hiring quality candidates for those hard to fill roles comes down to timing and unless you want to have crazy long TTH (time to hire), then as an organization it’s imperative to think outside of the box as we are pipeline sourcing. Using all the tools to influence the leaders the value in pipeline sourcing.

This article is part of a series called Editor's Pick.