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Tickler Files to Talent Communities: A Pipelining Evolution—Or Revolution

Apr 13, 2016 |

As I work to construct the latest webinar for my client’s talent community, it strikes me how far recruitment has come in relationship building for the long-term hire, also known as ‘pipelining.’ The term, ‘pipelining’ is used commonly in referring to the gathering of qualified, interested parties—eventual applicants—for a given skill set or high volume need. The best recruiters everywhere have been doing this for decades. The way we have done this has evolved incredibly over the last 15 years, but I think it more closely resembles a revolution than an evolution.

Where it all began

In the late 1990s, I started recruiting for the largest privately-held staffing firm in the country. During the first week of making calls and training, I was introduced to my first pipelining methodology, the ‘Tickler’ file. Yes, I said, ‘tickler.’ We did this by filling out 4x6 inch note cards with the name and details of the candidate, which included personal touch information, such as birthday, names of family members, children, favorite sports teams, etc. The card then was filed into an index card box with four dividers representing each week in a month. Side note—the term, ‘tickler’ was coined from the motion of your fingers as you moved through the box sitting on your desk. No kidding!

At the time, this approach was introduced as a way to keep in touch with potential candidates who had solid backgrounds and who could eventually fill specific needs for the company. The task then was to pull week one for the first week of the month and call each person in the group. After completing that week, you would then move the group back two weeks and repeat this method weekly. This began my exposure to pipelining.

Moving things forward

Let’s fast-forward five to 10 years to the early 2000s. Tickler files were replaced by candidate lists, EXCEL or ACCESS spreadsheets, or other simple candidate databases. Recruiters were able to sort or filter by criteria, add comments and details on recent conversations, and then save them for others to review or add their own details. The advent and rise of social media made it even easier for recruiters to begin to search and network with their pipelined candidates.

Understanding and making connections with candidates became easier as individuals began to have a social footprint, and information beyond their resume or CV became readily available. It was also during this time in the late 1990s and prior to 2010 that we started seeing the beginning of what would become a thriving customer relationship management (CRM) industry, which further paved the way for the eventual capability of talent communities.

Talent communities emerge—and beyond

As we move through the latter half of this decade, we arrive at the confluence of CRM, pipeline databases and online social engagement—all working together. We call this the talent community. Different organizations may understand the concept of a talent community in different ways. Let me start out by describing what a talent community is not. It is not a database of everyone that you have spoken to or who may have applied for a position. It is not an RSS feed that is sent candidates to inform them of jobs that meet certain search criterion. A talent community is a group of interested and engaged professionals with education and experience, who meet critical needs within your business. This group is further provided the opportunity to receive information about your company, but also collaborate and interact on a consistent basis to develop a keen understanding of your company’s culture as well as its products or services.

As I develop client-specific talent communities, I look to inject functionality from all three of the aforementioned resources. We use CRM capability, such as Avature, Salesforce, or others to list community members, which include individual skills, resume or CV information, and communication history across global recruitment teams. Candidates are added to this through attended events, active recruitment, social networking, and membership referrals to name a few. The common thread among these members is that they possess key skills or experiences that eventually could benefit our client partners. Again, just having a list is not enough. We also develop a social interactive element, leveraging popular forms of social media, including LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

By doing so, you add a collaboration and engagement piece that goes beyond a database list or communication plan every two weeks. Articles are shared daily. Questions can be posed by your membership and answered within the same day. Ideas are shared and invaluable cultural alignment is learned and formed. Lastly, your membership can be engaged using various forms of media, including a webinar as I referred to earlier. What better way to say, ‘you are important’ or ‘we hear you,’ other than surveying your membership for their interests and then producing an online interactive session that specifically addresses those interests. That is what true engagement is all about. That is using talent communities to their fullest potential. From the days of tickler calls to CRM-enabled talent communities, it’s clear that pipelining has evolved a great deal. Here’s to the next great evolution—or should I say—revolution.

Nader Abul-Ela

Nader Abul-Ela

Talent Acquisition Executive, IBM Talent Acquisition & Optimization

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