Talent Pool Starter Guide: Learn the Basics

Things can get messy when a position opens up within your company, and no one is there to fill it quickly. Building and maintaining a talent pool can help you find the right person for the job without spending too much time and money. Instead of starting from scratch each time a job becomes vacant, you’ll have a list of qualified candidates waiting in the wings. 

What is a Talent Pool?

A talent pool is a carefully managed database of people who possess the skills required to fill potential positions at a company. If you’re a hiring manager or recruiter, talent pools are essential to your recruiting strategy toolkit.

The Society for Human Resource Management estimates that each new hire costs around $4,700—sometimes much more. The hiring process can take weeks, especially for smaller businesses with fewer resources. If you don’t move fast enough on the candidates you love, other companies might hire them first. 

A talent pool helps minimize the costs and resources associated with looking for and hiring new talent. 

By taking the time to curate a talent pool, you’ll be able to enjoy a streamlined hiring process whenever a position becomes vacant. While company policy may require you to post every job opening publicly, you can focus your energy on scanning your talent pool for ideal candidates instead of wading through hundreds of applications. 

Of course, the candidates on your list have to want to be considered. That’s why a critical part of creating a talent pool is maintaining relationships with the people on your list. You’ll also need to make sure your talent pool is more than just a list of names. 

It should include contact information, qualifications, skills, and potential roles each person could fill. If it sounds exhausting to keep track of all of this information, don’t worry—talent management software can help. A lot. 

How to Find the Right Software for Your Talent Pool

At the most basic level, talent pool management software should help you keep all the names in your database organized and easy to find. But you can also benefit from features like segmenting and personalized communications with each candidate.

Let’s say you’re the HR manager for a hospital, for example. With segmenting, you could keep potential nurses in one group and physicians in another. To make things even easier for you later on, you could take segmenting a step further and sort the physicians according to their board certification.

Remember when we said that it’s essential to communicate regularly with everyone in your talent pool? The best software services allow you to send personalized communications to each person in your database.

Start your search for the ideal software by finding out if the human resource management service you already use lets you create a separate talent pool database. If it doesn’t—or if you want something more dedicated to managing your talent pipeline—it’s time to take a look at alternate options. 

BambooHR is one of our favorite human resource management software products thanks to its up-to-the-minute applicant tracking system (ATS) tool. With BambooHR’s ATS, you can create easily navigable candidate profiles—and message other team members from right within each profile. 

Screenshot of BambooHr's hiring dashboard displaying notes on the notes page.
BambooHR’s ATS is visually pleasing and well-organized.

But what makes BambooHR stand out is its talent pool feature. Using the abovementioned candidate profiles, you can create multiple talent pools to keep track of potentially perfect candidates. 

Screenshot of BambooHr's talent pool feature.
BambooHR’s talent pool feature helps you keep candidates organized and readily available for future opportunities.

BambooHR also makes it easy to search for candidates using keywords—such as job titles or skills—along with names, email addresses, phone numbers, and locations. 

JazzHR is another excellent option. With JazzHR’s ATS, you can create user-friendly candidate profiles, organize candidates into groups, and send text messages—including bulk texts—to candidates from within JazzHR’s dashboard. 

Take advantage of free trials and other promotional periods to find the ATS and talent pool management software that fits your needs. 

Talent Pool Planning Tips

After you’ve chosen an ATS software service with talent-pooling capabilities, you’ll be ready for the planning phase. We recommend taking a look at your organization and identifying what needs it may have within the next five years. 

Consider questions like: 

  • What skill gaps do I see within the company?
  • What positions may need to be filled in the next year?
  • What strengths, knowledge, and competencies are needed for the company’s success?
  • What is the company culture?

Use employee interviews, surveys, assessments, and performance reviews to figure out the answers to these questions. Once you understand more about your institution’s culture and future needs, list out potential job openings and requirements. 

Next, create candidate personas for each position. What education and experience would an ideal candidate have? How much would they make per month? What would they look for in a potential workplace? 

Tap into your creativity and use a tool like GroveHR’s free, downloadable candidate persona template to help you create personas. 

Screenshot of GroveHR's example candidate persona mapping template - section 1: who?
A candidate persona template can help you visualize ideal candidates for potential roles within your organization.

When you’ve identified future roles and candidate personas, you’re ready to start building your talent pool. 

Best Practices for Building a Talent Pool

The world around you is rich in people who fit your candidate personas. You just need to put in a little bit of work to find them. Many organizations find talent pool candidates in: 

Let’s explore how you can discover leads for your talent database. 

Past Applicants 

If you’ve been in the HR space for even a small amount of time—or have helped hire a candidate for at least one position—you already have candidates to consider for your talent pool. Take a look at the applicant information you have on file, paying special attention to people who made it to a second interview, were nearly chosen for the position or stood out to you in some way.

Do they fit any of the potential roles or candidate personas you outlined as you prepared to build a talent pool? If so, reach out to these candidates. 

Ask if they would like to be considered for any future openings at the company—and if you can add them to an email list where you’ll share company news and other communications that might interest them. If they agree, add them to your talent pool database. 

Former Employees 

People leave one company for another all the time. Maybe a competitor offers them a higher salary, more vacation time, or work that aligns better with their skills and interests. Whatever the reason, losing a valued team member is a deeply felt loss. 

But just because someone leaves your company doesn’t mean they’ll never come back. Make it a habit to offer exit interviews when employees leave. Give them a chance to explain why they’re leaving, identify what your organization could do better, and what types of changes might encourage them to return one day.

And finally, ask these employees if they’d like to remain in touch with the company and receive newsletters or other communications. Look for ways that they could fill some of the future roles you’ve outlined. Add them to your list and consider them every time a position opens up. 

People Who Have Expressed Interest in Your Company 

It’s time to dig around in your files and locate the piles of resumes and business cards you’ve picked up at recent networking events—think job fairs, career fairs, and conferences. If you haven’t been saving any of it, start now. 

Research relevant conferences, conventions, expos, or fairs happening near you and apply to host a booth. Bring a clipboard with a sign-up sheet for your mailing list. Encourage people who visit your booth to sign up if they’d like to stay in the know about job openings and other company news. Strike up conversations. Collect business cards and resumes if you’re at a job fair. 

When you get back to the office, put your new list of emails to work. Add the contact information to your talent pool database and fill in additional candidate information using business cards and resumes. 


One of the most effective ways to add candidates to your database is with an employee referral program. A referral program taps into your existing employees’ networks—which are often extensive, particularly if the employee has been in the workforce for a while. 

The basics of creating a referral program are as follows: 

  • Share job requirements for a variety of positions with employees—and make sure to let them know what you’re not looking for in a referral.
  • When an employee refers a candidate, add the candidate to your talent pool and keep your employee updated on whether or not they progress to the interview stage and beyond.
  • Offer incentives for the referral of qualified candidates—such as those who make it into your talent pool database—and higher incentives for referrals that turn into new hires.

Use a mixture of monetary and non-monetary rewards for referrals. You might offer sports event tickets for a referral that makes it onto your talent pool database, for example, and a cash bonus for referrals that become hires. 

Learn more in our guide to creating an employee referral program.

Passive Candidates

Not to be confused with passive employees, passive candidates are skilled workers who aren’t looking for a new gig—yet. They’re people whose work you admire. People you wish would come work with your company. 

Some passive candidates can come from your employee referral program. For example, an employee might give you the contact information of a person who loves their current job but just might consider leaving under the right circumstances. 

Other passive candidates can come from networking sites like LinkedIn—or even social media sites. When you encounter a person you’d like to add to your talent pool, reach out to them. Let them know you’re a fan of what they do. Ask if they’d be willing to be considered for future roles at your company.

When you get a yes, add the candidate to your talent pipeline—and your email list if they agree.

Current Employees

When promotion season comes, all sorts of roles may be vacated within your company. Get ready in advance by adding current employees to a talent group created specifically for filling mid-level and senior-level positions that open up during promotion season. 

If you’re both the human resources manager and owner at your company, you can pinpoint who you think could fill the roles best. But if you work in HR and don’t have an official say in who gets promoted to which positions, work with the managers to identify ideal candidates. 

Identifying potential promotion candidates early on can help you work with your organization to nurture the skills you see the company needing soon. 

What to Watch Out for With Talent Pools

You must stay in touch with the people in your talent pool. Send a quarterly newsletter with company updates, for example. As jobs become available, send postings to the people on your list who you believe fit the job requirements. 

You don’t want candidates to forget about your company entirely if you want them to consider joining your team at some point. 

Another pitfall that we see is people who forget to update and add to their talent pool. Every year, re-evaluate your answers to the four questions we mentioned earlier: 

  • What skill gaps do I see within the company?
  • What positions may need to be filled in the next year?
  • What strengths, knowledge, and competencies are needed for the company’s success?
  • What is the company culture?

Update your candidate personas according to the results of your reevaluation, then source candidates who might fit these new personas and add them to your list. As your database grows, utilize keywords, tags, and groups to keep things organized and easily searchable. 

Think of your talent pool as a living database that needs routine tending. As long as your talent pool is up to date, you’ll have a trove of candidates at your fingertips every time you need to fill a job posting. 

Final Thoughts About Talent Pools

With the right planning, software, and upkeep, talent pools can help you fill roles at your company without spending excessive resources getting there. All it takes is a little bit of elbow grease to find the right people.  

So build those candidate personas, look for potential talent in a variety of places, organize your groups as much as possible, and keep your pool informed about exciting news and job postings. Along the way, you’ll get the benefit of being connected with an amazing group of people within your company’s industry. 

Who knows? Maybe they’ll also add you to their talent pool, planting the seeds for collaboration down the road. 

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