5 Components of Pipelining

If you are consistently recruiting from the same competitors or for similar positions, pipelining provides you the opportunity to have a candidate list ready to discuss with a hiring manager after your first intake call.

Building a pipeline of candidates by recruiting for openings you are likely to have in the future allows you to manage your daily tasks efficiently and limits your daily sourcing needs going forward. With no urgent need to contact the pipelined candidates, you can focus on gathering data and dedicating 1-2 hours per day of pipeline-building activity.

With that, let me get you started by offering five key components to pipelining:

Ongoing company name generation: Build a list of companies. For some staffing professionals, certain competitor companies are off limits. While this can be a hurdle, a successful strategy will focus on looking for more competitor names every day just as you would look for more people from the companies you already have on your “green” list. Dedicate yourself to finding a minimum of 2-3 new companies to add daily. If you are part of a sourcing team, share the list either on an internal SharePoint system, company network drive, or online collaboration tool like Google Docs or Stixy (a very cool tool for recruiters on a 0$ budget).

Ongoing people generation: Build a list of people. Spreadsheets should be set up to have all the fields that would be easily sortable (i.e. Name, Title, Company, Location, Source, Contact Information, and Notes). Sort your list and collaboration lists by company and name, and look for new people. Sort by company and title to be sure you are capturing all the people with a specific skill set from target companies.

Cross referencing the ATS: If you are finding names of people not on your list who are already in the ATS, you need to cross-reference constantly as you’ll save time in the long run. People you find on a social media site might have applied for any opening at your company five years ago, and their personal email address could still be valid. Also, if they interviewed and didn’t do well, you might not want to spend time trying to recruit them again for a similar role for the same hiring manager.

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Targeted lists of resources: A great resource list for targeted resources includes LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Jigsaw for just about any search. They are proven resources for “scraping names” up front. Focusing on a specific opening, start with those sites, and then add in searching the Deep Web, names searches, and other social media sites.

Generating contact information: There are several good ways to generate contact information. A best practice can include splitting up tasks #2, #3 and #5 from this list and dedicating sourcing time to each specific task. For example, spend two hours doing People Generation, the next day spend two hours cross-referencing the ATS, and with remaining time, focus on finding contact information for the targeted candidates.

Building a candidate pipeline is an essential task that can save you hours in your recruitment day as you plan ahead. Whether you are a solo sourcing recruiter, or a sourcing specialist on a sourcing team, pipelining can be extremely valuable to the quick recruitment of passive candidates for future requisitions.

Ryan Phillips is a technical writer & sourcing researcher at AIRS. She lives in Helena, Montana. Joining AIRS in 2010, she transitioned to the role from the internal recruiting team at The RightThing. Phillips began her recruiting career working for a technical recruitment staffing firm in the Silicon Valley, where she recruited for IT, Engineering, Marketing, and Accounting. She later moved into the RPO field, where she did mainly niche engineering recruitment for Microsoft. She works on curriculum development for all AIRS courses, including the industry-leading AIRS Certification classes. She also continues to consult with RPO clients on their social media branding strategies, as well as support the internal RightThing sourcing team to develop client specific sourcing strategies.


11 Comments on “5 Components of Pipelining

  1. If you do not have the time to set up the pipeline, have someone do it for you. I work with many companies and search firms that are overloaded. They have my firm generate lists of names for key positions with contact information and emails. Many firms have a budget just for sourcing.

  2. Ryan,

    Thank you this is great. I do this everyday since I recruit in the Government Clearance market. I never know what new project is going to open up but I do know the skills and clearance levels I will be recruiting in.

    Thank you.


  3. Great article, Ryan. I would even go a step further and say that as Employers gain more familiarity with social media and outbound web-based tools, the successful Recruiter is going to need to “plug their pipeline” into the pipes the hiring managers are using to look outside. The “new economy” is here now.

    Steve Harari
    Staffingbook Corp.

  4. Nice post, Ryan!

    I definitely agree with your approach to sourcing and building pipelines. One thing that I think is missing from your post is the use of opt-in as a feeder system in terms of finding qualified candidates to help build your pipelines.

    Opt-in is becoming easier to put on all your recruiting portals (Career Site, social recruiting profiles, etc.) and to include directly into your apply process so you ensure you capture candidates. Best of all, once you initially set it up it runs basically by itself.

    I’ve worked with organizations that have collected 20,000 recruiting contacts (in addition to applicants in their ATS) in less than 4 months by just placing an opt-in form in their apply process. While I don’t think opt-in replaces sourcing efforts, I think it’s an important piece to the pipelining puzzle that needs to be included alongside the list building efforts you describe.

    Great post!

    Chris Brablc

  5. @Tom: You’re right- some companies do have separate budgets for sourcing… However, not where I usually work. On the other hand, I’d be happy to build a pipeline for someone out there who DOES have a budget but not the time.



  6. pipe·lin·ing

    The laying of pipelines

    Transportation by means of pipelines

    A form of computer organization in which successive steps of an instruction sequence are executed in turn by a sequence of modules able to operate concurrently, so that another instruction can be begun before the previous one is finished

  7. Should be every recruiters goal to increase their pipeline of candidates they interact with, both passive and active candidates. Especially critical when you work in a small niche and are sourcing from the same number of companies on multiple separate searches.

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