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Building Deeper Talent Pools in a Competitive Hiring Environment

The hiring environment right now is highly competitive. Between the hiring freezes of 2020 and the Great Resignation of talent taking place in 2021, employees are eager to leave their current roles and search for new ones. And employees hold most of the power – with talented candidates scarce, they have lots of options. Postings for job openings in 2021 are up 35%, while applications for those openings are down 20%. 

Finding the best employees for your business during these times is easier if you have deep existing talent pools from which to source candidates. By proactively building these talent pools, your HR team will be able to save time and fill open roles to create a diverse, well-rounded team. Here are some talent sources you might know, as well as a few underutilized options to explore. 

Talent Pools You May Know

Job Boards

Job boards are a fairly passive way of building a talent pool, but they can be a steady source of potential candidates. To maximize your chances of success, ensure your job descriptions are written to attract the top candidates. LinkedIn and Indeed are popular places to begin building your talent pool. 

Prior Applicants

There are many reasons you might have declined an application from an excellent candidate – budget, headcount cuts, or an over-qualified applicant. But that doesn’t mean those applicants won’t fit into your organization in another role or at a different time. Be sure to maintain a database of the top applicants who could be an excellent resource for other roles, and keep the lines of communications open. 

Internal Sources

Internal mobility is up by 20% as a result of the pandemic. And with an internal hiring process, your recruiting costs are lower and the process moves faster. Source from this talent pool by identifying employees who are good candidates for advancement, and monitor if they need any additional skills and training to move up or into a new role. 

Career Fairs

Another classic source for your talent pool is the career fair. While most of these events have gone virtual due to the pandemic, they are still promising sources for qualified candidates. Ensure your company is remotely attending relevant career fairs for your industry and collecting information from interested and qualified candidates for current and future open roles. 

Networking/Alumni Groups

Building relationships with colleges and universities that have programs relevant to your recruiting needs can be a valuable addition to your talent pool strategy. You can host events for graduating students, or begin an internship program to draw in developing talent to your organization. 

Underutilized Talent Pools 


Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are an excellent and under-used source of recruitment potential. Your college and university talent pools should include building relationships with HBCUs so you ensure your talent pool is truly diverse. The top HBCUs include Spelman College, Howard University, Xavier University of Louisiana, Tuskegee University, and Hampton University. 

Niche Job Boards

The larger job boards used by almost every organization when hiring can overshadow the benefits of niche job boards. Depending on your industry and hiring needs, these boards can offer a way to expand your talent pool to include a variety of candidates who might have been overlooked on the larger job boards. 

For example, there may be niche boards for women or underrepresented minorities in or adjacent to your industry. Find out by asking around or researching on your own and add these boards to your candidate sourcing plan. Here are some niche job boards to try: 

Training Programs

A multitude of training programs for every industry exist, and while you might know the major ones for your company’s talent sourcing, you should also investigate alternative programs to attract more diverse candidates. For example, your local community college may have a training or internship program for students you can tap into. 

Multicultural Professional and Student Associations

There are many national and regional professional and student organizations that are organized around a range of minority groups. These groups can be excellent sourcing spots for your talent pool to ensure you’re reaching a diverse group of potential applicants. The Department of Labor has an excellent list of diversity professional and student organizations that can be a good starting point. 

Building Your Talent Pools

Creating sustainable, diverse talent pools can help your business proactively source the top candidates for your current and future open roles. If you’re looking to create a hiring process that’s driven by results and free from bias so you know you’re getting the best of your talent pools, learn how Cangrade’s technology can help.