Ensure Your Personnel Pipeline Is Robust


Ensure Your Personnel Pipeline Is Robust
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Best Practices

One of the most important management responsibilities is to ensure that the company has a robust pipeline of talent. This article compiles a host of best practices in the hiring and retention arena.

Start with an Attractive Job Posting

Once you have identified a vacancy, write up the usual job posting, including the purpose of the job, its key responsibilities, the preferred skills and educational requirements, and any other pertinent features. Next, I suggest you look at it from the prospective job seeker viewpoint and add some “hooks” that will appeal to them. This can include skills that can be learned, how the job can enhance one’s resume and how it can lead to advancement within the company. If the job is to be listed externally as well as internally, do include in the external version some key points about the company, how it is positioned within the industry and some key benefits of the company culture. I recommend internally posting jobs before they are externally posted, as this allows more movement within the company, and you may find some interesting internal candidates that you did not expect. Additionally, be sure not to over-specify the job skills required, as you may find you are left with a too narrow candidate pool. Finally, give a lot of thought to whether the job and/or the company requires that the job be done in the office, or whether it can be done remotely or via a hybrid approach. Obviously, job seekers these days favor remote and hybrid approaches, and you can access a wider pool of candidates if you can be more flexible in this area.

Screen the Applicants

Together with HR, screen the applicants’ resumes for broad adherence to the job requirements, and screen out those who are either way too inexperienced or overqualified or where the resume has significant flaws, such as poor writing.  Establish a hiring team to assist you with the interviewing and selection process. I have found that having a diverse selection team can be useful, as different people are looking for different things in a candidate. The diversity of views may help you find a candidate who is well-rounded as well as able to appeal to people from different cultures and parts of the organization. Keep in mind you are hiring not just for the job but also for the company as a whole.

Interview the Top Candidates

Have the hiring team interview the candidates and take notes on each of the interviews. The hiring team may want to have an agreed template for scoring the candidates on such aspects as interpersonal skills, communication skills, fit with the job and company, motivation, etc. Do ensure that the team of interviewers are briefed by HR, so that the interviewers stay clear of any illegal areas of questioning. Do use the so-called STAR method for your interviews wherein you are looking for clear examples of how each candidate has solved a problem from the past. As a reminder, STAR stands for “Situation, Task, Action and Results.” A candidate should be able to come up with revealing examples from their experience. You may also want to ask candidates to describe situations in their past in which they were part of a successful team and how that worked. I also found that asking candidates about a failure in their past could be an illuminating area of questioning, as it may be a window into their level of candor as well as into their process for learning from past mistakes. You may want to include in the interview process some sort of exercise wherein you provide each candidate a particular problem situation and ask them to write up 100 words about how they would attack the problem. This will allow you to evaluate clarity of thought, intelligence, and communication skills and approach.

Select, Offer and Onboard the New Hire

After the interview process, review the results with the hiring team and agree who shall be offered the position. Be sure to have a backup candidate in mind in case the first choice doesn’t work out. Pay special attention to the onboarding and training process for the new hire, including briefing them on company culture and norms; company structure; safety practices; company mission, strategy and plans; as well as specific job duties. Find opportunities to introduce the new hire to people in different parts of the organization and at different levels. 

It is also highly important to have a robust process for advancing people within the organization. In many cases, the lack of job advancement is the number one reason for people to seek better opportunities elsewhere. As higher-level positions are always scarce and desirable, it behooves you to assist employees to understand what kind of job experiences, training and performance it takes to advance in the company. Here are some best practices associated with job advancement:

Discuss How to Advance at Performance Discussions

The annual performance discussion provides a good opportunity to discuss possible next jobs in the company and what the colleague may need to work on in order to be competitive for these positions. Elicit from the employee their longer-term aspirations as well.

Give Employees Opportunities for Visibility

Earlier stage employees can benefit from opportunities to interact with colleagues outside their normal working situation, as it offers them a window into different parts of the organization. Provide opportunities to organize meetings, participate in projects and attend training courses in order to “see and be seen” in the wider organization. This will also demonstrate to the employee that you care about their development and their future.

Do Critical Position Planning with Other Managers

Conduct together with HR an annual meeting to discuss key management positions in the organization, and agree on a list of potential “next-ups” for these positions. If you find positions without suitable candidates, identify a few potentials and have their leaders work with the individuals to bolster their credentials.

I hope these tips can help you to ensure a robust talent pipeline for your company!   

Sara Lefcourt of Lefcourt Consulting LLC specializes in helping companies to improve profits, reduce risk and step up their operations. Her experience includes many years in marketing, sales and procurement, first for Exxon and then at Infineum, where she was vice president, supply. Contact her at or (908) 400-5210.

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