The art of social recruiting involves the development of two kinds of candidate relationships. The first - blink relationships - establish trust and familiarity in the blink of an eye. They are the foundation for success in filling current openings. (They were discussed in an earlier column.) The second - red shirt relationships - build trust and familiarity more slowly. They are the key to establishing an effective pipeline of talent for an organization's future openings.
We typically source dozens and sometimes hundreds of prospects to fill a single job. Many of those who aren't selected for the position would be excellent candidates for later openings. For others, the timing or opportunity wasn't right, but at some point, it could conceivably be. Rather than sever these connections and waste the effort that was invested in creating them, a growing number of employers are now leveraging them into enduring relationships.
The term of art for this activity, of course, is the formation of a talent pipeline. There is, however, considerable misunderstanding about just what that phrase means. A pipeline is not a warmed over resume database. It is also not the archive of candidate communications in an applicant tracking system. A talent pipeline is a network of prequalified candidates who feel an affinity for a specific employer.
Such pipelines are notoriously hard to sustain. Estimates of candidate attrition from pipelines range from 25 to more than 50 percent annually. When that kind of seepage happens, what you have isn't a pipeline at all. It's a talent hose, and the workforce you're watering is your competitor's.