Throughout the year, we spoke with some of the fantastic people we hired for our social care clients, whose stories were featured in the likes of the Daily Mirror, The Guardian, and BBC Radio Four Woman’s Hour. As we welcome 2019, our Talent Director, Dave Beesley, reflects on how stories can inform recruitment for the year ahead.

Meet Darren…

Darren had never worked in care before, and after a lifetime working in factories, warehouses and gardens, he found himself out of work. A visit to a care event held by Cohesion at a local job centre opened Darren’s eyes to the world of care, and since then he hasn’t looked back.

You don’t need to scrutinise statistics to realise that the sector struggles to recruit males. Traditionally care has attracted more women – but our data is painting a different picture when it comes to new applications.

A review of some 26,000 applications found that 40% of applications to our social care vacancies were made by men in contrast to the current 20% makeup of males working within the sector. I suspect it won’t be too long before the percentage of male applications further increases, yet a higher percentage of men drop out of the recruitment process currently in comparison to female applicants. Will this continue if we don’t adapt our processes?

Hiring managers need to be well-equipped to make sound decisions at interview stages. Make sure interviewers know about gender bias and how to avoid it. Arm them with the tools to assess fairly – creating positive and negative indicators for answers given in response to interview questions.

We gave candidates access to videos of other carers, both male and female, describing the role and what to expect. Feedback suggested that candidates found it useful to hear from male employees, and that seeing other men working in a caring role was refreshing.

We also looked at career websites and whether imagery and wording might turn off male candidates. Pictures and videos of both men and women demonstrates greater gender diversity in your teams, and it’s worth checking out some of the nifty gender bias tools available online that allow you to check advert wording for neutrality.


Meet Jenny…

Jenny is in her 80s and loves her role as a Care Assistant. Her career in care spans decades and her story is both inspiring and humbling – as she describes experiencing racism in her early career, and coping with end of life care. There are Jenny’s out there who would thrive given the opportunity to care in a work capacity but don’t think to apply. This needs to change – and it starts with recruitment.

Be accessible during the recruitment process. Candidates are used to online application forms and communicating via email and text messages – but we find that candidates like the ability to pick up the phone to recruiters and talk. It sounds simple but giving applicants the option to chat about their motivations for applying and transferable skills is far more telling than a CV or application form.

Ask yourself whether you’re being too rigid with shift patterns. Some people need to start slightly later in the day or don’t feel comfortable travelling home late at night – but they’ll make excellent carers. In Jenny’s case, she’s opted for night work – and that works for her and the home she works in. Flexibility can be important to all ages, so make sure this is reflected in your rota scheduling when considering new applicants.


Meet Mutsa…

Within the same BBC Four Woman’s Hour interview with Jenny, we also hear from Mutsa, a young Healthcare Assistant who has been inspired to become a Nurse, following in the footsteps of some of her relatives. Mutsa’s friends ask her how she can relate with older people with dementia, or deal with intimate personal care, but Mutsa is not put off – and like Jenny, she loves her job.

The care sector could be much better at engaging with young people. Organisations have been recruiting early talent as part of placement, apprenticeship and graduate programmes for many years – so how do they do it well?

Consider three audiences; the educators, the student, and the parents or guardians. Engage with schools and colleges in your communities by holding career information sessions for students and teachers – or better still invite them in to see it for themselves. Sessions should be engaging and inspiring so think about how you can interact with younger people and excite them about the work and the career pathways available.

Your website is your shop window and requires dressing well, with face to face engagement at careers events just as important. Placements and work experience are great for future proofing your workforce. Offering a taster of the different opportunities available in care will result in a good percentage returning to your organisation later down the line. Parents and guardians are huge influencers on career decisions from an early age. Invite them to your career sessions and answer their questions too.

Listening to the stories of the people we recruit has been a useful exercise – and we’ll continue to listen in 2019. Not only do the stories inspire our recruiters to find the most compassionate people for the care homes and services we recruit for – but they also inform how we can recruit in the most effective way.


Cohesion would like to wish our clients and candidates, as well as all those dedicating their time to working in care a prosperous year ahead.

Combining Temporary and Permanent Recruitment

Most RSLs and Not For Profit organisations deal with temporary recruitment needs and permanent hiring separately; with different processes, stakeholders and candidate experiences taking place. Should they instead consider combining temporary and permanent recruitment within on management structure, operational process and technology application?

In today’s challenging operating environment – is this really the best way forward?  In this blog we explore the benefits of bringing temporary and permanent recruitment together under one service; overseen by HR. 

The management of temporary agency supply contracts has often been the domain of procurement, with their key function focused on making sure that costs are kept to a minimum.

Not for Profits and RSLs often need temps fast (often to cover shifts), and they need to spend as little money as possible given the current economic environment they are operating in.

HR oversees permanent recruitment; managing the many challenges that volume front-line requirements create, and sometimes using a PSL.

The benefits of combining temporary and permanent recruitment

Let’s look at some of the reasons you may benefit from combining temporary and permanent recruitment:

All recruitment starts with a requirement from your internal Hiring Managers, who often have to juggle both temporary and permanent recruitment processes.  So much the better for them, their time and your organisational ROI to have one key recruitment partner who can help navigate the best outcomes, regardless if it is a temporary or permanent recruitment need.

A joined up recruitment service with visibility of all component parts makes it easier to develop recruitment strategy that is fit for purpose.  Once established, this becomes easier to communicate through one universal “recruitment” communication; reducing mixed messages and confusion.

A combined temporary and permanent recruitment service can be run through one piece of software, making compliance much easier!

Having temporary and permanent recruitment in one system also drives efficiencies, such as prioritising permanent recruitment over temporary hiring.  Single systems can then generate combined data and management information to give an accurate picture of recruitment spend and an overview of how well you’re meeting objectives.  The best way to reduce spend is to stop using so many temps, so understanding where they are and why they are being used then is critical.

Temporary and permanent recruitment reports

Recruitment report

One set of management information also makes it easier to benchmark important measures such as % of temporary spend per home or service against the permanent spend.


Latest trends

Having a fractured focus, with a financial oversight on temporary recruitment and an HR oversight on permanent recruitment can sometimes be a symptom of either a lack of internal capacity or lack of experience in driving a combined service.  In this instance outsourcing may be a consideration.

The current market has seen more demand in this area recently with several tenders being released for a combined (Temporary and Permanent) recruitment partner who can deliver a MSP and permanent recruitment model.

Cohesion evidence suggests that the best results in terms of quality, efficiency and ROI are now being delivered by these combined models, overseen by HR.

2018 is well and truly underway and, with a new year, there are new Future Talent predictions and trends.

The coming year is set to have some game changers in the recruitment space which, themselves, will accelerate the wake of other concomitant trends and ground-breaking advancements. However, what will continue to remain a challenge is the fierce and fast-paced competition to recruit best and brightest Future Talent.

Without further ado – here are our top trends that will influence the world of Future Talent recruitment in 2018:

  • Diversity, Diversity, Diversity

Improving diversity is at the top of the agenda of Future Talent recruiters across the UK, and has been for some time now. In fact, according to the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) – 75% of employers took specific actions to improve Graduate diversity in 2017, and 40% choose the Universities they visit based entirely on the diversity of the enrolled students.

The pre-existing disparities between gender in a large number of industries still remains a massive issue for recruiters. Recruiting male Graduates into Social Care and female Graduates into Construction are merely two examples of the bigger diversity picture, and the misconceptions that recruiters are having to work to overcome.

But, diversity goes much deeper than gender, which only works to make it more of an issue and, therefore, a focus for recruiters and organisations alike.

Why is this a trend for 2018?

Improving diversity in your workforce brings with it so many additional advantages and positives. First and foremost – the variety of talents, skills, experiences and backgrounds will offer any number of different perspectives on organisational issues, and work the same way for solutions.

Secondly – once your workforce becomes more diverse, it will only continue to improve. In somewhat of a Snowball Effect – once it’s started, diversity will continue to develop and grow itself.

Finally – employee performance and productivity. Employees are automatically more likely to feel more comfortable and happy in an environment where inclusivity is an organisational priority. They feel more valued, and more confident in their surroundings. As we all know – happy employees translate into productive ones.

  • Graduate Schemes with a Masters chucked in

The increasing competition for a dwindling talent pool of top Future Talent means that organisations are having to think about offering a more attractive package than their competitors.

Why? The more attractive your offering – the more likely you are to attract the top talent.

In fact, in our 2017 survey report on Parental Influence – respondents told us that future progression opportunities was the most important factor in their decision to influence their child. As you can imagine – acquiring a Masters during their Graduate scheme will open doors, and opportunities for career advancement in the future. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Personally, we’re keeping tabs on this trend. Our 2018 survey report will tell us whether or not this has been an important aspect of Future Talent recruitment this year.

  • Artificial Intelligence

For 2018, artificial intelligence (AI) is likely to have a significant impact on both recruitment and workplace culture. It will continue to change how everybody works, both individually and together, and will likely replace certain workers in their roles.

In fact, LinkedIn has reported that AI is acting as a “boon for recruiters and hiring managers”, which is helping them to source and screen candidates.

Also, with human involvement – there is bound to be some level of bias present in the recruitment process. If machine learning were to take over – bias would be removed, and the best candidates would be matched to roles based entirely upon their skills.

Look out for a continued growth of AI solutions marketed to the sector – we will review the better ones throughout the year.

  • The Role of People Analytics in Decision-Making

People Analytics, sometimes referred to as Talent or HR Analytics, is the method of analysis that can help recruiters, managers and the C-Suite make decisions about their workforce.

It’s generally true that decisions informed by data and analytics are often more substantial and effective than otherwise. Thus, People Analytics is becoming a more accepted HR practice. In a similar vein to AI – People Analytics reduces the presence of bias in decision-making, meaning you’re more likely to make impactful decisions that drive the change you need.

The role of People Analytics is set to endure throughout 2018, as recruiters are looking to significantly improve their ROI.

  • The Candidate Experience

Candidate experience has always been the centre-piece of recruitment strategies. Why? A positive candidate experience is synonymous with a good reputation as an employer. A good reputation as an employer means you’re more likely to reach, engage and retain the best candidates for your roles.

Graduates and Apprentices, speaking from experience, are often left frustrated when they’re kept in the dark by prospective employers. What’s happened with their application? Do you have any feedback to help them improve their chances next time?

A positive candidate experience has so many benefits for recruiters, both tangible and intangible. Whilst candidates are more likely to accept a job offer following a positive recruitment experience, they’re also more likely to translate into more productive, efficient and hard-working Future Talent.

An ongoing shortage of top talent will require recruiters to win the war on engagement, before they can win the war on talent.

  • Parental Influence in Future Talent Decisions

Every year – one of our Talent Directors, Debbie Edmondson, collects data and produces a report around the role of parents in the decisions of Future Talent candidates. And, as you would expect, every year we see something different.

Regardless – it’s safe to say that employers are getting smarter at reaching, engaging and retaining the best talent.

The number of Future Talent vacancies, even following the Apprenticeship Levy, is shrinking, and is perceived by many as a premature impact of Britain’s impending exit from the European Union. And, with more and more Graduates reneging on their offers each and every year – you can’t help but wonder why.

The role of parents in influencing the decisions of Future Talent candidates is certainly not one that should be taken lightly or overlooked. In fact, in our research, our respondents (parents of Graduates) indicated that they influence at least 2 out of 3 of the main decisions their child needs to make, namely:

  • Which academic route to take;
  • Which particularly industries or employer(s) they should consider, and;
  • Whether to accept or reject each individual offer.

As the year passes, and we continue into 2019 (I know, scary, right…) – we wholly anticipate the role of parents to exacerbate the current competitive environment of Future Talent recruitment.


2018 is set to be a massive rollercoaster for recruitment, especially in Future Talent as a new cohort of Graduates begin their new jobs and Apprentices break into their respective fields of work. We can only speculate on what may or may not happen – only time will tell.

With that being said – watch this space, and have a fantastic year of recruitment.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is widely accepted as a natural evolution and progression in the protection of a very basic human right – privacy. However, the impact it’s going to have on business in general is still a massive grey area for most, especially in recruitment.

How will GDPR influence our ability to build talent pools?

What will we have to do with candidate data that we use for benchmarking that we collected years ago?

None of the recruitment-oriented questions have really been answered and, with May 25th creeping up on us, they need to be. I bet you’re thinking – why does it really matter? We’ve had the Data Protection Act (DPA) and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) for years now? Aren’t they all the exact same?

In short – no.

Like with everything – if you want to comply with a new regulation or learn a new skill, you need to understand it first. Especially when, according to Forrester – 80% of companies will fail to comply with GDPR in 2018.

Firstly, what is GDPR?

Well – that’s the million dollar question at the moment. As defined by Investopedia:

“The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a legal framework that sets guidelines for the collection and processing of personal information of individuals within the European Union (EU). The GDPR sets out the principles for data management and the rights of the individual, while also imposing fines that can be revenue-based.”

It was approved by the European Union parliament in April 2016, and will replace the Data Protection Directive which currently regulates and governs how ‘personal data’ can be used.

Today, there are completely new ways of exploiting personal data, given the rise of the Internet and cloud-based technology – the GDPR seeks to address these threats by imposing steeper and more severe penalties for non-compliance, and giving people greater control over what companies are doing with their data.

GDPR applies to all ‘personal’ data. It’s often misconstrued what ‘personal’ actually means, and the type of information or data it actually applies to. Contrary to popular belief – personal information is not only what you’d consider as extremely private, such as bank details or National Insurance numbers.


Are you interested in ensuring you’re GDPR compliant in your recruitment? Come along to our seminars in March to find out more.

What is ‘Personal Data’?

As dictated by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)

“The GDPR applies to ‘personal data’ meaning any information relating to an identifiable person who can be directly or indirectly identified in particular by reference to an identifier.”

With that being said – it’s not just a case of protecting the data. To ensure full GDPR compliance, there are seven fundamental principles that are, ultimately, in place to drive full compliance.

But first – it’s probably best we cover off some of the key definitions of the GDPR, so you understand what we’re referring to as we go through…

Data Controller – The Data Controller is the individual who determines the purposes for and the manner in which any personal data is to be processed. 

Data Processor – Any individual who processes the data on behalf of the data controller.

Data Subject – An individual who is the subject of personal data storage (i.e. you or I, if our data is kept on any database).

Personal Data – Any data which relates to a living individual, who may be identified:

  • From that data, or;
  • From the data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller.

Processing – In relation to information or data, processing means obtaining, recording or holding the data, or carrying our any operation(s) on the information or data.

Sensitive Personal Data – Sensitive personal data, whilst being separate to standard personal data, refers to the data consisting of the following information:

  • The racial or ethnic origin of the data subject;
  • His/her political opinions;
  • His/her religious beliefs or other beliefs of a similar nature;
  • Whether he/she is a member of a trade union;
  • His/her physical or mental health or condition;
  • His/her sexual life;
  • Any criminal information, and;
  • Any proceedings for criminal acts.

Third Party – A third party, when related to personal data, refers to any person other than: the data subject; the data controller, or; any data processor.

Now that’s covered – the 7 fundamental principles of full GDPR compliance:

The Fundamental Principles of GDPR


Accountability is what you would expect – the data controller(s) can demonstrate an organisation’s data processing remains compliant with GDPR at all times. In short – they can be held accountable for ensuring compliance.

This remains one of the most significant changes as we progress from the DPA to the GDPR – before it was acceptable to simply comply, whereas under GDPR this compliance must be demonstrable.


The accuracy principle is exactly what it says on the tin – it demands that all personal data that’s held on file is completely accurate and, where necessary, kept fully up-to-date.

GDPR dictates that any inaccurate or ‘old’ data should either be deleted or amended in a timely fashion.

Data Minimisation

Data minimisation, as a fundamental principle of GDPR compliance, asks that any information requested is adequate for the processing task at hand. In short, controllers must ensure that any additional or superfluous data should be destroyed in an appropriate manner.

For many – data minimisation will pose a considerable issues, especially for those with large archives of historical data.

Integrity & Confidentiality

Integrity and confidentiality asks that all personal data that is processed shall be done in a way that ensures the security of the data subject.

Lawfulness, Fairness & Transparency

Firstly – this principle ensures that all personal data is processed lawfully. Secondly – it ensures that all of  the data subject’s information is handled fairly and transparently.

To put this into perspective – 57% of individuals do not believe companies are transparent in their use of data. Think about the repercussions of this, in terms of your reputation as an employer and as an organisation.

Purpose Limitation

Purpose limitation dictates that all personal information accrued and stored by an organisation is used for ‘clear and legitimate purposes’. That same data shall not be processed for any additional purposes other than those explicitly outlined and understood by the data subjects when collecting the information in the first instance

In short – all of your data should have a purpose. And, it should never be used for anything other than that purpose.

Storage Limitation

Storage limitation is potentially the least defined and most ambiguous principle and concept. Essentially, storage limitation asks organisations to ‘not hold personal information for longer than is absolutely necessary and outside the purposes for which it was initially collected.’

Essentially – storage limitation refers to limiting how much data is stored. There is no time period that is specifically outlined as ‘longer than is absolutely necessary’, as it comes down to a legitimate business need. This is to be decided by your business, and expressed to any third-party that you subsequently engage.


Following each of these principles – there are a few elements of the GDPR that will affect your recruitment…

Key Elements that will affect Recruitment

First and foremost – the rights for individuals/data subjects under the GDPR. Individuals have every right to subject access (i.e. requesting to see all of the information you have on them as an identifiable individual); to have inaccuracies corrected, to comply with the accuracy principle, and; the right to erasure, whereby they must be deleted. Not archived or cached – they must be irretrievably removed from your database.

Secondly – your privacy policies will need to be updated, and kept up-to-date, to incorporate the new things you need to tell your candidates. These will include, but not be limited to, their right to erasure, and your legal basis for processing their data. It’s also not enough to just update your policy and leave it on your website – you need to evidence your candidates’ receipt of the privacy policy.


Given all of the above – our internal Data Protection Officers have pulled together a few top tips to help you understand what you need to do now:

So, what do I do now? Our Experts’ Top Tips

  • Be proactive – don’t wait, plan and act

The worst thing you could do is wait for GDPR to arrive before you even think about how it will affect you and, therefore, what you need to do to achieve compliance. Take control of your compliance – be accountable, and mitigate your risks.

But, don’t try and take everything on at once – get the easier bits done first. If you wait until you have no choice but to focus on GDPR – mistakes will be made, and wires will be unnecessarily crossed.

Plan what you’re going to do, and make sure you stick to it. Give yourself as much time as possible to achieve compliance, because it’s not just about doing it – it’s making sure your workforce understand how to do it, too.

  • Don’t just focus on the GDPR – look at the bigger privacy picture

The GDPR is part of a much bigger privacy initiative – focusing solely on compliance could mean you fall foul of the current Data Protection Act, which you certainly don’t want to do.

Familiarise yourself with the DPA, GDPR, and the ePrivacy Regulations which are slated to come into play during 2019. Once you understand all of these – incorporate them into your plan and see yourself with a more rounded picture of what privacy compliance truly looks like.

  • Clearly decide and document your basis for legal processing

This is important – your legal basis for processing comes into play in more than just the high-level compliance. It also comes into play with informing your current database of privacy policy updates.

In total – there are currently 6 legal bases for processing personal data. Most lawful bases require that processing is ‘necessary’, according to the ICO. However, if you can reasonably achieve the same purpose without the processing – you haven’t got a lawful basis. These 6 lawful bases are as follows:

  • Consent
  • Contract
  • Legal Obligation
  • Vital Interests
  • Public Task
  • Legitimate Interests

Document your legal basis for processing, and justify it.

  • Review your current candidate database

As a recruiter – you will have a tonne of data. Most of which, in all fairness, you probably won’t need. As a means of reviewing your current candidate database, you should look to dispose of the following three categories, which will probably constitute 30-50% of your data:

  • Redundant Data – remove all duplicate contacts and candidate information, because it isn’t necessary;
  • Obsolete Data – all ‘old’ records should be removed, because you no longer need them and, under GDPR, you cannot keep data because you think you ‘might need it at some point’;
  • Traded Data – any data that you have mined, found or purchased from elsewhere, because it definitely won’t be legal to process under GDPR.

Realistically, getting rid of data isn’t as bad as it seems anyway. Less data means your IT costs are automatically lower, and you have more control and reduced risk. What more could you want?

  • Train your team in Privacy & Security

To make GDPR truly work for your company – it needs to be instilled as part of your culture. It’s more than just a bunch of hoops that you need to jump through – for longevity, you need it to be adopted by everyone. Make privacy and security key cultural aspects of your organisation.

It’s as simple as appointing someone in charge of GDPR compliance – and getting them to run workshops, training, coaching and mentoring sessions with your employees. Once this training has been completed – it also needs to be repeated regularly, to keep everyone on their toes and reduce the likelihood of an issue.

  • Review your supplier contracts and ensure third-party compliance

If the data is yours – you are the data controller. Regardless of whether it is processed elsewhere or looked after by a third-party – you are responsible, and liable for any fines or breaches of data security.

In that vein – who are you sharing your data with?

Review third-party capabilities, and conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) if necessary. Are they sub-contracting to anyone else? If so, the sub-contracts also need to comply, and you are liable for them if anything goes wrong.

Once you understand the extent of the data you’ve been sharing – issue new contracts in line with the GDPR, and clearly define responsibilities, obligations and liabilities.

However, as a rule of thumb – you should always try and reduce the amount of data you share with external partners.

  • Dedicate time, energy, resource & look externally for unbiased help

There are few, possibly even no, quick fixes to GDPR compliance – which comes back to my previous point of being proactive, and starting now. Dedicate time and resources to ensuring compliance – invest in it.

Take time to understand how the GDPR affects the whole organisation – where are the cross-functional dependencies?

Also, you should never be afraid to ask for help or advice. If you’re not competent in GDPR – ask someone who is. Find someone competent in strategic planning and problem-solving, who preferably understands recruitment, and ask them to take a look at your processes and build you a plan.

  • Evidence absolutely everything you do

Right from the get-go – document everything you do that’s related to GDPR.

Show how you work things out, dictate the reasoning behind your plan and outline exactly why you chose to do what you’re doing. Evidence-based accountability goes a long way towards proving compliant efforts to the ICO – evidence provides you with some level of leniency.

The ICO understand that the GDPR is a massive change, and definitely more convoluted than it needs to be. As such – they’re prepared to give ‘the benefit of the doubt’. To some extent, anyway. If you do something wrong, but have evidence of a Risk Gap Analysis and Mitigation Plan – what would be a fine may result in a good telling off and an audit, with the view to advise you as opposed to penalise you.


In conclusion – the upcoming GDPR isn’t something to be taken lightly.

However, at the same time – it’s nothing to be afraid of. Invest time in understanding how it works for you, and plan out exactly what you need to do. Make GDPR compliance ‘business as usual’, and you won’t encounter any problems.


Do you want to learn more about GDPR compliance in recruitment? During March 2018, our Data Protection officers are holding interactive seminars in Solihull and London. If you’d like to come along – save your space, here.

Candidate engagement is a key priority for many organisations who value the link between high levels of engagement and high work performance.

With engaged candidates, translating into engaged employees, said to be happier, more innovative, likely to stay longer and generally more healthy and satisfied – sit back and read our new blog!

Effectively, engagement is the result of doing other things right. It starts at the point a person has their first interaction with your organisation, and making sure it’s a positive interaction. What someone hears, reads and the information they are asked to submit on your website all have an impact on their opinion of you and your business. This effects and develops their level of engagement with you as an employer from day one.

Effective Candidate Engagement Tools

There are many obstacles during the recruitment process which can affect the level of engagement you’re giving candidates.

We’ve established that the whole organisation needs to be involved and focused on creating a culture of engagement, and the capability of your leaders in making this happen is vital. With support from HR teams, you need leaders who empower their teams, encourage participation, are authentic in their interest in staff, drive change, involve people and maintain an open and transparent communication style. If your external brand says you’re a great place to work, then you need leaders who make it a reality.

Listening to what candidates say will also help you to understand what is important to them and, therefore, help  fine-tune and influence your engagement activities.

In summary, a strong culture of flexibility with supportive leaders and clear channels of communication will go a long way. The ability to adapt to new ways of working and embracing change in technologies will help you to work in the way that your staff are, but don’t forget the personal touch – face-to-face conversations should not become a thing of the past.

How do you measure the impact of candidate engagement on your business?

It’s really tricky to put a financial measure on the success of a good engagement strategy. However, it can be done, and it’s not all about money. If your staff are more engaged, they are going to be more productive, stay longer and through gathering feedback, you will know that they are happier.

A motivated employee who feels fully engaged with their employer will have less time off and will give both their colleagues and customer a better service as a result. Customer satisfaction and compliant levels are very tangible indicators.

So, we’re back to the full circle to ‘The Employment Experience’. This of course is subject to ongoing improvement and development as time chances. Ultimately, the candidate experience reflects engagement in your organisation which, in turn, supports your employer brand.

So, your team have spent countless hours and resources recruiting into a role. You’ve had to go back out to market for a role you’ve had hundreds of applications for before.

You may begin to group your candidates together in your Applicant Tracking System – but, you can’t always dip into it and find an easy fill. Shouldn’t that be how talent pools work?

Shouldn’t I be able to fill roles quickly using candidates I’ve kept in my talent pools?

Despite popular belief – having a bunch of previous applicants or data-mined candidates does not always constitute a talent pool, let alone a fruitful one. Bear in mind, there are a lot of different factors that can contribute to either the success or failure of your talent pools.

For quite some time now, talent pools have allowed HR teams and recruiters alike the ability to recruit effectively and efficiently, without having to invest tonnes of resource into it. So, without a shadow of a doubt – if you aren’t leveraging the recruiting power of talent pools, they could be the most effective recruiting tactic you’re ignoring.

First things first – what are talent pools?

Talent pools are shortlists of candidates that aren’t currently being considered for a role by your organisation (they’re not technically applicants). They may be previous applicants that didn’t fit the role they applied for, or you may have found them via other means.

If you really think about it, the majority of the population could be your talent pool. Which, technically, is correct. However, it would be an impressive feat to be in consistent communication with that many people…

It’s important to remember that talent pools don’t always need to contain candidates that match up for current vacancies. Instead, they’ll be candidates that you want to keep an eye on for the future.

Therefore – effective talent pooling is an efficient way for recruiters to maintain a constant flow of candidates into your business.

But, what strategies can you and your team implement to begin building effective talent pools?

  • Engaging Unsuccessful Applicants

Just because a candidate wasn’t suitable for a role they applied for previously, doesn’t mean they aren’t suitable for your company at all. These candidates who have already shown significant interest in your company by applying are ideal for your talent pool. 

In the UK, each vacancy receives a tonne of applications. That leaves plenty of unsuccessful candidates that, if you’re not careful, might not show interest in working for you again. But, you’d like to think that at least a handful of candidates who aren’t suitable for the role they initially apply for might be relevant for your company in the future, right?

Think about it – all of these candidates have been assessed against your indicators and company values. So, you understand their competency and have already invested a significant amount of resource into them to find that out. Why not try and get the most out of them?

If you really want to begin building talent pools of previous candidates – it’s important to keep interview notes, interviewer feedback and information around why they weren’t hired for the role. All of this information is talent pool gold, because it helps you and your team decide who is truly relevant.

  • Careers Fairs & Events

Investing time and resource into recruitment events and careers fairs is a great way to build your employer brand, whilst attracting top talent to your company and familiarizing them with exactly who you are.

Events take a lot of planning, because there’s a lot going on. It can be hard to manage and nurture all of the candidates that register and attend. Usually, it’s a case of getting candidates to sign their details onto a spreadsheet, for them to be sent the occasional email blast with ‘Current Vacancies’ in hope of generating a few extra applications somewhere.

Talent pools are a far more effective way of tracking these candidates, and keeping tabs on them.

One of the most difficult things in recruitment is determining ROI. As hard as it may be to believe – talent pools make it easier to determine the return you see. How, you may ask?

A strong Applicant Tracking System is to recruitment, as Google Analytics is to marketing. It allows you to track where your visitors, or applicants, come from, and whether or not they end up applying. Through it, you can determine how successful each of your recruitment endeavours is.

If you already have a bunch of spreadsheets from events with hundreds of candidates’ details, it’s usually pretty simple to import them into your ATS to begin managing your talent pools more effectively.

  • Internal Talent Pools

Recruiting is both expensive AND challenging, especially if you’re looking to hire for more senior roles. So, being able to turn to a pool of internal candidates can be a big time and cost saver.

So, why are internal talent pools better than looking externally?

Well – your recruitment team will already have a strong understanding of candidates’ competencies, while the candidate already has an idea of the role and the requirements of working for the company. Also, you can be confident in the fact that your internal candidates will be a good cultural fit for your business.

Promote your open roles to your internal talent pools in a similar way to how you would for external candidates. More often than not, internal candidates can be dissuaded from showing real interest in a role when they’re forced to apply.

Adopting a similar marketing approach for internal candidates as you have for external candidates will result in far more internal applications, and more effective succession planning.

  • Company Leavers

When people leave your company – it’s often not forever. In fact, from the thousands of exit and retention interviews we’ve completed for our clients – more often than not, leavers would be interested in returning at some point down the line. So, what do we do for our clients when leavers tell us that?

Correct – we put them into a talent pool. But, how do we get them there?

Exit interviews are perfect for building a talent pool of previous employees who would consider re-employment with your company in the future. Conduct the interview with each of your leavers, and ask them whether or not they’d be interested in hearing about future opportunities. If they say ‘Yes’ – put them in your talent pool.

It’s a simple way of building talent pools of candidates who already know what it’s like to work for your company. That’s invaluable in recruitment.

  • Networking

Networking isn’t just something that should be left up to the sales team – it’s very much a powerful recruitment tool, too.

This method is, arguably, one of the most effective, because it often results in a lot of referrals. Which, according to RecruiterBox, means that you’re more likely to retain your new hires – with companies finding that referred employees are 23% less likely to quit than other hires.

Your brightest and best employees should proactively network and engage with talented employees in similar roles or with the desirable, transferable skills that are required to succeed in your industry.


To conclude – building effective and efficient talent pools is only one part of what constitutes a successful recruitment strategy. Alone, they won’t work as effectively. However, when combined with effective attraction strategies, consistent and appropriate engagement, and seamless onboarding – your talent pools should be concomitant, and basically fill themselves.