Why Every Company Needs a Deep Virtual Bench of Talent

Business.com / Hiring / Last Modified: November 10, 2017
Photo credit: stoatphoto/Shutterstock

With advances in technology and changing demographics, it is critical that recruiters and HR professionals build a deep bench of virtual talent. Here's how.

Winning teams – in sports, business and in all areas of life – have deep benches. 

Even if your company is fully staffed, taking your eye off the ball when it comes to recruiting is a sign of complacency, which is the kryptonite of success.

What if one of your stars takes another job? What if one of your top executives experiences an unexpected health crisis or family tragedy and leaves the company? Did you know that two-thirds of those reported to be misusing painkillers in the U.S. are currently employed and are thus susceptible to declining performance or medical leave?

More than ever before, companies must be ready to replace employees at a moment's notice. The time it takes for you to fill a vacant position has increased. Glassdoor reports that since 2009, interview processes have grown from 3.3 to 3.7 days, and data from DHI Hiring Indicators shows that the average job opening remained unfilled for 28.1 days on average in 2016, which is an increase from 19.3 days in 2001 to 2003.

That is why it is critical for companies to build what is called a deep virtual bench. The world's most innovative human resource leaders are vigilantly focused on recruiting 365 days a year.  

Having helped world class companies recruit B2B sales executives for decades, here are have four ways to build a strong virtual bench.

  1. Aggressively target passive job seekers. LinkedIn reports that 70 percent of the worldwide workforce is comprised of passive candidates who aren't pursuing new employment opportunities but may be open to listening. Passive recruiting is important, because most high performers are already gainfully employed. To effectively recruit passive B2B sales job seekers, you must have a great reputation within the industry as well as a seamless and optimized application process. (Companies such as Netflix and Facebook allow you to apply with one click of the mouse.) In addition, consider using an outside recruiting company to maintain a safe distance and avoid being accused of poaching.

  2. Leverage cutting-edge technology. Since implementing artificial intelligence (AI) into their recruiting process, Unilever saw the average time to hire an entry-level candidate dramatically reduced from four months to four weeks. Instead of visiting colleges, collecting resumes, and arranging interviews, the consumer good giant made the jobs known via social media and then partnered with an AI company to screen applicants. This took place in 68 counties in 15 languages with 250,000 applicants from July 2016 to June 2017. The time recruiters spent reviewing applications decreased 75 percent. LinkedIn recently announced Talent Insights, a new big data analytics product that enables HR leaders to delve more deeply into data for hiring. This helps employers identify which schools are graduating the most data scientists, engineers, etc. and analyze your recruitment patterns versus those of your competition. It further provides information about the growth of skills in certain areas of the country.

  3. Become an employer of choice. Glassdoor reported that 84 percent of employees would consider leaving their current jobs if offered another role with a company that had an excellent corporate reputation. Great candidates, millennials especially, value a commitment to employee wellness, sustainability as well as initiative that cater to gender and diversity equality. Having a strong culture, values and clear company mission are critical to building a strong talent pipeline. Top companies such as Bain & Company, Google and Facebook offer perks, such as free meals, onsite gyms, massages, free laundry services and generous parental leave.

    Given that Americans currently carry a record $1.4 trillion in student loan debt, student loan repayment assistance has become one of the hottest benefits being offered by companies such as Fidelity and Aetna. The size of your company will dictate how many perks you can offer, but adoption of policies that are thoughtful of its employees will turn them into your biggest brand ambassadors. In addition to that organic positive publicity, submit applications for the "Best Places to Work" lists offered by most publications. These are now offered by most national publications as well as local business journals.

  4. Appeal to diverse candidates. To build a strong virtual bench, you must widen your search and appeal to candidates from different backgrounds. A PwC study found that 71 percent of survey respondents who implemented diversity practices reported a positive impact on the company's recruiting efforts. The previously mentioned Unilever case study resulted in their most diverse entry-level class to date, including more nonwhite applicants, and the number of universities represented increased to 2,600 up from 840. To build your virtual bench, consider implementing diversity-friendly policies such as floating holidays. These allow people to take off on Good Friday, Yom Kippur, Ramadan or a yoga retreat if that is some employees' preference.

Building your virtual bench 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year will help position your company for success, including, but not limited to, increased profitability and improved company reputation.

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