How to Build a Talent Pool of Freelancers?

In the era of the Great Resignation, having a ready talent pool could be the difference between growth and stagnation. In this article, we will look at what a talent pool is, and how freelancers can help to deepen this pool into a powerful resource to help your business thrive. 

What exactly is a talent pool?

Traditionally, the idea of a talent pool is a single, centralized resource where recruiters and HR managers can keep all of their potential job candidates. Instead of starting from the drawing board every time a business needs to fill a role, a talent pool allows the company to draw from existing candidates, such as those who have applied to your company in the past and failed to win the open position, or those who have worked for your organization before and moved on to a new role. 

In some cases, this talent pool could even include internal employees who work for a different department, but who might be interested in a role change or a secondment to support the needs of a pressing project or to get their hands on a more senior or demanding position. 

In another common scenario, you might find that fantastic candidates are recommended to your business, but at the time there are no open positions that meet their skills. Sourcing or recruitment companies might reach out of their own volition to suggest someone who would make a good cultural fit or who are looking for their next opportunity. While there is nothing available at the time, it makes sense to add these candidates to your talent pool, so you have their names and details ready if the right kind of opening comes up. 

This is part of a series of articles about Talent Management.

What are the benefits of a talent pool?

One of the main benefits of having a ready talent pool is in reducing the time it takes to hire new candidates. According to data collected by LinkedIn, 70% of companies take between 30 days and four months to hire a new candidate from the moment that person appears in their pipeline. That’s just 30% that can get a candidate from application to contract in under a month. This is time where a role remains vacant, the necessary work isn’t being completed, and money is being spent on communication, head-hunting, interviews, background checks, and more. At the end of this cumbersome process – the candidate may well turn around and say no to the offered position, putting the HR or recruitment team back to square one. 

A talent pool reduces the time to hire by skipping certain steps. Many of the candidates in a talent pool may have already expressed great interest in working for the company, or have already had background checks completed for example. There is no need to head-hunt or market the open position with the same efforts if you have a pool of ready talent at your disposal. 

What role do freelancers take in a talent pool?

At the moment, there are more than 11 million jobs open in the US alone. We’re experiencing an unprecedented shortage of staff in all areas, and tech companies are feeling this pinch greatest of all. In short, talent pools are running pretty dry. 

Freelancers are a great solution to the talent shortage, for a number of reasons – including:

  • They aren’t tied to a single company: Freelancers can work for multiple businesses at the same time, which means more than one business can benefit from a single independent contractor. 
  • Freelancers have niche experience: Independent contractors gain a lot of experience very quickly working for companies within the same industry. You are likely to find top-quality candidates by looking at freelance talent. 
  • You can pay for what you need: By pulling in freelancers for a specific project, you get short-term needs met quickly, without needing to create a complete role for the person to fill, making it much more cost-effective. 

When it comes to building a talent pool, freelancers are a fantastic addition, as they are unlikely to become full-time employees anywhere else, and therefore they won’t be taken out of the market. In fact, as long as they have availability – you can pretty much always rely on their ability to support your business needs. 

It’s also much easier to onboard a freelancer than it is to hire a full-time employee, helping with that time to hire challenge we discussed earlier. Freelancers are responsible for their own taxes for example, and while a freelance contract is best practice and should always be considered when onboarding a new contractor, it is far easier to complete than onboarding the vast amount of paperwork involved for a full-time hire. 

How to manage a talent pool

Once you have a talent pool of candidates for open projects, tasks and roles, it’s part of your job to manage them effectively. First, this means keeping track of all the people inside your database, including which ones are freelancers, and which would be looking for full-time work. You also want to be sure of the skills that the people in your talent pool possess, so that you don’t reach out to a graphic designer to work on your tax returns, or ask a writer to design your new logo. In a sophisticated talent management solution, you may be able to include reviews and notes from colleagues across the business, so that you can dip into your database and quickly ascertain who the right person for the task at hand should be. 

Make sure that you keep up to date information about your talent pool, which could include asking them to opt-into your mailing list, or a specific careers mailing list that keeps them abreast of the latest open opportunities or freelance projects. The ball is then in their court to reach out directly if they are interested. This has the added benefit of keeping the lines of communication open between you and your talent pool, making it more likely that they will make themselves available when you have a need or a requirement.

Related content: Read our guide to hr compliance