The Pipeline for Job Hunters - Frugal Guidance 2

Knowing About Pipelining Might Help Get You a Job

Pipelining is a hot topic in Human Resource circles these days, for good reason. It emphasizes building relationships with potential hires for critical positions in a company BEFORE there is an opening — creating a pipeline of talent.

The old-fashioned (but still common) hiring method

Most job hunters are too familiar with the old-fashioned method of hiring: A company has an open position. A job description is created or updated. An opening is advertised or recruiters are called. Job hunters respond with a résumé; the HR officer selects a few they hope will do well in the position. The hiring manager interviews them and everybody prays that the person they select will do the job well. If the new employee survives in his job for three months, the other résumés are thrown out. When the next opening is created, the cycle starts over again.

How is a hiring pipeline different?

Pipelining is a system of identifying high quality potential hires BEFORE they are needed and then, over time, building a relationship with them so that when a company needs a skilled person, he or she is already in the “pipeline.”

Pipelining is not just for large corporations. It’s also critical for medium and small businesses and nonprofits where each employee may have unique and critical functions and the loss of one person can have a huge impact on the organization. In a large organization, however, HR will be entrusted with creating and managing the pipeline day-to-day, where in small organizations, it may involve managers, board members, and outside consultants and recruiters.

Pipelining is not just for top management positions, but for high-impact and unique positions. For example, a small nonprofit or business may have critical needs for non-executive positions in technology, government regulations, fund-raising, social media, sales and marketing, and so forth.

Pipelining may also be called funneling or building channels.

How do companies approach the pipeline process?

A key for the pipelining process is that HR is NOT posting a job opening. Rather, they are searching for potential candidates by:

  • Quiet searching on LinkedIn and other professional sites,
  • Looking at professional groups (online and off), and
  • Getting referrals from:
  • Current employees
  • Former employees
  • Colleagues
  • Board members (especially for nonprofits)
  • School alumni, and
  • Networking partners.

Another goal of pipelining might be to build a more diverse workplace, targeting minorities, women, younger job hunters and students, local community people, people with specific language skills, or candidates with international experience.

Pipelining also identifies internal candidates and can offer them training and mentoring to take on new responsibilities.

In addition, a business may pipeline while considering expansion in a new field or a new region.

The goal for building the pipeline is not to hire a good person, but to hire the BEST person for the job. It doesn’t matter if the person is unemployed or working. The potential candidate may be searching for a job or be happy where they are. They can still be a prospect for recruiting over the long term.

Jobs Button - Pipelining for Job Hunters -

What does this mean to the Job Hunter?

Pipelining is one of the reasons that corporations are filling job openings without advertising them. While people DO get jobs by checking LinkedIn and the job boards for openings, anywhere from 75-85% of job opening are not filled that way.

Just because you are contacted by a recruiter for a company, doesn’t guarantee there is a current opening. So, even if you have a great phone conversation with a representative of a corporation, don’t expect to be hired right away. There might not be an opening yet! There’s no harm in asking if the recruiter is looking to fill a current position or if they are pipelining.

To make an impact and be remembered again when the job does open up, you can’t just demonstrate that you did the job or could do the job, you have to convince the recruiter that you are the BEST person for the job. You have to be an exemplary candidate.

An effective way to get noticed by a company is to find somebody in the business who will recommend you for an opening. Some companies offer financial rewards when an employee recommends a successful candidate for a current opening. The employee thus has an incentive to help their recommended candidate succeed. However, be aware that pipelining also tries to identify internal candidates for promotion. If an employee is focused on advancing his own career, he may be less likely to recommend others. The job hunter should not rely only on a single contact in a business.

Key to Finding a Job - The Job Hunter's Pipeline

What can a job hunter do to be found by HR pipeliners?

Although there are no guarantees, there are many things you can do to enhance the ability of HR and recruiters to find you and enlist you into their pipeline:

  • Network, network, network.
  • Be available to talk to people, even if you are employed.
  • Keep track of these contacts so you can follow-up during your next job hunt.
  • Keep your LinkedIn profile complete and up to date.
  • Build a target list of companies you’d like to work for.
  • Follow companies on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or even Pinterest and other social media.
  • Engage with people on these company pages. Follow conversations.
  • Follow news of those businesses.
  • Search for both official company blogs and employee blogs. (Some businesses now encourage their employees to create their own blogs. They may ask those bloggers to recommend people for jobs, too.)
  • Be active in professional groups on LinkedIn. Become a subject expert in the group if you can. There are often similar Communities on Google+, too. Some may be more active than their LinkedIn equivalents. Some not.
  • Blog. Become a known expert on your field. If you don’t like to write, post videos, podcasts, or interviews on your blog or YouTube channel.
  • Connect with people in your target company (or nonprofit) on LinkedIn.
  • See if your target company is participating in a career fair or a trade show in your area. If so, go and introduce yourself to the people there, ask questions and ask who you can talk to in the corporation.
  • Nonprofit employers, in particular, may have volunteer activities available to help you meet and be noticed by managers.
  • Use Twitter to build your LinkedIn connections: Check people’s LinkedIn profiles for their Twitter accounts. You can follow them easily on Twitter and check their Twitter connections for other corporate and industry peers. Follow them, too. If they are interesting, find their LinkedIn profile and send them an invitation. Mention you follow them on Twitter already.
  • Use the LinkedIn Alumni tool to find people in your target companies (or industry leaders) from your alma mater.
  • Develop a relationship with contacts inside the business, and they can recommend you to HR.
  • Be patient. Yes, it’s hard when you’re unemployed and the bills keep coming in. But not all job leads will pan out quickly. Be in it for the long term (and start before you are laid off, if you can).
  • And remember the first item on this list: Network, network, network.


Obviously, not all businesses and nonprofits create an employee pipeline, but the practice is growing. LinkedIn is one of the few social media sites offering sophisticated tools to assist HR professionals in creating this pipeline. See our earlier Frugal Guidance 2 article on What Job Hunters Should Know About The Corporate Recruiters’ LinkedIn.

By networking on LinkedIn and elsewhere, you increase your chances of being found by the important decision makers in all businesses. By building a long-term relationship, however, you increase your chances of being found by those who want a steady pipeline of candidates for their future corporate health.

For more reading:

See our Frugal Guidance 2 index of LinkedIn posts for more info on using LinkedIn.

Building a Talent Pipeline, a post by the Bridgespan Group which assists nonprofits.

Hire Wisdom: 8 Steps to Successfully Pipeline Talent & Why It’s Important for Your Business on the IQ Partners, Inc. recruitment webpage.

Oracle Human Capital Management offers a PDF on Modern HR in the Cloud.

Much more info is available online about creating HR pipelines, but very little is available for helping job hunters get into the pipeline. In my opinion this is an area ripe for other bloggers to explore. – Andy

What tips can YOU share for job hunters? Please tell us in the comments.

The Straight and Narrow Path Credits:

Pipeline title photo is used courtesy of “supakitmod” and

Jobs Button and the Key to Finding a Job graphics are used courtesy of Stuart Miles and

The Straight and Narrow Path through the Maze (originally “Leadership And Business Vision”) is used courtesy of David Castillo Dominici and

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