7 Ways Hiring Managers Today Are Building (And Narrowing) Their Candidate Pools

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AnnaMarie Houlis4.87k
Journalist & travel blogger
April 15, 2024 at 4:24PM UTC
Building your candidate pool takes time, effort and sometimes dollars. While there are tons of talented people with potential out there, it's not always easy to find the right employees that can do the job well and fit your company culture. That's why it's important to build a hefty candidate pool so that you have plenty of options from which to choose!
Of course, once you build a candidate pool, however, you have to spend the time narrowing it down, too.
So here's how to build your candidate pool and then narrow it down so you can hire the right employees for your company.

What does “pool of candidates” mean?

A pool of candidates, also known as an applicant pool, is the group of people who've applied for an open position. This applicant pool may be large or small depending on how much advertising the company does for the job opening, as well as how much interest there is surrounding the job (and this also depends on how well the company writes the job advertisement!).

After a company builds a pool of candidates for a job opening, the employer must embark on the selection process. This involves reducing the applicant pool to either a long-list or a short-list depending on its size. They continue to narrow that list down through a series of phone screenings, interviews, tests and more. Eventually, the employer will have to choose one person (or a few, depending on needs) for the job opening.
Building and narrowing down a pool of candidates can take a lot of time. Patience and persistence are key.

How do you increase your candidate pool?

Increasing the candidate pool is important because, the bigger the candidate pool, the bigger the potential. Finding the right person for the job might require sifting through tons of candidates, but the more candidates you have, the better chance you have at finding the right one.
Here's how to increase your candidate pool.

1. Write an appealing job advertisement.

In order to garner attention surrounding your job opening, you'll have to write an appealing job advertisement for it. This may mean hiring a writer to do it for you — after all, you want your first impression with candidates to come off well, and that requires a clear, concise and compelling job advertisement.
Write a job advertisement that stands out to job seekers because it tells your brand story, invites like-minded visionaries to join the team, carefully details what will be expected of the new employee, calls out specific skills that the new employee should have, shares salary and benefit information (that's ideally competitive!) and more. 
Make sure that you also pay mind to gendered language that tends to deter women from certain jobs, as well . Write inclusively so as to appeal to a large, diverse body of potential applicants. You don't want to leave any population of people out when you're trying to increase your candidate pool because, again, more the merrier!

2. Post your job opening on various job boards. 

Once you have an intriguing job advertisement, you'll want to post it on as many job boards as possible — Fairygodboss' job board is a great place to start! The more people it reaches, the more people will apply. Some job boards require you to pay for job advertisements, while others are free. Some allow you to try them out for free by running your first job advertisement without charge. Give them all a go — besides, using a bunch of different job boards can help you to determine which worked best for you in the future.  

3. Promote your job opening across social media.

Promote your job opening by sharing the links to the advertisement you've published on job boards across social media. While you can also directly tell followers of your social media the job details, it may be easier to send them to one clean place where all the details are already spilled out. Besides, most people don't tend to read large chunks of text on social media, but they will click through on "help wanted!"-type posts.

4. Go to career fairs.

Show up at career fairs in your area if you're hiring and interested in meeting job seekers in person from the start! Career fairs lure tons of job hunters who walk around prepared with their resumes, which means that you can read their resume and get to know them all in one shot. 

5. Spread the word by mouth.

Sure, the internet is a helpful place to spread the word. But before there was the internet, there was a lot more in-person communication! Talk to people. Share with your friends, family and social network that you're hiring. You never know who might know someone who knows someone who'd be perfect for your job.

6. Pay for promotion.

You might not want to, but paying for advertisements can help you get the word out about your job. You can create targeted campaigns on social media, for example, where you can reach out to the exact demographics that you're interested in attracting! It will cost you, but it might end up saving you in the end since it does the dirty work for you.

7. Don't give up.

We get it — you want to fill the job fast! But don't just hire anyone to get it over with. It's important that you take the time to find the right person for the job, or else you'll waste a lot of time and money training and potentially having to fire the new-hire to go through this whole process again. So keep at these tips in order to keep growing your candidate pool so you can find the right person.

How do you choose a candidate for a job?

Once you have a big enough applicant pool, it's time to start narrowing it down. You can choose to do this however you want, but to save yourself time and money, you might want to follow these three simple steps.

1. Browse resumes for the top few applicants to invite for a phone interview.

Browse through the resumes you receive and try to narrow them down to the top 25% or 10% or even less depending on how many applicants you have. Invite those applicants for a phone screening to ask them some preliminary questions. Once you talk to all of them, you can then cut that group down based on their phone screening performances. 

2. Invite a few from the phone screening to interview in person.

Once you've narrowed down the phone-screening group of applicants, invite a smaller percentage of them in for in-person interviews. You might try to schedule them all within one chunk of time like a week or month so that you can make the time to dedicate yourself to the process. Once you get to meet these applicants in person and talk to them more in depth, you can narrow down that pool, too.

3. Ask the remaining top few for references.

Once you've narrowed down your top favorites — just a handful at most — ask them for references. This can be a great way to confirm everything you've learned about them throughout the interview process (as well as a great way to figure out who has stretched the truth). Use these references to help you make your final decision and pick one to fill the job opening you have.

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AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.

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