Return to the glossary

Candidate Pipeline

Definition: A candidate pipeline is a pool of potential candidates who are qualified and could fit future open roles within an organization. It’s like having a ready database of pre-screened candidates that you can reach out to when a relevant position opens up.

A candidate pipeline can be defined as a proactive and strategic approach to identifying, engaging, and nurturing potential candidates for future hiring needs.

This pool of individuals may not be current job seekers, but they have been pre-vetted and are aligned with the organization’s requirements and culture.

Candidate Pipeline vs Talent Pool vs Hiring Pipeline

While these three terms are often used interchangeably, there are subtle differences between them:

  • Candidate pipeline: As mentioned, this refers to potential candidates who could be a fit for future roles.
  • Talent pool: A broader term, the talent pool includes all individuals who have expressed interest in your company, submitted a resume, or have been sourced by the recruiting team. They may or may not have been pre-screened.
  • Hiring pipeline: This typically refers to the process and stages that a candidate goes through during the recruitment process, from application to hire.

Building a candidate pipeline

Here are some strategies to help you build a robust candidate pipeline:

  • Proactive sourcing: Don’t wait for vacancies to start looking for candidates. Continually source and engage potential candidates.
  • Networking: Attend industry events and job fairs. Encourage employee referrals.
  • Leverage social media: LinkedIn, Facebook, and even Twitter can be great platforms for connecting with potential candidates.
  • Maintain relationships: Stay in touch with previous applicants, silver medalists, and even passive candidates.
  • Employer branding: A strong employer brand can attract top talent to your pipeline.

Maintaining and nurturing candidate pipeline

Building a candidate pipeline is just the first step. To maximize its effectiveness, you must maintain and nurture your relationships with the potential candidates in your pipeline. Here’s how:

  • Regular communication: Keep in touch with your pipeline candidates even when you don’t have any open positions that fit their profile. Regular updates about the company, industry news, or even personalized messages on special occasions can help keep your organization top of mind.
  • Personalized engagement: Understand what each candidate in your pipeline is looking for in their career. Tailor your communication and engagement efforts to align with their aspirations, interests, and values.
  • Provide value: Offering relevant content or insights can help establish your organization as a thought leader and a desirable place to work. This could include industry trends, job search tips, or company news and updates.
  • Feedback and recognition: If a candidate has previously applied or interviewed with your organization, provide them with constructive feedback. Recognize the time and effort they have invested in your organization. This can leave a positive impression and encourage them to stay open to future opportunities with your company.

Remember, the goal is to nurture a long-term relationship with these candidates.

By maintaining regular, value-driven communication, you can ensure that your organization remains a preferred choice for them when they’re ready to make a career move.

This can significantly decrease your time-to-hire when a relevant position opens up.


What is a candidate pipeline management?

Candidate pipeline management involves strategically building and maintaining a pool of potential candidates for future hiring needs. It includes sourcing, engaging, and nurturing relationships with these candidates.

How can I improve my candidate pipeline?

Improving your candidate pipeline involves proactive sourcing, networking, leveraging social media, maintaining relationships with potential candidates, and strengthening your employer brand. Using technology, like applicant tracking systems or CRM software, can also streamline pipeline management.

How is a candidate pipeline beneficial for an organization?

A candidate pipeline can shorten the hiring process, improve the quality of hires, and reduce recruitment costs. It also ensures that the organization is better prepared for future hiring needs.

What is the difference between a candidate pipeline and a talent pool?

While both terms refer to groups of potential candidates, a candidate pipeline generally refers to pre-vetted candidates who are considered a good fit for future roles. In contrast, a talent pool is a broader term that includes all individuals who have expressed interest in your company.