Making Just-in-Time Talent a Reality

April 11, 2012

Jim Schnyder has spent the last 11 years within the recruiting organization at PepsiCo, a $60B+ global company that counts Pepsi, Frito Lay, Tropicana, Quaker, Gatorade and many other household names in its stable of brands. He is SourceCon's reigning GrandMaster Sourcer. He also headed up the initial rollout of LinkedIn's Talent Pipeline across PepsiCo's global talent acquisition team.
Imagine a world in which you have a way of sourcing just-in-time talent: where you can map out targeted talent pools in various geographies and functions, easily track their professional updates, cultivate relationships, and turn straight to those pools as opportunities arise in your organization. Now imagine you can do that seamlessly across a global talent acquisition team. I've spent the last several months testing and contributing to LinkedIn's Talent Pipeline, a solution that I believe will get us there, sooner than you think.

At PepsiCo, thanks to our global brand strength, we have the fortune of having many active jobseekers in our system. But, like any organization intent on hiring the best of the best, we have our work cut out finding the right candidates. We need to scour the entire talent pool - whether or not they are looking. It's not until someone taps a happily employed top performer on the shoulder with a stronger opportunity that they lift their head up from what they're doing on a day-to-day basis and consider a change. Which is why, despite our brand position, recruiting passive prospects has never been more critical to PepsiCo.

As you know, working with passive candidates has a lot in common with the sales process: you need to identify your prospects, do the outreach, build relationships, and manage your pipeline over time, converting leads to candidates and ultimately hires. PepsiCo historically faced a common industry challenge here: managing and tracking our talent leads over time. We tried various CRM tools which suffered from the same major drawback: no sooner did we enter the information than it was out of date. Our leads shifted industries, functions, regions, even names, while their records stayed static.

While our sourcing team tended to use those CRM tools, the broader team either found low value in them or didn't have access. As a result, they continued to stick with their own ad hoc solutions: a spreadsheet on this hard drive, a pile of business cards in that drawer, a stack of resumes in a file cabinet over there, a bunch of sticky notes on that wall. And with the same ad hoc, low-tech techniques being deployed by colleagues in different markets around the world, the net result: no cohesive talent pool, rather a host of leads across many silos.

I truly think our world is about to shift with LinkedIn's launch of Talent Pipeline. As one of six charter customers involved in the rollout, I've had the opportunity to lead implementation efforts within PepsiCo, work with LinkedIn on making improvements to the product, and drive adoption across our global team. It's already clear to me that this solution will transform what's possible for our recruiting organization.

In Talent Pipeline, we now have a centralized system in which we can create talent pools - based on LinkedIn searches, but also from other sources that we upload to the Recruiter platform, such as our own spreadsheets, random files, and more - that are globally accessible, searchable and editable.

We're already seeing our team collaborate much more willingly, since we leverage source codes for every lead and tag them appropriately, so that we're able to track everyone's contributions. Additionally, these new tools are part of the LinkedIn Recruiter platform, which the team was already using. It's intuitive and it's almost an industry standard.

And best of all - and this is what makes Talent Pipeline a game changer in my opinion - every lead is current. Many of them are created from deep searches on LinkedIn. Any leads that we upload are cross-checked against LinkedIn's 150 million plus network and tied to the appropriate profiles. Now, as our prospects move, we are able to follow their progress with up-to-date information and continue to stay in touch. We can also use insights from their activity updates, recommendations, groups and more to keep communications relevant and useful.

So, what's my vision for just-in-time talent? Here's an example of how I foresee using this tool in future. Let's say I routinely recruit accountants in the Boulder, Colorado area. I can run a targeted search using the LinkedIn Recruiter technology to get to that population. Separately, I can network outside of LinkedIn using any of my other favorite sources, gather leads in an excel template and upload them to Talent Pipeline. Many of them will already have LinkedIn profiles, and the system will automatically match them. Others won't, and that's OK; LinkedIn will create a record that lives in my system only (not on the public LinkedIn platform).

As time goes by, I can return to this pool, keep in touch with them, and when I'm hiring another CPA in the Boulder area nine months from now, I know exactly where to start. I can filter within that group and selectively send out messages, more or less tapping them on the shoulder to see if they're interested or know of someone. No more starting from scratch.

I can imagine this same technology being used to help us set up all sorts of similar talent pools - drawing on graduating classes from targeted business schools/colleges, for example, and other populations that can be hard to keep in touch with as they change jobs, locations and even names.

This is just the start of the journey for Talent Pipeline so it isn't perfect yet - but if you're looking for a way to build just-in-time pools of prospects and passive candidates, I'd strongly encourage you to check it out when it launches in the next few weeks. No matter how much you love LinkedIn Recruiter, a few months from now you'll wonder how you ever got along without this new functionality. And if you're not yet using LinkedIn Recruiter, there has never been a better time to take the plunge.