How To Build Your Talent Pipeline Using Word and Excel

How many times have you told a job candidate that you'll "keep their resume on file"? Pretty much every time you contact them, right? How many times have you actually followed through with that? Not many, right? You had good reason to not hire them, too; they lacked the right education or didn't have the right experience or scored lower on their pre employment test than other candidates. You just had too many other great candidates to choose from.


Now fast forward to the next time you need to fill that opening. You start from scratch with a brand new batch of applicants to search through, interview, and tell you'll keep their resume on file. Except this time, you don't have that stellar incoming stream of applications. You find yourself wondering when that star employee will show up—like they did last time. What if you never had to go through this at all?

Indeed, wouldn’t it be nice, that when a vacancy needed to be filled, instead of having to go to external advertising avenues to solicit new job seekers, you could simply rely on a pre-screened bank of top candidates. And when a new position does become available, the first step is always going to be alerting the bank of the position. It doesn’t matter if those people in the bank managed to gain employment since you’ve added them, merely having a vetted group of candidates to turn to initially is a luxury very few companies have. It may even mitigate the need for an external advertisement entirely (and the potential costs associated with that).

Also, that group of pre-screened candidates might know some other great candidates they can pass the opening along to. Who doesn't want to help a friend, right? And chances are, that candidate's friends will have some similar traits that drew you to them in the first place.

The nature of today’s job seeker market is highly competitive and companies cannot afford to be in a reactive hiring mode, living with very limited windows of opportunity, and ending up taking costly shortcuts that ultimately lead to bad hires, and high levels of turnover.

What You Can Start Doing Today

Let's walk through the steps to start to build your talent pipeline. I'll show you some recommended ways to set things up (warning: you might need to learn about a feature in Word called Mail Merge. It's super straight forward and very useful) and hopefully your next round of hiring will be easier for you.

Keep a spread sheet of all your applicants

Include a column that says "Contact Again" or "Add to Bank" or something along those lines. That will be your que to save these individuals the next time this position opens up again.


For Your Next Opening

Let's say you need another Accounts Receivable person to come in. Notice those two people above who are labeled "Add To Bank"? Well you can filter your spreadsheet to only show those candidates. You'll then want to open a Word document and put in something like this:

Hello «First_Name»,

Back in «Application_Date» you applied for the position of «Position_Applied_For».

We’re happy to inform you that we’ve begun the search for another person to fill this role and wanted to give you the opportunity to be in our first round of applicants. Simply click the link below to apply.

If you have found work elsewhere, congratulations! Perhaps there’s someone you know who would be perfect for this role. If someone comes to mind, why not forward this email along to them?


[Your Name & Company]


You're probably wondering what those weird bracket things are, aren't you? Those are Merge Fields (here's the slight learning part). While in Word, if you click on the Mailings tab, you can create an email message that will email a group of people in a spreadsheet. Here's what you do:

  1. Have a spreadsheet alreadysaved with the individuals you want to send your message to
  2. Click the Mailings tab
  3. Click Start Mail Merge > E-mail Message
  4. Click Select Recipients >  Use Existing List
  5. Find your saved spreadsheet (you might be asked to choose which tab has the information, also you want to make sure your top row is clearly labeled, like in the example above)
  6. Type out your message and put in Merge Fields where necessisary (these are fields that reference information within your spreadsheet and automatically put it in)
  7. Click Prevue Results to see how your Merge Fields are working
  8. Click Finish & Merge > Send E-mail Messages
  9. Select Email from the To: dropdown
  10. Enter your Subject Line
  11. Click All records and click OK


That's it! It'll take a bit of practice to feel comfortable with Mail Merge, but after one or two tests, you'll be a pro. Here's a handy reference guide to further explain Mail Merge:

By tracking and categorizing your applicants now, you can start to build that pipeline of talent for the next time you need to hire. That pipeline becomes the first place you go to fill the position quickly and start the process of referral hires.

Yes, there's some work at the beginning, but it will make future you very happy.

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