Andy Ryan

Senior Client Partner,

Financial Services, Digital & Scaleups

Like almost everything else, talent acquisition has been feeling the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. There's a widespread freeze on hiring and companies are unsure about the outlook for their workforces.

However, the pandemic should not undermine your talent strategy. Quite the opposite, in fact. The global talent market has never had more availability, predominantly because they're working from home, on furlough (temporary leave), or because they've faced redundancy. Now is the time to begin building strategic pipelines of quality talent to future-proof your hiring strategy.

By building your pipeline now, you’ll have a coordinated supply of best-fit candidates in the right locations, with the right skill sets and in the areas where you need them most - ready to join your organisation as and when required.

What is talent pipelining?

Talent pipelining is a method of gaining a deep awareness of your key talent markets. It goes a step further than just mapping out suitable candidate profiles. A talent pipeline builds engagement between desired talent markets and your company through research, communication, and assessment. It also creates a forum to positively shape your employer brand.

You may not require the talent in this specific moment of time but, by building your pipeline now, you gain prolonged access to talent markets and a clear understanding of the best talent out there. 

6 Group is a global executive search and talent intelligence firm that builds talent pipelines for companies all around the world. Here, we will take you through our key steps in building highly effective talent pipelines.

To deliver a robust and high-grade pipeline for our clients, we typically spend around six weeks identifying, engaging and assessing potential candidates in accordance with our client's desired profiles.

Build your talent pipeline in three steps

Below is the process we follow for building talent pipelines on behalf of our clients.


1. Create the profiles

You need to first understand which talent communities you are seeking to engage with - i.e. demographics, locations, skillsets, and education. Before commencing any talent pipelining project, we first build the "ideal candidate" profile with the client organisation's key stakeholders. Perhaps you're looking to create pipelines for multiple disciplines which, naturally, would mean the creation of multiple profiles.

The talent which we frequently get asked to build pipelines for are typically niche, technically skilled professionals as these people are considered hard-to-find and the company is heavily reliant on them for operational purposes.

It's often a good starting point to identify a cohort of top-performing talent currently in your organisation and within the disciplines you want to build a pipeline for. Their attributes will be that of your ideal candidate. Make clear which technical or functional abilities they hold which makes them excel in their role.

Another consideration should be their behavioural traits as this can form part of a later stage assessment for pipelined candidates.

2. Define the approach

Once you understand the talent markets you're seeking to explore and engage with, you can begin to consider which approach will work best in building a strong talent pipeline.

How you develop your approach can be split into two segments:

1 | Identification: The more channels you utilise for your approach, the wider your access to the desired talent communities will be. We adopt a multitude of tailored sourcing channels during a talent pipelining project. These include:

  • Company target lists
  • Social media
  • Contact networks
  • Candidate databases
  • Referrals
  • Networking
  • Academic alumni sites

2 | Engagement: Building an awareness of your target talent markets is just one half of the battle. How you subsequently entice this identified cohort into potentially joining your organisation - whether that's immediately or at some point in the future - is a test of your attraction capability. Constructing a well-considered and engaging narrative about your organisation to ensure the candidate experience is exceedingly positive is key. 

As a global executive search & talent intelligence firm, our clients trust us to act on their behalf. We uphold a highly professional approach which is built around the client organisation's EVP and employer brand. We ensure that the delivery team is well-versed in all aspects of the client's company and we develop first-class, client-branded marketing materials to distribute to all identified candidates.


3. Build the pipeline

Now that you've developed an approach into your desired talent market and a means to engage them, you can begin qualifying their suitability for their inclusion in the pipeline.

For each talent pipeline project, we work with the client to build a bespoke technical assessment which covers the essential skills required in order to perform well in the specific discipline. We then take all potential candidates through this assessment and capture key details to build individual profiles. The data for each candidate we capture includes:

  • Full name
  • Employment details
  • Job title
  • Qualifications
  • Experience
  • Current and expected salary
  • Availability
  • Contact information

Ultimately, you're left with a wide-scale awareness of your desired talent market and a pipeline to support your hiring activities for the foreseeable future. 

To keep the pipeline both fresh and relevant over the long term, it's necessary to periodically update it. Members of the pipeline may become unavailable as time goes by. To ensure it maintains longevity and usefulness to the client, we keep the pipeline active over an agreed period of time and continuously supplement it with additional suitable members.

What the pipeline
should tell you

The final talent pipeline reports we provide to our clients include:

  • A summary of total talent identified: An overview of all identified candidates and evidence-based reasoning for their inclusion in the pipeline.
  • Geography of pipelined talent: Where target talent communities of the pipeline are typically located in line with your business locations.
  • Gender diversity data: The overall gender balance of the pipeline and other diversity data.
  • Competitive analysis: Details of the companies that hold the market share of your target talent.
  • Employer brand perception: First-hand research of what candidates think of your reputation as an employer.
  • Pipelined talent availability: A balanced spread of pipelined candidate availability - typically over a 12-month period.
  • Pipelined candidate details: Individual profiles of each pipeline member and a copy of their respective CV.

About the author


Andy Ryan is a Senior Client Partner at 6 Group. He leads 6 Group’s Swiss practice and is based in Zürich.

Andy brings significant functional and operational experience to 6 Group’s team, having spent the first part of his career working in front office wealth management roles, including for JP Morgan’s private banking desks in Geneva and New York. Feeling the pull of entrepreneurship, he left the financial world in 2011 to found a travel technology startup, growing his company to a team of 20 and a user base in over 150 countries.

While building a business he discovered his passion for talent and recruitment, so after winding down his company he joined UBS’s in-house recruitment team to gain a better understanding of the talent-related challenges faced by a large international business. Joining 6 Group in early 2019, his role enables him to bring together his hands-on business experience in both large corporates and scrappy startups, with his passion for identifying and solving challenges around talent and recruitment.

With a particular interest in HR strategy and board governance, Andy sits on the board of directors of a company in Argentina focused on promoting entrepreneurship and innovation in Latin America, as well as on the governing board of the International School of Geneva, the oldest and largest international school in the world.

Andy read Geography at Cambridge University.

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For over a decade, 6 Group has built highly effective talent pipelines for companies all around the world and across a multitude of sectors.

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Head of Business Risk:

"The process and quality of research provided by 6 Group was of the highest quality I have ever experienced as a hiring manager, and with an exceptionally challenging mandate in a time zone of +8 hours difference, yet they managed to successfully reach the majority of strong candidates in the market. I was hugely impressed with the approach, the process, the consistency, updates, service, and the outcomes."


VP Connected Vehicles:

"6 Group was very thoughtful when assessing our needs. They spent the necessary time to understand which skills are critical for us. They acted as a business partner and not just a recruitment company. They found the right people and avoided non-appropriate profiles. We put a lot of pressure to quickly hire critical positions and they acted accordingly. The entire experience was positive and I will definitively renew the collaboration with you."


HR Director:

"Expectations were quite high and met well. Project managed very professionally. Selling us as an employer has succeeded very well and we got a good pipeline of relevant candidates."