Recruitment practices ebb and flow with the changes in technology. Sometimes they are organised brilliantly and seamlessly, depending on the intellect of the Talent Acquisition team but unfortunately, they can sometimes be a broken-down dysfunctional mess. A few years ago, that bastion of all that is ‘best practice,’ i.e. Google, decided to start a trend called ‘Pipelining’.
Pipelining, for those of you unfamiliar with the term, means that an internal corporate recruiter can see maybe up to 12 months ahead when particular teams will need to recruit. Their data analytics lets them know roughly how many hires will be required depending on promotional rounds, attrition rates and business growth. For example, a company can hypothetically predict in January that a Sales team will require 10 new hires in September, based on relevant factors so they start advertising roles way ahead of schedule. Before pipelining came along recruitment teams would have waited until maybe 6-8 weeks before hiring in September to begin their candidate search with the expectation that a candidate would have a month’s notice, that would give them another month to source and then time to interview and offer the candidates. Pipelining pre-empts that by sourcing the candidates maybe 3-6 months out, sometimes even longer. The recruiters in the sales hiring example above will start pipelining and sourcing candidates in February, advertising the roles on their website and Linked In and other platforms inviting applications. Then come July they will start interviewing the banked candidates that loaded into their database back in February, so they don’t have to do things at the last minute. It sounds like a good idea doesn’t it?
Why Pipelining Doesn’t Always Work
Unfortunately, there are good and bad pipeline practices everywhere. The main problem arises when the employer doesn’t notify the candidates that they are being pipelined. The candidate thinks they are applying to a live role that is hiring imminently and the candidate would logically expect interviews to happen in the next few weeks. But what is happening is they aren’t being contacted at all to let them know what is happening. Once they have hit send on the application there may be a 6 month wait until they are called to interview. In the meantime, the candidate gets frustrated and annoyed at the lack of contact. They may feel that the role has been filled so they give up their hopes of moving to that company and instead look at other roles, that may not be pipelining, in other companies, and they move on to a new job. All before the first company has contacted them about the ‘pipelined’ job! What a big mess!
Why is this happening?
The reason this is happening is that many companies forget they are not Google. They are not sexy in any way shape or form, Google is like a Super model in comparison to most other companies. Google can afford to pipeline candidates because people are desperate to work there. Also, most of the time, they let the candidates know that they are pipelining, admittedly mostly after the fact than before it, after all they want to create a buzz and get applications in. But at least they manage the candidate’s expectations that they won’t be back in contact for x months.
All the other companies have lost the plot in my humble opinion. They are operating an amateur version of 'Pipelining' and disrespecting their candidates through the lack of communication.
What can you, as a candidate, do about this?
If you are desperate to move jobs, or are out of work, don’t put all your eggs in one basket, you could be waiting a long time for that job. Don’t feel you don’t have a voice, ring up the recruitment team and ask the question, ‘am I being pipelined or is this role interviewing in the next few weeks?’ Few candidates bother to pick up the phone these days, so you won’t be hassling the recruiters to call them on this.
If you are being pipelined, then it is up to you whether to continue holding out for that job or continue your search elsewhere.
Be sceptical when applying to jobs at most large companies, pipelining is a huge trend now, so if you manage your expectations that you may not hear back for some time you won’t get anxious or paranoid that the job has gone.
For more help or advice on this and any part of the application and interview process please don’t hesitate to book in for coaching. All my coaching is completely tailored to your individual needs.
Clare Reed is a leading global expert Interview Coach with over 22 years global interviewing and coaching experience.