It seems like only yesterday companies were committed to holistic talent management and recruiters were busy building robust talent pipelines. But during the recession those pipelines have dried up and chances are the remaining candidates don’t fit your hiring needs or revised job profiles. Worse yet, the downturn increased overall applicant volume and processing time, while exacerbating the candidate shortage in some skill categories. In fact, 94 percent of the 308 companies surveyed by the Human Capital Institute and Adecco said they’re experiencing significant talent gaps, and 70 percent are worried about the defection of top performers. Yet only 50 percent are using a robust talent pipeline to resolve these critical issues. Since we know that reactive hiring is time-consuming and expensive, and roving talent shortages are here to stay, it’s time to rebuild your pipeline. Have a Plan and a Pipeline Top performing organizations have a strategic workforce plan and a pipeline, according to the report. And since you can’t refuel your pipeline over night, you have to establish your top hiring priorities and address troublesome talent gaps by updating your workforce plan. Then, develop a strategy to tap external sources in addition to developing, promoting and retaining current employees. Incorporating internal talent into your efforts provides a holistic view of your resources and gaps, and helps to retain and engage top performers. By the way, the top external sources for pipeline talent include: online job postings, interns, contractors and third-party recruiting firms. Use Meaningful Metrics Use metrics to track the efficacy of your pipeline, including the number of candidates in each skill class, submit-to-hire ratios, time-to-fill and cost-per-hire figures, as well as new-hire quality and retention. Bond with Top Candidates Although recruiters are using social media and events to nurture relationships, you can qualify potentials and maintain your pipeline at the same time by arranging introductory meetings between candidates and line managers. That way, when an opening does arise you can spring into action and hopefully close the deal without having to screen thousands of resumes.