5 steps to build successful talent rosters in international organizations

5 steps that lays the foundation for a successful roster implementation

Many international organizations (IO) conduct hundreds of interviews per month, but their talent sourcing only goes up to the selected candidate.

Even though a recruitment process includes several qualified and suitable candidates, the majority of these candidates are left behind, which is a great loss for both the organizations and the candidates, who have invested time and interest in the process.

Several organizations have a theoretical idea of how to solve this problem using a roster. But as I have written in a previous article, of all these rosters only a vanishing few are functional and active.

In this article, I will share five steps to implement a successful roster, a roster that lasts.

1. Is it a Roster or a Sourcing Pool that serves your needs the most?

Within international organizations, there are differences in the meaning of Rosters and Sourcing Pools.

An example of when a sourcing pool (not to be mixed up with a Talent Pool) serves a strategic purpose is when you know that you would increase the diversity in a certain job function in the organization. Let's assume you would like to hire a woman for your next senior IT role. You use a sourcing pool to attract and gather women IT leaders. When the senior IT job is eventually published, you search your sourcing pool and send messages to all the eligible women you have gathered in your pool.

The picture below shows the search filters in the recruiter dashboard of Impactpool's roster management platform, a tailored roster management tool for international organizations.

Hence, the first question to ask is if you are building a Roster or a Sourcing Pool.

According to my experience, you can apply both concepts, meaning you build an independent roster and/or an independent sourcing pool. But I have never seen an organization succeed when both concepts are combined together, a combined roster and pool.

2. What problem(s) do you want to solve with your Roster or Sourcing Pool?

Neither a sourcing pool nor a roster will solve all your diversity and recruitment-related issues.

So it is essential to identify and define the main problem you want to address. And how do you want to use the roster to alleviate the problem?

One common problem is the long recruitment process. For International and multilateral organizations, it still takes an average of 100 days from the first day of a job advertisement to an offer being accepted.

If long recruitment processes are your identified challenge, one solution would be to build a roster focused on candidates you have pre-assessed and recommended for other similar positions.

An effective roster does more than just happen. First, you must ensure that your regulatory recruitment and selection framework allows direct placements from rosters.

The most significant cut in recruitment time would be if you could place talents directly from the roster into similar roles without a process. Still, according to most organizations, that is not a realistic goal. 

More often, candidates from the roster are invited to the competitive process.

One reason that seems to hold back direct placement from rosters is the challenge of defining similar jobs (twins). How similar must a job be to be considered as "similar"? I see many larger international and multilateral organizations jumping over tedious change-management discussions at first.

But it always bites them back hard later on when they want to use candidates from the roster, and policy discussions move slower than the pace of running a completely new recruitment process.

Jumping this discussion upfront is one reason why many rosters tend to fail.

3. Develop solid roster guidelines and make sure top management takes the ownership

When the policy is in place, the next important step is to develop SOPs or guidelines on using the roster practically.

This discussion is most effective if it starts at the time when you start to select a roster management software (step 4). The SOPs or guidelines set the standards for using the roster internally.

In my view such a document must at least include information about the following:

  • Who is the owner of the roster?

  • Who administers the roster?

  • What admin roles have permanent access to the roster and what organizational functions may have temporary access to the roster?

  • What type of access is granted, view, or view/edit?

  • What candidates should be invited to the roster?

  • Who invites candidates to the roster? (some organizations have an appointment board, is it the secretary of that board or someone else?)

  • What application data should be in the roster and is there any type of applicant data that will be added (interview reports, passports, health records, etc)?

  • How long can a candidate be on the roster, or is there a need for a maximum time limit or should ínstead a candidate's interest and availability decide how long the candidates want to stay?

  • When is a candidate invited to the roster? If it is a roster of the silver medalists, how far after a concluded process must a candidate be added to the roster (I have seen cases of rosters that have died because all units have kept their silver medalists to themselves, away from the corporate roster).

  • Can one book candidates from the roster ensure that no two units contact the same candidate simultaneously? If yes, how is a candidate booked, how many candidates can be booked simultaneously by the same hiring unit/recruiter, and how can other recruiters in the organization signal that a candidate is in the ongoing process?

  • Is this an Active or Passive roster? In an active roster the organization actively places talents against vacant positions. In a passive roster the candidates must keep themselves updated on opportunities and apply.

4. Don't use Excel to manage your roster or sourcing pool, get a real Roster Management Software in place

Only few organizations combine roster with a good digital platform. In fact, one of the main reasons roster tends to fail in IOs is the lack of use of a roster management tool.

However, organizations agree that keeping track of and engaging qualified and recommended talents for future recruitment saves time and money.

The reasons for not getting a tool seem to be many:

  • Worries about long tedious procurement processes

  • Worries about expensive software

  • Problems in finding relevant vendors

  • Contractually locked in to use the current HR provider

  • A vision to use the same HR provider for every HR process

Choosing a Roster talent management tool is difficult. Still, too many organizations cut corners by going with an excel sheet. Remember, using excel to manage rosters is the fastest and safest way to fail.

The selection challenge starts with how international organizations (IO) define rosters. The IO definition is not even close to the definition of Salesforce, Workday, SAP, PeopleSoft, Taleo, etc, where a roster is more of a list of interesting candidates for cluster recruitment purposes.

When you ask if these vendors offer rosters, they will all say yes. When you then check, they don't.

The UN Secretariat is an excellent example of this miss-match, the UN Inspira team’s ambition of using Oracle’s roster platform turned out to be a financial disaster. This roster project started in 2011, and the solution is still not close to what the UN management intended, what the UN team needs, nor what they have had in mind.

It may be cheap to buy a bicycle, but it will be expensive to rebuild it to a Rolls-Royce.

The heavily customized Inspira roster is built on an Oracle PeopleSoft platform, and is today quite sophisticated, feature- and searchable-wise. However, the roster's accessibility is very basic, far from what they need.

It is exceptionally cumbersome for anyone outside the UN secretariat to access an Inspira roster, although there is a push from senior management to run shared UN rosters in Inspira.

So when choosing a tool, don’t only look at the vendor's name, but also at how well it serves your business.

For example, ensure that you choose a tool where your HR team can control access to the roster/pool. The HR team should, without having to involve a whole IT department, be able to grant simple temporary access to a hiring manager to search the pool for candidates (here is a challenge of Inspira, the ones who need access can't access).

The below photo shows the access granting screen in Impactpool's roster management platform, a tailored roster management tool for international organizations.

In Impactpool you can decide who should have access and what the person should be allowed to view/do.

Ensure you can also message the candidates and that the roster is searchable on both the job and candidate levels.

Search functionality is essential. Impactpool roster management tool has the most advanced AI engine in the sector. When choosing a tool, don't ignore the importance of the search filters.

When the roster is filling up, I am sure you would also like to know for what job a specific candidate has been rostered and be able to search for the candidate's nationality, gender, language skills, experience, education, skills, and country experience. Search if the candidate has experience working with a particular organization.

The picture below shows the recruiter dashboard of Impactpool's roster management platform.

5. Develop a launch plan, start small and grow the number of rosters

One common general mistake is that the organization starts with a too-large roster project. Today the organization has no rosters no sourcing pools, but now they intend to quickly go all in and implement rosters for every function at every grade in every office.

I always recommend organizations to start small, with one roster, and then when it works start the up-scaling. A lasting roster requires structure and engagement both from colleagues and candidates, if the scope is too large, you risk losing engagement and fail.

Hence, make a clear launch plan.

  • Decide what your first roster is

  • Set a timeline and Evaluate the roster after a set time

  • Change what did not work

  • Launch a second roster and so on...

If you would like to discuss rosters in your organization, I am happy to meet. I never say no to an opportunity to learn. Just drop me an e-mail at henrik(at)impactpool.org or use the contact form below.