As more and more organizations are supplementing their workforce with contingent labor, the battle for quality talent has become increasingly competitive — and that can be costly to an organization in terms of project delays. For example, buyers are facing longer wait times before getting talent on board, and in some instances, turnover due to the need to replace underqualified contractors. Meanwhile, savvy buyers of contingent labor are avoiding some of these issues by diving head first into talent pools.

What it is. A talent pool is a group of pre-identified, fully vetted contingent labor resources. Pools can be grouped by skill set, geography or background (e.g., veterans), making them a great source to tap into for readily available talent.

One of the easiest ways to get started is to build out a talent pool made up of “known” resources, such as interns, alumni, retirees, previously used contractors and referrals from full-time associates. Re-utilizing previously engaged talent is not a new concept — many organizations keep lists of their favorite contractors and corporate recruiters may have a sticky note on their desk with top referrals from their LinkedIn network. But these are highly administrative and inefficient ways to source for talent. By consolidating these resources into an official talent pool, buyers have access to talent they know will be qualified, and in some cases — for previously engaged resources — can hit the ground running more quickly with little to no ramp-up/training. Another benefit of this system is workers sourced through a talent pool are typically processed through a payrolling firm, which can significantly reduce costs compared with sourcing through the open market.

Getting help. Vendors are diving in. Many VMS providers have developed technology for engaging these talent pools. MSPs are also getting into the game by offering solutions to help manage these talent pools. Additionally, some staffing suppliers are building out curated talent pools that align closely with their clients’ unique hiring needs. Freelancer management systems (FMS) are another alternative solution to talent pools; however, while they are an aggregation of talent, they focus on independent contractors.

Buyer beware. Hiring resources through a talent pool is not without risks, though. For example, you should ensure resources you’re looking to re-engage are not still subject to company policies such as mandatory sit-out periods and tenure limits. You will also want to take steps to appropriately engage any independent contractors that may come through the talent pools, to eliminate co-employment risk. It may be wise to revisit the rehiring policies before jumping into labor pools to ensure that risks are appropriately managed.

As you weigh the pros and cons of this sourcing model, one thing is for sure, talent pools are going to become increasingly popular and will make a big splash in 2016.