Trouble Finding In-Demand Talent? Explore Untapped Talent Pools

Group of diverse people are waiting for a job interview

For human resources, it’s no longer enough to advertise on job boards, sit back and wait for qualified candidates to come forth. The competition for talent continues to be fierce, especially with remote and new work arrangements changing the game for recruitment. In today’s wide-open labor market, companies need to be creative on how they source for talent. Leveraging untapped talent pools can help organizations acquire the in-demand talent they need before someone else does.

Boomerang employees 

Hiring and onboarding a new employee is only the start of someone’s employment journey. Sometimes the new hire will turn out to be a superstar, and other times that person will struggle to adapt and perform in a new organization’s structure. The reality is adding any new person to an organization is an unknown risk. 

This is why boomerang employees have become an attractive option for organizations. Boomerang employees are defined as those who voluntarily left an organization, often during the doldrums of the pandemic, and are now returning to their previous fold. Maybe the grass wasn’t greener, or maybe organizations are offering additional incentives to keep and bring people back. Whatever the case, the benefits to both employee and employer include reduced training time, a familiarity with the person’s strengths and/or weaknesses, and the individual returning with the fresh perspective of seeing outside the organization. 


Similar to boomerang employees who left for another organization, some retirees who left during the transitions and demands of the pandemic have decided the timing is right to re-enter the workforce. A recent survey found that around 1.7 million Americans who retired a year before have returned to work, accounting for slightly more than 3% of all retirees. “They also have a mature perspective, they’re in a relatively stable time of life, and they tend to be very enthusiastic about returning to work,” according to Carol Fishman Cohen, founder and CEO of the career re-entry training company iRelaunchexplained to Inc.

Retirees who return to the workforce may be able to hit the ground running, but their situation may have changed. Organizations should consider flexible work arrangements and accommodate retirees accordingly, knowing that free time or family caregiving may now be an increased priority while balancing work obligations. In addition, technology and systems could have changed even in a short time, so don’t assume onboarding and training aren’t needed.  


A common theme of discovering untapped talent is meeting candidates where they are and considering their unique needs and potentially changing circumstances. This is especially true with caregivers, whether it’s a parent with a growing child or an adult with an ill or aging relative. People in this situation can have changing schedules depending on the school calendar or doctors’ appointments. Being mindful of the needs of caregivers can help retain talent who are at risk of dropping out of the labor pool or attract those who have a desire to work on a part-time or flexible schedule. In addition, programs like extending family leave, remote work or attractive health and wellness programs can go a long way to attract and retain these workers in your organization.  

Immigrants and refugees

Hidden workers and untapped talent include refugees and immigrants, who often bring in-demand skills but don’t have the network and infrastructure to connect them to existing opportunities. Businesses, however, can proactively reach out and provide pathways for talent fleeing war, persecution or natural disaster. For someone new to a country, the hard skills required to perform job duties may, in fact, be the easy part. The more difficult part can be adapting to new norms and systems, so workplaces should plan to have resources in place to support the transition. 

No matter where they are looking, organizations will need to expand their options when considering where to find talent. No single source will hold all the answers, so continuing to watch for talent in these untapped pools will be essential. Starting today will help build the foundation for future stronger workforces. 

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