Part 1: What is a Talent Network?
Part 3: Building a Talent Network
When speaking on the topic of Talent Networks many people associate them closely with Talent Communities. This post will go a little more deeply into the differences in the two and how we can potentially add community elements to enhance what we are doing with our Talent Networks.
What is a Community?
When you look up “community” in the dictionary, here’s what you get:
a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists
I think the key here when thinking about communities is the common interest that all members share. This can be anything from religion to fantasy sports to industry specific, there has to be something that everyone that is part of the community shares interest in. Once you have that I think there are a few other characteristics of communities that you need to have in order for them to be successful:
- Perceived Value: Whether it’s networking, getting advice or sharing knowledge, every member of the community needs to receive some sort of value from the community. Without the value of being a member, there is no point or loyalty of a person remaining in the community.
- Accessibility: Every member of the community should have access to everyone else in the community. There may be some cases where their are different levels within a community but in these cases they are more like a few smaller communities than one fragmented community.
- Activity: You don’t have a successful community unless you have content and conversations happening. You need more active members than watchers and there needs to be discourse.
Communities that are successful will have most of the above characteristics and are able to fill a void that exists for people with a particular interest to connect and interact. Building an active community is not easy and requires the right combination of people and content.
Why Talent Community?
As organizations look to engage and create better relationships with qualified candidates, it makes sense that communities are a high priority for many recruiting organizations. If you can create a community around like-minded candidates that have the skills targeted by your organization, it could prove a tremendous resource for your recruiting team. It would help your recruiters build relationships, learn more about and hopefully better sell candidates that are part of the community. Most importantly, the value is heightened as no other organization would access to your community (as opposed to using established 3rd party communities to recruit).
No brainer, right?
Well it’s usually not that easy. Getting candidates to join your community and realize value is hard. So where do you start? First, you need to build the infrastructure for the community and then promote it. In this case, I think a “Company Name” Talent Community is something that isn’t very attractive. While you’ll get candidates to join initially especially after they apply to the normal passive candidate, you probably aren’t going to get much traction. Why would I join your “Talent” community unless I wanted a job? Is there enough of a common interest to keep my attention and build interaction between candidates?
In many cases, I think it’s a stretch to think if you build your Talent Community that people will join unless you market it differently. First thing I would do is remove “Talent” from it. While that’s the reason you may be building it, candidates need only know of the value they will get from it. If you are able to create industry-centric communities that provide value in the information and networking candidates are able to do, I think you’ll be more successful in what you are trying to accomplish. A community centered around your jobs and careers, in my opinion, will more than likely flop. But one focused on the enhancing candidates professional lives could very well be something that entices candidates to be part of your community. Something to keep in mind as you build out your communities.
Talent Community is a Misnomer (in many cases)
A lot of times when organizations and vendors use the term Talent Community, I believe they are using it incorrectly. And what they are really talking about is a Talent Network.
In these cases, when a candidates joins the Talent Community what they are really signing up for are job alerts via email or SMS. In more advanced organizations, they are receiving email newsletters with career information, helpful blog posts, targeted job opportunities, company news and other targeted recruitment content.
Candidates in these communities rarely have access to other candidates and even in some cases recruiters. They sign up because they want a job and have given the organization permission to engage with them and to receive content.
Please don’t take this as I think this set-up is a bad thing. It’s not as it’s a great device for remaining in touch with candidates, providing them with more information to learn about your organization and ultimately matching them up with the right opportunities for their skill-set.
It’s just the perception of joining a community asks for something more social with more opportunities for interaction. So when you use these terms you fall short of the expectations that candidates have when they sign up or opt-in.
How can we get more community into Talent Networks?
There are a number of companies looking to help organizations do this but right now I have no clear cut answer for you. But that doesn’t mean I don’t have some ideas.
I talked a little bit about the value that Talent Networks can provide candidates in Part 1 of this series but I think we can go a little farther in providing resources and value for candidates that interact with us. In this vein, I think we can utilize community aspects to heighten the experience candidates have once they are in their Talent Networks.
Here’s an idea. You have a number of different skill-based talent pipelines in your Talent Network. Due to their nature, you are able to know and customize messages and content to these folks to drive outcomes. And because you strive for providing value in these communications, many of the candidates should view your organization as valuable.
So what’s different? First, you should keep sending them targeted content and jobs. But now may be a great time to offer them a more involved experience. From within your Talent Network, you can invite them to participate in a skill / discipline specific community. By joining this community, they will receive more timely information and content, be able to share their views and start discussions, quick access to the recruiting team and have the ability to talk and network with other candidates in the community.
I think this is better than setting up a fully open community for a few reasons. First, the initial barrier of entry to get them to join should be less because you’ve already proved your value and built report through the Talent Network. Second, you can be selective with the candidates you invite and provide exclusive access to the candidates that you identify the top candidates for the specific skill-sets you are recruiting for.
This is just one idea on how we can use communities in concert with what we are doing with our Talent Network. I think both can be integral to helping you bridge the gap between when candidates interact with you and when the right opportunities open up at your organization.
Our next post in this series will be on how we use recruitment metrics to measure the success of our Talent Network.