Talent Communities: Do recruiters get it?

Let’s start off with first identifying exactly what a talent community is not. There is skepticism around the concept because I feel that a lot of recruiters still don’t actually get it.

A talent community, although it has similar benefits, is not an ATS (Applicant Tracking System). An ATS is a software application that people use to electronically handle recruiting with the candidates who are part of the job seeking process. It can be quite a structured – a type of one-way software, designed for recruitment tracking purposes.

However a talent community, of course lies in the realm of social recruiting, therefore making it not just a two-way system of recruiting but a multiple-way method of recruiting.

Essentially it’s an online or offline community, built on the idea that everyone who is part of it is there to give something and/or get something out of it, and this moves well beyond LinkedIn groups and other career networking sites.

A talent community is a collection of people with common interests. Whether you are the job seeker or a recruitment professional, a friend of a friend or someone who is offering a job, this online environment allows all influencers, stakeholders and candidates to share ideas and generate relevant discussions.

A talent community to the recruiter who manages it, is like having some of the best candidates, clients, career advisors, entrepreneurs, all relevant to your recruitment sector, in one room, 24/7, only it’s online.

The first point to make about the benefits of a talent community is the interaction that it allows with your prospective candidates, often before jobs are even suitable or available to them. You are able to pre-select and connect with talent, and in turn they can come to trust you as a recruiter. This type of relationship building and communication will give you and the candidate a sense of “job fit transparency”, so you can try to avoid applications from unsuitable candidates.

“…a talent community doesn’t give you any magic ability to control who comes in and starts to participate. So who can argue that talent communities attracts and produce better candidates and applicants?” questions Glen Cathey.

Well, I’d like to have a little go at that debate: Talent communities tend to attract more proactive candidates. Those who don’t just settle for sending out one generic CV to multiple job ads. They want to actively engage with the industry they want to work in – learning, connecting and standing out from the crowd. The candidates who usually stick around are those who can see the benefits of being there, even if they aren’t actively looking for a job.

A talent community can’t grow itself overnight. It requires constant management and constant work to attract new members and retain old ones. Often the recruiter will need to give reason for members to hang around and continue to interact in their particular community.

Posting valuable content and information, rather than spamming them with job listings, are the best ways to keep people interested. And to go that step further, you should be holding live events for your clients and candidates. These events simply require a few key speakers on relevant industry topics, a convenient venue and perhaps a small bar tab. Having the best talent in your community and influential employers and other stakeholders, makes for a very powerful event. Not to mention far less work in rounding up your employees.

A talent community will also give you a good space to demonstrate the identity of the company you are working for, giving some insight into how you run your business and the brand personality you are trying to deliver. This can be done by posting videos, slideshows, blogs, articles, and will give candidates and other industry bodies a sense of culture and you’re all about.

The benefits and awareness around talent communities will no doubt continue to grow. Especially as our job seekers start to come from a generation that grew up in online communities. Social communities will start to cross into professional communities more and more, and our pools of talent online will only become richer.

What are your thoughts on the talent community? Do you have one? Or do you still feel you don’t fully get it? Get in touch, I’d always be happy to discuss this topic further.

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