I’m in the middle of event season at the moment, #TNL in San Antonio being the most recent. I have had a lot of conversation recently around the topic of talent communities. I think people often fail to see the difference between an ATS, (and those people who have applied to you before), people you’ve identified as possible future hires and connected with on a social channel, and a real talent community.
I’m not sure people want to be labeled as talent. Talent communities often have the appearance of being holding pens. I’m not sure how appealing this is, and without any real benefit to belonging to these communities, other than keeping up to date with jobs, who really benefits?How does this differ from signing up for alerts and checking in with the recruiters you are connected with from time to time?
Recruiters are limited by available time. Many of the recruiters I work with in corporate teams would love to engage with candidates they might hire at some stage in the future. They see the benefit of building a pipeline for the future and offering continuous engagement about opportunities but, and this is a big but, they are too busy talking to candidates that they need to hire now, in the present. It is what they are targeted on and how they get measured, not by how many conversations they have in a day or how many people they have in the talent pool, it’s all about finding talent now and filling empty seats. Whatever we think about that, it is a major requirement of  most of the businesses they work for. There is no time to service the needs of the passive members of these communities.
Looking at it from a candidates point of view, there are times when they want to be all over recruiters. They want to be informed of opportunities that come up that fit them, now or in the future. Their level of interest is dictated by how active they are in the job search, but what they want most is for opportunities to be very relevent to their location and what they can do. Anything seen as not relevent is seen as spam.

What potential candidates want above all else is access to recruiters and other people who are doing the jobs they aspire to do. They want to be able to look inside an organisation and its real culture to see if it fits with what they need, They talk to recruiters about job descriptions, duties and most importantly, the application process. This is the bit that’s usually missing when candidates apply via career sites. The content is recruiter centric, usually hard fact based without the content they want around process and culture. It’s also one way broadcast, without access to their potential future colleagues. The decision over whether the culture that has been sold matches reality. The engagement that comes from community impacts on later retention because members of the community have a much better first hand picture of what work and culture will be like. The challenge is that people want to dip in to the community when they need it: i:e: when they are thinking about or actively job seeking, and not the rest of the time. The challenge for recruiters is engaging with people who are unlikely to be employees by virtue of their background or experience.

A few thoughts I have on solutions to these issues:

  1.  Build company communities with recruiting features (like links to jobs) with plenty of other content and features.
  2.  Market the communities internally to attract staff to become members, encouraging them to take an active part by taking a community DJ approach. This means a mix of on-line and off-line social events and initiatives.
  3.  Encourage the members to bring contacts outside of colleagues to join the community, contribute and share content amongst their connections.

These are just a few ideas I have on community issues. I will be discussing them in more detail at #truLondon in September in the community matters track.

What do you see as the future for talent communities?

Bill

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