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7 Talent Community Truths That Took Me Years to Learn


hero community pic

Ten years ago, I realized that the worldwide web had turned social.  I wasn’t certain when it happened, but suddenly it became a reality.  The social revolution really put talent sourcers on the map.  Social media was the answer to our dreams; people were no longer in hiding, we could find anyone.  Social recruiting became a highly valued expertise and the adventure began.


Raised in the third party world of recruiting, I knew the value of a profession aligned or expertise based network.  It seemed logical to me that we could move that recruiter network online and keep prospects/candidates in orbit until we had an opening that would match their skills.  To my surprise, it worked.  And it worked at the corporate enterprise level.


My career path allowed me to test my belief that we could use technology to put a human touch into recruiting.  I was blessed to work with some amazing entrepreneurs that were changing the HR technology landscape.  I learned to appreciate the Jeff Jarvis phrase-“everything is in beta” –as we road mapped, tested, improved, and continue to evolve our systems and processes to adapt to the changing social landscape and social fads.


What began as a theoretical idea about communities of talent has resulted in several online community models have been functioning for more than a decade.  The versions of community that I am describing are virtual places where people connect, share ideas, exchange information or collaborate with online tools.  The communities are formed around interests, values or affinity of a group of people.  In talent acquisition, we create online communities for people that have certain skills or belong to a certain profession or may have an affinity for our organization.


So, what have I learned over the last ten years?  The lessons that are imprinted on my brain that informed my approach to talent communities are highlighted below.


  1. Talent is more loyal to their profession than to their employers. I guessed correctly on this one. Actually, it wasn’t much of a guess, as in the 1970’s, I witnessed organizations creating a new strategy; laying off long term employees that had sizable & costly pensions.  That disruptive behavior forced professionals to create a new loyalty to their professions which gave rise to associations, networks, and professional organizations.  Fast forward to today, the Internet provides a new meeting place for professionals to share ideas and learn about the work they are doing.2
  2. Relationships cannot be automated. I know because I still keep trying.  Simply pushing job or brand related content out to a group of people will not lead to engagement.  I have built several LinkedIn Groups that have over 1000 members and the only ones that could be considered communities are ones that engage.  Community involves being social and that requires an investment of time and providing value to the citizens of the community.3
  3. Most talent brands are just not that interesting.  The social landscape is littered with dormant communities that are branded with careers at (you fill in the company name).  Most attempts to build a community around a brand fail because the brand is not very interesting once the prospect has found another job.  Emails communicating the latest job opening or brand touting video are ignored.  On the other hand, communities that are focused on the target audience values and interests have worked well.  Remember, it is about them, not about us.


  1. Creating relationships will take time. Community takes a time to age & grow; in our do more with less economy, it is challenging.  A community can be built with a few passionate people committed to the same cause or initiative.  That said, real momentum may not be realized for 2-3 years.  A community that is created, curated and managed correctly can have an 8-10 year lifecycle.5
  2. Vanity metrics mean little in terms of community ROI. Measuring vanity metrics (likes, thumbs up, shares) are socially important, but they do not measure whether something is effective.  The metrics that matter are whether the target audience finds value in the community.  The NPS (net promoter score) is a much more valuable means of measuring success.


  1. Content is our new king. In a community, content drives engagement; conversation, comments and develops trust with the citizens of the community.  This is especially true of content that is of interest to the community.  Profession or affinity-based content has proved to be the most successful in building community.


  1. Community trumps advertising when talent is scarce. Data tells us that 15-20% of a targeted talent segment is actively looking for work.  Active job seekers see our ads in a multiple of platforms and respond accordingly.  But there are not enough active job seekers in our mission critical talent segments.  We need to get to the 80% that is not reading ads.  Imagine if we had access to 40-60% of target talent segment in a community environment.  Mission critical talent; the most we can hope from in terms of talent is that our brand is top of mind when a person becomes interested in making a job change.


Talent communities are investments that focus on talent segments that are critical to the long-term success of an organization.  The organization’s employees who share that skill or profession become citizens of the online community and actively contribute and participate in activities.  The participation allows for connections, interactions and genuine relationships that are grounded in the shared affinity.  The organization’s goal is to be top of mind when a community member decides to make a job change.

This post originally appeared on the SourceCon Blog.



Endangered! It’s Time to Update the Endangered Species List

endangered eagle

To me, there is nothing more majestic that the American Bald Eagle.  In pursuing my passion of photography, the bald eagle is a favorite subject of mine.  From near extinction, the bald eagle population has grown enormously.  Saving the bald eagle is a wildlife success story that involved changing hunting laws, curtailing pollution and other measures of conservation.  In short, it required all parties to make changes on how they interacted with the bald eagle ecosystem.  And the result was a big win.

But sadly, it is time to update our endangered species list.  The signs were there.  The warnings were ignored.  Behaviors did not change.  No big surprise, the latest endangered species is our key target talent.

As you go to your favorite internet hunting places, perhaps you have noticed the species of talent you need is no longer plentiful.  The cry of talent shortages rings around the globe.

Instead of waiting for the talent to come to us, talent safaris were organized to actively hunt the talent.  We learned all the Boolean hunting tactics in an attempt to track our prey.  We invested in the latest technology in order to track our quarry into even the deepest digital hunting grounds.  We invested in tools that afforded us the opportunity to engage multiple targets at the same time as it turns out, that only accelerated the talent migration.

A recent talent report on “digital deserters” by Corporate Executive Board (CEB) points out the approaches that the target talent is taking to elude the many talent hunters.   A cursory glance at the graph below indicates that target talent has taken steps to ignore, hide and even move away from the digital hunting grounds.

CEB data

The promise of the Internet and its Social Revolution was that target talent was much easier to identify.  A decade ago, Social Recruiting was all the buzz; talent was plentiful and the numerous social platforms opened up new digital hunting grounds.  But over poaching, the overuse of amateur tactics and a general exploitation of talent has resulted in some very challenging trends, especially on the digital platforms as the CEB data concludes.

To complete this article, please visit the SourceCon Blog

No Hollywood Ending


Nate Boyer (#nateboyer37) bio reads; Freelance relief worker. Green Beret.  Texas Longhorn long snapper.  NFL hopeful.  The backstory on Nate is that he is too old, too small; and too non-traditional for the NFL.  The American underdog; the making of a great story.  The kind of stuff Hollywood eats up.

The media loved Nate’s story; he appeared on ESPN, the NFL Network, he was adopted by FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer and was interviewed by many local, regional and national publications.  Nate was very articulate and used his platform to call attention to veteran issues like 22 Kill, which advocates for ex-servicemen and aims to reduce an alarming statistic: an average of 22 veterans per day commit suicide.

As a Seattle Seahawks fan, I was drawn to Nate’s story as he was in rookie camp.  It was a great story–a 34-year-old (a dinosaur by NFL standards) who attempting to win a spot on one of the best football teams in the world.  A legitimate war hero that had joined the Army and was selected as a Green Beret because he found patriotism in Sudan.   No Hollywood ending for this would-be pro football player as Nate was cut during the preseason.  End of story.

Well not quite.    Perhaps it is that we did not truly understand his mission–it really wasn’t about playing football–it was really about something greater.  Stephen Cohen (#scohenPI) capture that sentiment in an article; “There are a lot of guys who won’t have this opportunity, not just in football, but in a lot of things,” Boyer said. “That’s why I am here — that’s one of the main reasons why I am here — is to do it in honor of those guys who paid the ultimate sacrifice, the guys who aren’t here and the guys who gave everything so we can play football.”

Failure?  In an interview with a Seattle-area newspaper, Nate told reporter Gregg Bell (#gbellseattle); “When you get to a level like this, it’s not failing. It may not work out the way you hope. But it’s not failing.”

So what makes the Nate Boyer’s of this world tick?  Why do some people transcend the norm?  I have noticed several traits that Nate shares with other outliers of the status quo.

  1. Called to a higher purpose. Nate describes his calling in this manner; then Time published the article “The Tragedy of Sudan.” It electrocuted my soul. I was captivated by the pain and atrocity of the genocide. James Nachtwey’s (#JamesNachtwey) photographs made me ache inside like I never had before.
  2. Demand excellence of themselves. Nate wrote:  I think everyone has the capacity for greatness. It’s just a matter of whether you’re willing to make the necessary sacrifices to achieve great things. There is literally nothing special about me. I’m a good athlete, not a great one. I’m smart, but I’m no genius. I can figure things out, but I’m not a fast learner. All I do is make the choice to outwork everyone around me. That doesn’t take a special person; it just takes ambition, effort and commitment.
  3. Overcame fear of rejection or failure. Nate’s mantra is; I think you should try things. Everyone should spend an extended period of time outside his or her comfort zone. There is much more to life waiting for you beyond the bubble you’re living. We all forget this on a daily basis, and it’s not our fault, just a byproduct of the culture. The world is waiting for you to get involved. If you don’t know what you like or what drives you, then just try things. You’ll find passion if you’re seeking it.
  4. Find their voice; but not about themselves. To quote Nate:I think everyone has the ability to make a huge difference in other people’s lives. There is something substantial that you could do right now to help another person. It probably doesn’t cost anything except maybe a little bit of your time and giving a damn. Just showing up is usually half the battle.”
  5. Disruptive thinkers. Nate recommends challenging ourselves; the biggest obstacle that stops us from achieving our dreams is placing additional limits on ourselves. Why would we do that? Why make things harder than they already are? I didn’t always look at things like this. I had to run away from what was familiar and comfortable. I had to take a long, hard look in the mirror and make the decision to change the way I attacked life. For me, it took a journey to a place I knew nothing about. It took a trip to the Darfur.

Nate’s story makes me feel better about the human condition.  That is until I look in a mirror and filter my life by his deeds.  When I think about a persistent twenty something that wanted to go to the Sudan to serve a desperate people, I feel like I need to do more.  When I think about that twenty-something that refuses to take no for an answer, I feel like I gave up too easily on some dreams.  When I think about a twenty-something that discovers his patriotism in a foreign land, I feel like I have taken my country for granted.  Perhaps that is why God created people like Nate—to challenge us to live differently and more fully.

Overachiever. Disruptor.  Inspiration. Leader.  Veteran. Hero.  A lot of words can be used to describe Nate Boyer.  But if Nate is like most military veterans, he will tell you the real heroes are the men and women who make the ultimate sacrifice or the ones who returned home with additional challenges to overcome.

So, what is Nate up to now?  His latest adventure is called Conquering Kili, he is teaming with another veteran, Blake Watson (@BlakeWatson24) to continue their service in the third world; now instead of fighting for their freedom, these veterans are fighting for the right for communities in East Africa to have access to clean water.

As we celebrate Veterans Day this year, perhaps we can join Nate in this effort and donate to this cause?

5 Encouraging Signs for Women Who Want to Be Bosses

Trends are slightly moving in the favor of females who want to lead.

Read the source article at Business News and Financial News

The Top 16 Responsible Business Stories Of 2013

Companies are competing more than ever for the best and brightest workers. This year, we’ve been seeing a growing recognition that this requires creating a better workplace that goes beyond traditional job perks.

The likes of Amazon, Google, and Bank of America are building elaborate offices and happiness tracking programs, while others are focusing on ways to help their employees spend more time out of the office.

Read the source article at Co.Exist

The Best Advice For Working Smarter From Creative And Daring Minds

We’ve talked to an interesting cast of characters this past year–from a professional slack liner to a bike messenger turned spinning instructor. Proving that inspiration comes in unexpected places, here are our favorite lessons. By Miles Kohrman

At Fast Company we love eccentric, exciting characters and helping you work smarter.

So why not combine the two?

Read the source article at Fast Company

10 Days to Happiness and Success

Take some time this week to read through my ten day program about how to have a more successful, happy career and life. The truths you will discover over the ten days, if you choose to read a lesson a day, are simple to explain and profoundly difficult to practice.

So, consider the pursuit of happiness and success in work and life – a journey. These practices will get you started on that journey.

Read the source article at humanresources.about.com

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