What is a Talent Community?

Talent community is a word that means different things to different people. In a recent addition of TChat radio , I was amazed at the diversity of opinion from the panelists. Co-host of TChat and recruiting thought leader, Kevin W. Grossman, posed this question to his audience–What Do Talent Communities Mean to You? I took a crack at defining talent communities based on my experience; and was troubled that my definition was not complete. As I thought more about it over the holidays, I discovered that a simple definition is somewhat illusive.

The Twitter length definition is: A talent community is a segmented audience of targeted talent that maps to current & future hiring needs contained in the workforce plan.

If we expand beyond 140 characters, there is a more encompassing conversation about talent communities. Perhaps you have noticed that a favorite topic of conversation in the recruiting community is pipelining potential talent for current and future openings with an organization. It seems to be the Holy Grail—to have a pre-qualified pool of talent that is available when your organization has on opening for that type of talent. The skeptics suggest this is a “pipe dream;” the optimists are convinced that the current social revolution will offer unique opportunities in talent pipelines—particularly with online talent communities.

At its core, recruiting is about identifying the target audiences that make up the talent segments that map to the workforce plan and recruiting goals. The social revolution introduced the idea of “social recruiting;” Social Recruiting entails developing and implementing the social media and brand strategies required to engage, cultivate and nurture a long-term relationship with the target talent. And this social recruiting relies on technology; which ironically can be used to put a human touch back into recruiting.

A community is about shared values and a conscious choice to live in that location. A citizen of a community contributes to it in terms of communication (conversation), collaboration and the common good. A talent community has those ingredients as its cornerstone; developing, implementing and building online talent communities for targeted talent shares common interests and values to create and grow relationships.

A talent community is a segmented audience of targeted talent that can meet the current and future hiring needs and maps to an organization’s workforce plan. What takes some mind bending is that an online community concurrently resides on multiple platforms. For example a community of talent sourcers can live on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, your ATS, your CRM and your recruitment marketing platform (i.e. Jobs2Web) simultaneously. And to compound the virtual challenge, most of these platforms have their own rules of engagement and avenues for communication and feedback.

Relationships are built with a talent community primarily through content. While recruiting has a vested interest in marketing jobs to the target audience, research indicates that profession or affinity focused content is more effective. In other words, it is better for your organization to be seen as sharing an affinity for the community as opposed to just giving them a job feed. In addition to relevant content and conversation, organizations have hosted live events at conferences or created online webinars that a community would find beneficial.

Organizations that are successful in building online talent communities serve their target talent audiences and are great citizens of their community. And on an iterative and ongoing basis, this community is engaged, nurtured, informed, listened to and cultivated in order that your organization will be top of mind when that timing is right for a community member to consider a job change.

There you have it; my take on talent communities. It is a definition that has been the product of five years of experimenting, piloting and discovery; in other words, it is more than a text book definition. That said, it is still a working definition; there is still much to learn. And fortunately, there is a community of recruiting leaders and practitioners that are pioneers in community building. This community is comprised of talent hunters that have adapted to challenges of recruiting in the 21st century with groundbreaking solutions. If you would like to be part of the conversation on talent community building, please join us.


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