How to Win the Talent Community War

By Mark A. Leon

The term “Talent Community” has been defined, interpreted, misunderstood, and speculated on for decades. Year after year, talent acquisition leaders and business executives all agree that building and harnessing internal talent is the key to corporate growth and maturity.

Yet, so little conversation is centered around developing and nurturing future talent. Why?
Simply put, a Talent Community is a look to the future.

In a highly competitive market, the ideology of building loyalty through open communication, exclusive and relevant content, and building a sense of belonging will provide that competitive edge when you need high-quality future talent and you want to beat out your competitors.

That is a Talent Community.

Unlike many skeptics, if done right, it is quantifiable and can save your company millions of dollars.
Let us look at some of the mindset roadblocks standing in our way and how we can clear the path to a successful Talent Community
“I need to hire now. A Talent Community is not going to get me bodies in these seats.” You have heard the immediacy argument. There is validity.

A successful talent community is a long-term relationship-driven initiative. It must be planned with proper design, executed with a multi-tier launch, and harnessed with a strong communication platform strategy. A flourishing Talent Community will be 75-80% early careers and 20-25% experienced.

Depending on your company, some will be heavily or exclusively domestic while others will be international. Remember in two years, when those early career professionals have solid experience under their belts, all your competitors will be seeking them out. See how that edge will help. They know your employees, culture, and business through your communications.

"I have a Facebook. LinkedIn Page or Instagram following. Isn’t that a Talent Community?” Yes and no.

A talent community is made up of individuals with common interests or goals. People that follow your social communities are in fact part of a talent community. Here is where that logic falls apart.

First, you don’t own the platform. At any given time, a social network can drop your group.

Second, you cannot parse the talent based on skill, geography or level of experience thus making it a challenge to send targeted communications to specific pockets of talent.

Who manages it? This part may be the trickiest of all the concerns around talent communities. For this to succeed, this must be a partnership between Talent Acquisition and Marketing/Communications/Employer Brand. Recruitment understands the forecast and needs of the human capital and marketing/communications have the knowledge expertise to provide the communication content. Without both parties working together, your company cannot launch and manage a strong talent community.

This must be well defined before launching a function group to build out this process.

Along with the joint partnership, legal affairs and business practices will have to be closely aligned because we will be sharing cultural insights including employee stories and spotlights, and IP..

What type of content do I provide and how often? This is different for every company, but here are a few recommendations that may help.
Keep the content relevant to your audience, engaging and relatable.

Remember the 4 “R”’s - Relevant, Reliable, Respectful and Responsive

Focus on key opportunities, associate profiles, success stories, and culture.
Don’t overwhelm your community. Monthly or quarterly and special event communications are recommended. If there are multiple languages and ethnically diverse members, ensure content and language are tailored toward them.

Design the communication to look attractive, professional, and enticing (Newsletter formats work very well) - Mix it out: Include infographics, videos, short-form video stories, imagery, flash banners, stories, quizzes, and surveys.

What information do we gather on the registration page? The user experience must be simple and should take now more than one minute to join. This will ensure your sourcing or recruitment team can quickly filter new members and review a complete profile and have a high user conversion rate.

Ensure the following information is required fields

Name, Email, Phone
Area of Interest
Experience Level
Highest Degree Completed

Treat members of the talent community as if they were referrals and be prepared to fast-track them. It is one thing to have the profiles in your talent database, but it is a whole other thing to lose them in a slow and arduous recruitment process when the perfect fit has been identified.

This is your critical future talent so when you find the perfect match, you need to screen, process, interview, and get the hire in less than two weeks. They need that high-touch experience to complete the Talent Community Experience.

How do I grow my talent community? This will take time, but during the design phase, you should consider rolling out a launch, review, adjust, and stable awareness campaign including email campaigns, social sharing, referrals, and candidate interaction.

Foundation Tips:

Provide a registration button on your career site – Often, candidates do not know which job to apply for or they just aren’t ready, so the talent community is the next best option.

Have a registration link on your corporate social pages and the signature lines of your talent acquisition team.
Ensure any conversation with a lead includes a follow-up with the link to register.
Team-based social share. Get the recruitment team, business leaders, and hiring managers to do a big push on their networks to enhance the visibility of the new community.

Direct competitor pipeline. Do lead generation and invite those that are the closest fit to your skills and culture to join and learn more about who you are.
Use job boards to promote your talent community.

What are my goals? It is often difficult to project growth numbers when you are launching your first Talent Community. Corporate brand reputation, tools, internal partnership (recruitment, campus, business leaders, group leaders) all play a role in projecting your growth. Set realistic, but aggressive targets and a 3-month launch strategy. After the completion of that launch, measure your success by quantity, geography, skill level, and functional area. Then you can adjust your annual projections.

Who should run my Talent Community? The individual to build the foundation and launch is the Talent Community Manager or Employer Brand Manager. This person will have a hybrid skill set of recruitment, marketing, communications/journalism, and psychology. As the community grows, so too will the team including graphic design, communications specialists, and a business analyst.

We hope this clears up some common misconceptions and provides valuable tips to take back to your leadership.
At the end of the day, we all want to belong.

Networks have been around since bowling leagues and will continue into the digital age. They are all around and if companies do not realize the importance of the future talent, they will lose their edge and it will affect their ability to grow.

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