There's no "black hole" in community...

Community. It's the word in everyones lips right now. Which is always a worry. We descend into 'fads' so easily these days it seems and it would be a shame for community to end up being tarnished with the fad brush. I have long been a big fan of community - I believe it has the potential to transform  organisations and shape business models, deliver exponential results through enabling transparency and authenticity. But that's a long way off yet and a blog for another day perhaps.


Closer to home, community is currently getting top billing in the area of Resourcing. Putting the debate around "Talent communities" aside for a blog or two, the principle of embedding community within an organisation to interact with employees, customers and in this case potential candidates is a good one I think.


However, a word of caution. As powerful and compelling as it might seem, I fear that many of the organisations currently being seduced by the lure of community see it as some sort of silver bullet, and may not clear about, or adequately prepared for, what they might be getting into.


You see, a good number of these companies are currently wading neck deep in candidates, attempting to manage these through a myriad of technology solutions including the ubiquitous ATS.  Consequently, they have earned the nickname of the "black hole" - everything goes in and nothing comes out. Hence 'no feedback' has a permanent home in the top 5 list of candidate gripes.


And no matter how much you invest in your shiny new career or talent community (Yuk), there is one thing that your prospective candidates will still expect from you, and its the same thing they expected from you when they tossed their CV into the gaping mouth of your ATS.


A response.


Yes folks. And don't get any ideas that you can replace the generic "if you haven't heard from us within 14 days then you didn't cut it" email with a "if you haven't heard from us within 14 days then you didn't cut it" message from the community manager. Oh no. It won't wash.


The fact is that by engaging in this way you are effectively making the first step to becoming a more social organisation as a whole and as such, there are much wider implications for your overall business strategy, not just your resourcing strategy.  Accordingly, you will have to think in much wider terms about internal involvement and engagement in this initiative, way beyond the reach and accountability of the resourcing team.


If you are currently looking at such an initiative, I would urge you to involve your marketing and wider HR colleagues as a minimum.  Community demands engagement, conversation and above all, a response.  But this doesn't have to be a negative thing.  12 years ago most organisations took the same attitude towards their customers online.  Now, the smart companies are embracing their customers and using them to create innovation within their businesses.  It won't be long before the smart companies take this approach to candidates and employees too. Are you one of those smart companies?!


If SpiderMan were a budding Community Manager, his uncle Ben would have told him. "Peter. With great community comes great responsibility."  If Ridley Scott had made a movie about Alien Communities in space, his strap line would have been: "In Community, EVERYONE can hear you scream"


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Comment by Tim Spagnola on October 11, 2011 at 9:00am
Gareth - this is really a fine fine post. Thank you for sharing. I also have to mention that the Uncle Ben/Ridley Scott references were excellent.
Comment by Gareth Jones on October 11, 2011 at 5:18pm
Hi Tim!  Thanks for that - i couldnt resist them as they sum it up so well, despite the humour!


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