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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Comment by Ken Forrester on January 10, 2012 at 9:13am

Here is another one to add to the definition: A talent community is also your connections, friends and followers.  

There will always be confusion when the notion that a TC built around an employer brand will produce quality & cost efficient hires.  If that is the case, only the big brand employers can effectively implement one; because they have the pull factor-job security.  A TC built on the notion of job security is not really a community, just a database of job applicants.  

An effective TC cannot be manufactured for the sake of building one; it should be build around specific skill-set and inspired by real people-centers of influences.  

Comment by Marvin Smith on January 10, 2012 at 12:32pm

Thanks for your comment.  My take is slightly different.  A talent community could be connections, friends & followers if they are part of the target audience that maps to your workforce plan.  I have found success in building communities prior to joining a big brand; I did this by thinking about the profession and the space that my client did business.  I agree that a community membership is a voluntary process and will grow and flourish is the the members find the experience valuable.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 10, 2012 at 12:58pm

A "Talent Community" is the latest trendy buzzword for any group of people that would be a source of candidates for open jobs.  My talent communities are file folders in my outlook panel on the left of my email screen.  divided by areas of expertise or what they want to do.  I keep in touch with them , send emails about open positions , call them from time to time.  They refer their friends and connections to me and sometimes  we tell jokes..  They are in the final analysis "people" who at sometime were or are looking for opportunites in the job market or just information about the latest trends in their discipline.  Just like they have always been no matter what we decide to call them to sound like we are on the bleeding edge.

Comment by Marvin Smith on January 10, 2012 at 2:10pm

@Sandra Where you are with talent communities was where I got my start.  As a third party recruiter, I tended to specialize in a couple of functional areas and developed a network of people in those areas.  When the Internet came along, I found that email and PC Recruiter created a way to connect with that network and actual increase its size.  Technology made me more effective and allowed me to network and build relationships with more prospects. When I made the move to the corporate side of things, I still used the same tools that I used in agency recruiting.  Things changed with the social revolution and I saw an opportunity to make a network virtual on multiple platforms, while leveraging technology to maintain the type of engagement that one enjoys in third party recruiting.  I have found that live assets are better than a dead resumes in a file drawer.  Community is not new; but where the communities gather is new and requires us to adapt to those changes.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on January 16, 2012 at 1:38am
I agree Marvin. I have expanded those little file folders into what I call clusters in places where they gather.

I enjoy your tweets. You provide some of the most interesting and informative links as well as some smiles.


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