Talent Community Definition

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The talent community concept continues to be one of the hottest topics in talent acquisition. It’s also a concept that Seven Step really believes in, and more importantly, has seen significant results from.

Talent community practices have evolved over the last few years. This is partly because of advances in technology that allow large scale social communities possible, and the inevitable evolution of companies that have shifted to embrace social media as a core piece of their recruitment strategy.

Let’s start by defining the individual terms. According to Webster:

Talent = a person of ability or a group of persons of ability in a field or activity

Community = a unified body of individuals, linked by a common interest or a social activity

So if you merge this, you get a somewhat clumsy but still usable definition of a Talent Community:

Talent Community = a group of persons of ability in a field or activity linked by a common interest or social activity

That’s a very simple and open definition, but in our opinion that’s all it has to be. This concept does not have to be overly complicated. In fact, many employers don’t realize that they already have a talent community. It simply requires a different perspective. The proof is in the definition.

Talent Communities Exist Naturally

Not to belabor a point, but the meaning assigned to "talent community" is a meaning that is already being applied in other, more commonly-understood contexts:

Talent Community = a group of persons of ability linked by a common interest in a company

Applicants in an ATS = a group of persons of ability linked by a common interest in a company

Alumni Network = a group of persons of ability linked by a common interest in a company

Followers of a LinkedIn Company Page = a group of persons of ability linked by a common interest in a company

Consumers/Brand Loyalists = a group of persons of ability linked by a common interest in a company

At this point, the similarities become a trend. We can see that surrounding any company there is a large community of talent that has ties to the organization through several different types of relationships.

What does that mean? So, all companies have a talent community. Is that important? To further define this we need to look at where hires actually come from.

Do Talent Communities Drive Hires?

In the most recent CareerXroads Source of Hire report we see that there are 13 distinct hiring categories. Each of these has a rough channel driver that represents the method that initiates the hiring relationship.

Fig. 1: Source of hire, by channel driver

In the breakdown above, we’re looking for the driver that catalyzes the hire. For example, the catalyst for a referral is a relationship with a current employee, and therefore categorized as a relationship-driven hire. The same goes for rehires, as alumni have a preexisting relationship with the employer.

And if we parse out exclusively the brand or relationship driven hires (referrals, career site, recruiter initiated, rehires, contractors, social media) they account for 56.8% of all hires. Let’s emphasize that point:

Brand or relationship driven hires account for 56.8% of all hires.

We can look at another set of data that helps portray the value of maintaining these relationships that was shared in a recent Marvin Smith presentation on MoneyBall Recruiting.

57% of applicants that are hired apply for a job on the first day, 43% of hires actually at some point in the future.
&ndash Jobs2Web Dataset: 10 large customers with 8,800 hires during 2011 from their talent community

This data emphasizes the need for maintaining a relationship with this community. In essence these hires are from repeat customers. It’s simple, if the relationship with your company does not continue, candidates won’t come back and apply to new jobs.

So yes, we can say that talent communities drive hires, a significant amount of them.

Should Your Company Implement a Talent Community Strategy?

We’ve already established that hires from your talent community will happen regardless. However, companies that have put talent community strategies in place are seeking to maximize hires from an already existing network of relationships based on the following logic:

  • All companies have a network of talent.
  • Talent interested in a company or brand are top sources of hire for a company.
  • Therefore, nurturing a talent community may increase results from these hiring channels.

As seen in the diagram below, a company implementing a talent community should expect to see hiring increases in the following areas. Conversely, they should start to see decreases in paid advertising and agency fees as well. In many cases where talent communities are managed effectively, agency fees and job board spend can be completely eliminated, or at the very least used more strategically.

Fig. 2: Effects of a talent community strategy on source of hire

What a Talent Community is Not

A talent community is not just using your ATS to exclusively manage hiring transactions. For each hire that is made, there is a funnel of candidates that fall out of process. If you aren’t maintaining ongoing relationships with silver medalists, this is not a talent community. These are the hires that may come back to get hired for a more appropriate opportunity.

Talent community is not simply having automated job alerts. That may be an important function to keep candidates engaged, but adding job alerts alone is not enough to consider this function a talent community.

Talent community is not your Facebook careers page or LinkedIn group. Again, these are part of an effective talent community management strategy, although either of these assets on their own would be too narrowly focused. A talent community is a group of persons of ability linked by a common interest in a company. By definition it is much larger than any one individual social channel. A talent community represents the global footprint of individuals interested in potential career opportunities with your organization.

Next Steps – Define Your Organization’s Talent Community

A talent community allows for continued engagement and communication with those interested in your organization. It’s a 360 degree recruitment view, where all ‘touches’ within your company’s footprint become potential candidates now or in the future.

First, define your talent community ecosystem. List out all the communities or groups that are associated with your company or brand. These are all the organizations, clubs, relationships, alumni, and social networks that have ties to your company.

Second, establish when and where the touch points within each individual group. So for example, a corporate Facebook page may have a careers app for any curious fans of the brand that may be interested in checking out what jobs are available. However, if you also have a Facebook page dedicated to careers at your company, this page may feature job listings and in addition; consistent contests, dialogue, and career tips for your followers. Content distributed for your alumni may highlight company news and positive internal changes. You may also help answer questions about benefits that may still be under management or help with collecting old W2′s. Content for your employees may be distributed in easily digestible, pre-packaged formats to promote sharing to potential referrals. All hubs are part of the talent community, but each point will have a different engagement strategy to drive hires.

Does this line up with your definition of a talent community? Is there anything that you would add? Please let us know in the comments.


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