Talent communities, what are they, and how can they help your company find the right people to hire? The term is fairly new since social media has taken off. HR professionals and others talk about the possibilities of social recruiting, but not too many companies have done much to leverage social media for recruiting.

Companies view the effort to engage a community of talent as being too difficult to implement and manage; and while they do take a lot of time and effort, they can be woth the effort! They have significant payback if you are hiring large numbers of employees with similar expertise and knowledge needed and/or are in rapid growth mode.

So how can talent communities help companies find the right employees who fit their company culture and fill their open positions when needed?  Creating and maintaining a talent community isn’t easy—and they aren’t for every company—but some companies have found success using them.

What is a talent community?

Many people have defined the term talent community. And, here are some statements to gain a better understanding of what a talent community is:  

  • A talent community is a segmented audience of targeted talent that maps to current and future hiring needs contained in the workforce plan.”
  • True talent communities facilitate two-way communication between employers and candidates, something that is unmatched in standard recruiting practices, ” wrote a Mashable writer.
  • “The foundation, I believe, of any talent community worth its salt is passion. Members must truly care about the topic, the product, the company, the event, or whatever principle that serves as the basis of the community.”

Talent communities go beyond talent pipelines and resume databases; they are about more than gathering names. They must be completely service oriented. Candidates will frequently get emails and text messages about jobs and about the status of their own candidacy often using social media platforms like Facebook and twitter.  Periodic requests to update their personal information and keep their address and email current may be received as well. This means that information is up to date. Candidates can add more information about themselves, and recruiters can ask questions about specific skills or interests. All of this information is kept in the candidate record, and any recruiter can access this. If a new recruiter starts recruiting for a position, there may be many candidates in the community who she can learn a lot about very quickly.The community must exist primarily to help its members improve and advance their career situations, and any effort or involvement from a recruiting team must contribute to this primary goal,” as an ERE.net author wrote.  

Talent communities help identify candidates who fit

Within a talent community, candidates have the opportunity to interact and demonstrate your company’s values and mission. You will be able to determine people with the passion for their profession and your company.

So, how do you get people to join a talent community?

According to 2011 Forrester Research, the top three things that influence people to participate in communities for work purposes are:

  1. expertise of participants;
  2. quality of discussion and relevance of comments; and
  3. topics discussed by the community.

This means your company needs to make sure its leaders and experts play an ongoing role in the community, by answering questions and participating in discussion, etc. And if your internal resources don’t have the bandwidth, you maybe able to outsource the interaction within your talent community.

Tools such as, Facebook pages, LinkedIn and Google groups make it easier to setup basic talent communities. Ning can create more active talent communities, and some organizations—usually big ones—build their own communities from scratch.

An example of a talent community

McAfee, a global security technology company, uses online talent networks to engage prospects and post new jobs, and its discussion forums are moderated by senior executives.

What other successful talent communities can you share with readers? Do you think a talent community would work at your company? Why or why not?