How-To Guide: Talent Communities

Scot McRae

Co-Founder & Chief Revenue Officer

Why do you need a talent community? Why build one?

Recruitment is often difficult, time-consuming and expensive. Creating talent communities means having a funnel of candidates already engaged with your business, one that you can track to determine who is most interested when positions arise.

Developing a talent community is about capturing potential future hires not immediately interested or ready for a particular position, or who have applied and aren’t right for any current positions but who otherwise fit the company and might be considered a quality hire at some stage. It is about remaining engaged with these candidates and knowing when they’re likely to be interested in new opportunities. It’s building your own database of candidates rather than having to pay for them via agencies or job sites each time you recruit.

The benefits of building a talent community are multiple, though essentially come down to two things: saving time and money and increasing the quality of hires. A talent community avoids hoping for the right candidate to arrive when a position arises, as your business is already talking to them.

Nurturing your talent communities means candidates remain interested in your organisation and have ascertained it is potentially a good fit for them and vice versa. Looking at the health of the community also helps your business understand what the quality of potential hires looks like. Sharing appropriate content with this audience strengthens employer brand engagement and can provide opportunities for offline contact.

Provided the talent community is well-nurtured, good quality candidates will share content they are interested in and become brand ambassadors, whether they move into your business or not.

What to consider before building a talent community?

Building a talent community needs to be done well to be effective. If sloppily executed, you risk alienating future hires or even damaging your employer brand. It requires:

Understanding your recruitment objectives and your priority hires, such as frequently recurring, hard-to-fill and business-critical positions.
Considering resources and management. Who will manage the talent community and how will others support it?
Establishing a business case for doing so. Analyse current recruitment spend versus anticipated savings.
Mindset change from immediate cost-per-result (as per reactive recruiting) versus longer-term savings, both cost and productivity-wise.

How to go about building a talent community?

– Use any existing data you already have, such as previous applicants.
– Make sure you capture passive candidates at every opportunity, such as via a ‘stay in touch’ form on your career pages, or offers of value-add content in direct outreach
– Develop a communications plan to regularly keep in touch using events, social media, email campaigns and so on.
– Deploy appropriate talent pipeline software to help you automate all the communications and workflows, whilst determining which candidates are most engaged.
– Segment your candidate types and collate existing marketing and recruitment content that can be refashioned for this community.

How to maintain your talent community?

Maintaining talent communities is crucial, as it will mean the difference between a genuine talent pipeline and a database of candidates that doesn’t do very much.

After segmenting appropriate candidates, you will need to schedule content delivery that matches their interests. Regular ongoing contact can be automated, as well as tracking to determine how engaged and ‘hire-ready’ they are. This frees time for recruiters to focus on having meaningful interactions with good quality candidates at the most appropriate times.

Ensuring that talent communities are widely supported will mean new candidates are continually fed in at all stages of the attraction and engagement process, and from across all areas of the organisation. It will become self-feeding; the more the community is utilised and the better it is maintained, the easier and quicker (and cheaper) recruiting for open positions will become.

Challenges for building a talent community, and how they can fail:

In order for a talent community to succeed it needs to be well-nurtured and well-managed. Effective talent communities save time and money, and the use of new automation technology means maintaining them isn’t onerous, freeing up time for more impactful recruiting.

A weak talent community will most likely be the result of mismanagement and the failure to successfully nurture potential hires. This might be through:

– Lack of interesting and or relevant content
– Lack of meaningful contact
– Failure to optimise the available technologies
– Lack of buy-in from HR or other departments
– Lack of supported (or even bad) employer branding
– The community is over-branded

How talent pipeline automation can help power talent communities?

The purpose of talent communities is to provide a ready pool of active talent at the time when new positions arrive, saving time and reducing or eliminating expensive agency or job site searches. Automation will enable to you to track, manage and communicate efficiently with your talent community, saving time spent manually contacting candidates unlikely to be interested at that particular time. It highlights who is best to talk to, and when, ensuring recruiters’ valuable time is well spent.

Technology should be used alongside good recruitment practice, rather than replacing it. It should enhance human efforts, increase reliability and provide additional insight, such as providing intelligence on candidate behaviour, preferences, ‘hire-readiness’ and so on. Armed with these insights you will become much better informed about the good quality candidates to focus on, their level of engagement and their likelihood of being interested in opportunities at any given time.

Tips – Make the Most of Your Talent Community

– Nurture the candidates with a mixture of automated and live contact – a database of contact details is not the same as having a talent community.

– Use it! It might seem obvious but make sure this is the first port of call when it comes to hiring, not just within the talent acquisition function but company-wide.

– Share interesting content – a monthly newsletter in the same format will soon become boring. Mix the type of content you share (e.g. career tips, industry news and awards, events) suited to their job function and readiness.

– Optimise its effectiveness with the appropriate technologies.

– Communicate its value company-wide (not just HR).

– Track and analyse all aspects of it, to monitor ROI and determine what works best.

– Support it with strong employer branding.

– Correctly segment – this will ensure the right candidates see what’s relevant to them.

– Don’t forget the value of human connection – automated talent pipelines should be used to free time for meaningful 1:1 contact with candidates who are engaged and ready to move.


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Scot McRae

Co-Founder & Chief Revenue Officer