Talent Community

Hiring Success Glossary

Table of Contents

What is a talent community?

A talent community is a target group of candidates based on varying criteria such as educational background, experience, expressed interest in job roles, prior history with specific companies, age, college/university attended, and more. The terms talent community and talent pools are used interchangeably by hiring professionals. Talent Communities are essentially a cultivation model for talent development that give HR professionals the ability to interact with talent groups who are considering a job change in the future or even their first job when nurturing college students.  How does the cultivation model work for potential candidates? One of the methods applied by a talent community is top of mind awareness. When the candidate is ready to make a move, you want to ensure that your company is the place they apply. For example, a talent community is excellent for candidates who need a bit more experience: Alice (a pilot) would like to move up to trans-Atlantic flights for an international airline, but she doesn’t have the required flight hours to qualify. ABC Flights International places Alice in their talent community. Alice regularly receives information about company culture, new safety procedures, and fun employee facts via drip campaigns and keeps her data updated. When Alice reaches the flight hour requirements, ABC Flights is the first to book an interview.

Who needs a talent community?

A talent community works for forward-thinking HR and Talent Acquisition teams that want to future-proof their pipeline. Talent communities work best for organizations that:
  • Hire high volumes of similar job roles
  • Need a specific skillset
  • Require a steady pipeline of talent
  • Participate in college campus recruiting events
  • Have good matching technology in their candidate relationship management (CRM) system
Talent communities take time to build and nurture; therefore, they are not a good strategy for reactive recruitment. Companies that tend to require immediate fills for employees may not have the time required to invest in a talent community.

How do you build a talent community?

A talent community, also commonly referred to as a talent pool, functions as a cultivation model for talent. Hiring professionals are able to interact with targeted groups of candidates sorted by varying criteria such as prior history with specific companies, educational background, expressed interest in job roles, experience, age, specific skillsets, college/university attended, and more. Talent communities are a powerful tool for creating top of mind awareness to ensure that when a candidate is ready to make a job change – they think of your company first.  Career landing pages are an entry point to your talent pool/communities. Most career sights have a section that asks candidates to sign up to receive additional information as it becomes available to them. Within this sign up process, they are consenting to receive messages from your brand in the future. A candidate may be interested in your company but not motivated to make an immediate move – keep that candidate connected and informed through a talent community.  Building a pool of candidates isn’t the only requirement of a talent community. Next comes engaging and retaining the members. Drive conversions with compelling content about your company culture, employee activities, and organizational wins. The content doesn’t 100% have to be about you; articles on professional development can also engage the community.  Hiring professionals need to find the balance of how often to message with their talent communities, and the answer is not one-size-fits-all. Be sure not to overwhelm your audience with too frequent communications and avoid spam. Mix up your recruitment messaging with texts, videos, testimonials, short e-newsletters, multimedia, and photos. The more engaged the community, the more productive it becomes as a pipeline for future roles.  Privacy laws for contacting passive candidates are similar to laws for marketing directly to a consumer. Candidates need the ability to opt-in and opt-out of the messaging at any time. An ATS (Applicant Tracking System) with fully integrated CRM software can automate the messaging process for talent communities. With the convenience of a CRM, hiring professionals can reap the returns from the investment of a talent community such as:
  • Lower spend on job ads
  • Lower reliance on expensive job boards
  • Faster hires with a large pool of qualified candidates at the ready
  • Attract passive candidates
  • Candidates have a higher interest in your company due to the increased interaction and information

How do you manage a talent community?

To nurture and retain the members of your talent community you must provide value on a regular basis. How? With compelling content. Similar to how companies market their products and services to consumers, TA leaders must market their company brand and culture to candidates.  Run. Don’t walk straight to your marketing team for assistance. They know how to create drip campaigns – sending marketing information to candidates on a regular basis over an extended period of time. They can also help you to find the balance of how frequently to message your talent community.  Drive conversation in your talent community by providing an exclusive “backstage pass” into your organization, its brand, culture, and employees. Make the content compelling by mixing up the messaging with e-newsletters, videos, testimonials, photos, games, and multimedia. The content doesn’t always need to be about the organization. Other ideas for content that stimulates the interest of the community include:
  • Professional development articles
  • Company wins
  • Positive changes for existing employees (such as unlimited PTO)
  • New strategic partnerships
  • Department focused blogs

External talent community examples

Chances are that when a hiring professional refers to a “talent community” they are referring to an opt-in communication strategy to create top of mind awareness of their company for passive candidates. Once a community is formed, candidates are placed into targeted groups based on varying criteria: education, specific skill sets, location, university/college attended, expressed interest in job roles, etc.  Hiring professionals engage members of the talent community by sharing content such as articles on company culture, company wins,  department-specific focused blogs, career growth opportunities, PR on new strategic partnerships, and research. The content doesn’t have to be 100% about your company. Articles and blogs on professional development can also provide value. Keep the communication fresh by mixing up the medium of the messaging such as:
  • Links to company YouTube videos
  • HR blogs
  • Upcoming events
  • Testimonials
  • Photos
  • Games
Talent communities are increasing in popularity and have become a powerful tool for hiring professionals. Known for creating top of mind awareness, the ultimate goal of a talent community is to ensure that a candidate thinks of your company first when they are ready to make a move. After the initial investment, a talent community pays dividends by meeting the current and future hiring needs of your company.

Internal talent community examples

With similarities to an external branded talent community, an internal community works to engage your employees to become brand ambassadors. Just like in the external-facing community, dividing employees into targeted groups based on department, interests, and/or location helps to safeguard that the content will be informative and engaging. Keep the topics interesting – personal development, new executive hires, white papers, research, testimonials, ebooks, and company wins for example. Partner with your internal talent community members to share their affection for your organization via their social media channels. 
  • Provide guidance for how and when to post to social media
  • Supply the content – links to articles, company announcements, etc.
  • Streamline the referral process – make it easy to submit a referral and follow up with each one
Promoting your company brand and culture internally and encouraging employee referrals is a smart strategy for hiring professionals. According to Forbes (Let’s Toast the Holy Grail of Hiring, 2019):
  • Candidates that come from a referral are a better culture fit than those hired through other sources
  • Referrals generate the best return on investment than all other hiring sources
  • Almost two-thirds of referred employees referred at least one person to their current company
  • Retention rates for referrals are much higher than the rates for other employees
Employees are usually eager to partner with forward-thinking HR departments. When you know of a good thing, you are happy to share it.

Talent community software

To grow the membership of your talent community you must be intentional. Converting potential candidates from career landing pages, hiring fairs, local networking events, and social media accounts into your talent community can be a substantial time commitment if not automated.  Legacy recruiting practices, such as email chains and spreadsheets, are cumbersome to manage and leave your company exposed to compliance issues. Similar to marketing directly to consumers, the laws for communicating with candidates require opt-in and opt-out options. Increase your productivity and the capabilities of your talent community by upgrading your ATS software. With a wide range of additional capabilities to improve the efficiency of your hiring process, a robust ATS can help manage your talent community by:
  • Separate tracking for leads (talent community members) and candidates
  • Providing a candidate portal – candidates control their own data and can update their qualifications
  • Auto Source Tracking – know where your leads came from and track spend
  • Fit Scoring- helps identify which candidates within the talent community are a fit for new job openings
  • Event management – automate the conversion of passive candidates into your talent community
  • Reporting and analytics – real-time data insights and customizable dashboards help to increase efficiency and reduce costs
  • Scan, sort, rank, and match potential candidates to open job roles
  • Ensure global compliance
The crucial component of any talent community is providing consistent value to the membership with compelling content. By automating delivery and responses, hiring professionals can focus their attention to actively promote the company brand and culture. Share the value of your internal community to motivate those on the outside to join.  An essential component of talent community software is a CRM. Similar to its popular, same acronym, counterpart for sales and marketing teams (Customer Relationship Management software), Candidate Relationship Management software is quickly gaining traction with hiring professionals. After identifying a talent pool of non-applicants, a CRM leverages messaging campaigns to nurture candidates – keeping them active, warm, and engaged in your brand.  Available as both a standalone that integrates into your current ATS or as a natively built, fully integrated CRM within a core Talent Acquisition Suite (TAS). A properly built CRM can help you manage your talent community with:
  • Separate marketing campaigns to leads and candidates
  • A/B Testing- test the effectiveness of your messaging and track it with proper reporting analytics
  • Automated drip campaigns – send marketing information to candidates on a regular basis over an extended period of time
  • Robust search functionality
  • Source and conversion rate analytics
  • CTA (call to action) functionality for landing pages
  • Ability to move interested candidates over to current job openings
  • Email and text campaign functionality
Once your talent community is formed, candidates can be tagged in the ATS or CRM to sort them into targeted groups. The varying criteria such as specific skillsets, expressed interest in job roles, age, education, experience, college/university attended, etc. are used to target messaging to candidates on a regular basis. Used for creating top of mind awareness, talent community software can help to ensure that when a candidate is ready to make a move – they think of your company first.  By combining the functionalities of ATS and CRM software, hiring professionals can turn their talent community into a powerful pipeline of talent. With talent community software, hiring managers are able to:
  • Engage and nurture passive candidates
  • Reduce reactive recruiting
  • Deliver on time hiring at a lower cost
  • Create a positive candidate experience
The benefits of building a talent community include strengthening your talent pipeline, engaging with qualified talent, reducing your dependence on expensive job board postings, lowering the cost to acquire talent, and expediting sourcing efforts. Talent community software (ATS + CRM) helps to reduce the time and effort involved in the creation and management of the community. Building strategic relationships that result in a pipeline of qualified, interested, and motivated candidates makes it all worthwhile.
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