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The Problem with Talent Communities: They're All About the Recruiters

Community Map

There's a lot of buzz among recruiters about talent communities. The idea, from the recruiting side, is to build a talent community of dedicated professionals in a particular area. Professionals benefit by being connected with job opportunities and news in a particular area. Recruiters benefit from having a predefined talent pipeline of qualified people to contact with any job opening in an industry.

One problem is that most industries already have these communities, if with less of an emphasis on job-seeking. Whether they take the form of professional or trade associations, industry events, meetups, Twitter chats, or some other incarnation, the top people in a particular profession already have ways to connect. It's just that recruiters aren't (usually) invited. And for top people who are busy enough in their industry already, a professional association is likely to win more of their time than a talent community.

As we've covered before, passive candidates can be hard to engage, but are often the people best suited for an opportunity. Think about it: if you're looking for a top professional, do you want one who spends most of her time doing her job, or looking for another one? The people you want are active in their professional community, not your talent community.

So the problem with talent communities is same problem that job boards have: they're designed for recruiters, not applicants. Just look at the benefits boasted by various talent community software:

  • Turn job applicants into your recruiters
  • Drive employee referrals
  • Screen candidates
  • Learn from top people and organizations in your field

Aside from the last, do any of those sounds like benefits to candidates? Talent communities have their place, but that place may just be in the professional community, not individual companies. Instead of focusing your efforts on driving talent into your corporate community, why not spend some time developing an understanding of the communities where your top candidates already spend time? This will show you what your candidates know, what they want to know, and how they interact with one another. That's valuable information that will help ensure that any talent community you develop benefits all members, not just recruiters.

Community mapping image from Steven Warburton on Flickr

Originally posted at the SnapHop blog.

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Tags: communities, hr, software, talent, technology, vendors

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