This post is the first post on what will be a series of posts on Talent Networks and how to use them to create value in your recruitment strategy.

Over the last year, I’ve heard a lot being thrown around about Talent Networks and Talent Communities and it is a strategic trend that is gaining steam among recruiting circles.  For this post, I wanted to take a step back and really define what Talent Networks are and aren’t and focus on the value that they can provide to both employers and job seekers.

What is a Talent Network?

Let’s start with a simple definition and let’s move from there.  A Talent Networkis a company specific opt-in network that candidates can provide contact information in exchange for news about the companies careers.  By opting in, the candidate has given the organization permission to provide timely and targeted content about their company and their job opportunities.

It really is an informal contract between both the company and the candidate.  The candidate obviously has some interest in hearing more about the company by making the initial engagement and has provided the organization with the opportunity to market and sell them on working for their company.  It’s up to the company to provide the right collection of content in order to get the candidate to apply.  If the company misuses this permission (with frequent or mass emails) or provides less than compelling content, the candidate is free to opt back out of the Talent Network as their is no clause that requires them to remain a part of it.

Talent Networks, Talent Communities and Job Alerts

There’s been a lot of talk and terminology out there with Talent Networks, Talent Communities and Job Alerts.  And I wanted to take a second to address it.

I’ve gone into the difference in the pastbut when people talk about Talent Communities, in many cases they are talking about Talent Networks and not a true Talent Community.  A Talent Network enables one of one communication between employers and candidates through various forms.  A true Talent Community will enable communication between all it’s members including candidates conversing and sharing ideas with other candidates as well as employers.  In many cases, recruiting organizations leverage existing marketing communities as a way to find talent but very few are able to build a strong and lasting community around their careers.

Many critics will say that Talent Networks are the same as Job Alerts that have been a part of ATS systems for the last part of the decade.  But I see Job Alerts as only one piece of the puzzle when discussing the communications needed for a Talent Network.  Sure, targeted jobs will be an important piece but a successful communication strategy includes videos, company news, helpful articles, fun messages and other content.  The goal should be to provide enough good content for candidates to get to know your organization so that when the right job comes along they view the organization as an employer of choice.

How a Talent Network works

Briefly, I’d like to go over the process of how a Talent Network can work.

From a candidate’s point of view, they will opt-in to the Talent Network via a simple form.  This form will more than likely be on the Career Site, in a job distributioncampaign or on another piece of recruitment content.  Once filled out, the candidate will receive a confirmation that they’ve opted in that sets the expectation of the types of content they will receive from the company.  They will then begin receiving these communications, typically via email, and may take action on some of the specific content and jobs (or decide to opt-out after a period of time.)

On the employer side, once a candidate opts in they are added to the internal database or recruitment CRM.  The system will automatically send a pre-written confirmation note to the candidates email.  From here, the system will tag and group these candidates with specific keywords based on the info they provided and the form they came in form.  Recruiters can use these system generated groups and/or start building their own Talent Pipelines for these candidates.  This process is continuous with new candidates being placed into the appropriate groups and pipelines.  It is from here that the recruiting team runs content marketing campaigns based on candidates unique skills and interests.  By using these built out groups and pipelines, recruiters can send more targeted messaging and content to candidates.

The value to employers and candidates

The value to employers is pretty simple.  If done correctly, a robust Talent Network can be built and utilized to help identify and ultimately fill key skills needed in their organization.  While it requires some up-front effort in terms of setting up the process and communication strategy, it is a monetary free channel for organizations to drive more applicants for their job positions.  It also enables them to capture more candidates in their process that don’t apply and better engage and form relationships with these people.

Many argue that this is nothing more than spam for candidates but I’d argue that it can be a great resource for them.  People in general are engaging with brands in a much more intimate way than they have in the past.  And candidates want ways to learn more about organizations and what it is like to work at them before they make the leap to apply.

They know once they opt in that they’ve given permission to the companies to provide relevant content and see it as a benefit that they receive timely and targeted communications from the organization.  Instead of having to actively look for information on potential employers of choice, candidates are able to opt-in to receive more information.  It may even be a disservice to candidates if an organization doesn’t provide a way for continued engagement on their Career Sitewhether that’s a Talent Network or a social recruiting profile.

More about Talent Networks

I hope this helps to frame the discussion around Talent Networks so that we can get deeper into how you can better utilize them to provide value not only to your organization but to the candidates that make up this powerful resource. 

Check back to the SmashFly Blog (http://blog.smashfly.com) as we continue to series over the next few months.

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Tags: Career, Network, Optimization, Site, Talent, candidate, experience, marketing, pipelines, recruitment

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