If You Really Want to Build a Talent Community, Try These Tips

I first heard of talent communities circa 2012 from Mahe Bayireddi as he was founding Phenom People. Had I still been in recruiting at the time, I probably would have been all over it, as it seems like a great, easy way to pluck talent on demand that is already engaged with your brand. Having been trained in branding as a recruiter in 2005, it really would have aligned with what we were taught – to establish long-term relationships by being strong resources and adding unique value from our experience.

Perhaps, having had an entrepreneurial interest, I would have helped my firm launch a branding and talent community-building service for our clients. It might have helped my firm establish itself, but I’m skeptical that it would have really done anything to accelerate or improve hiring for most of our clients, and I’d like to explain why.

By 2012, I had been working with and for job seekers rather than companies (with a few exceptions.) When you see the hiring process from the candidate’s perspective, you realize candidates aren’t buying into this whole talent community thing.

Even though coaches like me have spent the last 20 years teaching corporate professionals to compile and research target employers and conduct a campaign that is proactive, the vast majority of candidates conduct reactive job searches. They look for job postings when they’re ready to change jobs and use the method that is immediately in front of them – applying through job boards.

Companies have traditionally favored recruiting talent from its competition, but it’s not great career management to jump ship because a company you vied to work for when you were looking is finally ready to hire.

Last week I attended Talent Experience Live, a live LinkedIn event hosted by Natalie McKnight and Devon Foster of Phenom People. The topic was talent communities, and Randy Goldberg, VP of Talent Acquisition Strategy at MGM, was also there to share tips.

I took the opportunity to ask these experts a couple of questions, such as how they measure success and which metrics they track. Goldberg advised running your talent community initiative combining engagement efforts with marketing best practices, such as using technology and segmented messaging.

So, using traditional marketing tools, they create various groups of talent, create tags, send customized e-mails to each group, A/B test various messages, and track the number of e-mail opens, along with the number of clicks on apply links. Using these tools, he said MGM has achieved an 80% open rate, which is amazing.

Building a talent community is not as simple as setting up some great automated tech and hiring some marketing people to post on social media or send out a company newsletter. You can do that, but ROI will escape you…unless…

Your company has already established its brand as an employer of choice. Admired companies and industry leaders like Disney, Google, Marriott, Apple, and MGM will be able to implement technology and marketing to build talent communities because they are on people’s radar as a place where they can work among the best and brightest. While marketing directly to people, they can also market to any number of startups or competitors.

If you really want to build a talent community, you have to first brand your company as an employer of choice. Your talent must be perceived as the best and the brightest, and your policies and culture as lifestyle-friendly.

One of the other questions I asked Goldberg was whether executive branding was part of their talent community strategy. He said that executives are doing more publishing and public speaking – keynotes, panels, podcasts, and live events (obviously), such as Talent Experience Live.

This is a great way to make your company superstars more accessible, but it’s just one small component of executive branding.

Executive branding is a multi-tiered strategy that, to be truly effective, will require you to brand at the macro AND micro-levels. Praise and promote your front line just as much as your C-Suite. Also, show your prospective talent that employees have an admirable lifestyle. Show them who they are outside of their company identity.

Goldberg had a good point about not sending e-mails from a “do not reply” e-mail address. Offer a channel for your audience to connect with a REAL person. This demonstrates great empathy with job seekers.

The other thing that your company will have to fine-tune if you are going to be successful at attracting future superstars to your candidate pool is the candidate experience. The experience MUST match the hype! Goldberg mentioned that MGM allows its talent community to interact with its alumni. That’s employer brand confidence.

This requires standard operating procedures followed by every stakeholder involved in hiring. This includes non-automated, HUMAN standardized follow-up protocols for candidates who interview, rolling out position status updates to applicants, transparent salary negotiations, and comprehensive onboarding and training. Acknowledge and fix what people complain about on Glassdoor.

Furthermore, your company had better offer opportunities for diverse, dynamic (hard + soft, professional + personal) development, be proactive about succession planning and development planning, and practice transparency in communications throughout the organization.

Do not invest in building a talent community until your employer, executive, and employee brand are solid!

When you do, think not just in terms of marketing metrics, but also make sure that you have a way to tie this campaign with time to hire and the quality of hires, because what good is attracting candidates already engaged with your brand if they don’t land and succeed.

Are you realizing that your company needs to develop its executive branding? Schedule a consultation today!

Karen Huller is the creator of the Corporate Consciousness Ripple Blueprint and author of Laser-sharp Career Focus: Pinpoint your Purpose and Passion in 30 Days. She founded Epic Careering, a leadership and career development firm specializing in executive branding and conscious culture, in 2006. 

While the bulk of her 20 years of professional experience has been within the recruiting and employment industry, her publications, presentations, and coaching also draw from experience in personal development, performance, broadcasting, marketing, and sales. Her solutions incorporate breakthroughs in neuroscience, human performance optimization, bioenergetics, and psychology to help leaders accelerate rapport, expand influence, and elevate engagement and productivity while also looking out for the sustainability of the business and the planet.

Mrs. Huller was one of the first LinkedIn trainers and is known widely for her ability to identify and develop new trends. She is a Certified Professional Résumé Writer, Certified Career Transition Consultant, and Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist with a Bachelor of Art in Communication Studies and Theater from Ursinus College and a minor in Creative Writing. Her blog was recognized as a top 100 career blog worldwide by Feedspot. 

She was an Adjunct Professor in Cabrini University’s Communications Department and an Adjunct Professor of Career Management and Professional Development at Drexel University’s LeBow College of Business  She is an Instructor for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA) where some of her students won the 2018 national YEA competition, were named Ernst & Young’s America’s Next Top Young Entrepreneurs, and won the 2019 People’s Choice Award. 

Mrs. Huller is board secretary for the Upper Merion Community Center and just finished serving as Vice President of the Gulph Elementary PTC, for which she received recognition as a Public Education Partner and Promoter from the Upper Merion Area Education Association. She lives in King of Prussia with her husband, two daughters, and many pets, furry, feathered, and scaly.

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