Why Can’t Employers Build Talent Communities?

Firstly, what they hell are talent communities anyway? They’ve been waffled about for a few years now and just the term itself creates much debate; so if in-house recruiters or ‘gurus’ can’t even agree on a term, how can you build something you can’t define?

But of course, the talent fairy will wave his/her magic wand and grant you your wish of any definition you care to cast upon said thing. And of course there will nice new technology vendors who will court you with their ‘talent wares’ so that you can build your fictitious talent something-or-other. “Our system is so flexible it can be what you want”, they’ll tell you, and off you’ll go into the woods together to build your talent castle, never ever to be seen again.

But let me give you the real reason why, no matter what you call it, build it and they WILL NOT COME. Why? Because candidates really don’t want to play pretend Facebook with you. Seriously, they don’t. But also, even if they did, the skills of a Community Manager are very different to those of an in-house recruiter. It would be like asking a nightclub bouncer to serve cocktails. Or white van man to drive a hearse…very slowly.

Peter Gold: Candidates really don’t want to play pretend Facebook with you

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Some things just don’t transcend. No matter how much you try and kid yourself, they just don’t. But there’s more: people, candidates, passive job applicants and unicorns don’t congregate around jobs. Not even Google or Facebook jobs. They congregate around people; ideally, great people. Or at least people like them. And if they can get to work with some of these people then great but if not, they still stick with them as they like them. Learn from them. Share things with them. Socialise with them. Maybe even become friends with them (on Facebook).

But none of this is driven by getting a job but by doing their job. Hopefully better.

Now imagine any one brand trying to build a talent community. They don’t offer anything other than jobs. OK, maybe Google could do something but they don’t. Why? Because it wouldn’t even work for them because all those smart creatives get together in some other way to talk about code and stuff. But not jobs. But even if they did want a job they wouldn’t apply via a talent community. They’d ask someone they know.

But there is, of course, a role for the talent community. Take an obvious one like Stackoverflow. And for every Stackoverflow there’s a Doctoroverflow, a Marketeroverflow, maybe even a Tescocheckoutoverflow. And if someone independent builds it, and gets the big employers to play (fund it), maybe an industry association or a leading job board, then there could be some winners. But expecting an employer to build, maintain, nurture and grow a talent community? Don’t hold your breath.

And if you’re a talent community tech vendor, a few big names don’t make a market. But a few big industry associations could.

Contributed by: Peter Gold, Hire Strategies

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