A lot of people are talking these days about talent pipelines, and specifically using them as a means to shorten time to hire by building relationships with high-quality passive candidates over time.
When done correctly, talent communities convert career site visitors into a database where they are nurtured until they are ready to convert down the funnel into an applicant in the ATS.
What’s a Talent Community?
First off, let’s define talent communities. Many people use the phrases talent communities, talent pipelines, and talent CRM as synonyms. While these concepts are all a bit different, we’ll use them as more or less interchangeably in this discussion.
A talent community is a mechanism where passive job seekers can learn more about a company until they are ready to apply. Its most common form is as an email newsletter where candidates are receiving information on a monthly or quarterly basis that helps them better understand the company so that they can make an informed decision on whether or not to apply when they are ready for a new job. Online and offline events, texting, and other forms of communication can also be in the mix when keeping in touch with these candidates.
How does it work?
A person finds out about your company. They go to your careers site. They think “wow, this is an interesting place to work.” But, they aren’t ready to apply for a job.
Perhaps they have been at the same job for 5 years and don’t have an updated resume. Maybe they are halfway through a Ph.D. program. Maybe they just switched jobs 3 months ago. Whatever the reason, they will not end up in your ATS.
Enter the talent community. This is where people who are interested but not ready to apply can leave their name, email, and what job family they’re interested in.
Here’s where most companies fall down. They get a form on their careers site that allows them to capture info from passive candidates, and then they don’t do anything with these people!
It’s not enough to simply have a database, you need to engage with these people through online and offline events, emails, and 1:1 conversations.
At the most basic, each talent community should be segmented into different functional areas. For example, you may segment yours into engineering, sales, marketing, etc. A more advanced talent community will also segment by geography, and perhaps by affinity groups such as veterans or women in tech.
The way I think about segmentation is to think through the various groups of people who a candidate would like to chat with to learn more about your culture. There’s probably a group of people who do their current job, a group that works in the office they are interested in, and maybe just some like-minded people who they would want to hang out with after work.
Now that we’ve segmented our database, it’s time to communicate with them. The baseline communication should be a monthly email with culture-related content which is relevant to the role a given prospect is interested in. Quarterly communication is ok, but you risk losing candidates this way and decreasing the open rates of your emails over time.
Some companies send job openings to their talent communities. This is fine, as long as the main thrust is around culture-related information. Passive job seekers aren’t applying for jobs, and so open reqs are a lot less interesting than information related to the tech your engineering team is working with, or how your sales team celebrates the wins.
Pro tip: have your recruiters reach out on a 1:1 basis to high-value prospects you’d like to activate in the short term. They know about your company and therefore should be very open to a 10-minute talk about open roles.
Talent pipelines can add value in a few different ways. One is in terms of capturing candidates you wouldn’t have otherwise gotten. So, one way to think about ROI is simply multiplying your cost/hire by the number of hires you’ve made from the talent community.
The other major way a talent community can help is by shortening your time to hire. This results in massive ROI as each day a valuable employee is onboard can lead to thousands of dollars in savings.
While implementing and maintaining a talent community may seem daunting, the best advice I can give is to get started. Every day you don’t have one, you’re losing high-quality passive candidates who can help you meet your hiring goals!
Check out this video for a quick 101 explanation on talent communities:
About the author: Phil Strazzulla is passionate about educating the HR ecosystem about everything talent acquisition. He began his career working in early stage investing at Bessemer Venture Partners before getting his MBA at Harvard Business School, which lead him to the HR industry.