Heard about?Talent communities sure are a funny thing. If you ask some people, they don’t exist at all. Others think the entire concept is at best, laughable and at worst, fraudulent. Still more groups laud them as a new frontier in recruiting, brought about by the dynamic shift in the way much of the world communicates. And there are still further folks who have no issue with the concept, save its ill-fitting moniker.

So what? If an industry can’t define what is fast becoming one of its foremost topics, how do its detractors and adherents spread the news? How is it possible to train people in the dark arts of community management (tongue firmly in cheek) or recruiting and sourcing from a talent community? The quick answer is, you really can’t. Unless you belong within a corporate structure with a defined platform, it’s tough to train and use talent communities to your benefit. And per usual, third party recruiters are left to their own devices, which may be just the way they like it. Perhaps the only way for recruiters, corporate or third party to answer the burning questions surrounding talent communities and their alleged effectiveness is to try some of these tools themselves.

But wait! Haven’t recruiters always been at the forefront of HR Technology? Aren’t these new platforms simply automating what enterprising recruiters have been at for the last five or so years (longer if you count rolodexes and Christmas cards)? The answer is yes. Building dynamic groups that can not only talk to the recruiter about new opportunities on a regular basis but talk to one another is something that recruiters have done within user groups, LinkedIn forums and email threads for quite some time. As each new technology comes out, some smart and efficient user comes up with a way to use it for talent acquisition or at least talent location. Talent Community Platforms are, in truth, likely the by-product of shifting technology, intelligent recruiters and keen-eyed business people.

Let’s look to the platforms themselves for defining characteristics:

  • TalentCircles- A cloud-based platform, TalentCircles allows you to build, brand, own and manage your live talent communities, drastically reduce your talent acquisition costs, interact with candidates via video as often as you wish, and optimally execute on your staffing plan with no additional overhead.
  • BraveNewTalent- BraveNewTalent is a Community Platform that enables users to attain professional knowledge and skills. The platform brings together people and employers to engage and build closer relationships leading to knowledge sharing, career development and ultimately employment. It addresses the major inefficiencies in the employment and human capital markets.
  • Experience- An Experience Talent Community is a private online service that helps you match your trained and certified talent with your employers and business partners seeking to hire that talent.
  • Jobs2Web- Jobs2web will help build your own centralized talent community that enables you to capture more passive candidates, multiply employee referrals, and automatically match and email your jobs to your talent supply chain every day.
  • SelectMinds- CommunityConnect by SelectMinds delivers an invitation-only network that helps you rally former employees around your corporate vision. It helps you create a growing database of talent and new business that you can mine, manage, and source on the back end.
  • TribePad- The platform delivers the necessary core infrastructure to automate how recruiters attract potential talent directly to your site from multiple recruiting channels, captures and converts visitors to candidates once they’ve arrived, interacts with candidates where they gather and measures all important metrics throughout the talent supply chain.
  • Sourcepoint/AIRS- SourcePoint unifies key tools and automates sourcing tasks into the single, most efficient way to pinpoint the best talent. SourcePoint is unique because it touches every part of the candidate-sourcing process. This amplifies how you search for passive or active talent, and opens new channels to reach the absolute best possible candidates for your jobs.

And folks, these are just the ones I could find, there are thousands of products out there who at least have a “talent community component” and for every single one of them, you’ll find someone who claims whatever it is they’re selling is not “a true talent community” for one reason or another. Recruiting mainstays like Bullhorn, iCims, Monster and Dice all now have products, services and/or marketing verbiage around talent communities. Add that to the new players that (smartly) supplement what recruiters were already using, like Facebook and LinkedIn. Those companies: Branchout, Monster’s Beknown, Work4Labs, Find.ly, Identified, Talent.me, Path.to and SimplyHired are all focused on putting a natural recruiting inclination in to hyperdrive. (PS read this great post from FeverBee about how FB may not be the best place to build community…)

But…and I hear the pounding fists and sputtering even now, WHAT IS THE USE?! And that’s a very good question. Many of the products are designed to cut down on the noise but recruiters only find themselves more overwhelmed in general. On every website, you will find a satisfied customer or 5, but in the abstract, recruiters aren’t seeing the benefits quite so clearly. Marvin Smith, one of the leading thinkers around the idea of talent communities had this to say recently:

“A community is about shared values and a conscious choice to live in that location. A citizen of a community contributes to it in terms of communication (conversation), collaboration and the common good. A talent community has those ingredients as its cornerstone; developing, implementing and building online talent communities for targeted talent shares common interests and values to create and grow relationships.”

He also pointed out that it’s difficult to define because we do have so many tools in the shed, all of the above qualify as do social recruiting tools that allow you build a talent community like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Ning et al. Add to that tottering tower the now-standard cadre of business tools, your ATS, your CRM, your recruitment marketing platform, your posting and advertising solution…

You see why defining the talent community gets tough. Not only do all of those things technically qualify as potential tools and interaction places, everyone has different “rules of engagement” when it comes to using them. Bah!

There really aren’t any new answers to satisfy the analytical harpy in my brain who demands ROI and results! What I do find is that the recruiters who have a passion for their community do the best. The HR pros who already made candidate experience a priority are finding their way quite nicely. The folks who didn’t rely on their technology to show them the holes in their workforce are able to adapt talent communities to workforce planning needs. What I’ve found is that the people exploring the hows of talent communities have already figured out the whys.

Power your recruiting success.
Tap into Recruiter.com, the largest network of recruiters.

in Social Recruiting Software]