Network Now for Less Work Later: Why It’s Time to Start Building Talent Communities

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One of the most important things that recruiters can do in the job market is maintain valuable networks. Social media websites such as LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter can be great places to source candidates for these networks, but many recruiters aren’t going far enough.

Instead of just spamming the Internet with jobs and hoping somebody qualified bites, what if you had an interested candidate pool ready and waiting for your next job opening?Trawling social media in search of candidates is effective if you have enough time, but it’s far from efficient.

“A good recruiter is always networking and using every connection they have to get another connection,” says Ray Bixler, CEO of online reference-checking firm SkillSurvey. “Searching social media profiles has become the primary method for finding passive candidates, especially since you can now use tools to search within specific parameters such as job titles, skills, and geographic region.”

Bixler notes that many recruiters also still rely on the old-school “pick up the phone and call around” method of sourcing. But whether they’re using phones or browsers, many recruiters aren’t making the most of their limited time.

“Both of these methods are incredibly time-consuming, and when a recruiter does reach a potential candidate, they’re starting in cold-call mode, hoping the candidate will even respond to a phone call, social media request, or email to learn about a position,” he says.

Going Beyond ‘Facebook Official’

If recruiters want to circumvent much of the legwork of traditional sourcing methods and save themselves a lot of hassle, they may want to look into using specialized software to build pools of interested passive candidates. This sort of proactive solution enables recruiters to target candidates who have already expressed some sort of interest in working with the recruiter or the company.

“Having a list of potential candidates – especially for specific hard-to-fill roles – can provide recruiters with a ready source of qualified talent, potentially saving them hours of searching,” Bixler says. “Rather than [approaching it as] a database, it should be a talent community that individuals can opt in to. It’s also more effective if recruiters keep it fresh and alive through ongoing engagement with potential candidates in some fashion, possibly by sharing news and information about your hiring brand and by asking for referrals from the community.”

paletteBixler also says that recruiters need to start focusing on cultivating relationships long before candidates are ready to leave their current employers.

“It starts with a conversation with the potential candidate to identify what they like or don’t like in their current position and what wants or needs they have that will entice them to take the jump to a new position in a new organization,” he explains. “They may be very happy in their current position, but most candidates will be open to exploring or at least hearing about new opportunities.”

For maximum effect, the whole recruiting process should be very sensitive to the candidate’s needs, responsibilities, and schedule, Bixler says.

“That also may mean extra coordination with hiring managers to arrange meetings with others in the department or top executives to really show that your organization wants that candidate and will make him or her feel at home,” Bixler says.

Can’t I Just Follow Them on Twitter?

Passive recruiting software, such as SkillSurvey Source, allows recruiters to engage with passive candidates on short notice. That way, recruiters can avoid scrolling through hundreds of social media profiles, sending out blanket emails to poorly targeted lists, or cold calling candidates at work.

“You’re automatically tapping into a pool of candidates who have opted to join on their own[so they could] hear about new opportunities,” Bixler says. “You’re a bit further along than a cold call when you reach out about a potential position.”

Bixler says that a well-cultivated talent community will build itself. The qualified candidates who choose to join will also be able to provide recruiters with references, thereby greatly extending their reach.

“Good people tend to know good people,” Bixler says. “If you’re asking a job candidate that you have already vetted to provide references or to refer other potential candidates, you’re getting those individuals from a qualified source.”

There’s a lot of competition for talent out there. Every candidate you want to make a grab for is probably being courted by one competitor or another – or maybe even employers in other industries altogether. Recruiters need to have the best tools at their disposal to make sure they are ready and able to attract top talent as soon as they need it.

For those struggling to fill positions, passive sourcing technology that builds talent communities of enthusiastic, willing participants may be the answer.

Read more in Sourcing

Jason McDowell holds a BS in English from the University of Wisconsin-Superior and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. By day, he works as a mild-mannered freelance writer and business journalist. By night, he spends time with his wife and dogs, writes novels and short stories, and tries in vain to catch up on all of those superhero television shows.