“Our proposition is to move away from the notion of resourcing altogether. In our new world, resourcing is purely one of a number of opportunities or consequences of a new form of activity – building networks and communities – that will address a number of issues, not just those associated with gaps in headcount numbers.”
At the time I knew exactly what I meant, but I really struggled how t make it a reality. Now of course proper community and social solutions have emerged that go some way to bringing it to life.
And I still firmly believe that communities are the key source of talent. I say ‘are’ because communities are alive and well and have been for decades, despite what the recent hype in the social world would have you believe. Some are offline, some are online in fairly clunky environments and a small number are emerging on modern, flexible and fully socially enabled platforms. But whilst I believe in ‘communities of talent’ and the potential of tapping into them, I don’t believe in the future of ‘talent communities’. A subtle switch of words yes, but one that makes a huge difference.
Lucian Tarnowski, Founder and CEO of Brave New Talent recently commented on Gary Franklins excellent blog post about social recruiting:
“I think the market is still in it’s early days but believe that every employer will have a talent community that will be based on conversation.”
Early days, yes. Talent communities? I’m not so sure. There are a few fundamental reasons why the notion of a ‘talent community’ doesn’t make sense:
Talent – what most companies will achieve when trying to build a community around their career site will be a group of job seekers, not ‘talent’. Unless, of course, an organisation decides to filter out 95% of the applicants and only allow entry to the community to a very small number who fit a particular formula. Even in these circumstances though, talent communities built around career sites consist primarily of active candidates. In a ‘talent community, one of the primary target groups – the passive candidate – is missing. In other words, the talent!
Context – probably the most important element of a community; the reason for being, the setting. Finding a job with say Coke or Diageo, or any company for that matter is not a relevant context. Communities of individuals tend to gather around a common interest or subject and job seeking, whilst a common activity, isn’t something that provides a sustainable context for a community. That doesn’t meant that I don’t believe job seeking won’t, and shouldn’t, become a more socially driven experience – see here for more on that subject and the debate it generated, but inherently, it’s not compelling enough.
Transience – communities tend to be participative. Sure, the rule of 1:10:100 still applies in terms of participation, but generally speaking, a community of subject or interest has an on-going connection between its constituents. HR, Cars, Steam engines – you name it, there is an on-going dialogue around the subject at hand, with longer term relationships and interactions being built over time. Job seeking is an event, not an interest. Even a very talented and desirable individual will move on after only a few months in a ‘talent community’ – either because they got hired or because the got a job elsewhere. In both of these circumstances, they will rarely have an on-going participation in the ‘talent community’ (Footnote here – I am seeing a very small number of organisations connecting employees with job seekers, but this is very rare right now)
Conversation – If you have a transient pool of individuals without a valid context, you struggle to achieve the other critical element of a community of value – conversation. Over time, the conversations develop into relationships, debates, opinions. Sustainable interaction. This is critical to developing and creating real value in the environment.
So where does that leave us? Well, in my mind, to exploit the potential of communities we have to change our thinking in terms sourcing strategies. And there is the key word – source. Unfortunately, web 1.0 has undermined our ability to source properly and we now have a generation of recruiters – in-house and agency – who have no real sourcing skills whatsoever.
Web 1.0 effectively pushed us down a road of attraction – a whole industry was created around posting a job online, waiting for a response and handling that response when it comes in. A whole industry – built around reactivity. We have become obsessed with driving job seekers (and customers, lets face it) back to our domain, instead of fine tuning skills and technology to access, mine and interact with ‘people’ or ‘professionals’ on their own terms, in their own environments, in their domains.
Communities containing all the talent we will ever need already exist. The smart organisations will realise that its much better to find a way to tap into them and the talent that lies within – job seekers or not – than it is to try and create a ‘talent community’ around their own career site or proposition. Smarter still though, will be the organisations that fuel and create those communities of interest, independently of their own brand or career portal ambitions.