Emergence of Talent Communities… Not Pools

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Some technologies are flashy but don’t really change anything at all in how we think about our lives – cloud computing, for example. Unless you’re in the IT industry, odds are you’ve heard a lot about it, but don’t really understand why you should care. Yet you’re using it right now if you are using Salesforce at work to manage customer contacts and information, or Google Docs to share and collaborate on documents, or Dropbox to share and store files with friends and family.

Consumer technology  is a different matter. We’ve all changed how we live and interact since mobile phones shrank from suitcase size bricks – a weird indulgence or curiosity – to a powerful, minicomputer-strength must-have.  Mobile technology is perhaps the easiest place to observe, both from a business and a consumer point of view, the value of emerging technologies, and the pace of change in technology.

Still, much new technology seems to drive people apart. Even mobile technology can create a barrier to interaction and communication. When was the last time you called instead of texted? Visited in person rather than left a VM? What often happens with technologies is they change the mode of interaction. We lose the one-to-one, person to person interaction and move instead to indirect interactions – transactional, informational or tacit.

But where new technologies have a social component, there’s hope!

Within HR and Recruiting, for example, a new technology is unfolding – one which will, in my opinion, change how people find new careers and how companies recruit. Talent Communities are here, driven by the powerful engines of social media, search, big data, ubiquitous computing and social communities. The term Talent Community is now replacing what many recruiters have traditionally called talent pools. Simply having a database of resumes to sort through to make a talent match has transformed into what we know as social recruiting. Talent Community does not equal a resume database alone – it’s much more than this.

Like all technological waves, Talent Communities can be positive or negative, depending on your attitude, intent, motivation and skill. I see numerous powerful benefits for employer brands and benefits for job seekers. I also see reason for caution if the human touch is not included in a thoughtful way for brands that are in either passive or active hiring mode. I’ve seen a few too many companies fail in this area by automating the candidate experience and not thinking about a real strategy to implement ahead of time. They see social media as the end all be all and just dive in without really thinking. Not a wise idea.

There’s no question Talent Communities are the next wave in talent acquisition. But the technology is immature still, especially for small employer brands which might not be able to field a great community manager and, thus, will rely more heavily on technologies and platforms.

What’s important, from my point of view, is the recognition by employer brands and technology providers that candidates – job seekers active and passive – are looking for a place to belong both in the workplace and in social community, and that requires a human touch at some point and hopefully on a daily basis. Recruiting a relationship driven business after all. Social media has simply given recruiters more options to find and develop relationships with talented people. And talented people are now adopting social media into their daily lives. This will only grow as we move forward.

Social media has made it possible for us to connect using weak bonds, lacking the human touch. Relationships formed via social media tend to occur between people who are sort of like us, or who are friends of friends, or former colleagues, or friends of former colleagues. These are people, and interactions, that are based in part on a shared sense of culture. Personality-culture fit is my topic about which I am passionate, so I have become a strong advocate of social media.

Social media has been working its way into HR. Recruiters and corporate brands are looking for candidates with some history or connections to recommend them, but they want to go beyond their candidate databases and tap into new talent sources (who may or may not be looking) who might be interested in the employer brands they represent. How to do this? Using social media tools, like Talent Communities.

Talent Communities are a way for employer brands to form strong bonds with potential candidates, using a human-mediated but almost purely web-managed set of interactions. Because these interactions come to us via social channels they are trusted – what McKinsey might call tacit interactions. Companies and brand managers create a Talent Community, a virtual community that represents your employer brand. The Talent Community should be managed by a wise human – a community manager, a role the open source software industry relies on – who believes in the brand; attracting new members by relying on social-media sourced recommendations. Voila, a Talent Community arises.

The short story: this is a game-changing use of technology. The long story – like all major technology shifts, some people will be bruised, some brands will be clumsy.

Keep an eye on the topic of Talent Communities. I’ll have more to say at HREvolution – See you in Vegas! Look forward to IRL with everyone. Phew.

It’s the next wave. Get ready to ride. I’m in. Let’s do this.

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Meghan M. Biro

Meghan M. Biro

Meghan M. Biro is a globally recognized Talent Management and HR Tech brand strategist, analyst, digital catalyst, author and speaker. As founder and CEO of TalentCulture, she has worked with hundreds of companies, from early-stage ventures to global brands like Microsoft, IBM and Google, helping them recruit and empower stellar talent. Meghan has been a guest on numerous radio shows and online forums, and has been a featured speaker at global conferences. She is a regular contributor at Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur and several other media outlets. Meghan regularly serves on advisory boards for leading HR and technology brands. Meghan has been voted one of the Top 100 Social Media Power Influencers in 2015 by StatSocial and Forbes, Top 50 Most Valuable Social Media Influencers by General Sentiment, Top 100 on Twitter Business, Leadership, and Tech by Huffington Post, and Top 25 HR Trendsetters by HR Examiner.


  1. OK. Many of you guys/gals know who I am – or at least how I’ve been portrayed in the movies. Some guy in the cornfields of Indiana being grumpy and crusty at each opportunity.

    Well – that’s partially correct. (I won’t say which part.)

    Here is my issue/complaint/observation – whatever you want to call my input on this. I’ve been recruiting for nearly 25 years. I see buzzwords come and go. I’ve watched the Personnel Department change more times than I can count. So for me I tend to be a by cynical each time I see a new label slapped on anything. And “Talent Community” is no exception.

    So you’ve got a group of names now. Super. Oh – and they even have little avatar pictures. That’s cool. ou can send them a note any time you want? Perfect.

    But they are NOT interacting with EACH OTHER. That’s what a community does. They share common interests and have discussions about those interests. With the TC idea – these folks aren’t talking to each other about their careers goals. They’re not all hovering around the “We want to work at XYZ” campfire. They are a list of names, email addresses, opt-in members for some text subscription. That’s what they are.

    The communication comes from the “human” and disseminates to the “members” and that’s about as far as you’ve described in this blog. Don’t get me wrong – I’m all about having a group/list of candidates to connect with. But those connections come in a singular fashion – not group dialogue per se.

    Oh – what about “content” and “discussions” you ask? Take a look at them. Every 3rd comment is some idiot posting a link to their job. Not quite the “community” discussion they are looking for.

    That’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks Meghan!

    1. @Jerry_Albright Hi Jerry A! How are the cornfields treating you? I always enjoy your wit even though sometimes you get grumpy. It’s part of your charm = your personality/culture fit factor. Smiles. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts. Your input as a seasoned recruiter “in the trenches” is invaluable on this topic. We’ve been in the recuiting industry awhile so I like hearing your viewpoints on recruitment innovation and social media.

      Overall, Talent Communities are still in early stages as the technology is immature and needs to be honed and personalized even further. I do believe this particular social recruitment innovation is here to stay. I hear your feedback on the topic of candidate engagement. To date, the smart technology is there for relationship development; it absolutely needs to be implemented and managed on a consistent basis by real live people with the right personaility and skill set for community management. Just having a database of contacts is NOT community. I’m with you. Will be interesting to watch developments in this space as we proceed into the future.

  2.  @MeghanMBiro  – I think your points are right on! This is definetly still in its infancy. My company (Veechi.com) has a lot of plans for this space and your thoughts are very inspiring and really resonate with what we have been saying internally. 
    I would love to have a short chat with you sometime to hear your thoughts on our approach. Would you have any interest in chatting with me? 

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