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Building Talent Communities: 5 Lessons from the Frontline

Having a deep interest in the
specialisation is a key component
to create a successful talent community

Search for the term ‘Talent Communities’ on Google and you’ll find scores of articles with a variety of definitions and opinions. The inexorable rise of social media over the last ten years generated the idea of social recruitment which informed the notion of talent communities.

There is no denying it’s a hot topic in recruitment but few practitioners are taking talent communities from concept to reality at the current time.

As part of our service offering to our client (Australia’s largest energy provider), Hudson RPO has been building a number of communities in niche industries where talent is scarce and the roles are critical to the company. Here are the top five lessons we’ve learned.

1. Take your stakeholders along for the ride

As a rule, RPOs take a highly collaborative approach to our work, ensuring our stakeholders are involved in every aspect. Nowhere is this more important than in building talent communities on behalf of a client. It’s a new and exciting resourcing frontier and you may be tempted to go off on a frolic of your own to do some really interesting things, but if your stakeholder cannot see the benefit, that’s not where you should spend your time.

Meet regularly with your stakeholders to check they understand what you are doing for them and to make sure what you are delivering meets their needs and expectations.

2. Content is King

You’ve done all the hard work to find people and convince them to join your community, now you need to build a relationship with them and encourage them to interact with each other. There are a host of platforms that can facilitate this; from Facebook and Linkedin groups to custom-built microsites. But a platform is worth nothing unless there is something to talk about once you are there.

Rather than just producing a job feed to community members, you need to offer thoughtful content about their specialisation that they cannot get elsewhere. This can be in the form of newsletters featuring technical articles written by senior members of the company or online webinars covering topics the community would find beneficial.

Content is a key way in which we can build relationships with community members and it is the most tangible method of distinguishing a talent community from a talent pool.

3. Quality over Quantity

Joel Capperella wrote a piece on quality over quantity in talent communities on in which he contends:

"One reason why many so-called “talent communities” end up being active candidate database development efforts is that the temptation to increase active candidate outreach is too great and the effort to sincerely engage a community of talent perceived to be too cumbersome."

It is reasonable to attach a KPI to the number of new members brought into talent communities, but if your community is servicing roles where talent is scarce you need to think carefully about that number. If it’s set too high it can have negative consequences.

More time will need to be spent sourcing new leads rather than engaging existing members which can weaken the impact of the community. In some cases, the criteria of entry may need to be relaxed to make the numbers, diluting the quality of talent.

The smaller and more exclusive the talent community, the better the engagement will be with the ‘cream of the crop’. A smaller community allows for the development of strong relationships and increases members’ motivation to join the company when the right opportunity arises.

4. Be authentic

One of the things we offer members of our talent community is deep insight into working at Origin within their area of specialisation. Rather than just communicating the general, company-wide Employee Value Proposition (EVP), we conduct comprehensive research both internally and externally to find out what the conditions truly are on a micro-level.

Look for first-hand stories from people in those roles within your company and find out what people in the market really want. Between these two views, you can develop a genuine and detailed EVP tailored for the community.

When interacting with members at the level of intimacy a talent community demands, you need to have a true and complete story about what life is like within the company as it relates to their specialisation.

5. Passion drives results

All of the above points depend on getting this last one right. Passion is not something that can be taught or faked. It is important not to underestimate the impact passion will have on the success of your talent community.

Many articles have been written on how talent communities differ from talent pooling and an underlying factor is passion. A key ingredient to the success of a talent community is a dedicated consultant with a deep interest in the specialisation of the community and a sincere desire to engage people within that niche to generate conversations that go beyond broadcasting job opportunities. This also plays well with the stakeholders who take comfort in the fact they are dealing with someone with solid industry knowledge and an appetite to know more.

Marvin Smith of speaks of passion in this way:

“The lesson of the past 5 years is that most communities will fail if there is not the energy or the motivation to keep the conversation going. Building a talent community takes time, nurturing and cultivation; in a world of transactions, talent acquisition people can lose sight of prize.”

Building talent communities is a proactive activity and requires passion, drive and a desire to engage with people about a specialisation in a genuine manner. If passion is absent, success will be too.

The nebulous nature of talent communities mean they can be tailored to suit the specific needs of the stakeholders and specialisation; however these five points I’ve discussed are likely to be present in the foundation of any successful community regardless of their individual differences.

The continued rise of social media and its infiltration into so many aspects of our lives suggest that candidates will come to expect a higher level of engagement with prospective employers. With some thought and commitment, the talent community can evolve to provide the rich and genuine interaction that is the hallmark of the social media age.

Learn how Hudson RPO can help with talent communities.  Contact us today.

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Nice article Lou, articulate, honest, and a nice balance between experiential and research.





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Hudson is a global talent solutions company. We help transform the workplace and unleash the full potential of organizations and individuals. Our expert team and proprietary tools provide you with unique insights and services that help you maximize your success. Across 20 countries, we deliver a range of recruitment, talent management and recruitment process outsourcing solutions to get you and your business where you want to be.