How To Build And Better Engage Your Talent Network

February 23, 2018 By Brian Shoicket

What is a talent network?

Also known as a talent community or talent pool, a talent network is a method of social recruiting that relies on the collection and engagement of people who are part of either your candidate search or job application process. Talent networks, when done well, allow candidates and employers to exchange ideas and information about topics freely and build closer relationships. These topics can cover everything from general career advice, employment opportunities, news about the employer, questions and answers about what it’s like to work at your company, to the challenges your business faces and the tools and skills you use to solve them.

Unfortunately, most HR teams build talent networks that become little more than email lists and one-way conversations.

When building your talent network, it is important that talent management teams are on the same page. This means understanding your current talent inventory or demand, and being able to predict the volume and types of talent you will need down the road. Once your hiring needs are understood, they can be converted into a strategic and actionable plan.

Here are three steps to help you build and better engage your talent network:

1) Add Candidates to Your Talent Network

Candidates will most likely become part of your talent network through the regular job application process and will either be hired or rejected for various reasons. However, some candidates fall into a gray area. Consider these candidates for your talent network if they:

  • Apply and aren’t a good fit for the position they applied for
  • Apply and could be a good fit for your company if you had the right position open for them

Let these candidates know that even though you won’t be advancing them for the job they applied to, you were impressed with their application and want to add them to your talent network for future consideration.

Another way to build your talent network is by allowing passive candidates and job seekers to show interest in working for you without directly applying for a job. This allows you to capture talented candidates – whether active or passive – whom you may have skipped over otherwise because you didn’t have a position that was relevant for them at the time.

Here are a few ways to add candidates to your talent network:

  • Include an easily accessible form on your career site that candidates can fill out— La Quinta and Bloomberg are companies that do this well. This provides a quick (hopefully) and approachable way for candidates to connect with you without having to meticulously craft an email expressing their interest. In addition, the details they provide in the form can go directly into your Candidate Relationship Management system (the other “CRM”) so that you can follow up with them about relevant opportunities or general updates.
  • Create a Facebook group to post updates, or consider other social media platforms and apps like LinkedIn or Slack. For some inspiration, check out how Dropbox uses Facebook.
  • Invest in recruiting software that allows you to create an internal talent network or leverage an out-of-the-box CRM tool


2) Keep Your Talent Network Engaged

When a job seeker joins your talent network, it’s crucial that you connect with them. Your goal is to build relationships with these people, so regular communication is key to keeping your talented applicants engaged. Outlined here are six ways to help you accomplish this:

  • Organize your talent network into cohorts or affinity groups (accounting, IT, sales, parents or veterans re-entering the workforce, etc) so each member receives more pertinent and personalized information
  • Send out a weekly or monthly update email with items like:
    • Recently opened positions
    • New product releases or other company updates
    • Employee accomplishments
    • Job fairs or other job-related events your company is hosting or attending (Enterprise Holdings lists 270 events at the time of publishing!!!) 
    • Industry events that your company is hosting or attending (perhaps NYC Uncubed?)
  • Have candidates follow you or your company on social media. You can use Uber’s Twitter and Facebook as models
  • Call candidates or connect in person
  • Host events for job seekers (such as this Quartet example)
  • Manage a blog that educates your candidates as well as keeps them up-to-date with your companies’ accomplishments and any challenges you may be facing. Again, Uber does a great job of this (you can meet Conor Myhrvold, who leads the Uber Engineering initiative, at HR Uncubed 2018).

Set aside time, whether daily, weekly, or monthly, to catch up with potential candidates as well, and always remember to share your newest job openings with them. And if candidates reach out to you, respond quickly! This type of thoughtful and responsive personal contact will remind them that they are valued and will help to build your relationship.

Once you have a strong relationship with your recruits, it will allow you to make quicker, more informed hiring decisions since your applicants won’t be strangers.


3) Revisit and Review

Use your talent network as a sourcing tool. Don’t forget about them! In fact, staying connected with interested applicants will add value to your company and can earn you respect and appreciation for not having forgotten about them. iCIMS reported that 75% of job seekers agree that companies should develop more talent networks in order to keep them up to date on job alerts and other announcements. Additionally, LinkedIn’s 2016 Global Talent Trends report found that only 36% of employees are actively looking for new jobs at any given time, but 90% want to hear from a recruiter at a potential employer.


Periodically review the people in your talent network to see if any of them would be a good fit for your latest positions. If you find possible matches, send the job to each relevant candidate and encourage them to apply. However, it is important to clarify that this is not a job offer and employment isn’t guaranteed.


So in conclusion…

Give active and passive candidates an easy way to join your talent network as well as ways to easily engage with your company once they’re in it. And make sure to match candidates up with new positions that are applicable when possible, and don’t forget about them! By following the three steps above and tips within, you will reduce the amount of time, money, and effort spent on searching for candidates, build more meaningful relationships with your candidates, and enrich your quality of hire.


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