The Talent Community Puzzle

I was fired 4 days before I closed on my first house. It’s true. Easily one of the worst days of my life. I logged in for my 1-on-1 that day prepared to tell my manager about my new house when he started the conversation with the dreaded, “unfortunately, we’ve eliminated your position.”

I don’t remember quite how he said it, but I definitely remember how it felt. Deflating. Worse than that, though. I felt like I was hit by a truck. I was furious. Then, I was petrified. All of this was happening in my head in a matter of seconds as he rambled about payouts and things to sign.

A few minutes later, the HR Director dialed in. It was one of those awkward long pause moments, so my manager says hello and that he has informed me that my role was eliminated. Next, the HR Director said, “well how did she take it?”

I was holding back angry tears, so I stammered, “I’m still on the phone [swear word redacted].”

Then panic set in. I started calling everyone I knew, searching LinkedIn, and joining talent communities. I thought if I could stand out in a talent community, they’d see I would be great and hire me.

I thought the talent community concept was great. I loved the idea of creating a place where recruiters didn’t just have one-way interactions with people. They could get to know people and build real trust in an experience that most people consider really demeaning. [The job search, of course.]

The Talent Community: A Broken Connection

I know, I know. This was more than 6 years ago. Give me a break. I was naive. I really thought talent communities could bridge the connection gap. I thought they could make people care. In this digital world with so many messages, that’s all we want after all: a connection. For people to believe in us for no other reason than we are excellent. Otherwise, job seekers lose hope. Self-value. Things that matter a lot to survival – mentally and physically.

Honestly, what most people have called a talent community to date is a glorified database. That talent community I signed up for 6 years ago still sends me ad manager and SEM roles I was never qualified for in the first place.

It’s a shame they even call it a talent community instead of what it is: a mailing list. By calling it a talent community, you give the distinct false impression that you give a shit about anyone besides making a list of names (that’s old and getting worse every single day as people leave jobs for greener pastures.)

There are a few things you need to do before you can ever call that website a talent community.

What Makes A Good Talent Community?

  1. Two-way communication. There has to be a way for members to talk to a human. It’s as simple as that.
  2. Unbranded content. You have to share some content that you didn’t write. Show people you’re there to help make them better, not just push your sales or hiring agendas.
  3. Segmentation. One message does not fit all. Don’t try. I recommend segmentation by department or location in most cases.
  4. Good UX. If they don’t even know where to find the latest information on their job, you’ve failed them. That’s the only reason they keep logging in post-apply.
  5. Real pictures. You know how I feel about terrible stock photos.
  6. It has to be a little smart. Don’t show me engineering jobs when I signed up for a marketing role. Relevance matters if you ever want me to log in again.
  7. People keep coming back. If you do all that and people like it, theoretically they keep coming back. It’s not a community if most of the people log in once and disappear. That’s a truck stop, and we both know talent truck stop does not have the same ring to it.

Does your talent community meet, or beat my baseline expectations? I’d love to see it…

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