Talent Circles

Friday, April 6, 2012

Seeding Career Clubs in Talent Network Coffee Shops

By Kevin W. Grossman


I don’t even like coffee, but I will drink a chai latte or a fruit smoothie when frequenting a coffee shop for business or pleasure. Don’t judge; I’m sure I’m not the only one who doesn’t like coffee.

But that’s just a means to an end reason to frequent those establishments in the first place. The real reasons we go are to work, read, relax or meet like-minded people to discuss life, love and industry. Intimate, small groups that prefer face time and who might even start a career club of sorts at their favorite coffee shop to mentor one another about the world of work.

Brain freeze from the fruit smoothie I just downed – I read an article the other day titled Our Most Effective Source of Hire, and in it the author had conducted a quality-of-hire analysis in his company based on the following:

Quality of hire is defined as the percent of new hires who pass their one-year anniversary and score at least “meets expectations” on their first review. For example, we grouped together all the new hires from the first quarter of 2010. We then ran a report dating to the last day of the quarter a year later, 2011. We determined what percent of those hires were still employed and were not on performance improvement plans, etc. We did this on a quarterly basis.

What they found were the top 6 quality-of-hire rankings:
  1. Former employees
  2. Passive candidates
  3. Employee referrals
  4. Staffing agency hires
  5. Contractor conversions
  6. Job boards 

What’s interesting is that there was a 10% variance between staffing agencies and former employees, but a 20%-25% variance between contractor conversions and job boards and the top ranking of former employees. Not too surprising for those who’ve been in the hiring game for any length of time.

This also aligns nicely with where the value of talent networks come in – a place where former employees, passive candidates and employee referrals can come together, share a latte or an espresso (or a fruit smoothie) and talk career shop and find employment.

However, these networks just don’t happen. Someone’s got to take the lead and launch something somewhere in order to attract like-minded others for like-minded activities to then nurture this new type of network. Call it manufactured organic; you’ve got to seed it to breed it. Networks have formed since the beginning of time and there’s always someone or some entity forming them, leading them and nurturing them.

Ah, but what’s in a name? Naming and labeling have always changed the perception of what something is and the why of it. If we called it a “career club,” then that could imply a non-threatening collective of people helping people find, land and retain employment, as well as adapting and advancing. If we called it the “working for the man club,” that would change the perception even further — but it would still a self-contained and self-promoted ecosystem of people seeking and giving career advice (or venting about their crappy jobs and bosses).

If we called it a talent community, however, then the “talent” in talent community would actually dilute community, because it would be labeling its participants in a way that most wouldn’t label themselves as. “Community” itself can also be misleading as being to “touchy-feely,” incorporating group hugs, rainbows and unicorns. Plus, talent is for Hollywood, right? Not for us working stiffs. That’s why for those of us who created this career club, I bet we would never call it a talent community.

In fact, I bet most who join an in-person or online “community” primarily want to socialize, but only a few would join talent communities to do the same. Most of those people only want a job, pure and simple. And that’s okay, because that’s why we’ve been seeding and growing talent networks for decades.

But again, there would be a minority who would want to collaborate and commiserate with the like-minded about life, love and industry. A minority that includes former employees, passive candidates and employee referrals, and those are the folks your company wants to source and hire.

I say seed the career clubs inside talent network coffee shops. Just make sure to serve smoothies. Mixed berry with banana preferably.


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