Talent Circles

Thursday, July 26, 2012

It’s time for a bold new approach to talent networks

By Kevin W. Grossman

That’s the way it begins – change – the movement from one state to another, from a static status quo state to a hopefully more progressive and productive state. Like moving from flat two dimensions to a vibrant three.

The change begins in small groups, the sharing of new knowledge of what can be done that hasn’t been done before and the return of that “change” investment. The new knowledge fills the room, some of it permeating each exposed pore, entering the bloodstream and flooding our brains with possibility.

I recently spoke with a smart group of HR and recruiting practitioners at the Northern California Human Resources Association (NCHRA) Santa Cruz Region Meeting. My presentation was on social recruiting but with a focus on talent networks, the long tail of recruiting and quality over quantity – of change and what can be.

Most of the attendees were from smaller companies in the Santa Cruz area, but what was striking (and not surprising) was the fact that when I shared some recent research on social recruiting that claimed over 90 percent of employers would be engaged in it this year, everyone looked at me as if I just said we’d be riding magical unicorns in the big screen release of “Everybody’s Doing It” in 3-D.

Of course the reality is that while about half the room confirmed they use LinkedIn for professional networking, sourcing and recruiting, only three had Facebook company pages and no one, and I mean no one, used or even understood what Twitter was.

Well, there was one attendee who said he kinda used it. Kinda.

We then discussed the realities – that half the room prohibited most access to social networks during work hours. One HR practitioner even proudly said her company banned Facebook and Pandora during work hours.

Oh, man. Don’t kill my music. Mercy me.

But no one balked at my from-the-hip truths (one recruiter in the room nodded away and winked at me):
  • There are a gazillion people on social media today
  • Recruiters do source and recruit using social media
  • Candidates do use social to search for jobs
  • Companies are still mixed as to recruiting value

Companies are still mixed as to the recruiting value of social, which is why I’ve been thinking a lot about online talent networks this past year, writing about them, interviewing various HR and recruiting practitioners and vendors about them, speaking about them, dreaming about them (yes, really), and living and breathing inside one in particular – TalentCulture’s #TChat. (You should’ve seen the looks on the NCHRA attendee faces when I explained Twitter Chats.)

Much of social recruiting and talent network mainstream as it stands today relates to recruiting new employees for a company, but they can and should also form inside of companies with existing employees, and alumni, and their networks, both inside and out — a mass of hub-and-spokes circles within circles within circles that we only dream of maximizing return on.

Most everyone in the meeting agreed that the three-dimensional “unicorn” in the room is the fact that a talent network is only a network when those who belong collaborate, commiserate and connect with one another regularly for what can amount to infinite combination of reasons – but not necessarily applying for jobs outright. This of course can happen in existing social networks, other platforms and software systems that help create talent networks, and combination of all in between.

But the most common reality is that we usually end up with a two-dimensional network model, sourcing active candidates from a smattering of job postings and creating a database of people where occasional, hopefully relevant company and job information is shared with them. There’s just no true “network” inside.

Other kids may be running around and around the sandbox, but for those who are in it, for whatever time that is, it becomes an impromptu network where folks aggregate again and again. They’re not coming to the sandbox because you put it there. They’re coming because they want to play with the other kids and parents.

It’s time for a bold new approach to talent networks. It’s time for change.

What, you don’t know what a Twitter Chat is?


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