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Driving Engagement with Talent Networks

Your candidates are busy. If you don’t make it extremely easy to fit you in, they won’t, and that’s where talent networks come in.

First, candidates are probably busy doing their day jobs. You’ve heard it before, but it’s worth repeating — most of the candidates that might be a great fit for your company are already working elsewhere. Happily employed people are just more open to job opportunities today, so your talent pool likely consists of more than just active, unemployed job-seekers.

Second, they’re busy sifting through all of the awesome opportunities they keep hearing about because the best candidates typically have an inbox full of messages from recruiters. Given the current job market conditions, they also have a few more options than usual to look at, so your job opening has a lot more competition.

Candidates feel less urgency

It’s taking longer to fill jobs today than it did five years ago. If the candidates you are targeting are in large part already employed, or have many other options to consider, then they probably don’t feel as pressured to move quickly on a job opportunity. So what happens when they come to your LinkedIn page, or to your careers site — have a read and then get back to their meetings or reports?

Talent engagement is so crucial today because it helps recruiters keep that relationship with busy candidates alive, and talent networks are one of the best tools for that.

You’ve probably seen them before, and your team might already have one in place. Essentially, a Talent Network (or Talent Community) is a group of candidates who might be interested in your company as a potential employer — for now, or for an as-yet undefined future.

As a Talent Acquisition team, your goal is to provide a mutually beneficial exchange through this network by giving candidates information and updates about a potential employer, and getting their attention and an opportunity to hire them in return.

What you can do with Talent Networks

A Talent Network is a great way to form relationships with candidates who are not yet ready to apply, and it doesn’t have to be very sophisticated to start.

A highly targeted email campaign that reacts to the receiver’s engagement can keep the company top of mind (for example) until the candidate clicks on a specific job opportunity. A recruiter can then take over from the automated campaign, and move the candidate forward.

Many companies go through the trouble of collecting information from candidates when they join the network, such as background and interests, and then never take action on them. Some never contact candidates beyond a welcome email, unless it is to send out a new job posting. That experience is closer to a job alert than to an actual network or community.

Try to avoid that by ensuring that all your candidates are automatically assigned to an engagement track, even if they don’t fit any of your current target profiles.

Make sure to clarify the purpose of the Talent Network when candidates join, and offer multiple opportunities for them to ask questions or interact with your team and hiring managers throughout the relationship. Send out event invitations, offer to set up chats or phone calls at regular intervals, or organize webinars where you open the floor for listeners to ask questions.

Remember, talent engagement is a long game — you need to think about your employer brand and the quality of the experience you offer. You can’t treat it as a constant one-way promotional blast.

Talent network setup: a quick checklist

You’ll need a few items set up before you can start your own talent network, both on the front end and the back end:

A registration form to collect information from candidates

If you can use social media logins to fill it out, even better. All you absolutely need to start is a name and an email address. You can send requests for additional information later.

A landing page for the Talent Network

If people are specifically looking for your Talent Network, they should be able to find a page that explains a bit about what you do and what the purpose of the network is.

Links and buttons to the registration form on every career site page

The Talent Network is supposed to make it easy for people to stay in touch. For that, it has to be easily accessible. Candidates need to have the option to quickly type an email before they navigate away from any of your pages.

A platform to manage candidate data and communications

This is where all of the backend work will happen.

The goal of a Talent Network is to keep the relationship alive, by sending engaging content, updates about the company, opportunities relevant to the candidate’s skills when they become available… For that to work, you need a system that can collect rich candidate data, create profiles, and set up campaigns that are segmented by people’s job preferences, seniority level, region, or skillsets, for example.

You need to also be able to track communications with recruiters, both online and offline. When relationships stretch over months (or even years), you need to know who your candidate talked to, and what they talked about. Did they mention that they were doing a new training course? Have they relocated? Did a current employee meet with them and give a good recommendation?

The quality of the targeting in any talent engagement channel, including Talent Networks, is heavily tied to the quality of the candidate information you can collect and to an extent, to the flexibility of your CRM and recruitment marketing tools.

However, there is definitely some low-hanging fruit, and you can make your Talent Network experience enjoyable and useful for all stakeholders with just a few changes.

A Talent Network is a great place to start, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to a great talent engagement strategy. Read about the Talent Engagement and Retention Strategies for 2022 to learn how you can keep candidates and existing employees engaged.