It is well documented by now that there is a global talent shortage. This does not mean employment is low, it means that there is a shortage of talent with specific skills. As the world continues to embrace the fourth industrial revolution and become more digital, there are not enough people who have the skills required in the new world. This makes it incredibly hard for employers to hire talent in an efficient way, especially when it comes to specific STEM related skills or even highly sought-after soft skills. As a result, a lot of companies speak about the need to build a talent pipeline. But they are failing. After all, how can you build a talent pipeline, if there is not enough talent? Instead organisations need to begin to build talent communities to ensure sustainable talent pipelines.

Manage talent like your customers

The easiest way to think about a talent community, is to compare this to how a business goes after its customers. It usually starts with some sort of database. After all, in any market, there are only a certain number of potential customers. The same is true of potential talent with the relevant skills to work for your company. When it comes to potential customers, most businesses keep a database of current and potential customers and track interactions, behaviours, needs and wants. The same should be true of talent.

But whereas with customers, a business is constantly marketing to current and potential new customers, it doesn’t when it comes to talent. They forget about talent until someone quits and they need to replace them, then they desperately try to find someone who can do the job to start as soon as possible. If a talent community exists, the organisation remains in constant contact with the talent, so that when a vacancy does open, there should be several potential candidates, who are pre-qualified and ready to slot in.

Build your brand with the talent pool

While some firms have started to build a database, the reason they are not reaping the benefits of the talent community is because they are still treating the talent as a commodity to be dealt with in a transactional way. They still wait until someone quits and then just email the talent community with a job description and ask them to apply if interested. Then they wonder why people don’t jump to join the organisation as they are part of the “talent community”. Instead the company should be actively building relationships with the community digitally and in person.

As a starting point, an organisation can segment the community into different personas. They could send an email once a month to the junior professionals to show how their employees are learning new skills, working on important projects, going to team events and the social culture of the team, to build awareness of why they may want to join the team. For the more senior professionals, the content would be more tailored to industry impact and thought leadership from the organisation. Then when a vacancy does open, there is going to be a significantly higher level of interest from whichever community, as they have a clear understanding of the organisation, culture, type of work and career they can have.

Network with the community

In addition to sending relevant content to the group, the organisation should also aim to meet as many members of the community as possible. This has two main benefits. The first of these benefits is that it allows the organisation to build a picture of each person the community beyond their resume. The organisation can build insights into a person’s track record, salary, market reputation, key achievements and so on. Its basically conducting an interview way in advance of needing to make a hire, so that when it comes to hiring for a vacancy, you will already know who may be the best fit. The second benefit is that it allows the organisation to understand what the member of the community is looking for in their next role. Maybe they are looking to step up into a management role, or step away from a management role. Maybe they hate business as usual and want a consistent set of projects. By networking with the community, it should make future hiring simple. Because you know who everyone in the talent pool is, what their level of capability is, and what it would take for them to join your team.