Whether or not you’re involved in any online communities, you probably have an idea of what they are. Just as an example, communities could focus on a common love for the same breed of dog, a conviction that whitewater rafting is the greatest vacation adventure, or a passionate belief that chocolate is one of the basic food groups essential for life! Participants in online communities can become very devoted to the interests they share and engage in wide-ranging dialog on the subject.
You might wonder what talent communities could have to do with your job search campaigns and career management planning. A recent post on ERE.net (one of my favorite sites) gives some potentially valuable insights into this subject. The article by Raghav Singh, “Talent Communities: Come As You Are,” takes the view that talent communities can allow recruiters to engage in online conversations with potential candidates that give them an advantage in the recruitment process. However, he also believes that “recruiters and hiring managers make too much of people’s online posts and using them in a hiring process is fraught with problems.”
Singh further states that social media can facilitate the process of getting to know candidates well and the best way to accomplish that is through talent communities, adding that “people open up in communities if it’s a place where they believe that their views and opinions are respected and where they can have a dialog.” He takes the majority of recruiters to task for believing that a talent community “is a Facebook page where you post your jobs and collect likes…”
This might not be as simple as Googling “talent communities.” Doing that brings up a slew of hits about talent community(ies), but it doesn’t say, for example, “XYZ company has a great online talent community.” I suspect you might have better luck researching specific companies you’re interested in, whether or not they’re currently hiring in your field, and evaluating their candidate outreach setup. For instance, do they have a method that enables you to engage in a dialog with their company–preferably with some of its recruiters and/or hiring managers? If not, or if what they offer is at best a thinly disguised promo for their company (i.e., not a two-way communication street), you might want to look elsewhere.
This might seem like an off-topic item, but it’s really not. We’ve all seen online posts and comments by people who should have their mouths washed out with soap, people whose online behavior would probably earn them a punch in the gut if they did it in person! By the same token, trashing a company on its talent community vehicle would deservedly turn you into toast in that company’s book. Actually, trashing a company anywhere online–even if you think it’s justified–could be highly toxic to your job search or career success.
“Moral” of the story: Conduct yourself in online talent communities–and elsewhere–as respectfully as you would like to be treated, and watch out for companies that don’t return the favor.