Building a Community to Support Recruitment

By Katie Navarra April 4, 2022
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welcoming a new hire

​While many employers are struggling to recruit and retain employees in the current labor market—created in large part by the pandemic—these are, in some ways, recruitment challenges that have always existed.

Nurturing a talent pool within an identified target audience can help uncover hidden talents among people you might be unable to reach otherwise. One of the ways businesses achieve this is by encouraging employees to share job postings with their online networks. But this approach is only one part of a larger strategy. Increasingly, companies are implementing creative initiatives to reach communities of like-minded people from which they can hire.

"Talent communities are a strong tool for creating top-of-mind awareness to ensure that when a candidate is ready to make a job change, they think of your company first," said Chris Muller, director of audience growth at DoughRoller, an Austin, Texas-based resource site that publishes content on financial advice. "Talent communities are a cultivation model for talent development that allows HR managers to connect with talent groups planning a career move in the future or even their first job."

Here's a look at just a few community-building strategies you can use to make your company the first consideration for job seekers.

Philanthropic Pursuits

Miriam Dushane, SHRM-CP, managing partner of recruiting and staffing firm Alaant Workforce Solutions in Albany, N.Y., uses philanthropy as a practical approach to creating a talent pipeline.

At Alaant, each team member is paired with a handful of community organizations or nonprofits. They develop deep relationships with the groups' leaders and the populations they serve.

Staff go "all in," volunteering to support the groups' events and often leading benefit drives. The hands-on interaction provides a deeper connection between the entities, which means that Alaant staff can more easily recruit people served by the nonprofits to fill a client's jobs. But Dushane says the team members have to put in the work before they see results.

"You have to make sure it's genuine and not just going through the motions," she said. "You or the dedicated team member must get to know the people involved. This is not a one-and-done approach. This is a give, give, give type of relationship. Companies would rather spend some money or send some listings around and expect a relationship to be built, but that's not how it works."

Deep Roots

Recruiting through community-building efforts is not a quick solution to a staffing shortage. However, supporting the community you serve by offering insights, advice and resources begins to build relationships and visibility before a candidate might be looking for a new job.

Reverb, an HR consulting firm in Seattle, hosts free HR meetups several times a year. Each meetup includes networking opportunities and a high-caliber speaker who addresses a relevant industry topic. Topics have ranged from DE&I strategies to compensation planning to how to create an authentic culture.

Founder and CEO Mikaela Kiner said that the company is also active on various HR Slack channels, which helps individuals build their networks, connect with recruiting firms and get insight from each other about the best companies to work with.

"We do our best to add value by answering questions, recommending candidates and supporting job seekers in finding great employers," she said. "How do we know it's working? We're hiring an average of three to four HR consultants each month while much of the country is struggling to find candidates. Many are referrals from our team, partners and clients."

Building Brand Attachment

Alina Clark, the co-founder of CocoDoc, a software development business in Los Angeles, sees brand attachment as the most significant advantage of building a community for hiring. She discovered she's more likely to find people who identify with the brand's goals and objectives within a community, as compared to sending out cold calls for new talent via social media or other channels.

"Building a close community of like-minded professionals has helped us bridge the gap between brand needs and ready talent," she said. "As it stands, the community offers a ready talent pool for us. This has drastically reduced the cost of hiring and the amount of training required during employee onboarding."

Katie Navarra is a freelance writer in New York state.

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