Screen Shot 2016-05-18 at 11.12.58 AMWe’re all aware of the Kevin Costner movie Field of Dreams.  The movie is best remembered for the quote “If you build it, he will come.”  Costner’s character, Ray, builds a baseball diamond in the middle of his Iowa cornfield and yes, Shoeless Joe came, along with the rest of the Chicago White Sox team of 1919.  Once the diamond was complete, one by one, the members of the team came walking out of the cornfield, ready to play ball.

Sounds like an awesome concept, right?  If you build a perfectly designed ‘field’ for a specific audience, you will meet their unfilled dreams while providing a sense of connection and achievement for those involved.  Wouldn’t it be great if you could somehow – telepathically or otherwise –  let your audience know you have something for them?  Think of how great it would be if the moment you launched your talent community instantaneously there were 100’s of members already at your fingertips.

Since organizations have started building talent communities, it has been assumed that this would happen – that the talent audience would just come in droves to join.  Years later, no matter how strong your brand is, this concept still only works in the movies!  I’ve worked with clients across a myriad of industries whom I have designed, implemented, and managed talent communities for years.  The one thing that is consistent across all industries, brands, profiles, locations, and levels is that when building talent communities if you don’t tell him, he won’t come.  ‘He’ is your talent audience.  ‘He’ is your future leader, marketing guru, finance expert, sales extraordinaire… ‘He’ is your future hire.

There is no magic energy force that draws your audience out of the cornfield and into your community.  You need to tell them; you need to shout it out loud!  Your audience deserves to know you’ve made something for them and there is value for them to come join.

Because of this, we have to systematically and strategically think through how to let our audience know we have something for them.  There are so many ways to market your community, from online to offline sources.  The better you know your audience the more effective you will be in getting in front of them and introducing them to your talent community.  You don’t have to market everywhere, but, knowing the behaviors of your audience will increase your effectiveness.

Top Five Methods to Marketing your Talent Community

Website/Career Site

Your career site is the entry point to bring potential employees into the organization. 76% of candidates prefer to apply through your own career site than any other channel (Potential Park).  You have a primed audience already visiting; adding a button inviting them to join your community is the easiest and quickest way to begin building your community.  The visitors are already thinking of you as an employer so give them the opportunity to stay connected – invite them in!  I have personally witnessed a minimum of a 20% increase in membership acquisition by clients who posted the “Join our Talent Community” on their career site over those who chose otherwise.


Capitalize on your ATS.  Your ATS is a black hole full of names and email addresses of individuals who already expressed interest in your brand.  The typical ATS will allow you to slice and dice your data to provide you a list of past applicants as specific or general you wish to invite them to your community. Alternatively, you can purchase lists from experienced sourcing gurus which will do the heavy lifting for you and provide you with the necessary information for you to distribute your email.  Since Email conversion rates are 3 times higher than social media with a 17% higher value in the conversion, (Hubspot) it’s a great place to yield the highest return on your efforts.

Social Media

As mentioned above, understanding where your audience is, is a great way to know where to market your community.  We know there are 1.65 billion monthly active users on Facebook, 1.3 billion registered users on Twitter and 433 million users on Linkedin (DMR). I do not know what profile or audience you are wanting to attract, however, I’m going to go out on a limb and tell you, I’m pretty certain they are probably hanging around one or all of these networks.  These channels allow you to get very specific on the criteria to which you want to advertise, which allows you to get very targeted.  Each channel allows you to set specific budgets and only charges you if your ad is clicked. You also have the flexibility to adjust your campaigns as needed, making it very easy to maximize your budget to it’s most successful results.

Search Engine

Google, along with other search engines, allow you to create pay-per-click advertisements as well. Google Adwords typically sees a 3.97% conversion rate for the employment services industry, with an average at 2.7%. (Search Engine Watch). There are over 100 billion monthly searches on Google – again, your talent audience is probably part of that statistic! (DMR)


Career fairs and on-campus presentations are prime opportunities to capitalize on expanding the members of your community.  According to a 2013 NACE study, 98.1% of companies they polled believe that on-campus fairs are the number one avenue for them to brand themselves with students.  You don’t have to lose the connection when you leave the event! Hand out business cards with the invite or follow up with an email invitation into your community.  Give them the opportunity to stay connected to your brand.

…and the list goes on…

Inviting your talent audience via your email signature, the bottom of profile-specific job descriptions, on-boarding documents, employee referral programs, sales receipts, flyers, delivery trucks and even your current candidates are a few other examples of where you can market your talent community. Take advantage of your existing marketing efforts, even partner with your marketing organization to elevate the awareness of your community! The opportunity is endless, but, the key is to understand where your audience is and invite them to join.

Kudos to you for building a community for talent to join to support you in your current and future hiring needs.  However, if you’re not telling the talent audience you have this magnificent place for them to join and get connected to your brand, your community won’t reap the rewards of fulfilling your – and their – dreams.  While gaining new members into your community may not be as simple as the “if you build it, he will come” theory, there are a myriad of marketing options available to attract your talent audience and invite them to join!

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