The online talent community is a yeti, and we have yet to photograph it

Still responding to Sullivan’s article on what to avoid when doing recruiting via social media. In it he stated that using talent communities was still an area where corporate recruiting was still lacking.

A talent community is still a concept vastly underdeveloped on the internet, so it does not surprise me that recruitment underutilizes what barely exists. The public is so facebook-focused that entrepreneurs fail to create these talent communities. Facebook has failed to help many vital initiatives viralize, so it surprises me to hear journalists expecting all things to be accomplished through this network.

I am not sure why facebook emerged as a ground-shifting trend in 2008, but began to flame out, in its person-to-person notoriety by 2011. Malcolm Gladwell and Douglas Rushkoff are the most vocal on this trend, but I believe it has to do with the fact that the wall format of facebook is a good social innovation, but it has failed to catalyze pools of similar-minded people in the economic space. Obama’s presidency made waves through social media largely because of his oratory presence, and his use of Youtube, with each speech. Truly his campaign represented a 360-degree social movement of money and politics. But in the economic sphere, the success story of brands is limited to a few (Old Spice guy on Twitter, not facebook).

But the idea of talent community has several characteristics.
1) a group of relatedly-talented people arranged in one place, with communicative links
2) some assumption that this talent pool is somehow relating actively, to stimulate membership retention
3) some common purpose for meeting, or communing

When you take these basic assumptions of community, it’s pretty hard to locate them, then assume they are public enough for open membership. For example, if a union of concerned scientists decided to gather, then rally against tupperware that melts in microwaves, they would need to keep their membership from dilution from employees of industries they would regulate. In this way, publicizing communities of common interest serve to potentially dilute the validity of the mission.

Getting people employed consistently, and survive hard economic times, is a potential purpose, and reason to gather. The group could be joinable by those with the proper credentials. Then, if highly valid conversation took place there (a la slashdot, where techies convene), then there would be rationale for daily visits.

Most aggregative new sites (reddit/digg) are frequently visited, but lack clear membership criteria. They are largely open, despite being visited by a characteristic group. I believe that my young computer science students are reddit fans, who enjoy the irreverent postings and arch-alternative ideas presented. is perhaps the best-known set of talent communities. Recruiters have traditionally joined these groups, to mingle with the active talent in their region. However, the infrequency of the meetings, which are sometimes non-existent (outside san francisco) are confounding. Without the conduit of face-to-face meetings, meetup has very little other attraction.

So Sullivan’s advice remains true to the date of this blog. The online talent community is a yeti, and we have yet to photograph it.


About stefan bund

Founder of Next Acropolis. MS in Information Systems and Technology, Claremont Graduate University... Background in software engineering and teaching.
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