Real Talent, Real Networks: The Power of Association Recruitment

Nov 5, 2013

Talent communities are all the rage these days in online recruiting  Hardly a day goes by in recruitment blogs, e-newsletters, and at industry conferences without the value of talent communities trumpeted to employers as the hot new way to find those often-elusive passive job candidates.

A lot of the buzz is centered on social media and its ability to create online communities on the fly based on any particular interest or professional need. But are all of these “communities” real and long lasting? And do they have any true depth? If you want to get real when it comes to enduring talent communities, you need to seriously consider professional associations.

Associations and Profession-based Communities

Associations are profession-based communities founded on lasting relationships and continuous engagement.  Although their core primary focus is not jobs, they are sincerely interested in the career and professional development of their members. And from all the surveys that I’ve seen in this non-profit world, association members are keenly interested in career advancement and that surely includes solid job opportunities.

Associations are all very focused (think niche) and come in different sizes with varying amounts of geographic reach worldwide. Ranging from large ones like ours (the IEEE) to such small ones as the American Anthropological Association, they all continuously engage their members in real relationships based on professional interests. And, they can be an excellent source for those coveted passive candidates.

Quality of Association Community Life

Most hold at least an annual conference. Some, like the IEEE, sponsor 300 plus technology-specific conferences each year where members meet face-to-face to share research findings and just network and socialize with their peers.  Meeting in these real-life venues recharges professional relationships and ensures that communities continue to grow in associations and endure. The overall quality of community life here is much higher than it could ever be in the often very casual online world of “Likes” and random invitations to connect online.

Opportunities for Employers to Truly Engage Candidates

While social media definitely has its place in sourcing and recruiting new staff, employers should consider working with professional associations as absolutely essential in their hiring strategy. True, there are different levels of sophistication and awareness of their role as talent communities. But, most associations clearly understand their mission to promote the careers of their members. And so they are very willing to work closely with employers to showcase their high quality job opportunities and to familiarize their members with employer recruitment brands.

Whether through niche online job sites, resume databases, digital and print advertising, e-newsletters, sponsored webinars, virtual or in-person career fairs, or other custom channels, savvy employers need to actively seek out professional associations to find top talent. The depth of the networks and the high quality professional skills within these groups offers a very solid opportunity for employers to reach the best and the brightest within their respective industries. And the continuing value of referral within these real talent communities cannot be underestimated.

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