The Benefits of a ‘Someday I Might Want to Work There’ Talent Community

Engaging those who someday might want to work at your firm

We’ve all done it. At one time or another after hearing about the best practices or using the products of a firm that we admire, we have thought to ourselves “someday I might like to work there.

It makes sense for corporations to try to engage these individuals who are already somewhat interested in them, but building a relationship with them requires a targeted approach. What is needed is an alternative talent community that is focused on slowly building that initial interest in working at the firm, without ever mentioning an immediate job. I call this variation a “Someday Community,” which is short for “someday I might want to work here community.”

This community discourages active jobseekers and focuses on individuals with a longer-term interest in working at the firm. Its purpose is to slowly build on the initial interest of the “someday individual” in the company by supplying them with information and interactions with employees that will strengthen their interest in working at the firm and in the value of its products.

Why a “Someday Community” Is Superior to Other Talent Community Options

A “future interest” on the part of the individuals in the Someday Community is not an interest in an immediate job. So when these individuals in the Someday Community come across the increasingly common “talent community” (which is really a jobs network) offered on a corporate jobs page, they are likely to have absolutely no interest in joining. The immediacy and the -get-a-job focus of this community will invariably turn them off.

The second less common version of a talent community, the profession-based learning community, (which focuses on learning and sharing in a technical functional area) won’t likely interest them either. This is because the someday interest is initially focused on a company or its products, and not a narrow technical function.

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The Top 10 Benefits of a Someday Community

Many firms including Zappos, Deloitte, GE, Dell, and SAP have a highly visible “jobs network” (aka a talent community) that they have either developed themselves or that are powered by a vendor (often Ascendify). But if you also want to engage and nurture someone who has no interest in an immediate job, implement a someday I might want to work here community, which has many benefits, including:

  • Top performers want to work at an admired firm — top talent and top performers are highly attracted to a firm’s strong product and employer brand. Those who join your Someday Community already admire your firm to some extent. So the primary goal is to provide information and interactions that increase their level of admiration … eventually to the point where your firm will be so admired that it would be on their target list of dream firms when they eventually decide to seek a new job outside of their current firm.
  • Top talent is future focused — the very best in any field are continually thinking about and planning for the future. A Someday Community allow you to engage these highly desirable individuals and provide them with an opportunity to gradually learn about a possible future dream employer. Because there is no immediate rush, they can be confident that they can more accurately learn about and verify the positives and assess the potential negatives associated with working at a firm.
  • You alleviate the fear of being disloyal — these individuals are currently employed; they care about their current firm and team. As a result, many will feel that it is disloyal to be involved in any way in any get-a-job focused community. Because ideally a Someday Community requires no commitment and it does not allow the submission of a resume or the sending of open jobs to members, those who join can honestly feel that joining is not in the slightest bit disloyal to their current team.
  • Joining can be viewed as an opportunity to learn — because the Someday Community provides information on the best practices, new technologies, and the products of an admired firm, members will likely view joining as a professional learning and benchmarking opportunity. Unlike in a narrowly focused profession-based learning community, the information provided is broader, so that members can learn about best practices, technologies, and products across many functional areas.
  • It is one element in building a talent pipeline — one of the strategic goals of any corporate talent acquisition function is to build a talent pipeline of interested prospects to source from in the future. Because over time these individuals will strengthen their initial engagement with the company, its members should be considered highly interested future prospects. Although nothing in the Someday Community relates to an open job, as their interest peaks, individual members may independently decide to seek a job on your separate corporate jobs page. In addition, nothing prevents your recruiters from slowly and effectively assesses the hire-ability of the best community members. And if the firm chooses, it can subtly make an exploratory contact with the best, outside of and without mentioning the Someday Community.
  • It provides the time to build a relationship with top talent — because top talent has multiple career opportunities, they simply don’t jump at the opportunity to talk to a recruiter, no less build a relationship with them. But they still require a trust relationship with the firm before they will consider working there. Fortunately, a Someday Community provides an opportunity to slowly build a relationship of trust between the company (and its employees) and the members. A combination of interacting with your employees in the community and the information provided about the firm’s products and best practices will over time make members even more committed to someday working at your firm.
  • The probability of communicating an authentic message increases — the information provided on the typical corporate main page and career page is so one-sided that it is often immediately discounted. Because authenticity is a key to successfully building relationships, the information provided to Someday Community members cannot be the typical corporate speak. That means that the information cannot be written by PR people and that the content must be tailored to the specific interests of the members. Tolerating the occasional negative comment will also add to your overall authenticity. In addition to the regular Someday Community members, participants must also include employees and corporate alumni, but no recruiters, lawyers, or PR people. Because employees work in the trenches every day, what they say is more likely to be viewed by members as credible and authentic. Your best employees need to be recognized and rewarded for participating in the community.
  • It has advantages over the typical jobs network — a Someday Community should be an addition to a firm’s existing talent community (i.e. jobs network). Because most jobs networks require a resume or a previous application for a job, its members can already be considered as candidates, so they need little selling. However, the type of immediate job information that jobs network members want will not interest the non-active jobseekers who would join a Someday Community. In fact, the constant “how-to-get-a-job” conversations will turn off individuals who are not currently looking. In order to gain and maintain their interest, “someday” individuals must be gradually engaged on a separate Someday Community that provides broader and more strategic information about the company and its products.
  • A Someday Community can have sub-communities for those who want focus — in some larger corporations, it may make sense in a Someday Community to offer sub-communities that focus on individual business units, product groupings, or regions. However, don’t have sub-communities cover functional areas, because those are usually best covered in profession-based learning communities.
  • Members may become better customers — part of the initial interest by “someday” individuals in your firm may be as a result of their learning about or using your firm’s products. By slowly building a relationship with them, they can gradually learn more about your firm’s products, without the typical sales pitch that can be a turnoff. As a result of the trust relationship and the information provided, the individual may buy more of your products or make more product referrals to their colleagues. If they buy or recommend your product frequently, the likelihood of them wanting to eventually join your firm will also increase.
  • Identifying Someday Community members may be easy — potential members are likely to pursue their interest in your firm by proactively visiting your main corporate webpage. So a link to your “I’d like to learn more about your firm” page makes sense on both the main page and the career page. In addition, you might proactively invite individuals who positively comment on your firm’s products and that “like” or “follow” your firm or its products on social media. You should also consider adding a sub-component to your employee referral program that encourages your employees and alumni to invite individuals who they have found to have more than a passing interest in your firm. Encourage your employees and managers to write blogs, to post YouTube videos, and to send tweets to selected members of their contact list mentioning your Someday Community.

Final Thoughts

Since thought leader Marvin Smith created talent communities at Microsoft years ago, the concept has been growing, spurred on more recently by the growth of social media. Unfortunately, despite the popularity of the most common version, talent communities/job networks, there is no public data proving that applicants from this community are higher-quality candidates or more importantly, or higher-quality hires who perform better on the job.

There is a high probability that candidates from both the Someday Community and profession-based learning communities will be quality hires because they both target non-active jobseekers who have an important trait in common: they want to learn more. And by providing these individuals with an opportunity to learn and to build relationships slowly over time, a firm can increase the probability that these future-focused individuals will buy/recommend your product and that they will put your firm on their “target company short list” when they eventually decide to look for their next job.

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," Staffing.org called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website www.drjohnsullivan.com and on www.ere.net. He lives in Pacifica, California.

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