How To Bootstrap A Talent Community

Post by
Brian Mooney
September 10, 2018

Even before joining a startup I was familiar with the term ‘bootstrap’ because I worked in HR at a non-profit. I had to make due with a lot less than some other companies and that drove us to recruit creatively.As a Recruiter there are certain positions, commonly referred to as “Evergreen Postings", that you always recruit for. Whether you’re adding five new positions or backfilling a departure, they all needed to be filled yesterday. I tried a lot of different ways to hire the right people quickly, but nothing worked better than a hiring from a pre-selected pool of candidates. This is otherwise known as a “talent pipeline” or “talent community”.I bootstrapped a talent community for a position that I knew I would need to fill later that year.

How I Bootstrapped A Talent Community:

  • Created and posted an "evergreen job" that stated “We are scheduling phone screens only because there were no active openings” on our career site
  • Looked through our candidate database and reached out to candidates that applied to different roles that had relevant experience
  • Reviewed candidates as they applied and set up 15-minute phone calls with top candidates
  • Tracked candidates in a spreadsheet
  • Scheduled monthly touch point with selected candidates or invited them to check-in monthly or bi-monthly
  • Responded to candidate questions and emails

Over the course of six months, I had close to 20 conversations, 10 of which were added to my pipeline. When the position opened up I called 10 people from my pipeline, had six 15-minute phone calls, conducted three interviews and made one hire. It only took 12 days to fill the position. I also made sure to call the two candidates who did not get an offer to keep them in the pipeline. The results: I looked like a Rockstar. My HR colleagues were excited because it reduced our time-to-fill, the department manager was excited because she expected it would take two months to fill the position, and the department team members were excited because they knew help was on the way.The more incredible part is that a couple of weeks later we needed to hire another person for that same role. We called one of the candidates that had interviewed previously that I had nurtured to keep in the pipeline and he accepted the offer. A few hours of work over a six month period resulted in two record time hires because we had built a talent pipeline ahead of time. If I could bootstrap a talent community at a non-profit then you can too!

What I Would Do Differently

  • Map out the candidate's experience. Include how many and what types of interactions will take place. This will help you manage the relationship and provide a more positive experience for the candidate.
  • Build a microsite/landing page specifically for that role. Include information like what you’re looking for in a candidate, the tech stack, employee testimonials, and the core job responsibilities.
  • Build a candidate lead capture form (below), to allow candidates to show interest in your company without having to complete an application. Just ask for their name, email and LinkedIn URL.
Talent Community Form
  • Automate the response email after they fill out the form to include an action item. Make sure your action item is clear and easy to follow up on. For example, if you want them to schedule a time for you to call them, include a link for them to schedule a time and don’t ask them to do other things like following your company Linkedin page. (Tip: Calendly has a free booking tool that integrates with your calendar so candidates can schedule a time directly on your calendar).
  • Nurture those relationships. Invite candidates to a coffee, schedule a monthly check-in call or send them an email with the happenings at your company.
  • Automate an email campaign. This might be difficult for you to do on your own but there is an automated email schedule in Outlook and Gmail. If you have just a few high-quality candidates in your pipeline you could schedule a time on your calendar and send them emails manually.

In an ideal world, you would be able to build your own career site that has lead capture forms on every page that could nurture candidates automatically. If you don’t live in that world then you should consider bootstrapping your talent community. It will require some work up front, but I can assure you it will pay off in the long run.Check out the 5 Best Practices of A Strong Talent Community. If you need help bootstrapping your talent community feel free to email me at