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Talent Communities: How to Find Talent

In the past few weeks we’ve shared our Talent Community Manifesto, some guiding principles behind successful talent communities, an examination of the demand-driven objectives, and some strategic considerations for building a Talent Community. This week, we turn to a more practical consideration: the different categories of workers to consider including in your Talent Community of independent workers.

Supply-Side Considerations for Talent Communities

In order to meet demand in a Talent Community we must also consider the supply of talent. Once the strategic decision has been made to build a Talent Community, one of the most common questions we get from clients, prospects, and members of our partner ecosystem is: “Who should we include in our Talent Community?”

Since we are building a Talent Community for the benefit of a client, and ultimately for the managers who are responsible for delivering project success, we need to make sure that the talent pool within the community meets their needs and leverages the reach of the company.

Each client environment and talent strategy is unique. Therefore, the ultimate composition of a Talent Community will be different for each client. Some of the most common categories of workers we find clients including in a talent communities are:

Known Contractors

Many clients utilize a self-sourcing strategy to find at least some their contingent workers. When these independent workers successfully finish an assignment or project, a best practice is to invite them to join your Talent Community so that they can easily be found again and matched to an appropriate project.

TalentWave’s fundamental thesis for building a Talent Community is that the best contractor is a known contractor. Therefore, currently engaged and former contractors (no matter if they were payrolled employees, qualified independent contractors, freelancers, consultants, small service providers, etc.) who have successfully performed in the past should be the first choice for inclusion in a Talent Community. TalentWave has developed a proprietary approach to discovering these workers across the organization, called IC Health Check, that we often deploy for new clients.


It is estimated that each day nearly 5,000 members of the Baby Boomer generation (those born between 1946 and 1964) are reaching retirement age and exiting the workforce. By virtue of boredom, a desire to mentor, or perhaps the need for extra income, many of these knowledgeable and experienced workers are interested in project work.

Many industries are suffering from an acute lack of supply due to significant demographic and educational gaps, especially those that rely on highly trained knowledge workers, like technology, life sciences, energy, and oil services. Companies in these industries are finding that one of the best sources of supply for project workers is retirees. Re-joining the workforce as an independent worker gives retirees an opportunity to work and contribute on their own terms, and gives their former employer a chance for knowledge transfer and project delivery.


Another great source of independent workers are your former employees. These are sometimes called “boomerangers” and are experienced alumni of your company who have intimate knowledge of your organization and how it works. Many former employees might be interested in re-joining the company as an independent worker. Provided they left on good terms, you might want to leverage their skills and prior experience for future project work.


Another potential source of workers to curate in a Talent Community are interns. These are most often college students who have selected your company as a potential future employer and want to gain further professional development and job experience. For the organization, they represent another pool of workers who could be future employees or contractors.

Silver Medalists

Another rich source of workers to consider including in talent communities are “silver medalists”. These are the runners-up in your FTE searches who passed every measure of fit, but lost out to another more qualified candidate. Some companies are including a step in their recruiting process where they ask these workers if they would be interested in contract work for the company. If so, they are invited to join the Talent Community.


Referrals from your employees or contractors is often one of the strongest sources of workers to include in a Talent Community. Most of your managers and executives know great contractors that they would likely recommend if asked. By extension, every good contractor knows another good contractor (or several). Smart organizations are beginning to ask their trusted employees and successful independent workers for referrals to others who might be interested in project work for the company.


When building your Talent Community it is worth considering each of the categories of worker that were introduced in this article. Known contractors, retires, alumni, interns, silver medalists, and referrals can all help to create vibrant talent communities.

In the rapidly evolving world of work, where work has become more project oriented and talent scarcity is increasing, building a Talent Community can be a powerful strategy to engage the independent workforce and simultaneously create business flexibility. When coupled with a comprehensive engagement layer, such as the one TalentWave can provide, you gain a turnkey solution for engaging the independent workforce. Organizations that do it successfully can build a client-of-choice reputation that will enable them to attract and retain the skilled workforce they need to get vital work done today and in the future.

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