The Power of Private Contract Talent Networks

Self-sourced talent networks are the wave of the future when it comes to managing contingent labor.
talent network

As organizations continue to expand their use of contingent talent to supplement their full-time workforce, they are also seeking ways to optimize their contingent workforce programs to generate additional cost savings. Historically, this is done through the process of supplier rate rationalization, improvements in workflow and cycle time and engaging a managed service provider, or MSP, and vendor management system, or VMS, to drive efficiencies in the program. While all of these measures generate cost savings, particularly in first generation and early stage programs, more mature programs require the identification of other strategies like self-sourcing.

The concept of self-sourcing is not particularly new. However, companies have begun to embrace organizing self-sourced contingent resources into talent networks, automating the workflows to identify and procure this talent, and leveraging software that optimizes this workflow. The primary drivers for this include the ability to save significantly on the margins imposed when sourcing through staffing companies, increase the quality of the talent being hired and dramatically reduce the time required to identify talent for new requisitions.

To enable this process, more forward-looking companies have begun to create and use self-sourced talent networks. The first step in the process is partnering with a VMS provider that possesses the capabilities required to easily create, manage and source from the company’s talent pool. It is also important that the talent pool remain private, so an organization’s best self-sourced talent is not hired by their competition — as can be the case in a shared talent pool. The best talent networks are client-specific and exclusive and require an invite to join. In other words, they must be pre-vetted.

Populating the talent network is the second step toward generating savings, and there are several paths that can be used to attract workers. More often than not, managers will invite individuals that they’ve worked with in the past and who are proven. This means that the worker joining an organization’s private talent network is known; they’re pre-vetted. This approach alone cuts down on the time required to validate prior to considering that individual for a role.

Additionally, companies with a strong brand presence can use their public website to attract contingent talent. Allowing each person to passively apply to be considered for a contingent role can quickly fill a talent pool. Lastly, companies may want to include retirees, alumni and even silver medalists, or people who interviewed for a role that were not chosen, but would still make a good hire for other positions. Building a sizable network can take time, but the benefits quickly become apparent when sourcing for new contingent positions.

The health of the talent network relies on a tool that is company and network facing. It’s critical that each individual has the ability to login to a portal and self-manage their profiles to keep their work history, skills, education, etc., updated. Additionally, they should be able to update their availability for consideration in upcoming projects. Without it, a company’s network can become stale, resulting in failed sourcing attempts and ultimately a loss of confidence in the system by managers who are attempting to use it.

Lastly, it is critical that managers have an easy way to access and source from the company’s private talent network. More cutting edge VMS vendors have actually baked self-sourcing into the request creation process, even auto-matching candidates from the company’s talent pool to the request the manager is creating. This type of seamless integration lowers the friction of using the network and increases adoption.

When built and managed correctly, a talent network can be one of the primary drivers of generating savings in a company’s contingent workforce program. Understanding what is required to populate and roll out the network can be the difference in fully using this forward-thinking, cost-saving strategy or failing to realize the benefits of self-sourcing.

Ted Sergott is the senior vice president of product development at PRO Unlimited.