It takes some serious effort to build a talent community. Creating a pipeline that is valuable for non job seeking individuals is important for fostering a strong connection with many potential hires. When hiring season comes ’round having a good chunk of vetted, experienced people to reach out to makes all the difference.

Our guest, Marvin Smith (Consultant at MarvinESmith Talent Engagement Consulting), talks with Martin Burns of RecruitingDaily about building communities of talent,  building an effective talent brand, and of course.. Marvin’s love of bear photography.

The collateral damage that compliance has done for the hiring process is quite frustrating. There’s now so many steps in the hiring process that we’ve lost touch with the fundamentals of hiring.  The industry finally seems to be realizing this, and has slowly been attempting to re-humanize the hiring process.

If you can be honest about your company culture and identity, you can market your hiring around that. Don’t try to appeal to everyone. Wouldn’t you rather talk to a few vetted individuals than hundreds of people who might not line up at all with the culture?

Quotes From Our Guest About Talent Communities:

How do you keep somebody in orbit around your brand, particularly when they’re not looking for a job? What can you give them that’s valuable and relevant to their career? We found that pipelines were actually an easier way to do it. That’s what we use CRM’s for: to engage them.

“Companies hear the word ’employment brand’ and think they have to have all these different ‘pillars’ and everything…but I would encourage them to start with just getting it right internally. Get your employees to go on and talk about what it’s really like to work there.”


Digging the Sourcing School podcast? We have all sorts of interesting guest speakers in the recruiting and HR space. Check out here for all our content!

This HR Tech 2022 series is sponsored and made possible by our friends at Gem!

Marvin Smith
Founder and Chief Innovation Officer MarvinESmith Company

My experience has ranged from startups to Fortune 50-sized organizations. My point of view is cultivated from experience as a practitioner as well as being in “the room” when a corporate talent strategy is constructed. That mix of the big picture as well as being in the trenches gives me a unique perspective to bring to your TA challenges.

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Announcer (00:04):
School is in session. This is Recruiting Daily Sourcing School podcast. We’re recording from HR Tech in Vegas. Thanks to our friends and partners at Gem. Sharpen your pencils and get your sourcing pants on because we have the scoop on sourcing news, recruiting tech, and all the hot topics that you need to learn about. Here’s your professor, Ryan Leary, with special guests Shelley Stacker and Mike “Batman” Cohen.

Martin Burns (00:33):
Hello and welcome to Sourcing School. I’m Martin Burns, of Recruiting Daily and I’m here with an old friend and hugely respected energy colleague, Marvin Smith. Catching up a bit on talent sourcing, engagement, what he’s up to, and where you see things heading as far as content and engagement goes in the future. So Marvin, you want to give a quick kind of high level who you are and what you do.

Marvin Smith (00:55):
Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Essentially I’m involved in talent engagement and have the last few years I’ve had experience at Microsoft and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and also at most recently at Lockheed Martin. And so most of my experience has been on creating talent communities, creating talent pipelines, and then most recently talent engagement where we’re trying to find the right stories to tell to take that prospect into a candidate. Right now I’m consulting for a couple of companies and around talent engagement and marketing and content and having a great time. So,

Martin Burns (01:38):

Marvin Smith (01:38):
Still haven’t figured out when I want to be, when I grow up.

Martin Burns (01:41):
I think you make an excellent bear photographer and before people wonder what that means. Marvin just got back from a phenomenal trip to Alaska where he was just taking photo of the Bears and they’re amazing. So you have a future in that too, I think.

Marvin Smith (01:53):
I hope so.

Martin Burns (01:53):

Marvin Smith (01:53):
I really enjoy it. The bears weren’t kind to me so I always tried to find somebody that was a slower runner than I was

Martin Burns (02:01):
Smart. Or just tie their together when they’re not looking.

Marvin Smith (02:05):
Yeah, yeah.

Martin Burns (02:06):
I get it. I get it. And actually I also mentioned, by the way, we are, we’re live here at HR Tech. We’re in the Gem Booth.

Marvin Smith (02:13):

Martin Burns (02:14):
And we love Gem. Great product, great people, and great conference. So I think Marvin, I may have met you here and way back long time ago and first time we met, you were doing a presentation on, I think it was CRM.

Marvin Smith (02:27):

Martin Burns (02:27):
And it was of new to the industry at that point and it was fashion that we kind of laid it out and the pipeline VI visuals you kind of laid out and now you’re doing more on the engagement side. So how does that kind evolve from, how did you get here? What drove you here?

Marvin Smith (02:42):
So I was really curious. It all began a long time ago when I was reading an article by Kevin Wheeler about talent communities. And I really became, I was in third party recruiting at the time and in third party recruiting, you developed relationships with people and it’s more personal and interactive and so forth than typically in a corporate role. And I always thought, well how would that work? And so that’s really what led me to that. So when I began at Microsoft, I had a chance to build some communities of talent and to try some HR tech and I was an early adopter of Jobs to Web and was fortunate enough to do an installation at an implementation at a division of Microsoft and have stayed active in HR tech since then. But the journey has gone from building actual talent communities where people talk to each other and have relationships and those kind of things to more practically using talent pipelines.

It really takes a lot to build a community and,

Martin Burns (03:55):
And maintain it too.

Marvin Smith (03:56):
And maintain it too.

Martin Burns (03:57):
It’s harder.

Marvin Smith (03:58):
It really takes a lot of content because it’s how do you keep somebody engaged? How do you keep somebody in orbit around your brand, particularly when they’re not looking for a job. So what can you give them that’s valuable and relevant to their career? And so we found that pipelines was actually an easier way to do it and so it’d come full circle. That’s what we use CRM for. So we use CRM to engage them. We also curate talent that might be valuable and interesting to them, non-job content. So we don’t try to push a job on somebody all the time. We want to be top of mind when they start looking, that they’ll reach out at that point and get it started. So that’s how we began and that’s kind of what led me here.

Martin Burns (04:44):
So yeah, it makes sense too. I think it’s always curious to me why so many people in our industry don’t get that. Well I think it’s a fairly simple concept in that people don’t want to be pitched to constantly. If you listen to the radio, do you listen to a station that was all advertisements? You wouldn’t. You’d tolerate the occasional advertisement because you’re getting music and news and all that. But we seem to have flipped it around in our industry where it’s almost all ads, look at me, delivery of content, and very little being offered to our targets.

Marvin Smith (05:15):
Right. And I think the lesson of the last five or six years was it’s really all about them and not about us. And that’s been one of the biggest frustrations is convincing people in leadership at a company that you have to do more than just say, “Hey, we’re X company and X brand and this is what we do.” We have to show how, in the context of that brand, the person’s career is going to be blessed and motivated and growth and so forth. And that’s really what we’re doing here at this conference. Everything’s about the employee experience and career pathing and growth and moving away from jobs and looking at skills and that kind of work of the future. So it’s kind of interesting to watch and I’m sure you’re seeing the same thing after all these years that you’ve been in this business as well. It’s fun listening.

Martin Burns (06:11):
It’s great I think, and I think in some ways we’re getting back to where we were 20, 30 years ago and that, that’s before my time to be clear, not by much, but I’ve been news for a while though it maybe has been 20 years, but there was a point there where we started getting more narrowed, I think, of the tech, right? And we were buying technology and trying to adapt ourselves to it. And it should always be the reverse, you know, you buy tech that supports the way you want to do things.

You don’t buy tech that makes sure you do things the way they want to do things. It’s easy for the vendor to sell you that because they can sell a box and here’s the box and you fit inside of it. But if you want to really operate intelligently you’ve got to, you have to control your piece of it, right? And we can’t keep pushing on solutions that don’t make sense and we’re getting better at that. But there was a point there where I think we really kind of screwed up and I think we actually damaged the hiring process and put too many steps in sometime.

Marvin Smith (07:11):
Oh yeah. The collateral damage that compliance has done to,

Martin Burns (07:16):
Oh god.

Marvin Smith (07:17):
I mean think about it. Everything is compliant, but because things are compliant, we don’t have a candidate experience that makes sense. All we care about is that we don’t get fined and it’s staggeringly bad. And the CRMs did, I mean the ATSs didn’t anticipate what was going to happen with social networking and all those and they weren’t nimble enough to adapt and that’s, it’s been a mess.

Martin Burns (07:45):
That and the lack of connectivity across different systems too.

Marvin Smith (07:50):
Oh yeah.

Martin Burns (07:52):
Actually kind of amazing.

Marvin Smith (07:54):
It is isn’t it. I think we’re one of the few industries that don’t play nice with one another, don’t try to help each other out and handle the integrations. So yeah, it’s, we’ve come a long way and we have a long way to go I guess.

Martin Burns (08:09):

Marvin Smith (08:09):
That’s kind of it. So.

Martin Burns (08:10):
That’s half the fun I guess. That’s part of life.

Marvin Smith (08:12):
Keeps us employed, right.

Martin Burns (08:13):
So talk to me a bit about Seek Out, what you’re doing there, How are you helping them out?

Marvin Smith (08:17):
So at Seek Out, I’m working on content. I work on the content marketing team and do some writing from a practitioner standpoint. So at my last employment I used Seek Out as a tool. It was very valuable for me for BE and I and B for clearance jobs and those kind of things and became a user of it. So it was easy for me to identify the people, build the pipelines that I needed using a CRM and nurturing the relationship. So it was kind of pivotal to what I did. Really liked the talent intelligence piece, the ability to take the analytics and look at the landscape of the workforce and be able to project where the people were that had the skills and so forth. And so I’m now writing about that on a content team. So as a practitioner, these are the kinds of things that hopefully I can share the insights that I’ve learned and show other people how to do things. So.

Martin Burns (09:26):
That’s fantastic. You have a lot to offer too, so I’m excited you’re doing that.

Marvin Smith (09:29):
Well thank you.

Martin Burns (09:30):
Of course, of course. So Marvin, it’s been great catching up with you. Anything else you want to follow us, leave us with? Any parting words of wisdom?

Marvin Smith (09:38):
I think that the, there’s a real opportunity in some other consulting I’ve done to see that there are some basic things with the talent brand. And the talent brand to me is the brand that your employees and your candidates tell others about you. How they experience you. And I think that people can start there with the social because everything’s around a social opinion of things. It’s still the Yelp generation. And I think companies hear the word employment brand and think they have to have all these different pillars and everything. And I think, I would encourage them to start with just getting it right internally, get your employees to go on and talk about what it’s really like to work there.

Because if you get that right, you’re going to get the engagement, you’re going to tell them who you are and you don’t have to appeal to everybody. You don’t want to appeal to everybody, right? You don’t want to appeal to the people that are interested in what you have to offer and you can show your unique self. So I think there’s a whole plethora of things. One merger that I noticed is Zoom Info and Comparably got together and it’s fascinating. Here you have a platform that’s coming in and it’s almost turn keyed what they can do in the recruitment marketing space and helping you build your brand and so forth and hit the diversity audience and just really practical. So I was excited to see that and I think we may see more of that.

Martin Burns (11:22):
Yeah, I think you’re right. Think you’re right. Well great. So Marvin, good catching up and we’ll talk to you soon. And everyone, thanks for listening. We will talk to you soon too.

Marvin Smith (11:30):
Thank you.

Martin Burns (11:30):

Announcer (11:33):
Oh man, that means it’s over.

Speaker 5 (11:36):
You’ve been listening to the Sourcing School podcast. Live at HR Tech in Vegas, sponsored by our friends at, we’re all HR, recruiting and sourcing news. Check out

Sourcing School Podcast

Ryan Leary

Ryan Leary helps create the processes, ideas and innovation that drives RecruitingDaily. He’s our in-house expert for anything related to sourcing, tools or technology. A lead generation and brand buzz building machine, he has built superior funnel systems for some of the industries top HR Tech and Recruitment brands. He is a veteran to the online community and a partner here at RecruitingDaily.

Michael Cohen

Mike “Batman” Cohen is the Founder of Wayne Technologies, a Sourcing-on-Demand and Recruitment Training Organization. Wayne Technologies On-Demand Sourcing is a revolutionary approach that provides the most actionable data available, is based on deliverables – not time, and is based on access to more recruitment tooling than any organization worldwide.

Shally Steckerl

One of the pioneers of the sourcing discipline, Shally is the Founder and former President of The Sourcing Institute, where he has helped numerous F500 and mid-market organizations train and develop their talent sourcing capabilities for nearly 20 years. When it comes to innovative approaches to candidate search, Shally literally wrote the book. He is the author of the industry-standard textbook “The Talent Sourcing and Recruitment Handbook” as well as “The Sourcing Method: Tactics to Find Unfindable Talent.”


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