7 challenges of growing trusted talent communities


In FY 2016, more money was invested in HCM (Human Capital Management) start ups than the previous 20 years combined. Nearly 1,000 HCM tech start ups were launched at a fundraise value in the order of $6b.

The two-year failure rate was greater than 50%.

What happened?

Many of these start-ups were Talent focused; securing, engaging, developing & tracking people with good skills and ability to contribute to an Enterprise.

We have reviewed where Talent Management went wrong. In this article we share 7 common challenges faced when building a trusted talent community.

1. Lack of Trust

The Challenge:
Two parties interact in a Talent platform; the Enterprise and the Individual. For the interaction to work, both parties need to trust the transacted information. A start-up might get away with participants providing superficial information to begin with, but it only takes one incident to erode that trust. To build a trusted Talent community, having accurate and relevant information within that community is vital.

The Solution:
Independent, source-of-truth verification of the information and entities involved. Ensuring that all participants in a Talent community are sharing information that can be relied upon helps build trust within other aspects of the community.  This extends to the Enterprises as much as it does the Individuals.

2. Simple engagement model

The Challenge:
An organisation wants access and engagement with the Talent, and vice versa. Traditional models aka Applicant Tracking Systems, require Individuals to constantly replicate their data and interact with each Enterprise individually. In the changing world of employment (gig economy, contracting, portfolio careers), this is inefficient and will result in the Individual dropping out.

The Solution:
Allowing Individuals to interact with multiple Enterprises concurrently.  This negates the (inefficient) need for the Individual to update each Enterprise every time their information changes.

3. Industry engagement & support

The Challenge:
The adoption or support of a start-up by a cornerstone enterprise validates the efficacy and usability of the model. Major organisations don’t have time or an appetite for risk to back start-ups for their operations unless they see powerful benefit in doing so.

The Solution:
Find that partner. If you can convince them of the benefit of what you do, it’s a pretty good indicator you are onto a good thing. Securing a major industry partner demonstrates to other industry players that your Talent community can be trusted. Without this, a Talent community can lose credibility and perceived value.

4. Lack of Domain Expertise

The Challenge:
Many start-ups have sensational IT people with good ideas, but they need the domain experts to keep them on track to ensure they stay focused on solving the problem the start-up was originally designed to address. It is easy to become distracted with the new and shiny things and stray from the intended purpose.

The Solution:
Ensure you and your founders have utter clarity over what your mission is and what the business problem you seek to solve is.

5. Dodgy tech

The Challenge:
This one is hard because a flashy user interface can hide all manner of sins behind the scenes, which puts users at risk of major data breaches. There is commonly held belief in start-up circles that you build a minimum viable product – prove its commerciality – and then build something, “properly”. We could not more vehemently disagree. In the HCM space you are honoured with dealing with people’s personal information. Cutting corners that undermine the integrity of your systems and user privacy/security can be a fast track to losing trust of everyone involved.

The Solution:
Build what you need to, to achieve the outcome and build it well.

6. Expensive, non-scalable solution

The Challenge:
It sounds amazing. All the profiles you want for only x cents per profile. Trouble is, once you start building volumes – those cents build up, especially if you only want to stay connected for someone in case you need them. If the pricing model for your Talent community scales as the community expands, then you could be at risk of becoming an ever growing cost that loses perceived value.

The Solution:
A scalable, affordable pricing model made better with cost sharing.

7. Inexperienced leadership group

The Challenge:
Do you know that the average age of the successful start-up entrepreneur is 45? The cliché holds true; with age comes experience and older business people have been through the cashflow ringer, have made mistakes and learned the hard way.

The Solution:
Don’t be seduced by the lure of the Mark Zuckerberg look-alike, look for an experienced management team.


Building a trusted Talent community is not easy. These 7 challenges only scratch the surface of the barriers to entry that exist for people looking to innovate in this space.

At Cited, we've been working hard on validating a new approach to connecting people with organisations in a way that enhances user privacy, trust and control. In the months ahead we'll be sharing more about our progress in this space.

What other challenges do you see people face when growing a trusted talent community?

Let us know in the comments below!