Recently David Smooke and I were discussing what it means to be a leader in Talent Acquisition, leading me to pen this article, “The Integrated Talent Acquisition Solution.” Broadly speaking, our discussion centered on the strategies I have employed over my 10 plus years (beginning with Lockheed Martin, the worldwide aerospace / defense contractor, through the present day) in which I have built and led several Talent Acquisition departments in such dissimilar industries as: Aerospace, Agriculture/Biotechnology, e-Learning & Mortgage Servicing. For me, it is about creating an “Integrated Talent Acquisition Solution” for the firm, using five key elements for hiring:
- Diversity (Widening the Net)
- Employer Branding (Differentiating your Firm)
- Social Media (Talent Communities & Branding)
- Cost Effective Sourcing (College Recruiting, Employee Referrals, Job Ads, etc.)
- Staffing Firms (a much needed Partner sometimes)
We all know about the changing demographics (not only in the US but globally) and how diversity can be leveraged and branded to provide a competitive advantage for firms. As I have mentioned in my previous SmartRecruiters blogs, Sodexo and Kaiser Permanente set the standard for employer branding diversity. The global giant Sodexo (a French multinational corporation headquartered in the Paris suburbs) casts a wide talent net. They explicitly consider the fostering of diversity and inclusion not only a moral imperative but also a business necessity and strategy. And at Kaiser Permanente (the integrated managed care consortium, based in Oakland, California), the labor force reflects no racial majority, with nearly 60 percent of the staff comprising “people of color.” They contend that “maintaining industry-leading levels of diversity through deliberate planning, development, and outreach is critical to fulfilling [their] mission [and] sustaining [their] business objectives.”
It is the second key component of an integrated talent solution; employer branding is both a long term strategy as well as an employee retention strategy. A compelling EVP/Employee Value Proposition (integrated and aligned with your HR offerings, company culture, brand message, brand ambassador program and “Best Place to Work” awards honors), can be very valuable in the hunt and war for top talent. As I did at Monsanto, the global Ag bio-tech giant based in St. Louis, you can position the brand message & EVP for: offer letters, new hire on-boarding & welcome emails, radio commercial, video commercial, marketing materials (US & Global), toolboxes, external/internal career websites, campus flyers, table tents, trade booth displays, etc. You can even “push the envelope” and incorporate elements of employment branding into your performance appraisal system; for example, consider this, why not measure employees on what positive “brand improving activities” they have engaged in over the course of a review period, such as volunteerism work, community good deeds, student tutoring, food kitchen volunteer work, etc.?
At Monsanto, I positioned the employment branding strategy as a long term solution for attracting and retaining top talent, it also helped, by the way, with passive and diverse candidate attraction. The “ROIs” on my Employment Branding Program were: a) 56% and 54% increases in total completed applications via the career website; b.) increased positive press coverage–in industry publications, St. Louis and mid-west publications and national news outlets, and University and related organizations, associations; c.) greater employee engagement as measured by internal surveys; and more HR prestige; d.) increased Diverse number of applicants; e.) single digit employee turnover. Additionally, we furthered our Employer Brand by winning several key Best Place to Work Awards, most notably the prestigious, Fortune Magazine‘s “100 Best Companies to work for” ® Award.
We all know about Social Media. It is without a doubt one of the pre-eminent (and most cost effective) sourcing channels we have seen—up to now. It is all about online engagement with large pools of potential candidates and building “Talent Communities.” Social Media can do that for you. Turning followers and “likes” into employees (and “candidate referrers”) is the name of this game. Social Media allows continuous online engagement. It can reach large pools of potential candidates with the possibility of being able to be able to engage them and build relationships in working toward the ultimate goal of turning them into either new employees or at least turning them into “recruiters” for your firm by spreading your Employment Band message. Recruitment best practices vary with each social media platform, so modify! For example, leverage industry-specific chats on Twitter in order to compile a list of useful niche hashtags to use for your industry on all of your job postings. On Linkedin, participation in group discussions relevant to your industry develops a community of qualified followers.
For Facebook, in addition to marketing your culture on your company Facebook page, I suggest considering establishing a separate Facebook Career/Job page for your firm’s hiring activity; this page can be linked very efficiently to your ATS with the Careers Tab. For this, I recommend SmartRecruiters. SmartRecruiters is the social recruiting platform that makes hiring easy.
Cost Effective Sourcing
Similarly, a University Relations program is a key component of an integrated talent solution. This program can also be a talent platform for entry-level hires and it can also help to dramatically increase diversity hiring. Additionally, the benefits of college hires are many – ranging from low salary costs to comfort with new technologies onto multi-tasking abilities. For example, when I instituted a robust University Relations effort with Global Reach at Monsanto we had over 238 Interns, 55 Coops, and 25 Entry-level hires which also had Diversity results of: POC 30% & Gender 45%. Many of these Interns and Coops were recommended for re-hire (over 87%) and then converted to full-time hires upon graduation at a conversion rate higher than NACE’s reported rate of 58%; clearly an added benefit with hiring a former College Intern / Coop was that you have a prior performance track record with this new employee (based on several summers’ work experiences).
Another cost effective source of talent are employee referral programs. Clearly, the benefits of a robust employee program have been widely reported (such as: employees who are more productive on the job; employees who have higher retention rates; hiring more quickly than other sources, etc). For example, at Lockheed Martin, I instituted an employee referral program at corporate headquarters during a critical period for some hard-to-fill positions; it led to several good hires. The program offered $2000 for each referral which resulted in a hire and it also provided for an extra $500 referral bonus for the eligible employee making more qualified referrals than any other employee. So this employee referral program (coupled with a robust internal job posting/internal mobility program) helped us fill some positions without the use of Staffing Firms. Additionally, employee morale was boosted as we were able to reward employees with cash in their pockets.
The last component is the judicious and limited use of Recruitment Agencies—where appropriate. Here you should select global agencies through a well defined set of criteria and specific to countries you operate in. A standardize contract is recommended as well as a set of agreed upon requirements. Throughout my career I have rigorously adhered to the maxim (and encouraged my Staffs as well) of filling vacancies at either at the 100% non-fee level or at least no less than a 90% non-fee level– but sometimes under the right circumstances a Staffing firm’s assistance is necessary.
Consider this, when I filled our first marketing Director position in London at Unext.com/Cardin Learning Group, (a tech savvy Chicago eLearning dotcom startup founded by noted Chicago businessman Andrew Rosenfield), I needed the “firepower” and connections of a local London-based firm (with International reach). After flying over to London and “interviewing” several London firms, I selected London’s Michael Page International PLC, a leading British-based recruitment firm. At the time, I strongly encouraged our lead headhunter Mark Houghton to run a diverse search—he did just that, landing us our first high profiled Marketing Director hire that happened to be a female. Similarly, for our vacancy in Asian, we engaged Heidrick & Struggles; here again, we stressed a Diversity hire and we got one.
Obviously, in all of this, you should not forget such effective things as: job boards, leveraging your ATS, mobile recruiting applications, microsites, online referral, job aggregators (Indeed, etc), a RSS feed, a job or news alert feature on your Career page and passive databases and SEO / SEM. In fact, at Lockheed Martin, I coordinated with our Washington, DC ad firm, Bernard Hodes, an innovativeSEO/SEM recruiting campaign for Lockheed’s tax department at corporate headquarters in Bethesda, MD. I worked with our Tax professionals on identifying various key corporate tax phrases and codes—so that once tax professionals conducted tax research on the web, up popped a Lockheed ad for a Tax job! This led to some cost-effective hires. And, I recommend creating an alumni portal on your company’s website and instituting an outreach effort for high performing ex-employee.
(Don’t Forget Alliances.)
Lastly, you should not overlook the incredible useful sourcing channels built from alliances and partnerships with organizations, associations, and groups. Some of these could include: Women in Technology, Hire Heroes USA, HRC advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, NBMBAs, NSHMBAs, and AsianMBA.org. And don’t forget about your in-house Employee Networks; at Monsanto I organized a summit of these groups (Women, African-Americans, Hispanics and Asian) to work toward shared goals and the attraction of new people; these groups helped to augment the unified diversity recruiting strategy for professional hires I devised (which achieved an increase in POC Applicant Flow of over 70% for two consecutive years with hires reaching 24% and 36% of US Professional Hires).
Talent Acquisition Solution
It’s simple, your hiring efforts will be greatly enhanced with an integrated approach to your talent acquisition strategy. By leveraging diversity, employer branding, social media, cost effective sourcing, and staffing firms, your firm will continuously attract the talent it needs to grow.
Johnny Torrance-Nesbitt, MBA is an award-winning Global HR professional across several industries and with outstanding successes in Global University Relations, Employment Branding and Global Talent Acquisition, and Diversity Strategies. Photo Credit fauxto_digit.
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