How to Win the War for Outstanding Talent.

Screen Shot 2016-01-28 at 5.06.48 PMThe Harvard Business Review reported last year that “CEOs Need to Pay Attention to Employer Branding.” The article cited survey data pointing to concerns among CEOs about talent shortages and the availability of people with key skills.

Many of the best and brightest college graduates today (and many mid-career professionals) are opting for jobs at start-ups or smaller privately held companies, as opposed to pursuing a Fortune 500 corporate career track.

How can corporate America compete effectively in this new war for talent?

The Harvard Business Review advises that, first and foremost, it’s time for leaders to focus on strengthening their organization’s employer brands.

What are some of the best practices available to help achieve this?

Start with an Employee Value Proposition (EVP).

An EVP outlines the key benefits offered to employees by the company. This should act as the strategic foundation to help ensure employer branding and recruitment marketing is consistent, unique to the company, and relevant to the recruitment targets. Taking a data-based approach can help lend objectivity to the process.

An excellent example of a clear and compelling Employee Value Proposition is L’Oreal’s, which was developed by listening to their employees and letting them identify what’s great about working for L’Oreal. Marie-Dominique Jacquet, Employee Branding Director of L’Oreal observed: “We decided to have our employees talking about their own experiences at L’Oreal. They expressed themselves with words and pictures that we shared on our website and social media.”


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Closely Observe Changes in Attitudes and Behaviors.

Shifting attitudes and behaviors are especially applicable to Millennial Generation targets, including issues like work-life-balance, and providing opportunities “to make a difference.” Resources such as HR consulting firm Universum can provide excellent insights on what matters to recent college graduates.

These issues should be addressed in corporate employer branding messages to make them more relevant and engaging.

Be Authentic.

People are far more likely to be attracted to what a potential employer has to say than recruitment advertising or the employment opportunities boilerplate on a website. An effective EVP will be authentic only if the employees endorse it, and better yet actually live it.

Social media can act as a great venue for employee created content. It can generate “earned brand exposure” from social media sharing, and even invite a conversation with prospective employees. It can also leverage the firm’s own employee population via their individual social media presence, to amplify positive employer brand messages.

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Deloittethe global auditing, consulting, and tax advisory firmcreated streamed content for its recruitment site called “What’s My Deloitte,” where employees can give a brief one line description of why they like working at the firm. Deloitte also has a dedicated career/recruiting handle on Twitter, with over 25.2K followers giving people the opportunity to “see what it’s really like to work at Deloitte.” 

Target Specific Groups.

Use relevant content to attract the right skill sets. A McKinsey study reports that nine in ten executives have a “pressing need” for digital talent, such as developers, analysts, and user experience (UX) designers.

Disruptive business models and emerging technology will create huge increases in demand for  digital-savvy executives, as well as web/smart phone programmers. Demand will far outstrip supply here, and effective recruitment messaging will be critical.

Even Wall Street investment banking powerhouse Goldman Sachs is “changing its stripes” to make itself look more attractive to talented young programmers. While many Wall Street firms have taken care to distance themselves from Fin-Tech start-ups trying to disrupt the Wall Street business model, Goldman is actively investing in them, and to a degree attempting to mirror their corporate cultures.

Goldman and many other Wall Street banks have historically done most of their significant technology developments in-house, often with the thought that it required decades of experience to “get it right.” Now Goldman is seeing an era when the best developers are going to Silicon Valley in California or Silicon Alley in NYC, not Wall Street.

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So last year Goldman hosted a tech hackathon at its headquarters with Kensho, one of their tech investment portfolio companies. The event showcased Goldman traders, analysts, and IT staff working side-by-side with Kensho employees.

Kensho has developed high-speed search algorithms and machine learning to create a new class of predictive analytic financial modeling tools. Goldman also led a $15 million investment round in the firm in late 2014.

It is said that dress codes are often cited as a symbol of what turns off young recruits. Will talented prospective developers believe Goldman is changing its ways based on the Twitter post featuring employees with hoodies? Time will tell.

The moral of the story is that corporate America will need to evolve both its recruiting practices and they way it allows its employees to work in order to stay competitive, and win the war for outstanding talent.


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