Vom frühen Kontakt, Transparenz und langfristigen Beziehungen

Im Rahmen meiner Abschlussarbeit zum Controlling von Social Media-Aktivitäten im Personalmarketing habe ich mich kürzlich u.a. mit Christoph Fellinger (Employer Branding & Talent Attraction, Beiersdorf) unterhalten. Er berichtete mir von Karrierechats an Samstagen und wie sich Personaler im Netz ansprechbar machen sollten. Das gelte vor allem für Recruiter und diejenigen aus dem Personalmarketing, die auch nach außen hin Kontakte knüpfen. Diese Aussage hat mich seitdem beschäftigt und scheint mir die Kernvoraussetzung für erfolgreiches Talent Relationship Management (TRM) zu sein: Identifizierbar, ansprechbar, erreichbar sein – denn nur aus dem direkten Kontakt können langfristige Beziehungen erwachsen. Dazu gehört aber auch, den Arbeitgeber und seine Employer Value Proposition (EVP) frühzeitig erlebbar zu machen.

Dieser Gedanke ist keinwegs neu. Bereits im Februar bezeichnete Employer Branding Today TRM als die Zukunft von HR. Dort heißt es: “isn’t it great to provide career inspiration from an early age? Surely, an individual is still given the free choice to decide what’s right for him or her, and the parents are always there to provide further guidance. For employer branding professionals managing relations from the start is a clever thing to do. If you want to secure your talent pipeline, it’s best to do it by targeting youngsters and trying to maintain the relationship along their path of personal development”. Die Deutsche Bank hat 2011 mit Spring into Banking ein Pilotprojekt in dieser Richtung gestartet. Das Angebot wendet sich allerdings nicht an Schüler, sondern an Erst- und Zweitsemester. Einen ersten Eindruck vermittelt das folgende Video:

Spring into Banking war augenscheinlich so erfolgreich, dass es nicht nur in 2012 die nächste Auflage gibt. Mit Spring into IT wurde außerdem ein Veranstaltungskonzept entwickelt, das sich der heiß begehrten Zielgruppe der IT-nahen Studierenden widmet. Wie schwer es ist, um das Interesse und die Begeisterung von angehenden ITlern zu werben, wird wohl jeder Recruiter im Finanzsektor wissen. Google, Apple, Microsoft und Co. sind hinlänglich bekannt und attraktiv. Doch was soll ein ITler eigentlich bei einer Bank oder einer Versicherung? Hier heißt es erst einmal überhaupt ein Bewusstsein dafür schaffen, dass Finanzunternehmen auf eine leistungsstarke IT setzen, etwa um Trades im Millisekunden-Takt realisieren zu können.

Talente schon zu Beginn ihres Studiums mit dem Unternehmen und dem jeweiligen Fachbereich bekannt zu machen, ist sicherlich eine gute Antwort auf diese Herausforderung. Doch bringt das natürlich auch nur etwas, wenn über die eigentliche Veranstaltung hinaus Kontakt gehalten wird – beispielsweise zur Vermittlung eines Praktikums. Wie das in institutionalisierter Form gelingen kann, zeigt Bosch: Mit dem PreMaster Programm wurde ein Angebot geschaffen, das Studierenden neben dem Erwerb umfangreicher Praxiserfahrung durch ein Gap Year auch eine praxisnahe Betreuung während des Master-Studiums garantiert. Dazu kommt die Mitgliedschaft im studentischen Talentpool sowie die Möglichkeit auch im Ausland zum Einsatz zu kommen.

Ablauf PreMaster Programm von BoschAblauf PreMaster Programm von Bosch (Quelle: e-fellows.net)

Engpassgruppen gibt es nicht nur in der Industrie, sondern auch im Finanzsektor. Das drängendste Problem wird aber eher nicht sein, mehr Schülerinnen und Schüler dazu zu bewegen, ein MINT-Studium zu wählen. Viel mehr geht es darum, die Besonderheiten des Banking herauszustellen und dafür zu begeistern – gleichermaßen die begehrten ITler, die Juristen und HRler. Daher lohnt sich ein Bestreben hin zum frühen Kontakt, zu Transparenz und zu nachhaltiger Beziehungspflege. Ein spannender Ansatz ist für mich deswegen The Unofficial Guide To Banking – eine Microsite auf Initiative der Deutschen Bank. Dort wird mit Mythen aufgeräumt, der Banking-Jargon erklärt und es werden verschiedenste Rollen im Detail vorgestellt. Das könnte doch auch Vorbild für andere Branchen sein?

Eine nützlich Rolle können auch Social Media-Aktivitäten zur Begleitung der vorgestellten Veranstaltungen und Programme spielen. Sie helfen, den Kontakt und die Beziehungen aus der Offline-Welt in die Online-Welt zu verlängern. Das kann z.B. über den Hinweis auf die unternehmenseigene Karriere-Page auf Facebook geschehen. So verweist die Allianz regelmäßig bei Events und Praktikantenveranstaltungen auf Allianz Karriere. Dort unterhalten sich eine Vielzahl aktueller und ehemaliger Praktikanten, Workshop-Teilnehmer aber auch Mitarbeiter. Bei der HypoVereinsbank – Member of UniCredit engagieren sich die Recruiterinnen und Recruiter im direkten Kontakt: Auf der Karriere-Website und in den Stellenausschreibungen wird explizit und unkompliziert zur Kontaktaufnahme und Vernetzung per Xing, LinkedIn oder Telefon aufgerufen.

Im Kern geht es aber bei allen Aktivitäten immer um den individuellen Kontakt und das individuelle Erleben des Bewerbungsprozesses, also die Candidate Experience. All die schönen Microsites, Social Media-Plattformen und Veranstaltungen nützen nichts, wenn der persönliche Kontakt zu Unternehmensvertretern im Vergleich massiv abfällt. Es ist die Aufgabe eines jeden Recruiters, eines jeden Personalmarketing- und Employer Branding-Spezialisten, das Arbeitgeberversprechen glaubhaft zu vertreten und erlebbar zu machen. Viel mehr sollte es sogar das Selbstverständnis sein. Und dazu kann dann schon einmal gehören, auch am Wochenende spontan für einen kurzen Karrierechat bereit zu stehen.

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A Simple Answer To How To Provide Real Benefits To Candidates Online

How can Social Media or media enriched careers pages help to offer candidates real benefits? In my opinion, Jobsite UK provides a really appealing and simple answer to that with “Be My Interviewer”. Their ambition reads as follows: “We’ll provide you with valuable and practical advice to prepare you for the toughest questions and interview scenarios you are likely to face. Most importantly, we want to help you feel confident and ready to answer any question thrown at you.”

Jobsite UK - Be My Interviewer: Welcome Page

On the platform you will more than 20 recruiters and HR professionals from companies such as Shell, Ernst & Young or Accenture, introducing typical interview questions they use. Moreover, with click on the “Answer” button you gain some insight into what the question aims at and how you could prepare for it. Such a service should actually be a mandatory resource for jobseekers as there are still lots of questions related to interview questions coming up in communities and forums every week (e.g. in the German scholarship community e-fellows.net).

Societe Generale - Coaching Room I came across another example when following the presentation of Franck La Pinta during Social Recruiting Conference 2011, London on livestream (the slides can be viewed here). He pointed at the fact that Société Générale offers a “Coaching Room” on their website, “specially designed by professional consultants external to Société Générale, in order to help you in your job-hunting efforts, irrespective of your chosen sector of activity”. One of the applications, for instance, is a Virtual Coaching, which provides users with an interactive tool to follow interview tips while being able to take notes at the same time.

The activities on both sites aim not specifically just at regular Jobsite UK users or candidates who want to join Société Générale – infact, they put the candidate first! And this could lead to an overall increased Candidate Experience with a very positive effect on your company’s Employer Brand (of course the overall recruiting and onboarding process has to be engaging as well). Companies of all size should consider at least whether they would like to offer more transparency regarding their own requirements, thus providing the tools or insights relevant for their desired target group to perform well during the application process.

An example of the latter would be “BNP Paribas Backstage” (in French). I already wrote about that platform in one of my earlier posts (in German).

International Employer Branding Summit 2011 in Milan – Recap

In the HR community, people are willing to share new ideas and successful approaches. One of the guys creating such opportunities of sharing for the topic of Employer Branding is Brett Minchington. Being author of books on Employer Branding, he also established a global tour to which he invites several renowned companies who are willing to tell their stories. I was lucky enough to attend one of these meetings back in May, the “International Employer Branding and Engagement Summit 2011” in Milan. Apart of networking with Employer Branding professionals from around the world, the case studies provided all participants with valuable insights.  I can fully recommend you to join one of the future events!

This is is a short – and far from complete – recap of the presentations and discussions:

The Bosch approach to Employer Branding is typical for a high number of multinational companies: The Headquarter in Germany issues guidelines which are then impemented in all the countries and slightly adjusted to the local needs. In Italy, Bosch works closely together with universities although the cooperations vary in terms of quality. A very remarkable program is the so-called “Prisma Project”. This title refers to a German course for selected students at technical universities in Italy that also covers intercultural issues. The program does not only allow Bosch to contact students quite early, the students can also learn a useful language which would definitely be needed at some point of time when pursuing a career with Bosch. A second interesting initiative is the “women@bosch” project aimed at encouraging girls to enroll for technical study programs. In addition to that, Employer Branding begins at the very basis: make sure that you send a reply to all candidates!

International Employer Branding and Engagement Summit 2011Source: International Employer Branding Summit

Summit chair Brett Minchington presented first insights into his global research on Employer Branding. He pointed out that it seems a big challenge to sell Employer Branding concepts to executives in Europe. One of the biggest flaws of European companies also appears to be the lack of a proper induction process. Companies need to display their assets during the application process, so why should they not show their high-tech facilities or offer meetings with enthusiastic employees? Nowadays, companies face a transitional phase. A great chance for Employer Branding professionals! Now is the time to gather resources and get the systems in place to be ready when Employer Branding takes off to be critical for the company’s success. In addition to that, it is of utmost important to understand (potential) employees as whole persons, considering their fears (especially in times of desasters and crises) and communication habits. Concerning the ROI of Social Media activities and Employer Branding in general, Brett referred to projects being fully measurable. The other important element of an Employer Branding strategy should be the assets that will pay off after a longer period of time.

With a very energetic and professionally designed presentation, Adidas offered insights how to design a killer brand. The two speakers were true brand ambassadors, full of energy, in good shape and clothed in their product line. They presented Branding basics derived from employee research and summarized in shape of the buzzwords “Choice” and “Expectation”: How do we get our customers or potential employees to choose us? And do they get what we promise them? After being clear about these two elements, brand managers can start a three-step approach. First, you need to focus on the key differentiator (e.g. Google`s 20% rule). Second, you need to align everything you do with the message. The third step is about the full package: ensure that no one mixes your brand with another one. Additional tips were to think more like real brand managers in HR, leveraging on a great design and professional copywriting as well as a great candidate experience (based on fast response-time, maximum simplification and engagement on mutual terms). Finally, do not forget to present your brand to your customers: Adidas, for instance, have lockers on their career fair stands and they just seem to have a lot of fun working…

The following panel discussion dealt with the use of Social Media for Employer Branding. Two different approaches came up: You could either use short-term campaigns according to the trial and error method or carefully define your tone in Social Media first: Is your company more conservative and risk-averse or is it very authentic and risk-taking? Apart from that, all speakers agreed on the importance of establishing close relationships between HR, Communications and Marketing and on the need for a crisis management strategy as well as employees willing to be active in Social Media. Furthermore, the very basics were pointed out: you should enable your employees to use Social Media and you should listen to your target group first. How do they actually use Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.? Finally, it is not recruiting that drives HR professionals to consider and create an employer fanpage on Facebook – the true strength of Social Media platforms is the improvement of brand awareness. With all these new challenges coming up – what would be the key competencies future HR people need? – “Learning Agility” was the answer of Piotr Langer, UniCredit, “prepare them to be able to work in a future environment: to adapt, learn and change quickly“.

Group picture with Summit chairs and representatives of UniCredit and BaloiseSource: Employer Branding Online

IKEA‘s contribution to the Summit was mostly focused on diversity. A very strong claim they use is “To be one of us you’ve got to be yourself!Especially companies in the Retail industry have to consider that every customer could be a potential employee and vice versa. Therefore, the company’s initatives for diversity are closely linked to their communities: The recruitment should reflect “a wider base of candidates who mirror the community in which the store/location is operating“.

Piotr Langer, UniCredit, spoke about the difficult situation of the banking industry after the financial crisis. As customers and potential employees had strong reasons not to trust banks, the financial industry should now focus on “keeping the brand promise“. Before communicating a brand to the public, you should first invest in your employees to be able to create a brand grounded on a realistic base. UniCredit, in particular, used a joint effort of Employer Branding colleagues from all countries to setup an Employer Value Proposition (EVP) that is shared and aligned with the local realities in all countries. In terms of Social Media, a group of CEMS students supported the company by conducting a study among international students. The results were more or less surprising: Students still tend to prefer “traditional” ways of learning about job opportunities and potential employers (e.g. career fairs, career service, company website etc.) whereas Social Media were only of minor importance. There is still a need for making the target group comfortable with how companies communicate in the web. One possible approach could be to reflect offline events and experiences in the online world.

Barilla – famous for its Pasta – started with a hint on the recent new branding: “The Italian Food Company. Since 1877“. Having developed strong and emotional connections to the people in Italy, the company strives to grow also outside the home country. For Italian expatriates, Barilla might feel like a piece from home, but people from other countries do not realize the same quality yet. This is the reason why Barilla focuses strongly on culture – both internally and externally.Culture is what is crucial to achieving all the other improvements.  So the Employer Branding activities aim at inviting potential employees on a journey instead of just getting a job. Students, for instance, are offered courses about nutritional knowledge and the Italian style of “saper fare” thus enabling them to get to know the company and the culture behind the product.

All in all, the Summit was a great event to learn about the Employer Branding activities of other companies, to connect to Employer Branding professionals and to gain insights into up-to-date and global studies that were exclusively given to the participants.

The Candidate Experience – The Next Big Thing?

Some days ago, a group of authors and editors released a “virtual monograph” aimed at explaining “The Candidate Experience: What they say it is; What it really is; and, What it can be“. Gerry Crispin, Mark Mehler and others provide an overview of scientific studies about how applicants and jobseekers perceive the application process as well as blog entries out of the last few months. Being highly ambitious, they plan to refine the document at least quarterly. Moreover, they are even up to creating an Award for the Best Candidate Experience!

But what is this Candidate Experience? Here is the definition that Gerry Crispin proposes on page 11 of the monograph: The Candidate Experience are

“The attitudes and behaviors of individuals who aspire to work for a firm about the recruiting process, the stakeholders in the process, the work and the company itself as a place to work.”

So the experience of the candidate is stated to begin “when they have hit the ‘submit’ button”. But the employer can already do something to support the potential applicant before submitting his or her CV: Joseph P. Murphy has posted a video recently, referring to the project of Crispin and his colleagues, which has the goal to inform HR people and hiring managers how to “help the candidate make a more informed decision”. Randy Hood’s video commentary is summarized in four points (see the screenshot below).

Source: Embedded YouTube-clip by VirtualJobTryout on http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/candidate-experience-what-is

Now that sounds a lot like Employer Branding, doesn’t it? As far as it seems, the Candidate Experience is an issue to be adressed by both Employer Branding and Recruiting professionals – but not so much out of a sales perspective. There is a need to put oneself in the position of a potential candidate. The fourth point is also connected to using “Realistic Job Previews” , a topic which was also elaborately discussed in Germany (e.g. on Recrutainment blog).

The authors’ research indicates a third and probably the most important group of company representatives when it comes to influencing the Candidate Experience to the better or the worse: the hiring managers. Therefore, HR professionals do not only need to provide a great Employer Brand, a streamlined and efficient application process, they do also need to establish a corporate culture aimed at treating a candidate as if he or she would be a future and welcome colleague. Well, recruiters can at least have a positive influence on the experience when they act enthusiastic, empathetic and helpful – in addition to being knowledgable about the job. But, as the group of authors explicates, recruiters only appear as the first point of contact and their efforts are in vain once the process takes too long or a hiring manager acts inappropriately.

On page 5, referring to Corporate Executive Board’s Recruiting Roundtable, best practice companies were analyzed in 2002. Those companies met “candidate needs as their expectations grew by providing status, interview prep kits, interview process primers and other resources”. Such additional information may still prove to be helpful – but also missing – on most career websites.

Employer Branding, Recruiting, Career Websites, Realistic Job Previews, … – the Candidate Experience is quite successful in integrating several important topics of current discussions in HR. You can also add “Social Media” to this list. Why? The authors are looking for a reason to care for the candidate experience out of business perspective. They find an approach developing some ideas out of “The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage” by B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore. This book comes to the conclusion that the next step after the Service Economy would be the so-called “Experience Economy”, which is demanding from companies to “render authenticity” in order to be the most successful, as memory itself would become the most sought-after product. And this “authenticity” is also pretty much a trending topic for at least a lot of German blogs dealing with HR and Social Media like, e.g., (once more) Recrutainment, soziales Brand:Marken or personalmarketing2null.

Source: http://www.careerxroads.com/news/the_candidate_experience.asp – page 13 of monograph

Crispin and the others decide to evaluate the Candidate Experience “by describing four types of experiences – Educated, Entertained, Enthused and Engaged” (page 12). These four types of experiences will be provided by the potential employer on its Social Media platforms, career website, during the recruiting process, on job fairs, etc. To tie in with the idea of “rendering authenticity”, authenticity may expand the matrix to a third dimension. All these provided experiences can only be successful as long as they appear to be credible and true.

In my opinion, this new monograph may be a catalyst for a more elaborate and scientific as well as empirically confirmed discussion about the Candidate Experience. And such a discussion would definitely help in improving the remake of career websites, using Social Media for Employer Branding and Recruiting as well as finding the right talent for your company. It would help to plan and carry out activities on a well-grounded concept instead of just following trends, buzzwords and advice from consultants…

What they say it is; What it really is; and, What it can be

Lean Just-in-Time Recruiting – Traum oder Albtraum?

Der HR-Bereich verursacht praktisch und in der Wahrnehmung des Managements erst einmal nur Kosten. Das Business findet woanders statt. Da verwundert es kaum, dass in vielen Unternehmen immer weniger Ressourcen zur Verfügung stehen, um  immer mehr Serviceleistung für das Kerngeschäft zu erbringen. In diesem Kontext wird HR zuweilen mit dem Konzept des Supply Chain Management in Verbindung gebracht: Ein erster Ansatz ist die Porter’sche Wertkette. Nachzulesen in Bezug auf HR z.B. bei Wolfgang Jäger (2009,18ff: Talent Management ist Personalmanagement. In: Jäger, W./ Lukasczyk, A. (Hrsg.): Talent Management. Strategien, Umsetzung, Perspektiven. Köln: Luchterhand. S.15-23.). Im gleichen Herausgeberband führt Peter Cappelli (2009,39ff: Talent Management for the Twenty-First Century. In: Ebd. S.39-49.) den Gedanken weiter. Als größte Herausforderungen identifiziert er die Risiken einer zu weit reichenden Bedarfsplanung sowie die Unsicherheit in der Beschaffung neuer erfolgskritischer Mitarbeiter. Über die Anwendung von Methoden aus dem Bereich des Supply Chain Management möchte er die Wunschvorstellung “Talent on demand” erreichen (S.49).

Klassische Wertkette nach M. Porter (Quelle: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wertkette)

Klassische Wertkette nach M. PorterAm weitesten hat diesen Gedanken meines Wissens bisher Glen Cathey getrieben: In seinem Blog “Boolean Black Belt” stellt er die Frage “What is Lean Just-in-time Recruiting?”. Die Anwendung der Supply Chain auf Recruiting beschreibt Glen wie folgt: “In recruiting, human capital supply chain activities transform relationships and data (ad responses, resumes, social networking profiles, etc.) into candidates that are delivered to hiring managers.” Nach einem kurzen Hinweis auf Lean Production bei Toyota formuliert er den gleichen Ansatz wie so manches Mitglied der Geschäftsleitung bzw. Bereichsleiter in Unternehmen: “The primary focus of Lean is creating more value with less work, and considers the expenditure of resources for any goal other than the creation of value for the end customers to be wasteful.”

Glen Cathey beschreibt anschaulich und selbstverständlich auch nachvollziehbar, wie ineffizient es ist, mehr Bewerbungen als notwendig zu generieren. Im gleichen Atemzug hinterfragt er das proaktive Bereitstellen einer Pipeline an Kandidaten für den zukünftigen Rekrutierungsbedarf des Unternehmens. Auch die Nutzung von Online-Jobbörsen führe tendenziell zu Überproduktion, einem von sieben “Übeln” bei Lean. Im Prinzip passt für ihn auch Talent Relationship Management nicht in die Wunschvorstellung eines schlanken Recruitingprozesses. Jede ungeeignete und nicht weitergeleitete Bewerbung, die angeschaut werden musste – davon kommen so einige, gerade bei in Online-Jobbörsen ausgeschriebenen Stellen – ist unnötige Arbeit, die anderswo besser hätte eingesetzt werden können. Auch unnötige Wartezeit ist ein Mangel des Recruiting-Prozesses und verschlechtert die Candidate Experience und hat damit wieder negative Auswirkungen auf die Employer Brand.

Das Ziel eines Just-in-time Recruiting-Prozesses ist das gleiche wie bei Peter Cappelli: “Talent on demand”. Im Vordergrund steht nunmehr das Active Sourcing – und das ganz besonders unter dem Einbezug von Social Media, etwa Business Networks: “JIT recruiting has a primary focus of tapping into “raw material” candidate inventory (resumes, LinkedIn profiles, your network, etc.) and contacting, qualifying, and delivering candidates only in direct response to a hiring need.” Der Gedanke klingt verlockend – und auch ließen sich die Kosten viel besser rechtfertigen, wenn die Arbeit der Recruiter direkt im (internen) Kundenauftrag stattfindet und praktisch auf diese abgerechnet werden kann. Dennoch ist zumindest in Deutschland – und das auch schon aus arbeitsrechtlichen Gründen – das Active Sourcing noch nicht in dem Maße angekommen wie es etwa in den USA schon Standard ist.

Just-in-time Recruiting scheint die Lösung für die Forderung an HR zu sein, mit weniger Ressourcen mehr (oder zielgenauer) Leistung zu erbringen. Aber erlauben die rechtlichen und kulturellen Rahmenbedingungen in Deutschland bereits einen solchen Ansatz? Oder werden eher falsche Erwartungen geweckt, denen die Recruiter in der momentanen Situation gar nicht standhalten können?