Overheard at HCI Strategic Talent Acquisition

May 24, 2011

I attended the HCI Strategic Talent Acquisition conference in New York last week. Recruiting leaders from around the globe shared their perspectives on authentic employment brands, talent pipelines, and more.  Here are a few of my favorite quotes and key learnings:

“[It’s ironic that] the generation that is most prolific in social media has no idea how to network.” - Holly Paul of PricewaterhouseCoopers

Holly shared with attendees an overview of PwC’s journey in using social media to differentiate their employment brand with the college audience.  PwC runs social media programs with high-quality content to educate soon-to-be graduates on the basics of professional networking, personal branding, interviewing and more.  These programs have become the key to what sets their employment brand apart.

According to HCI research, the percentage of the workforce made up of contingent staff is approximately 30% in the Americas, and up to 50% in EMEA.

There was a lot of talk at the conference about the rise of the contingent workforce and how that impacts an organization’s workforce plan: what talent do you build (from within), buy (hire), or borrow (with contingent staff)? Panelists and presenters agreed that they most often use contract talent to maintain organizational flexibility (filling a short-term or urgent need) and to allow for specialization (hiring for necessary skills not currently available in an organization’s workforce).

“We’re not talent acquisition leaders first—we’re business leaders first.” - Ann Marie Gulian of Campbell Soup Company

In her presentation, Ann Marie shared how her team fundamentally changed the way they approach recruiting—moving from simply filling seats to building a talent pipeline. At its core, Campbell Soup’s strategy emphasizes strong relationships with business partners and key stakeholders to understand current AND future needs for talent.  The need for forward-looking workforce planning and pipelining was certainly a major theme of the conference—one panelist described it as the difference between winning and losing the war for talent.

“There’s a difference between overflowing with candidates and overflowing with qualified candidates.” - Jennie DeDe of Adecco Staffing

Many heads in the room were nodding when Jennie made this point—which was underscored by some of HCI’s recent research findings (a staggering 70% of HCI’s survey respondents ranked the ability to attract qualified personnel as a top concern for the future of their organization’s workforce).  Other panelists in Jennie’s session echoed her sentiment: for high quality candidates, the unemployment rate is relatively low and those who are looking for jobs have a wide range of choices—so making your company stand out is key.

“Employment branding is more than a campaign—it’s about giving and keeping a promise.” - Kerstin Wagner of Siemens

In her presentation, Kerstin walked attendees through Siemens’ creation of a global employer value proposition (EVP): starting with 55 employee participants from 23 countries and 25 external experts to brainstorm the essential attributes of the company’s EVP.  From start to finish, Siemens leveraged employees to drive EVP definition and communication—driving an authentic brand promise in the process.