TalentEgg Trends

Today’s Talent, Tomorrow’s Leaders

Knowledge Hub For Employers, Career Educators And Coaches

Category: Advice from a Recruiter

How Workplace Culture and Recruiting Top Talent Go Hand-in-Hand. An Interview with Gaby Patenaude from Export Development Canada

Workplace culture is an important aspect of any happy and productive working environment. There’s something to be said, though, about organizations that go above and beyond to showcase what the culture in their workplace actually looks like. Students, new grads, and early career professionals are digitally savvy and do their research to find the best fit for them. Even if your workplace culture is out-of-this-world-amazing, are you telling your story effectively? Are young candidates seeing it, hearing about it, watching it? If they aren’t, there’s a chance that you’re losing top candidates to other employers who are taking the extra steps to highlight the quality of their teams, culture and why they are the best place to work.

Export Development Canada (EDC) is one of those employers who strongly supports employee culture while also showing it in an authentic and engaging way. We had the chance to speak with Gaby Patenaude from EDC who shares how their organization lives and breathes culture, community, personal growth, professional development and so much more to ensure that candidates know that they are working for one of the best employers in the country. Read the full interview below.

Meet Gaby

Gaby is the Campus Recruitment Program Lead at EDC and has been with the company for three and a half years. Starting as a new grad, Gaby knows first hand what it’s like to make that school-to-work transition. She also understands how important it is for employers to step up and showcase what it’s like to work at a particular organization. Gaby manages the whole student-employee lifecycle – from campus events, partnerships with schools and interviewing candidates, to providing programming, onboarding and support once students are in the door and on the payroll.

Go, Grow and Succeed’ at EDC

EDC’s culture is unique with a variety of inclusive employee-led committees, community giving programs, professional development workshops, and a “state-of-the-art gym” to support their employees — both in work and in personal growth. “As someone who was really actively involved in my university community, I really value the giving nature of EDC,” Gaby comments.

“Community involvement is embedded in everything we do, whether…when EDC employees worldwide take a day to do volunteer work with over 40 organizations or to our stellar CSR practices embedded into the business transactions we make every day. I think that kind of purpose is really what younger generations seek in an employer. Somewhere where their values can come to life at work.”

Having initiatives like employee-led committees also allows employees to connect with so many more peers and leaders that they otherwise wouldn’t have access to. “It lets employees feel like they have a wide variety of what I like to call ‘work extracurriculars’ because there are so many ways for people to get involved at work outside of what is listed on their job description.”

“Through these committees and their events, I have met so many new people and flexed new muscles as I took on side projects totally unrelated to my role. That is so rewarding and definitely lends to an inclusive workplace culture. No matter where people are in the hierarchy, they can really make a difference.”

Shouting Out Your Culture To Top Talent

All of these amazing initiatives and activities that are ingrained in the culture at EDC would be lost on new candidates if their team wasn’t active both on-campus and online to spread the word. Gaby cautions employers not to completely limit themselves to one strategy or the other, but to really look for a balance. “It’s a balancing act of that digital side to reach broad audiences, but [also] creating a space for highly specialized, in-person interactions.” EDC has found that dedicating specific and targeted strategies to both digital and in-person experiences has been enormously beneficial in their overall recruitment and employer branding strategy.

“TalentEgg has been instrumental in us reaching broad audiences with country-wide digital campaigns with hot new tools like Instagram takeovers. The nice thing about digital content is that in most cases it is there to stay and you keep referring back to it if candidates want to do any self-led research. I think it’s important to have digital brand awareness about your employer.”

Striking that balance, Gaby found that the most success they’ve had is with smaller scale, highly specialized events.

“For instance, partnering with campus clubs and associations to host case competitions in topics where we want some fresh insight, or hosting career spotlight events where students come and experience what it’s like to work in a certain role or career.”

Tell Your Story Authentically 

While it’s vital to tell your employer story both in-person and online, Gaby stresses that it’s important to have authentic and transparent content.

“I think the more transparent the better! We’ve found the best success in our recruitment campaigns when we really connect with students. For example, during our Instagram takeover with TalentEgg, we let a student a day take over TalentEgg’s account and take us through a day in their life: from their walk to our downtown office, to their 1:1 with their leader, to their gym session at lunch, or lunch on our rooftop patio. This was a way better indication of their impact and life at EDC than any thoughtfully worded job poster.”

Gaby also stresses the importance of showing candidates that you truly care about them as a potential hire, that they aren’t just another number. EDC did this by hosting a TalentEgg Talks Live where students and grads asked Gaby live questions. She was able to give the audience across Canada a deep-dive 30-minute session about EDC instead of a quick 1-minute conversation at a career fair.

“Recruitment is all about allowing the candidate to really be able to picture themselves in a role and envisioning their happiness and success in that role. TalentEgg has been great in shining light on the new and upcoming strategies for things like social media recruitment marketing, mobile marketing, and others. This has also been proven in bringing students into our office and introducing them to employees. It allows them to put a face to a job and see what someone’s career path was to get to where they are.”

Advice for Fellow Employers and Final Thoughts

“It’s important as an employer to show that you are developing people and not just employees. It’s a two-way street – employees will invest more in their jobs if they know their employer is investing in them. The reality is that if you as a company aren’t staying up on trends, or putting in a caring approach to employees, those employees will go to the next employer down the street that is doing a better job. So I think employers really have an obligation to take their employees seriously and give them the best caring culture to support their best work.”

That’s one of the reasons why Gaby started her career with EDC. She emphasizes why it’s so important for young people to know that their employer will be there for them in the best of times to push them forward, but also on those not so great days.

It’s important to not only rely on being present online and on-campus, but also to tell your employer brand story, bringing it to life and helping future candidates see what their future could be like at your organization.

Bridging the Gen Z Gap: Understanding how to help recent graduates successfully transition into the workplace

Bridging the Gen Z Gap: Understanding how to help recent graduates successfully transition into the workplace.

Throughout my 15+ years as a recruitment professional, I’ve always had a special place in my heart for helping new grads transition into their first corporate role. A deep desire to help them land their first job was a result of my own experience struggling to find my way in the world.  I want to share the personal wisdom I gained and help them successfully grow their careers through mentoring and coaching support.

What have I observed?

The challenges new graduates face have not really changed from Gen X, but in the last few years, I’ve observed, firsthand, a much larger disadvantage for Gen Z during this major life transition.  Gen Z is often confused as an extension of Millennials, but they are distinctively different.  They are the first generation to never know a world without wifi, social media, and instant gratification.  They were part of a democratic school system and households, where there was no traditional hierarchy of power and consequences, everyone was a winner and there were no losers or failures. Probably the most impactful trend was that they were a generation that was highly overscheduled and constantly stimulated, not allowed to be bored or unhappy. Boredom is critical for imaginative play/thinking, and learning to deal with negative emotion, is an important psychological coping skill.  The absence of learning to manage emotions and stretch brain muscles is likely the root cause for why overall, Gen Z struggles with much higher levels of anxiety and depression. They lack the resiliency to face the world that is run by Millennials, Gen X and Boomers.

What can educators and employers do to help bridge this gap?

First, understand, it is not optional. We must help Gen Z with this transition into the workforce, because having them tough it out (as we might have had to), will lead to a higher level of mental illness, in a generation where mental illness is already significantly higher1 and a future workforce that is not as productive.  Second, seek to understand their perspective and then give them the support and tools to empower them.

For employers, onboarding is important. On-going clarity of your expectations of them, and how they can own their own development and successfully navigate their career, is even more important.  They likely expect that they will be given continuous direction and rewards, and you will drive their career for them – so showing them they own their success and happiness is step one.

For educators, provide insights while they are still in a learning environment, on how to prepare for this critical life transition. Soon-to-be grads are on the brink of one of the most challenging transitions they will face.

So, what is the secret sauce?

Interestingly, the ‘secret sauce’ would likely help all of us be happier, in a world where we all spend less time being present than we should.  To fully accept the present moment as it is, without judgement, is the foundational skill I teach new graduates through learning mindfulness. It is the basis from which all else will follow.  Next, I help guide them in clarifying their purpose and values from which they will decide their goals, and where to focus their attention and talents.  Research reinforces that understanding personal values is paramount for career success; the least committed leaders are those who understand company values,  but not their own.2 So, first, learn to engage fully with the present moment, and then integrate purpose and values into being in all aspects of their job search (interview, personal brand), job performance, and career development.  A natural consequence of mindfulness and purposefulness is happiness – in both our professional and personal lives. Happiness is self derived, rather than an expectation for others to provide.  Moreover, mindfulness helps build resiliency, so that when failures or disappointments happen, they won’t be devastating.

What’s in it for me?

Once Gen Z is thriving and finding the right ‘fit’ in a company and on a purposeful path, we will start to see a big reward ourselves.  They will overperform, as they are driving to be a part of something bigger than themselves.  They will be extremely loyal, and unlike Millennials, will want to stick around for the long haul with your company.  They will give back and want to mentor others recent graduates entering the business.  As you can see, the dividends greatly outweigh the investment.  It really comes down to your willingness to help this generation bridge the gap!


1 American Psychological Association – March 15, 2019, Mental health issues increased significantly in young adults over last decade

2 James M Kouzes and Barry S Posner, The Leadership Challenge 4th edition


 Bio:

Lana Burton is a talent acquisition executive and founder of Be META, an organization that helps Generation Z to recognize and realize their potential.

As a working mother of two, she knows how to connect the intimate needs of others and still make time to do the work that we all need to do within.

Connect with Lana on LinkedIn or via email at Be_META@outlook.com.

How Are You Helping to Build the Workplace Critical Skills Pipeline?

When describing what differentiates top talent amongst students and new graduate candidates, we often find ourselves referencing their ‘soft’ or workplace critical skills.  Things like creativity, teamwork, critical thinking, problem solving, and leadership.

As employers, we seemingly all want these skills to be a part of the candidate profile for our new graduate programs, summer internships, or open positions on campus.  And, if the expectation is that students come prepared with these skills when they arrive in the workplace, I wonder how can we as career educators and campus recruiters help students to identify, acquire, and nurture them before they land their first job?

For me, the approach is two-fold:

I think it starts with helping students to become fluent in the art of articulation, reflection, and offering up evidence.

Let’s work an example – communication skills. We know that having a student simply state they are a good communicator is not enough.  Rather, it’s how they demonstrate they are a good communicator through examples or description that sets them apart.

Fellow campus recruiters, I am offering up a challenge to you here.  Let’s commit to trying to better articulate our needs. Continuing with the ‘good communication skills’ example, what if we said something like this in our postings:

‘Persuasive business writing, active listening, comfort delivering critical or difficult messages, and strong presentation skills are essential for successful communication in our organization’.

The more specific or articulate we are, the more a student has got to work with and reflect on.  They can start to assess whether they have demonstrated these skills and attributes in their studies or work to date, come up with evidence to support it, and if a gap exists, have a clearer goal to work towards.  If  Year 1 students knew what you were truly looking for in terms of workplace critical skills when they embarked on their program, think about where they might be by the time they graduate.  Perhaps ‘top talent’ would be more plentiful?

While these notions are by no means new, it stands to reason that by providing students with ample opportunity to reflect on and to talk about their skills in meaningful ways (whether it is a part of their experiential learning, course work, co-op, or even workshops) the more comfortable and confident they will become in talking about their workplace critical skills as potential candidates.

The second piece is all about providing additional opportunities to develop and nurture workplace critical skills while in school.  Case competitions, challenges, portfolios or workplace critical skills passports, skills badging, and experiential learning are all great ways to achieve this.  Think about how you can get more involved in these types of initiatives.  While yes, the time investment does need to be there to make it most effective, you will be doing wonders for your credibility, brand, and building up of the pipeline of the skills you’re ultimately wanting students to have in their toolkit.

Challenge yourself.  In your next round of engaging students – how will you help them to get really good at articulating, reflecting, and evidencing their workplace critical skills?  What opportunities will you provide to develop and nurture them?  Happy skill building!

 


Trevor Buttrum is an award-winning career education and campus recruitment leader with 15+ years of experience in the space.  He is currently the manager of a national program focused on building the talent pipeline for the next generation of the property and casualty insurance workforce.

 

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