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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.

How Employers Can Support Students in Their School-to-Work Transition. An Interview with Jesse Sahota, Career Development and Relationship Manager

Career educators and coaches play a vital part in the success of developing future talent. This support doesn’t end once students finish their degrees – career educators continue to assist students in their school-to-work transition, and this benefits not only students but also employers. Though, it’s important for employers to be involved in career planning as well. From employer branding, showcasing workplace culture, holding events, managing campus ambassadors to connecting with students before they even start their first day can have a great impact.  We explored this topic with Jesse Sahota, Career Development Relationship Manager in the Engineering Co-op and Career Services office at McMaster University, who also won Career Educator of the Year at the 2019 TalentEgg Awards. Read on to learn how Jesse supports his students, fosters relationships with employers and his advice on ways employers can connect with students to assist in their school-to-work transition.

Starting His Career with Purpose

When Jesse first envisioned his career, he believed he was going to work in the advertising industry one day, “designing commercials for Audi or working for Kellogg’s redesigning their Fruit Loops cereal boxes,” he says. During his final year at university, he landed a job in a wealth management firm as a recruiter, which eventually led him to his passion for helping others find their careers. And what a long and meaningful career it has been for Jesse so far! With over 15 years of experience in Career Coaching and Education, Jesse’s current role is comprised of three pillars that facilitate student success. He works to pursue new business development leads while maintaining existing partnerships in the engineering and business communities. The second pillar is coaching students using personalized strategies. “Pain points differ depending on where the student is at in their recruitment life cycle,” Jesse says. Whether students come with generic resumes and cover letters, or are looking to get more involved on campus, Jesse helps them on their career journey. Finally, the third pillar to Jesse’s role is collaborating with employers who are looking to create a stronger brand on campus.

“Our department’s “Employer of the Week” series brings employers to campus where I assist in orchestrating events, such as employers in the lobby, resume roasts, bus trips, Instagram takeovers and lunch and learn workshops.”

Supporting Students on their Career Journey

Jesse’s department supports students through a variety of workshops and individual appointments to prep them before the start of their co-op work term. “In Engineering Co-op and Career Services at McMaster University, the transition from the classroom to the shop floor or boardroom is exceptionally smooth,” he comments.

“Having been in this industry and in my current role for so long, I’ve had the opportunity to meet many of our employer partners on-site. These meetings give me the opportunity to provide a unique perspective and “inside scoop” when coaching students on what to expect at their new job.”

One of the most memorable career highlights was taking five students to Silicon Valley in San Francisco for their Big Ideas Contest. Students were given the opportunity to learn from top innovators and develop their professional skills. Five students, management staff and the Dean of Engineering visited Tesla, Apple, Google, Facebook, Corning and several start-ups during their trip. This is a great example of how Career Educators are creating experiences for their students to showcase their innovative engineering solutions, build invaluable networking opportunities and learn about the possibilities. While Jesse and his team created this opportunity for students to learn, he ended up taking away a lot for himself too.

“It was an eye-opening experience for me as it provided the opportunity to connect with McMaster Engineering alumni and further solidified my understanding that our graduates are changing the world.”

What Can Employers Do for Students?

While career educators help to set students up for success in launching their careers, Jesse shares some ways in which employers can make students feel welcome and valued before they even start working. Jesse comments that not only will this showcase the organizations’ culture, but it will also prepare students for the road ahead. Reaching out to students after they’ve accepted their offer, even if it’s well in advance of their start date, can have a positive impact.

“A welcome email with details regarding what to expect on their first day is a great way to get the student excited about their new adventure by winning their heart and mind. Many organizations are taking onboarding seriously by allocating a personal mentor to each new hire – a strategy that I find highly effective.”

Another way Jesse suggests employers get involved in students’ transition is during the offer stage.

“When employers present an offer to a student, I would suggest that they invite the student to their site, provide them with a tour of their facility, introduce the student to a mentor, connect them with the current student(s) that are working there, and take them out for lunch or coffee. This approach is an excellent way to strengthen the student’s commitment to the employer’s brand. It’s a win-win strategy.”

Build Your Brand Recognition – Get on Campus!

Providing the opportunity for students to connect with employers in-person is always a great strategy when it comes to recruiting the right talent and finding the best candidates to fill your talent pipeline.

“Employers are encouraged to come to campus and meet our students, run workshops, attend hackathons, partner with student groups and, ultimately, connect with career offices on campus. Getting in front of students and answering their questions in-person establishes a connection, builds stronger brand recognition, and these students can then become brand ambassadors for employers by telling their friends what they’ve learned.”

Whether you’re an employer looking to connect with and hire students or you’re a fellow Career Educator, you can learn from Jesse’s unique approach. “My career is something that I truly enjoy and I love knowing that I have had a hand in helping someone else find their dream job or career.”

Get in Touch

jsahota@mcmaster.ca

905-525-9140 ext 24432

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesse-sahota/

Why It’s More Important than Ever to Connect With Candidates Online

It’s common knowledge that employers need a web-presence and a digital strategy to promote their jobs and attract young talent. However, simply having a career website that posts job descriptions is no longer enough.

The first component of being online is indeed having a career website with compelling job descriptions and robust employer branding content. This is where you can showcase your eggs-ceptional culture, the benefits of working at your company, and your company’s competitive distinctions as an employer of choice. Your web presence is the primary tool for you to attract and engage young candidates and the go-to place where they will launch their job search. In our 2019 survey, 86% of post-secondary students stated that they look for jobs online (which includes social media as well as websites), which indicates that your online presence is vital to attracting young candidates.

“Having just the right amount of information on the website and it being easy to navigate makes the user’s life much easier and makes the website itself easier on the eyes.” – Saisurutyi Sridaran, Ryerson University, 2021

“In 2019 you definitely need to have a website that is optimized for mobile.” – Mallory Thompson, Western University, 2019

The second component is, of course, social media. It is a highly preferred method of job search and employer research among young professionals (1 to 5 years after graduation). 87% of early career professionals surveyed also prefer to look for jobs online, including social media, and there is a good reason for that. Employers who excel at finding the best candidates tend to have strong social media engagement by having authentic conversations with job seekers beyond the static one way posts. Employers with a strong social media strategy have a human voice and communicate their employer value proposition in a demonstrative way through their employees Instead of telling candidates, “working for us is awesome”, make sure to show candidates what a fun, inclusive workplace culture you have, as experienced by recent hires, who candidates can relate to, in video, Instagram Stories and testimonials, creating a compelling and authentic reflection of work life within your organization.

But each social media platform resonates with a different audience, and matching the content to the best platform for the right candidates can be difficult. Where exactly do students and recent grads spend their time? Our 2019 survey proved once again that Instagram is still king with 59% of high school students, 41% of post-secondary students and 49% of early career professionals preferring that social media platform over the others for employer branding content.

What type of content should employers post to attract maximum attention? You might have guessed it already, but video is still king as the medium of choice, and it’s popularity is only increasing. 82% of high school and 69% of post-secondary respondents prefer to engage with videos for career-related information on all platforms and media channels.

TalentEgg Talks: Live with Mercedes-Benz
Financial Services (Instagram and Facebook Live)

The main area of concern when it comes to social media is getting around tricky social media algorithms to ensure your audience is seeing your content. While we can’t fully predict algorithms, which are constantly evolving, we know that the more your audience engages with your content, the better it performs. Moreover, Facebook and Instagram are well known to favour video content and showcase it to more users on their platforms, so it’s truly a win-win. With our less text-focused content for those who like getting visual information, we are shifting how we deliver your brand messaging. We communicate your values by producing videos, hosting live Q&As with representatives of your organization in a simulcast video on Facebook and Instagram (TalentEgg Talks LIVE) and creating Instagram Stories. In other words, we’re bringing your employer messaging straight to the target candidate! Be exactly where your young talent pool is – on Instagram, and engage in an authentic way through Instagram Takeovers and TalentEgg Talks LIVE Events. The great value-add is that if your existing social media followers aren’t Gen Y and Z, we can help you build out that audience on your own social media channels. The video recording also makes great content for your Employer Profile on TalentEgg and can be repurposed and re-edited by TalentEgg for short video clips on social media to continually refresh your feed with snappy, well packaged video shorts.

Even though video is king and social media is rising, direct email remains a strong medium for the delivery of career-related information among students and recent grads. The convenience of receiving targeted job alerts in the candidates’ inboxes, the ability to customize which content reaches them, and the ease with which the job seekers can find emails tailored to their needs, all attribute to email’s continued popularity. Our research indicated that 60% of post-secondary and 52% of early career professionals prefer email communication for job postings, indicating that while candidates like learning about employers on their smartphones and social media, they still prefer to actually apply to jobs from their laptop. With our ability to personalize and create custom email blasts for our clients, we’re targeting your employer brand message directly to students and grads.

Year after year, our Incubator blog is an invaluable resource for students and grads who are hatching their careers. Our custom editorials highlight various features of your organization to amplify your employer brand and connect with our audience. In our 2019 TalentEgg Survey, we asked what type of content students and grads wanted to read about and they overwhelmingly connected to editorials that were easy to read in Q and A format, enjoy resume and interview tips, day-in-the-life stories about young relatable employees and appreciate interviews with recruiters, interns and co-op students from your organization. Many of these topics provide an inside look into the company’s culture – exactly what our respondents care about the most. Every demographic we surveyed said that the most important thing they look for in an employer is positive and friendly company culture (92% of all respondents, including high school students, post secondary students and grads, and early career professionals).

Managing a company’s reputation is another important task. 68% of post-secondary students state that negative company culture or workplace, bad online reputation and negative candidate experience are the most important factors when turning down an employer. That is exactly why it is so important for companies to tune into the social conversation about their brand, create a positive candidate experience, and highlight their engaged and inclusive employee culture!

94% of students believe that it’s somewhat to very important for employers to have a strong online presence. This includes your social media presence and website usability. If students can’t find what they are looking for easily and in an engaging way, they are on to the next thing. We know that students are busy with school, work and social lives, and if they need to search in multiple areas or click through multiple pages, you’ll likely lose their attention. That’s why our custom employer profiles are a one-stop place for job seekers to learn more about your company, as well as explore jobs and events. It’s also a great place to post your employer branding videos, social media clips and editorials.  

Testimonial from a student: TalentEgg helped me obtained numerous information regarding the internship opportunities with your all-in-one platform.

 

Keeping all of these factors in mind can be very overwhelming, especially during a busy hiring season. TalentEgg is here to help. With our trusted and talented team of writers and account managers, we can help you craft and execute your employer branding strategies to attract the best of the best in campus recruitment and beyond. Visit talentegg.ca and keep reading this guide to find out how eggs-actly we can assist you on this journey.

Custom Client Videos: Walmart Dare

Client Custom Editorial: Chang School

Custom Client Videos: EF Tours

TalentEgg Newsletter

Client Custom Editorial: Sysco

Email Blast BMO

TalentEgg Talks: Live with Career Connections (Instagram and Facebook Live)

An Amplification of HR Legal Trends from the Last Decade

In our ever-changing workforce, it’s more important than ever for employers to stay on top of HR trends and what legal implications they may have on their organization, workplace culture and overall brand. We had the chance to speak with Greg McGinnis, Partner at Matthews Dinsdale & Clark LLP, about upcoming trends in employment law. What we discovered was that the trends from the latter half of the last decade are amplifying. Read on to see how. 

Although there have been many societal shifts within the last few years, Greg comments that there really aren’t any new or radical changes in employment law, but rather previous trends are continuing. He does mention, however, that there’s a common theme or phenomenon happening as a result of previous trends, like the #MeToo movement, legalization of Cannabis and diversity in the workforce, which is fostering an increased demand for flexibility and zero tolerance for toxic workplaces. 

Flexibility and Accommodation

“The main trend, if I can call it that, is that people are looking for flexibility in their work. They’re looking for flexibility in terms of hours of work, days of work, time off when they need it. The big trend is that employees want their work to fit in with their lives, and so employers are increasingly having to accommodate that kind of flexibility. That comes in all kinds of different forms. One form would be people who have young children, who want the time for child care or to attend events in their kids’ lives. Then you also have, especially in Canada, a large population of people who come from other places originally and they travel, so they want to have longer periods of time off to visit family or just travel. There’s an increasing trend towards flexibility at work, where it could be accommodated.” 

“The idea that work is Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 and you better just show up – that concept has slowly been eroding for a long time and it’s continuing to erode. There are of course jobs where you need to be [at work] for certain time periods, but even then, people will want extended time off. We see this in every domain, from factory workers to office workers. People are demanding that their personal life and needs are reflected at work.” 

Zero Tolerance for Toxic Workplaces

As a result of the same societal factors that gave rise to the #MeToo movement, Greg has found that the number of complaints being made that require the employer to carry out investigations has significantly increased. “I would say the #MeToo movement is a reflection of the same underlying phenomenon that people aren’t prepared to be treated poorly or suffer in silence. There’s next to no tolerance for toxic workplace behaviour. It is increasingly important for employers to ensure their workplace provides a positive, constructive atmosphere for people to work in and if they don’t do it, they will be facing a requirement to invest in workplace investigations…There’s a whole raft of time-consuming expensive consequences that can result from not dealing with these problems.” 

Diversity 

Diversity is an important value for many organizations. In Greg’s experience, diversity hiring has to be managed effectively by most employers to ensure all job seekers are given an equal opportunity to join a positive workplace, but that’s not always easy to achieve and maintain once your workforce becomes diverse. “Diversity has an impact on workplace culture because when you have new people or experiences, people come to work with different cultural expectations or behaviours that may require an adjustment on the part of the employer.”

Once you recruit a diverse workforce, you need to ensure your policies are, and the workplace is, welcoming, accommodating and, again, flexible. “You have a diverse workforce, you need a diverse workforce, then you need to find ways to reconcile new and different expectations where you need to get the work done. The challenge of diversity is that you don’t really know what’s next, you have to adapt to the people you are employing the best you can, and they need to adapt to you too.” 

Cannabis: Biggest Issue That’s a Non-issue

Now that Cannabis has been legal in Canada for over a year, there have been minimal impacts on employment law, according to Greg. “Cannabis is the big nothing. It may have a long term impact, but the short term impact has been next to zero.”

“It’s not that all of a sudden people are bringing their drugs to work or consuming drugs in a different way. Most employers in anticipation of the legalization of cannabis took another look at their fitness for duty policies, and perhaps even their testing policies and gave some thought on how to approach that. Then legalization occurred and people braced themselves for the onslaught of stoners as if all of a sudden we were all going to turn into Cheech and Chong and it just didn’t happen!”

“Outside of safety-sensitive positions where someone could be seriously injured or killed or your actions could result in someone being seriously injured, or death or property damage, the issue of cannabis has not made any difference. And I think the reason for that is – cannabis is just one intoxicant. There’s a wide array of drugs out there, legal and illegal, and the legalization of cannabis has had a marginal impact on the way cannabis impairment, specifically, has been addressed when it’s been detected.”

Gig Economy

There were concerns about the ‘gig’ economy and the impact on the career prospects for millennial and Gen Z workers, but in regards to employment law, it’s really only made employers consider instituting more flexible work environments. 

“My perspective on the gig economy is that it’s provided opportunities for people to work in small amounts on their schedule that competes with the regular employment pool. So people who want more flexibility can get it by becoming a gig worker. I think the gig economy has expanded opportunities for people. [Employers] have to recognize that their employees can go and do consulting or gig work as an alternative to regular employment. So it forces more flexibility onto employers as well.” 

 

With the evolution and expansion of trends from the last few years, Greg notes that in the legal sphere, changes in the law are harder to predict. “The world of work is driven more by cultural change than by legal change. We’re not seeing a lot of radical legal changes now or anticipated in the future. The society is changing, so we have to respond to that.” It’s important that employers are staying on the cutting edge of emerging and continuing societal and workplace trends, especially when considering incoming talent will come into the workforce with new and sometimes challenging expectations for employers to meet. 


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