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Developing a Corporate Reputation - Where PR & Talent Acquisition Meets

23rd May 2012

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“Recruitment is a process between an employer and employee. We as consultants can serve as ‘matchmakers’ if we have access to information that allows us to align both parties’ expectations.”

Having worked in Public Relations for 7 years before making a career switch into recruitment in 2010, developing thought leadership or opinion pieces on behalf of my corporate clients was no stranger to my past professional life. With this entry on Xpand’s blog, I certainly don’t claim to be any expert but I hope my recent observations in the course of work can serve as food for thought for employers and candidates alike.

I don’t think I’ve ever discarded my identity as a PR practitioner even when I decided to become a recruitment consultant at Xpand 2 years ago. Being specialist recruiters in the functional areas of Media & Communications and Technology, each of us makes it a point to stay attuned with news and developments within the area we recruit into. While I now focus on Marketing recruitment within the Media & Communications team, I enjoy keeping abreast of what goes on in the PR industry in particular – certainly because of the value PR brings into the marketing mix, but also because of the network and knowledge I’ve built from the time I was a student to date. Therefore, I enjoy attending networking events not only to maintain and grow my people network, but more importantly to stay up-to-date and listen to key opinion leaders within the sector.

Riley (one of our PR recruiters) and I attended the Singapore PR Network event earlier this month, which was organised as an industry networking session but importantly, as a panel discussion/sharing session by PR veterans here. This session discussed the topic of “Building Global Reputation”, which coincided with survey findings released by Weber Shandwick a day before on the impact of CEO reputation on consumers’ perception of corporate reputations and in turn, their purchasing decisions. What really struck me from then on is how the person on the street – who could be a mother deciding which brand of milk to buy for her toddler, or a fresh graduate looking for his first job – has become more savvy when sourcing information and shaping their perception/opinion.

As a recruitment consultant, everything I communicate about a company or brand contributes towards shaping what the talent community feels about working for them. Therefore, this calls for employers to treat us as true partners in attracting the best talent in the market – keeping us informed of your short- and long-term talent strategy, having open and forthcoming conversations about the business and its impact on hiring or retention etc – because we are as much your (employer) brand advocates as you and your CEO are. That said, talent no longer has to take what a potential employer or its recruiter says as the universal truth with greater accessibility to information these days. Therefore, the emphasis on transparency has never been as important as it is today.

In our day-to-day interactions with HR or internal recruitment teams, it is still common to find those who want “the best candidates” from us yet stop short at giving us a job description and reiterating that they only want to hire “the best talent”. With Xpand’s Candidate First approach, we take great pride in fully assessing talent who come to us or we seek out in the market, ensuring that we are aware of what their career goals are, the kind of opportunities they are seeking next etc before we make a match to our clients and their roles. In the candidate-short market we are facing today, every employer will be ‘fighting’ for the ‘best candidates’ available but at the same time, the ‘power’ does lie within a candidate to evaluate which is the best employment opportunity to him/her. Recruitment is a 2-way process between an employer and a potential employee, and we as the consultants can serve as effective ‘matchmakers’ if we are given access to information that allow us to align the needs and expectations of both parties.

In sum, I’ve witnessed how PR has evolved from being largely perceived as a mere publicity tool by companies and organisations, to having an increasingly valued place within the board room where strategic business decisions are made over the last decade or so, which is extremely heartening. It would certainly be a dream come true if external recruitment consultants could have a place in contributing towards their clients’ talent strategy. But for now, I’d be comforted if every of my clients or potential clients would provide me with a thorough brief before asking me to bring them “the best candidates”.