people magnet

Imagine….  A business with a strong, adaptable talent base to deliver effectively to organisational outcomes.  A reputation in the market as an employer of choice and target employment destination for talent.  Cost-effective appointments through direct candidate approaches, introductions and referrals.   First referral of new talent to the market and optimum brand presentation through external talent partnering.  Continuing advocacy of the business from former employees, promoting and strengthening the brand and market reputation.



Astute leaders realise the benefits of a strong brand, attracting talented individuals who offer immediate value and a long-term contribution, with effective talent strategies which deliver return on investment.    A consistent theme in the market is the focus on building organisational capability, ensuring expertise and adaptability to respond to changing business needs.  What differentiates ‘competitive talent’?  What is the value of these individuals?   Why are they motivated to target one organisation over another when pursuing career opportunities?  What is the potential consumer and cost impact of negative talent perception?  How can ‘employer brand’ be measured and elevated to optimise talent attraction, retention and business capability?

A change in thinking towards investment in people, rather than cost of recruitment leads to formalised talent strategies which deliver return on investment.  Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior Vice President of People Operations, is quoted in a recent Listener Article as saying “On hiring, if your resources are limited, invest your HR dollars first in recruiting.  Take your time, hiring only people who are better than you in some meaningful way”.    The article refers to Google’s hiring of “smart, effective and engaged staff who can help and even lead the way”.  (New ball game, by Rob O’Neill, Listener August 29 2015). 

Captivating the known career drivers of the very best people, forms a foundation for market engagement, promoting opportunities and achieving best results from recruitment investment.

What defines “smart, effective and engaged staff”?

 21st century businesses seek people offering technical expertise and with the attitudinal skills for successful partnering, across functions.  Some examples include:

  • Inspirational leadership
  • Commercial acumen
  • Digital expertise
  • Adaptability and change advocacy
  • Balance of strategic thinking and operational delivery
  • Team collaboration
  • Customer-centric approach
  • Curiosity and solutions focused problem-solving
  • Innovative, business improvement mind-set
  • Global perspective

Talented individuals offering the combination of subject matter expertise with a working style encompassing these aptitudes are in demand.  Whether candidates are presently in other organisations, returning from off-shore, new to New Zealand or recent graduates, it is the attracting of these people which can be enhanced by a strong market reputation, and which can provide businesses with a competitive talent edge.

Once on board, new approaches to performance management are also relevant in positioning the brand as an innovative organisation focused on high performance.  An example is Deloitte, which, in the April 2015 issue of Harvard Business Review, detailed the redesign of its performance management system, moving to a simplified process focused on “fuelling performance in the future rather than assessing it in the past”.

In evaluating organisations and opportunities, where do talented individuals place value?

21st century talent is more strategic in career planning, with objectives including:

  • Effective leaders who create an environment of meaningful, challenging, creative, rewarding contribution
  • Perceived positive brand reputation, with culture and values alignment
  • Clarity of purpose with meaningful and relevant feedback
  • Flexibility – balancing family and leisure time
  • Development opportunities, including projects and secondments
  • Mobility – opportunity to gain experience in global markets
  • Advocacy in the market by a trusted partner
  • Support for personal development - academic, mentoring, career management 
  • Retention of positive relationships and mutual respect when moving on from the business

Alert to the importance of broad commerciality across functional areas, individuals seek to expand their skills and experience, adding value to their own ‘brand’ and new learning through projects, contracts and secondments.  This, combined with proactive approaches, organisational change and lifestyle choice, makes market-place mobility common, as talented people pursue ongoing challenge and diversity, to retain interest and engagement in their work.  In evaluating talent therefore, astute leaders explore and assess delivered outcomes, rather than a more traditional view of ‘time-in-role’.

Business and talent leaders – why is shared responsibility effective?


Opportunity exists for business and people leaders to elevate the importance of targeting and recruiting the best talent in the market.  Leaders in talent attraction recognise the relationship between ‘customer brand’ and ‘employer brand’, the impact of one on the other and the value of integrating these into one business brand, through every customer interaction.  Defining the ‘candidate’ as a ‘customer’ builds engagement from the early stages of the recruitment process, contributing to a positive customer experience, whatever the outcome.  Establishing a reputation in the market as an employer of choice and maintaining engagement with potential future candidates delivers ‘pipelines’ and effective workforce planning.  Having the right people, in the right place, at the right time, enables smooth transitions at times of change. lunch
Internationally, the impact of positive recruitment experiences is reflected by the establishment of Candidate Experience Councils, launched in North America, Asia Pacific and UK, which collectively recognise that recruiting isn’t a process - it’s an experience.  Large global companies are measuring the revenue impact of what they have termed “candidate resentment”; the cost of candidates ceasing to buy products and sharing negative recruitment experiences with family and friends.  Some estimates of potential worldwide annual loss are into the millions of dollars. dollar


What steps can be taken to enhance customer experience brand reputation?

A 21st century approach would combine internal and external partnering.


  • Inspirational leaders who encourage open communication and meaningful, two-way feedback
  • Work purpose and value, in an environment of trust and creativity
  • Talent sourcing and recruitment as a business imperative – effective strategies and processes, recognising candidates as customers and inviting feedback
  • Flexible work practices which focus on results
  • Brand advocacy from within the business – through social media, networks and industry events
  • Meaningful performance measures and reward systems
  • Encouraging mobility and supporting career development, whether internal or external, maintaining relationships during secondments and with former talent
  • A broad talent perspective, establishing talent pipelines for future roles, development initiatives and succession planning 
  • Balancing the benefits of process automation with the value of personal interaction
  • Managing change with dignity, maintaining strong relationships for future networking, when individuals have exited the business
  • Active brand management, through social media channels and talent partner representatives
  • Communication and celebration of successes – awards, achievements
  • Introduction of relevant talent, from trusted partners who proactively represent your business, aligning values and objectives
  • External engagement in support of internal online systems
  • Meaningful feedback and recommendations
  • Long-term relationships to benefit sustainable talent outcomes


Talented candidates appreciate the value of partnering, including proactive representation of opportunities, personal communication in tandem with technology, meaningful feedback and support for long-term career management.



Leadership in brand management requires ownership at every level in the business and through effective internal and external partnerships.  A successful approach creates an environment to elevate employer and brand reputation, delivering return on investment from all aspects of talent strategy.

robyn webb

Robyn Webb represents Pohlen Partners, a national Recruitment and Human Resource company, partnering with a range of contemporary organisations which embrace change towards growth.  Engaging with clients on their development path and contributing to their transformation through an integrated consulting approach.






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