Lauren: Hi, I’m Lauren Stiebing and welcome to this episode of the career success podcast. Today we will be joined by Blandine Jean-Paul to discuss what companies must do to stay competitive in the labor market. Blandine is a brand Strategist with a proven ability to drive volume & equity growth across portfolios. She has driven a double-digit sales Increases of 72% through extensive research & creative integrated marketing. Welcome Blandine.
Blandine: Thank you, Lauren, I am excited to be here!
Lauren: Yes, thank you for joining us. Today we are going to discuss about how to stay competitive in the labor market. You know at the forefront of the agenda for most companies is the race for talent and it is getting increasingly challenging to attract and retain talent. If you compare the labor market from when you first entered to now, how would you say that the labor market has changed?
Blandine: I would say is very different. I enjoyed the labor market in the early, mid-late nineties. Back then even marketing wasn’t what it is today, it was more like trying to get in, get experience and go up the ranks. I think there has been a subtle shift in that thinking. Now when you are hiring entry-level roles the child is not as patient to work through the system and understand how to kind of build their brand within a company. They come in with strong brands, they come in with social media major already, they come with serious dissertations that did not exist 20 years ago, I think we were all willing and happy to get the big experience and then grow our way into the organization. A lot of the younger, especially the millennials, they are not staying with a company more than a couple years, and once they feel they haven’t gotten what they needed they move on very quickly.
Lauren: It was very normal 20 years or even 30 years ago to stay in one company for your whole career, but now we are looking at such skills as adaptability, agility, learning, as the key to be successful. Would you agree with that, or how do you think this plays in the skills needed today?
Blandine: Well, I think it is really important. This is an interesting question, I think companies that pride themselves in being open to diverse talent, meaning crossing industries, I myself have crossed-industries a couple of times in my career, three times in my career, as I have found it crucial. I’ve also noticed there are certain types of companies that benefit from that. There are those who are the risk-taking, the hunting companies, which have the staff that has been working for 15-20 years and also put a lot of value in the new talent who is going to rejuvenate and really bring real change the organizations. Also, I have been to companies where is not accepted as well: if your manager wants to bring fresh talent and explore other industries, but then when they bring back talent into the fold they get stuck in this melodramatic space of where we have been and what we are used to, and it is hard to battle trough that. So I think that the companies who have succeeded the most are the ones who went on a really deep craze and invite all thought versus group thought and really look at diverse talent as big opportunity versus a hindrance or a fear factor that the organization should be worried about.
Lauren: And, what do you think companies must do to attract the best talent?
Blandine: I think the have to be opened to developing talent. I think that one of the things that I hear from millennials, because those are the ones I am hiring right now, and in general they want to be seen, they want to be heard and they want to learn. I think in order to attract talent, you have to promise them an opportunity to really build them into the leaders they want to be in the long term. I think is not longer ok to promote someone through the ranks and congratulate them on a job well done, without thinking of their leadership skills holistically and how they are going to become the bigger leaders of the business in the future. I think that is what they are happy about and what we train them as having that exposure and be able to feel as they are learning everything.
Lauren: I am sure you would agree as well, being transparent, being authentic and genuine it is very interesting for them. I’d heard some years ago, that they said that the work force that is entering today, they want to know what religion the CEO is even if they do not identify with that religion, it is more the transparency and the diversity that they are interested in.
Blandine: Yeah, absolutely, it is important and so true. I believe that this generation, and some of the gen-X and the millennial generation, they are more open in themselves, this is the most social media warrioristic culture that we have had as a society. People want to like you, know about you, to feel as though they can follow you. I think that is what the most successful CEOs have teams that say, “he is amazing, he knows my name, he is really connected to me, I understand what he is about personally, not just professionally”. I think that also helps people feel that they are indoctrinated into a company culture and that they can grow in it.
Lauren: As well, I know I was also traditional in the past to limit your workforce from networking or being visible, and I think that has also changed a lot, that people go to networking events, going o more conferences and seeing the benefit in no being afraid that they are going to lose their people, or share confidential information and more the sharing of knowledge.
Blandine: Also it tells you the kind of company succeeding in the space, the companies that want to expose their talent to conferences, to learning opportunities they are the ones who retain talent longer. There are a lot of companies which feel as though they do not want to their executive managers going to the marketing conferences, because she might get pocked or she may talk about competitive information. You should trust your people, cause if you are investing in them in this way you will get that return, I mean it is always proven that when you give someone an opportunity to shine, and expose them to new thing, to new people, and enables them to build their brand, they appreciate you for that opportunity more so than if you keep the market away. But also, I think that when you are open to these opportunities, people believe that they have to deliver, and show what they have learned and take that extra step. I’ve done all of these things, I have spent the last two years building my brand, building my network, learning more about the business, taking the leadership couching, I also want to be rewarded at the end of the day, and you can’t be slow in rewarding with this new generation.
Lauren: And what companies, specific companies, that stand out to you, that think that are doing it right?
Blandine: I mean the newer ones are always in a different space, Facebook, Google, they have changed how networking events happen now, I mean you see their executives all over the place. Same with Nike, and other brands that you see that but their brands in front with their people. That is important, and, I think it is a key distinction to showcase your brand with your people because maybe you are not couching in the conference, but people see that “ oh wow, they let their senior director come and stand in front of an audience of 1500 people and talk about, you know, some consumer and analytic profile”, that is inspiring and the companies that aren’t doing that need to take note. I think it is really important that companies understand that that a part of keeping great talent is exposing them and putting them out in front and having them be a badge of what your business is about.
Lauren: As well, how do you think that companies should be differentiating their consumer marketing from their employer branding? Or should they even be differentiating that?
Blandine: I personally think they are all the same to be honest. You have to leave and breath everything you put out there, and it is all part of the same single brand. I think that is also a challenge when you have multiple brands in the same company. But I think that when you have an ESPN, it is all about that ESPN, the consumer brand and the corporate brands need to march, need to align. That is why people have an affinity to this brand, cause what they see from a consumer perspective, and when they see who represents the brand it all marches, it pays back to both. I think when you have that opportunity you should take it. A company like HASBRO, that has Nerf and all these other brands, you may have to think about having a corporate brand, as well as a consumer brand, but the link has to be clear as well, you have to make sure that the promise is bleeding through all the sub-brands as well as the mother-brands.
Lauren: And just in terms of attracting this talent, obviously the interview process is key part in the candidate experience. What do you think it makes a great candidate experience?
Blandine: The hardest interviews I have seen, from a candidate perspective is when you walk in and you are not able to express yourself as naturally as you possibly can. When interviewers try to push their company culture, and how they are going to change the company… I think candidates want to be asked about them, what are their interests, etc. This generation wants to know who if the CEO is an animal lover, and that is a key distinction to them. It is the same when they sit in front of you and they want to talk about their skills and what they have done, but also want to talk about the type of person that they are, you as a hiring manager should also want to know what they are about beyond just the superficial what is in the resume, ask them what do they want to bring into the culture: openness, difference, diversity, aliveness… You may need to bring someone who is going to shake up things, or a more pragmatic personality, who is going to help put some balance to a chaotic situation, you need to uncover that. The best candidate appears when you go into that level of conversation with a candidate, because you are going to get more from them in that space.
Lauren: Yeah, I think also something that a lot of people don’t realize is how much influence it has on who you are meeting and how you are meeting them, which people in the organization are involved in the interview process, how the interview is conducted… I think now they are realizing that it is better for them to meet more people, both for the company and the candidate and I completely agree, if it would be two interviews, one with the hiring manager and then with the hiring manager’s boss, it is very different than meeting four, five even six people in the organization and getting to know them, and also candidates like that.
Blandine: Yeah, absolutely, meeting your peers, one- or two-year peers is important, even meeting your direct report, so you walk in with an idea of what kind of relationship you may have and how you can warm that. Those are important because imagine, lots of times you walk into an organization and 9 times out of 10 you are stepping into a role, that someone in the team did not get, so, why are you not open to make sure that that new candidate is seeing how the organization is going to embrace them from all levels of the organization. I think that is extremely important.
Lauren: Also I would say the seed is the same, thinking about the speed f the interview, the timeline of the interview, I think it is not as important, of course I think it should be a normal timeline, I would say 4 weeks would be something normal, but I think even more importantly is setting those expectations so, saying from the beginning if it is going to be four weeks or eight weeks, and to stick to that so that the candidate can manage their way through the process. Bu in some cases, it is about speed, so you know if that company took longer to make an offer you can lose candidates that way, and more importantly is setting out a timeline, so that the candidate knows the process and where they stand.
Blandine: And also, giving regular updates, that has always been something that when I have ever been in a job situation where I get the regular updates, or the calls, they were calling like “hey, we just wanted to let you know that we are still there, and we are just trying to work out…” that just makes you feel like they care about me, that they are not just worried about trying to hire me, they care about how I feel and what is going on in my life. That shows you the caliber and the character of a company, that listens and talks that way
Lauren: Well, Blandine, I appreciate you joining me today in the “Career Success Podcast”!
Blandine: Oh, this is awesome, I am excited and honored that you chose me to be here today. So I wanted to thank you very much Lauren!