Written by: Adam Lloyd
Coca Cola. [Insert: memories, warm feelings, nostalgia]. This is how Coca Cola has established the most recognizable global corporate brand since 2008, as polled by 10,000 business professionals. They have mastered the art of taking us back in time to mentally relive memories of holding a coke in our hands with inner peace, while enjoying life. Genius. Feel good, buy Coke. Now that is valuable buying power, and the likes of Coca Cola and other big name brands are wisely using it to their advantage of drawing both consumers and new talent. Large iconic brands today employ some of the brightest and sought after marketing minds in the world that continue to build and contribute to their growing image. But these “celebrity-status” organizations had to start somewhere. Why did people join Coca Cola long before it became a global household name? How do you acquire the talent that builds the brand? It’s not the brand that is doing it alone, or even the determining factor, for that matter. It will always come down to people.
Having a career of partnering with organizations from F100’s to start-ups, there is one consistent decision-making driver amongst executives I can always expect… the individuals they will report to and work with. Hiring Managers have the biggest impact on prospective talent, hands-down. Not even the culture as a whole itself is as consistently important as the relationship with a direct hiring manager when an executive decides if they will entertain the idea of joining an organization. You would think one would be more drawn to a world renowned brand name or to a start-up’s new and exciting concept? It is not that executives aren’t… it’s just not necessarily the top priority.
Big Brands. Larger companies have more departments and moving parts. Like an assembly line, there are separate, unique phases that complete the final product. In large companies, these phases are its departments and individual businesses, each needing executives to lead with their own unique set of goals. Within a huge corporate culture you get subcultures and loyalties built in. Executives understand this and know that in larger organizations, they are aligned within a functional area, business line or geography. Although they will be working across many segments of the company, they are partnered with a more specifically aligned boss, set of objectives and measure of success. Even at the top, a healthy relationship and similar view of expectations with stakeholders is always at top of mind.
From the ground up. In start-up environments, brands are in their infancy and the idea of joining the company is to create and grow from concept to brand. When you have a 10-20 person start-up, one person can account for 10% of your employee population… that’s 10% of creative input and 10% of the brand building. Typically, I see executives not only measuring their interests by a start-up’s concept and team, but even further having a strong personal connection with the hiring manager. If that bond and ease of working together doesn’t exist, the executive candidate just will not join.
Corporate image and market perception are invaluable, I am a strong proponent of Marketing and HR aligning together closely, but big brands alone will not override the impact that individual hiring managers have in their ability to influence talent. Companies today are focused on corporate identity, social promotion and digital marketing; all highly important and trending hot topics in the business world. Imagine if more of that spend and attention was shifted directly to leveraging internal leaders that will be hiring as brand ambassadors. If I were part of an internal executive talent acquisition team, I would be lobbying for my hiring managers to be the face of the recruiting process. Maximizing their speaking opportunities, conference networking and platforms where desirable talent would be in attendance. This is where HR and Marketing come together to maximize brand and talent joint opportunities.
Many organizations are doing a nice job of using their products to lure executive talent, Nike uses its athletes. So why hold back on luring with one of the biggest assets we have, our internal leaders?