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This Unconventional Hiring Method will Hook Talent's Attention

4 min read.


Lois Payne Lois Payne



Talent Attraction

Celinda Appleby, current Global Director of Talent Attraction at Visa, is all too familiar with the clever tactics that drive you to click the “checkout” button. But can the same tricks that marketers use to drive sales be used to convert talent’s curiosity into applications?

The “kitten heel” hiring methodology

“I've been obsessed with getting kitten heel boots,” Appleby says. “And you know how Google and Amazon are once they know you want something - they’re sending you the alerts. So, I finally ordered three pairs the other day. It works because I'll get bored waiting for my kids in my car, and then, if I don't make the purchase, they’re sort of stalking me.”

While it may seem unorthodox, Appleby thinks that to drive talent’s attention, tapping into this consumer marketing mindset can be a game changer.

“Why can't we do this with the talent marketplace?” she asks. “Sure, I don't want newsletters for no reason, but if you know that I went to your career site and I'm sort of interested, send me some stuff that is aligned to that.

“That is the sort of vibe I've been doing. Instead of coming in with a new CRM and saying, ‘We're going to message everybody,’ I've been very intentional. I'm constantly pushing people to think better. ‘Let's not message 100 people, it looks like these 10 people haven't even talked to you in a year. Let's pull those folks out and focus on the people that are a little bit warmer.’

Visa’s biggest hiring challenge

Though Visa is an attractive, globally recognised company with over 26,500 employees, it isn’t without its hiring woes, particularly when it comes to gender representation.

“One of the things that keeps me up at night for Visa is that women aren't necessarily applying at the rate we'd like to see, and I do take that to heart a little bit because I think, ‘what are we saying that’s so attractive to men but not so at scale for women?’

While tuning in to what female talents want is an ongoing challenge, it’s one that Appleby is constantly challenging herself and her team to think about.

“We do want to change the gender dynamics and it’s a lot to do with the way we communicate and the stories that we tell.

“As we look at the career site, I'm always thinking, ‘Could we do something different? Could we add more pictures? Could we verbalise that in a different way? And since our EVP pillars are growth, impact and inclusivity can we overarch on the empathy? Can we overarch on the things that are innately comfortable for women in workspaces versus a lot of that aggressive ‘Come here and be a rock star’ messaging.”

The “big magical castle”

Your employer brand is how your company is perceived by your audience, so it can only ever be as good as the stories you share.

As a multinational $481.57bn payment giant, Visa hasn’t always placed the greatest emphasis on the people behind the scenes, but that’s about to change, says Appleby.

“You'll see a lot more storytelling from Visa. We've been hesitant in the past - I think of the organisation like a big magical castle because there are some great stories, but we're gated.

“But I think the culture has changed a lot, not just at Visa, but in the world, where we know that to compete with those great companies, we have to be better storytellers in the recruiting flow.”

How to build an intentional talent strategy

“There is a deficit in our industry where people aren't talking about strategy, they’re moving right into activation,” Appleby says.

Here are her top tips for building an intentional strategy that’s grounded in data.

1. Do a listening tour

“Schedule 10 one-on-ones with people in your organisation. I know that the talent exists, but they're not in my scope of the world. They're not applying to my job. They’re somewhere, but they're not organically showing up at my doorstep.

“So, talk to your people. What made that female engineer choose to work here? Sometimes that can take a week, sometimes it can take 30 days, but be intentional and hear your people.”

2. Revisit your talent pool

“Go to your ATS, go to your CRM, go to your LinkedIn, and see who already lives there.

“Why create a party invitation to invite all these new people in, when you haven't taken care of the people that are already in your email address book? Oftentimes, you’ll have such great talent that you’ve hooked in, but you have done nothing to keep them hooked.”

3. Leverage vendor partners

“I always rely on my vendor partners. I see them as an extension of my team. And I will pick up the phone and call Indeed, Glassdoor and LinkedIn and say, ‘This is my current problem. What do you have? What is your benchmark? What are other companies doing?’

“They can help you tell a story, and it brings weight as you're building your strategy to say, ‘I looked at our data. I talked to LinkedIn, and they have given me benchmark of what other people are doing. I did a very lean focus group with these 10 people, here's what they think is missing and then this is how I'm going to bring it to life.’”

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