WIFM is Key to Attracting Top Talent
But it isn’t always about ‘show me the money’ – It’s About the Opportunity

Emmanuel Torres is a mid-twenties Art Director at Canadian marketing communications agency, Clever Samurai. And, he absolutely loves it.

The amiable Torres spent, as he puts it, “two great years at Leo Burnett” but recently moved to Clever Samurai to learn more. “I loved the creative director’s work and his great vision for the company. I thought it would be a great way to blaze my own path and learn from an industry-known mentor.”

Since Torres joined the agency in 2015, he has been part of a creative team that has won an international Clio Award and he was one-half of the creative duo that won Canada’s National Advertising Challenge for their consumer packaged goods work related to breast cancer awareness. And for that, he earned an all expense paid trip to France for the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

In the highly competitive advertising agency world, attracting top talent like Torres has its challenges. But without that top talent, the final work product is often dubious.

Torres’ “industry-known mentor”, Joe Amaral, Vice President and Creative Director at Clever Samurai says that the key to developing a recruiting campaign to attract top talent is to “emphasize how high the bar is relative to other brands in your category. If you want to be a great company, you want ambitious, driven overachievers. A great brand really is a representation of its greatest assets: people. So if you don’t have great driven talent, then where is the value?”

In May 2015, Harvard Business Review published an article about the Employee Value Proposition. The premise was that employers need to start focusing on their employer brands in the same manner they focus on their consumer brands. Universum, an employer-branding consultancy surveyed more than 2000 senior executives about their employer branding activities. Their sample included CEOs and heads of HR and recruiting, employer branding, and marketing, in 18 countries.

Findings have shown that many leaders now place primary responsibility for the employer brand with the CEO or marketing, rather than with recruiters and HR. 60% of the CEOs surveyed said this responsibility lies with the CEO (40% of marketing leaders agreed) —a strong indication that employer branding is expected to gain greater strategic importance. 40% of respondents stated their future goals for employer branding were to secure long-term hiring needs, and 31% said it would become more important for building a global reputation.

Julie Mailhot is the Chief Operating Officer for Air Georgian, a private airline carrier who flies routes for Air Canada under the Air Canada Express banner and a client of Clever Samurai. The airline operations expert believes that employers should “Always consider using what you have in-house, to help you get a message out externally. You have ambassadors internally who can help you raise awareness through word of mouth. Employees can be a part of your recruitment plan and can publicize your efforts. Who better than your own team speaking positively on your behalf and aiding in your search for qualified candidates.”

Mailhot adds, “People at Air Georgian are committed to seeing our company succeed. Many have been here for a long time because they believe in what we are building. They want to experience our growth, from the smaller operation that we were, to the bigger Air Canada Express partner that we are. They understand that our growth means their growth – many of our employees have ramped up quickly to new roles in different departments or more senior roles in a matter of months.”

Stephanie Robinson, who is a First Officer at Air Georgian and one of a growing number of female pilots, is all about the opportunity. “When I think of Air Georgian, I think of their reputation for growth and, that’s what I look for in an employer – opportunities for career advancement. The Air Canada Express partnership provides the quickest time in the industry to advance from a First Officer to a Captain. They also have many direct-entry Captain seats for those that are qualified. You can even be placed on a mobility list, where Air Canada will source potential pilot hires from Air Georgian.”

Andre Daryanani, who is a Chief Pilot at Air Georgian, echoes Robinson’s comments. “The company’s dedication to safety and, commitment to its employees’ growth are just some of the many reasons it has been recognized as one of Canada’s top employers. Growth has always been the backbone of Air Georgian. Watching fellow pilots move on to Air Canada solidifies the image that by working here, you become an asset to any major airline.”

Even those industries that one might think of as a little less sexy are in the competition for top talent. A visit to accounting giant Deloitte Canada’s website, highlights their top 10 reasons to join their firm. They write “Our people and culture are redefining what it means to be a professional ervices firm. It’s about creating a workplace where you can be inspired and be inspiring. A workplace where you can grow and feel a sense of belonging and camaraderie.”

The common theme for all these employers and their employees isn’t at all about the pay cheque. It’s about the opportunity to learn, grow and be part of something meaningful and inspirational to them. So how does a company be inspirational?

Joe Amaral believes that it’s in the essence of your brand and who you are at the core of your organizational DNA, citing a non-profit as one of the best. “I think PBS in Virginia is a great brand that attracts some of the brightest minds and talent. From a salary point of view they are not likely as competitive as the major networks. But their core brand values define a product that has prestige and meaning. People at PBS believe they can make a difference in the world and their culture promotes that.”

There are many studies that link happy employees to happy customers. So, it’s not surprising that many companies will be moving to align their employer and consumer brand strategies over the next few years. As Amaral puts it, “everything we do says something about our brand. That, perhaps more than anything, is represented in the people we hire.”

And speaking of hiring, Amaral just added a new copywriter to his award-winning team – personally recruited by none other than Emmanuel Torres.

Leigh-Ann Clarke is Director of Sales, North America for 360 Leads. She has been with 360 Leads since 2014, following her progressive management career at Yellow Pages Group where she led their sales efforts in digital products, print, telephone sales and neighbourhood directories.

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