Chris Brady and Lena Lotsey from Experian talk about how important telling a strong narrative online is to the candidate experience. In this episode they reveal their strategy on how they created a strong employer brand using unified content globally, while retaining a local flavor in each of their regions. It was a step by step process that now includes 35 people around the world involved in content creation for the channels that touch upon the candidate experience and a collaborative calendar to keep track of it all.
Welcome to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast. A show about innovations, technology and leaders in the recruitment industry brought to you by the leading recruitment automation platform.
Max: Welcome back ladies and gentlemen, to the recruitment hackers podcast. I'm your host Max Armbruster and today exceptionally I have not one, but two guests, both coming from a company called Experian, which is not a travel website. They'll tell us about Experian and tell us about what they do for this fast growing tech company. On the show we have Lena Lotsey, global employer brand director at Experian. Welcome to the show, Lena. Hello, thank you for having me. Thank you for being here. And, Chris Brady global TA director at the same company. Hi, Chris.
Max: Are you guys gonna interview each other? And so I can sit back, relax.
Lena: Oh, we've done that before. It wasn't pretty,
Chris: That's actually how she got the job. So, but I was interviewing her.
Lena: There we go.
Max: So, Lena you've been there for three years, so obviously Chris had, made a good hire there and the right decision and, it's always a big gamble, a big roll of the dice, especially with a sensitive area such as the employer brand.
I don't know who should answer this question, but what was the impetus for creating this role? Okay.
Lena: I'm happy to take a stab at that. As I understand it prior to my arrival, this role, as you say, didn't exist. So this was a newly created role. And, my background was actually in entertainment marketing, and I worked in LA on the agency side and worked with Netflix and, all of the movie studios for digital marketing campaigns. And one of the last projects that I worked on actually was with Google working on their life at Google campaign and working with their employer brand team. So I spent a year working on that and realized the similarities. Between entertainment marketing, and marketing your employer brand and how you find your fans, because they can speak on your behalf in a more trustworthy, genuine way, telling their stories and providing evidence of these pillars, whether it's, in my case, with entertainment, new show launching or film. But with the employer brand case with Google, using the employee stories to represent and provide proof points of the aspects of the EDP that Google was trying to get across. And their challenge was that people were intimidated by Google.
So that was one of the many challenges that we had to overcome in working with their employer brand team. So in doing that, I realized how much I really loved it. So when Chris contacted me, I probably did think it was Expedia initially, and eventually I got back to him, And we chatted and he just sold me on what an incredible company Experian was.
And it really has, I mean, I was sold as soon as I hung up the phone with him after that first conversation. So as director of recruiting and talent acquisition at Experian, I think Chris has this critical role of showcasing our company. And, representing it in a way that I think dispels preconceived ideas about what Experian is, if we're just a credit bureau and really, amplifying the fact that we are the leading global information services provider, that we have over 17,000 employees around the world, that we have our hands in many different verticals, auto and health, and, you know, convene these, the scale of the company.
Was it a surprise to me all the awards that we've won as an employer? Around DNI, around innovation from Fortune and Forbes? I mean, there was just all this great information, coming at me. So I like to say we have an embarrassment of riches because it's so true. I think Experian is the best kept secret.
And within as an employer and within our company, I think there are so many stories to tell and that's my job. So in this newly created role, basically I had to say, where do I start looking at all the regions? everyone who touches external comms in some way or social media in some way, where do we start to tell this story?
And I want people to visit our site. Our career site or our social channels and come away with the same impression I came away with after my first conversation with Chris.
Max: Yeah. So you want to bottle up what you experience and make it available for the masses?
Lena: Well said much more succinct now.
I totally get that. and I think that we can talk a little bit about the communication to candidates. And how do you use employees as ambassadors? I think we're just scratching the surface of what can be done there. But, Chris since you managed to sell Lena on this vision, maybe, tell us a little bit about what you do and, well if you want to expand a little bit on what Experian does.
Chris: Yeah. So, and I appreciate the opportunity to be on your podcast, and you can see why I recruited Lena, just, in the way that she describes all of the opportunities we have, you know, all of that information that she just stated is awesome. And we have so much of it, but we didn't have a central way that we could kind of train and have a consistent message across our recruiting function. So within talent acquisition, you have a lot of different people that are in siloed, different environments. And so I can't, if somebody is recruiting for auto, it might be different than decision analytics or credit services or consumer services.
And so, that was one of the things that we worked on last year is a pitch book. So an actual document that the recruiters could reference and say, okay, if I talked to somebody last week, it's the same experience. and when I started back in 2012 as a consultant, I was working as, just kind of helping with some talent mapping.
And trying to figure out which locations we should hire these specific technologists, as well as help with some projects. And I came from an executive search background. So, I was on my own for 14 years. So it was so interesting that I was always helping people fix their staffing problems, but I would kind of approach things from the outside.
And so coming from the inside, I'm like, wow, there's so much information, but I was going through all this data that we had of all these great points. And I'm like, does nobody know about them? And when they asked me to help with that social media, that was the first thing I started looking at is like, okay, we need somebody to actually know that's what they're doing.
And that's why I kind of reached out to Lena, when we kind of built the role and then figured out, Hey, if we want to bring somebody in, that's going to change things we should probably look outside our industry because we could hire people from a competitor, but we're going to get the same thing, the same ideas, same thoughts.
Max: Yeah. I've got to say, in my time, in this talente solution space, 10 plus years, some of the best people I've seen were kind of people who are just dropped into talent acquisition coming from another function entirely or another industry, even from finance or from sales, of course, sales and marketing, very effective transitions and people who look at the process and say, now, why are we using this? Why are we using that? Why are we still using this form? Can we get rid of this step? And there's, you know, it breaks a few egos, to get that stuff that work done, but it's usually quite helpful. one thing that I've noticed, talking about breaking things...
I've noticed that a lot of international markets are not making the same use of the ATS. Well, as the colleagues in North America, because they find that it's a bit cumbersome for candidates. And I'm wondering whether you've adapted your candidate journey to international markets to reflect some of that experience and these different expectations for the candidate.
Chris: Yeah. I think, from an executive leadership standpoint, most organizations want one system because of our reporting and they can look at all the data across the whole world. But on the other hand, you really need specific separate approaches, from a technology standpoint, some things that will work better in Brazil may not work in the U S or in Costa Rica, and that's not going to work in APAC. And so for us, I think, we try to have a consistent approach across the team, but play to the strengths. I know in the UK and other areas you have to deal with compliance issues and where they're different in the U.S.
It's definitely not a one size fits all, but the training, the collaboration, like I was part of our CRM implementation and the first time I tried to do it, it was like, hey, we have this Salesforce license that we could use. Do you think you could custom build something? I spent probably four months of my life, it was at least twice a week for four hours each time trying to work with a developer. To build something custom. And this was a long time ago.
And, I found out pretty quickly that this is not going to work because of all the nomenclatures of a sales system, taking that for recruiting. So then when we went and purchased a CRM, I think the biggest thing that we found was that, you know, the training, how do you do that?
And how do you get people excited about it?And then have a consistent approach, because, what I tag in the U.S as, San Jose, it’s San Jose, California, but San Jose in Costa Rica is a different place. So we need to figure these things out ahead of time.
Max: Yeah. And the compliance layer is for sure, also another layer of complexity and people consume media differently. Right? In each place. So going back to the employee story and communicating, and experience brands the content needs to be published across multiple channels, I assume. And the channels that work in one place, work less than another. Lena, how do you manage this like a little media empire?
Lena: I like that from now on, we’re using that. We have global social channels, so we have our Experian life, social channels on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and then we have our Experian LinkedIn account. And one of the first things I did is virtually sat down with each of the regions and identified: who was doing this off the side of their desk at this point. And we started to move people in which, mostly recruiters were doing this off the side of their desk, like, you know, lane, the track as they ran. And so being able to identify who my resources were in each region and who could actually dedicate some time to taking a step back and putting together a content strategy.
So what type of content works in your area? What will especially resonate when it comes to, employer value proposition and what are the subtle nuances and sometimes not so subtle of what may appeal to someone in Bulgaria that won't necessarily in Allen, Texas.
Making sure that we were creating content that had real employee faces in it real stories and hit on things that were going to resonate locally and regionally was a big part of our content strategy. And then what we did is created a calendar that we all were able to collaborate on so that we have this through line of global content, but then we also have regular regional content that's coming out.
And to underscore how important it was that we start to globalize our content, we created a campaign that was easily localized, which we called what's your next. And that resonated both internally with employees, what their next personal goal and professional goal, was. And then also externally what's your next, in your career? So externally with candidates. And this really had legs.
It resonated in each region. So we were able to start to embed this visual identity of our employer brand across the social channels and unify the content globally while still having that regional flavor in the content. And at this point now we have about 35 people that touch our employer brands and our social media channels.
Just the social media channels that are part of the candidate experience around the world. So now we have plenty of our heads together to be able to drive the strategy in each region. But yeah, initially it was overwhelming because like I said, what works in one place isn't going to work in another.
So it really came down to not trying to take on that as one person and think, you know best, but really putting your ego aside. Coming to each region, rather identifying who your resources are and then saying, how can I help you amplify your local message globally?
Max: Well, I can't tell you how many companies I've come across who have kind of like cut the legs and arms of their foreign operations because they said, no, we've gotta centralize all branding decisions. I guess that's how you give them freedom, right.
You create a theme and then you let them build around that. And then of course they have to follow, like we said, local regulations.
Chris: I think the other thing too Max is that like, what Lena's done is the fact that she's focused on talent acquisition is a huge game changer for us because a lot of companies, organizations have their branding team, but it's more focused on corporate branding and it's not specific to the talent that you're bringing in.
And so that has allowed us to show up at conferences in areas where we really want people to leave and know, hey, this is what Experian is and really understand what our messages. I mean, we had a great experience last year at the Grace Hopper experience, which is the Grace Hopper celebration is about 21,000 women technologists all in one place.
And, you know, with Lena to be able to come there, and be live tweeting and we're doing all kinds of contests and what a difference that is versus, you know, recruiters trying to do things that they think, “Oh yeah, Hey, I have a, Facebook, you know, profile and I have you know, 10 friends. So I must be really good at this.” And you have no idea how many people were applying when I posted that role that were recruiters that were like, “Hey, I think I know how to do branding.” Definitely a big change for us and, congrats to Lena for taking us into the next level of innovation.
Max: Bringing somebody from entertainment is probably a very inspired choice. I guess you needed to put a layer of polish on some of the employee generated content, maybe?
Lena: Yeah, a lot of the direction when I first started was just to make us cool. Quote, unquote, so very specific. So taking a look, talking with each of the recruiters again, within each region and saying, what is the hardest sell about Experian?
You know, again, going back to what are your pain points? How can I be a resource? But really that's how we approached it. So when you sell Experian, what are the things people are most surprised to know about that? That we're innovative, that we consider ourselves a tech company, you know, these types of perceptions because we've been around for over a hundred years that we want to either dispel certain perceptions or reinforce. That helped me map out my strategy. So, okay. These are our priorities. That if we want to be seen as an innovative company, then we need to hear from our innovators, right?
So let's reach out to our technologists. And then I would work with the recruiters who are your top technologists, who are your great hires in the tech space that we currently employ. Let's have them tell their stories and let's do that on stack overflow and let's look at different ways to attract tech talent. So that's just one example, but the recruiters really are the gatekeepers. They have been a wealth of information of giving you the truth. This is the honest truth of how people feel, the pluses and the minuses. We need more of this and less of that. And that's my job is to try to do that through an authentic storytelling way.
I'm looking at the experience, which it looks like it's your set of a hundred plus shows.
Max: I had no idea the company was that old, I don't know if this is your Experian or another company that I'm looking at.
Lena: That's the old logo top. There you go. That's our new one.
Max: So then the newest logo. When, when did that come out? The rebrand and, you know, were you there?
Chris: Yeah, it's been, it's been around, 7 years. You know, the other thing too, while you're looking at that is having a creative, I don't know if you want to call it almost like a recruiter toolkit. Hey, I'm going to post something on LinkedIn. Do we have any display, you know, any kind of creative assets that we can use? is such a difference versus just, here's the link and here's your crappy job description and hopefully people are interested. Because we want to take advantage of the leaders in the organization,that have large networks in specific technology pockets and use those. So I want to tag other people in my posts, but I want to make sure that they’re focused on a specific network of people. And it's not just like somebody that doesn't fit the exact skills because otherwise you're just creating more volume and more applicants for your recruiting team to go through.
Max: More work for everybody. And so that little toolkit, you talked about a pitch book and, I guess you're also talking about creative contents, animated gifs and that kind of stuff, videos. Yeah.
Lena: And also taking a look at opportunities to microbrand. So using your email signature, one of the first things we did is curate it, hi-rez awards logos for our employee resource groups and encouraged the recruiters to link out to our social channels, have a link to our career site that we're hiring. But also these awards tell a story at a glance, so taking advantage of those visuals and all those different touch points throughout the day when you're exchanging emails that you're able to amplify that story.
Max: I'm sure they work. I mean, that's how I buy my wine. I see this one award on the bottle. I'm like, okay, it must be okay then.
Okay, well, love to hear your thoughts on how the world has changed in 2020, and looking at it not from a traumatic standpoint and we're all shaking today as the election results are going to come in soon. But thinking more about it from an opportunity standpoint, I'm sure your talent pool is changing and the way you're looking at where to hire is changing, tell us a little bit about that and how this new work from home world has affected your TA strategy.
Chris: I think from a recruiting standpoint, it's both an opportunity, but then a challenge, I think in both things, because a lot of businesses were under the assumption and across probably the world that we need these people to have butts in seats, like they literally need to be in an office. How are they going to be successful without that? That's one mentality, but then you have the other mentality of, as long as they have internet and understand how to collaborate that piece of it, is always going to be successful. One of the things that I find super interesting right now over the last six months, the written communication and listening skills are so important.
Like when you're looking to hire a recruiter or just because they're doing those recruiting strategy meetings and it's not in person. And sometimes you can't, you know, when I was on the outside as a recruiting search professional, I would try to learn how can I learn this culture and tell other people about it?
Because if I don't know about it, what am I going to say, hey, it's a great company. They're going to pay you a lot of money. And, you can start next week, you know, Yeah. Right. and so I had to get good at the pitch of each company, but when you're inside and you see all the things and you're like, okay, I feel like the talent of managing people that are virtual is going to continue to grow.
And you will see that over the next couple of years. most organizations now, the Amazons, the Googles, are all saying, you don't ever have to come back into an office if you don't want to. We've had a good opportunity virtually for a long time. Like I started, like I said, in 2012, I think I went two years before I actually put my foot in an office.
I don't know if they're afraid of me. Maybe I came across as a little scary. But I think that in this time I've been promoted three times and I've been virtual the whole time. I do travel.
Max: That's working for you.
Chris: Yeah. It's working for me. But Lena, you know, I mean, they always say that you recruit people that are like yourself, but that was one of the things that I knew for the role that she was going to go into and build out.
It's a global role. You can't be expected to be in the office these hours and then work all through the night. And you've got all these different stakeholders that are across the world. So I think that piece of it, I knew with her coming from the entertainment and that social media agency background, she was used to working, but it was communication style, I think was a piece of it. And then also. Tactical versus strategic. Can you do both and be good at both? So, and Lena, you can talk about that.
Lena: Well, I was going to talk about, and answer your question Max, around how COVID-19 has, kind of playing into our approach and our strategy and our tactics. And the very first thing we did is global comms gave us a directive to lead with empathy. So everyone who touched communications, whether with potential candidates and we gave recruiters guidance on how to talk to candidates during this time, with each other, with leadership, and just with consumers, with clients. It was “lead with empathy” was the overarching directive.
And what this allowed us to do is crystallize how we were going to present ourselves that we are a strong company. Like I said, over a hundred years old, that we have weathered storms before that we are stable, and that after a time period, we're still hiring, we're currently hiring right now. So it was important for us to lead with empathy in our conversations.
Like our recruiters were saying, we understand this may be not top of mind for you right now to be approached about an opportunity for your career, but I just want you to know I'm impressed with your background. And I would love to connect if you feel comfortable with that or, you know, virtually obviously. But really having a shift in our tone that we were a leader in this space that we were confident that we were stable. and that Experian is a company that you can rely upon. Also taking a look at how we cared for our people during this time, we immediately went into action. We have an aspire ERG employee resource group that built this beautiful guidebook that week to week had themes and resources, both internal and external resources to make sure that our people were taken care of.
We transitioned our entire customer service team, in three weeks, something that would have taken 8 to 10 weeks to do, prior to this, but our IT department just worked around the clock to make sure that our employees could seamlessly start working from home. And that they had what they needed in place.
So taking care of each other, emotionally, making sure that we were set up to continue to be successful. We had enhanced COVID sick, time benefit beyond what was required. And our return to office plans, there has been transparency, suite communication, which has been very reassuring to see our global CEO, Brian Cassin and our North America, CEO, Craig Boundy and Justin Hastings our CHRO in North America, from their homes, connect with us and say that we're in this together and really make us feel that we were being supported and that we were safe. The fact that our CHRO was texting me, just saying, I want to check in on you, you know, how many employees was he reaching out to so that you didn't feel alone , during this time?
So I would say it has affected how we communicate both internally and externally. We also launched some social media campaigns, like the stay safe campaign and all of the resources, the free resources and dashboards and heat maps that we have for consumers, that are all free of charge, also for the healthcare industry, for the government.
So using this as an opportunity to show all the different ways that Experian can help our communities and help the world at large deal with this pandemic has been incredibly gratifying to be a part of. And also being able to share those stories, across social and with each other and make sure that we're all aware of these stories so that we can share them.
Like Chris mentioned earlier, a lot of people don't know everything that Experian does. Experian people don't even know everything that we do. So that's also part of our goal. It's so much easier to recruit if, like Chris said, how am I going to sell the culture if I don't understand the culture?
So it's so much easier to recruit if you're aware of all of these proof points of what a great company Experian is for its community, for its people. And, all the more reason in addition to like Chris said, we pay, well, can you start next week? So in addition to that, being able to have work with purpose, I feel that's what I do and what the recruiters do go hand in hand, because I can constantly share actions that we're taking that show that we have worked with purpose.
And then hopefully when the recruiters come in and reach out to an amazing candidate, they can say, okay, I've seen what you've been doing, I've been following your social channels and, we'd like to get to a place where, it makes that conversation, that much easier, like when you get a call from a Netflix and you're like, I'm in, when can I interview, right? That's my goal for Experian.
Max: Of course. So I think that was probably a very, very timely move. I've certainly heard, other employers struggle in 2020. Because people were afraid of going back to work when we went back to the office. So leading with empathy, I'm sure has helped to build your talent pool, and create a bonding experience for your entire team. A way to join in on the experience during a time of a crisis, and to face that time together. Which will certainly help you in retention next year, which will probably be a new area of focus.
Lena: Yeah. We're already seeing that. You're absolutely right about that.
Chris: We actually had a talent summit that we brought everyone together and this was pre COVID. So this was October of last year. And, the timing couldn't have been better on map because we brought everyone together. We kinda got everybody unified. This is where we're going. This is the direction we're going. And it's one thing to say, hey, we're a people first company, but it's another thing to actually follow through with that.
I think we kind of set that groundwork and then just followed through and we already kind of knew what we needed to do, so interesting times for sure.
Max: Good timing. And I really liked your advice, Chris, on finding managers who are strong at the written word, because working asynchronously across multiple time zones as your team is doing, the rest of the world is so important.
So, yeah I think the written word is making a strong comeback.
Chris: I can do probably our podcast on resume writing and
Lena: What not to do.
Chris: Then two pages, I mean, and you know, but that kind of goes to that being concise. And you're really just trying to get your foot in the door.
And you need to do the same thing with recruitment messaging. You know I constantly get people reaching out and asking things and whether they know I'm a developer or maybe they have a TA job, but less is more. It's amazing to me, but if you think about that, 144 characters, If it's more than that people aren’t going to respond.
And the average recruiter looking at our resumes, probably taking less than 20 seconds, it's probably less than 10. And that's what I would definitely tell people as they continue to grow their TA function is: try to teach or even put on your career site that, this is what we're looking for, and this is kind of the best practices, and I would highly recommend people with resumes less than two pages please.
Max: And that applies for us toor right Lena? Short content, bite-sized content for a short attention span.
Lena: Yeah, I was going to say you learn that lesson pretty quickly with content marketing, what works, and less is always more. Being as impactful as you can, as quickly as you can works across the board.
And I think one of the things Experian does really well when it comes to recruiting is taking a look at our job descriptions and doing research around what words may be perceived differently by women than they may by men. Looking at the psychological, looking at things like that. Also sharing the learnings about content marketing or SEO with our recruiters, for instance, on your LinkedIn profile. That very first sentence about you is the most important thing. That's what comes up in your, in Google search when a candidate searches your name or, you know, even if a recruiter were to search Google, a candidate’s name, the first thing that's going to come off is that, for your LinkedIn profiles, that first sentence, you know, tidbits like that. Going back to what Chris was mentioning about arming our recruiters with the toolkit, things they can put in their signature. As I mentioned, creative, that's impactful quickly, like we're talking about, and also some of these tips and tricks around, building their personal brand and making sure they're optimizing that on platforms like LinkedIn.
Max: Wonderful. Well I think that's a lot of great tips for the audience and thank you very much. Lena and Chris for sharing. I'll throw in my own personal tip, if you're writing your LinkedIn profile, do not talk about yourself on the third person, it’s awkward.
Lena: No only Trump seems to be able to get away with that.
Max: Oh, the politics are back in yes!
Lena: I brought it back.
Max: Okay. Well, enjoy election nights. Lena and Chris, thanks for spending the last minutes pre-election with me and with our audience, by the time they listened to this show, of course, we may have a new president in the U.S or an old one, either way a good show for everybody to watch, and I hope, they enjoyed the time we spent together as well. hope to reconnect soon.
Chris and Lena: Thanks for having us max. Thank you, max.
Max: That was Lena Lotsey and Chris Brady from Experian a few years ago, Chris brought in, decided to hire someone to manage the global employer brand for Experian and decided to make the unconventional choice to bring in talent from outside the industry. He decided to bring in someone from the entertainment world, who could create content and distribute content and build stories that could inspire talent acquisition teams globally. That was Lena. And I think inspiration for a lot of companies on how to build employer brand and look for talent, where you would normally look. Hope you enjoyed this three party interview and that you'll come back for more.
Please subscribe to the Recruitment Hackers Podcast, and please feel free to contact me if you'd like to be interviewed with your colleagues as well. Three's a party happy to welcome you and your friends on the show, just contact me at email@example.com.