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By Grace Chiu & Tom Flanagan, Talent Marketing, SAP

Our next interview in the HR Thought Leadership series features Susan Bor, Senior Vice President of Talent at SAP. Susan discusses the best ways to connect with the millennial generation and develop a long-term candidate pipeline. Susan also shares some strategies on what companies can do to enhance their employer branding.

Q: What do you feel is the best way to attract and connect with prospective graduate students?
The first thing is that early is good. So building visibility of your business, not just as an awesome business but as a really great place to have a career, the earlier you do that with students the more likely they are to be predisposed to thinking about you as a potential employer at the end of their studies. For instance, your organization should have a target partnership with faculty at schools because if faculties actually recognize your company as a good employer, they can potentially wield quite a lot of influence over their students in their job searches.

Nowadays it is becoming more important about what’s meaningful and relevant for students. 83% of students do not go to campus career fairs these days. You have got to find a way to be able to connect both physically and virtually with that 83%.

What we’re finding is that rather than just going in and pushing jobs at students, that if we can get business or university alliances people talk about the products and services that relate to our business or to their courses through the completion of their degrees, this builds a much higher level of interest in our organization and much higher degree of trust in us as a potential employer.

The last thing that we find which helps get early attention is inviting students to company events and getting them to act as advocates and sponsors of the great experiences they have at these events. Given the popularity of social media, two or three of these students having a wonderful experience at your events can potentially communicate and promote your brand to all of their friends. Social media is becoming an increasingly important area for recruiting.

Q: What would you say is the most effect way of getting graduates into the recruiting pipeline?
It varies a lot and the trick for us is not so much about volume but about targeting. We don’t want to attract every student there is in the world, what we want to do is to be able to attract the students in the programs that are the “A players.” So again, early is good, but you also need to have a good process for them: you need to have a good website, be able to communicate what the deal is for them, and the deal has to be appealing.

Being able to make a real impact or contribution in their work is something that is of enormous interest and part of the buy decision particularly for the Millennials - the individuals who are coming through schools and education now. We have got to have a good, compelling deal at the high level about what kind of firm they would be joining and must have some very good opportunities in terms of how they will learn and grow. You’ve got to have great pre-boarding and on-boarding programs that allow them to connect, talk and start building their communities and networks before they even start. You also should put in place programs around placing people into different parts of the business and different geographies if they are interested in pursuing such opportunities.

So what you promise you do really genuinely deliver, and again that is very important for this particular population. They are not necessarily looking for careers for life, so we want to look for where the opportunities are for them to continually grow and to actually have a richer and fuller life in all dimensions. The more an employer can match that the more likely we are able to retain the talent and get a win-win from them. 

Q: What would you say are some of the best strategies to increase the awareness of an employer brand?
First thing in the recipe is that you actually have to be successful. You have to have an amazing strategy, whether it is helping the world or improving people’s lives, and this is what you breathe rather than just the words you use around it. You need a really good foundation to appeal to executives, to professionals, and to graduates alike. Additionally, there are unique requirements that particular segments of the target populations value, and it is important to ensure your ‘deal’ has those components. For example, for developers, you start looking at some of the things that appeal to developers the most, such as how creative and innovative the work environment is, if innovation will be valued, if they can work flexibly, and so on.

Secondly, empowerment is key, especially around your organization’s value proposition. You should be able to offer your employees ample opportunities to have influence on what they work on, how they work, and how they define quality in their work. The third key point is the concept that you can grow yourself within the organization and that you have a variety of career paths - expert, manager and leadership - and that they can build themselves around the path they are passionate about.

I genuinely think giving employees the power for self-renewal and the ability to develop their own talent in ways they want to follow is one of the single most competitive elements we can offer in the brand. That transcends across all segments and geographies, and it is this winning proposition in an employer brand that is extremely difficult to beat.

Susan stresses the importance of connecting with prospective graduates early through a myriad of unique ways, including university alliances and inviting students to corporate events to get on their radar as a potential employer. She attests that the best ways to attract recent graduates is to offer them work that has meaningful impact upon the world around them and relates to their interests and passions. Finally, Susan emphasizes the importance of actually living one’s corporate strategy and providing employees with ongoing support and autonomy in their career development to improve a company’s employer brand.

What is the most attractive aspect of an employer’s brand that appeals to you? What other strategies have you used to attract the best talent to join your organization?