Unilever manufactures a huge variety of brands including Axe, Ben and Jerry’s, Lipton, and TRESemmé, but they don’t have as identifiable a core product as Coca Cola, or as much of a company brand as Disney.Despite that, they beat both of them in a recent ranking by LinkedIn, coming behind a few giants like Apple and Google in fifth place in LinkedIn’s list of the most in demand employers in the world.
We spoke to Paul Maxin, Unilever’s Global Resourcing Director, on what the company does to attract top talent from around the world.
Our conversation has been edited for length and clarity:
How does Unilever attract top talent?
I think it’s our messaging. It’s encouraging to see how our sustainable living plan sits with our ambition to double the size of our business while reducing our environmental footprint. That’s become an increasingly inspiring message to motivate people to join the company.
What do you look for in candidates?
We look for people to not just have those values, but to be able to add value, to bring the sustainable living plan, which we report on an annual basis, to life.
So for instance, when we build factories we intend that they add zero to landfills. We recently opened one in South Africa that draws no water from the local water resource.
We need to make sure we’ve got the people doing that can deliver that objective.
So you’re looking for people who can help spread your message?
It’s not just about spreading the word, if I can flesh that out just a bit. The sustainable living plan is aligned with our overall business objectives.
Channels like LinkedIn, which has 175 million plus profiles, enable us deliver those employer brand messages, which are no different, or rather are aligned with the overall business messages.
Do platforms like LinkedIn make it easier to find talent or is it more competitive because everybody’s more accessible?
I would say it’s different. I would describe the landscape we’re in as “back to the future.” In attracting brilliant talent for our organisation, the challenges are the same.
I think where we are different and what has changed is a move from a company broadcasting information to having a conversation with potential candidates. For us, as a consumer-led organisation, not just having conversations with candidates, but recognising most candidates are consumers.
What should recent college grads do to stand out?
Whether that’s leaving school or college or university … it’s an education that enables people to not just have a bank of knowledge but the skill sets to question the status quo. We don’t live in a world where the status quo lasts for ever. For a business education, it’s the ability to challenge, to ask questions, to articulate those questions in the right way.
Then from an individual or personal perspective, you have to demonstrate that … you share the values of the organisation that you join. For us, it’s values of integrity, responsibility, respect, and to be pioneering.
How does your message play around the world?
It appeals everywhere, but it doesn’t appeal equally everywhere. Sustainability is a critical part of our business objectives, but we need other skill sets as well.
It is fair to say that in the same way we gather consumer insights for our consumer brands, which we do on a constant basis, we do that to check the efficacy of our employment brand as well. It’s true to say that everywhere sustainability is within the top 10 key attributes that future employees are looking for, particularly for a multinational organisation such as ourselves.
So that’s the same everywhere. In some markets it’s No. 1, in others it’s in the top five and a little lower, but it’s always a factor.
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