The Furst Look: Conversations With Revolutionary Leaders

Welcome to the very “furst” edition of The Furst Look: Conversations with Revolutionary Leaders. My name is Brett Furst and I’m PandoLogic’s Business Growth Strategist. In this series, I sit down with some of the most revolutionary leaders in the industry to discuss what really matters to them and the industry.

In this session, I chatted with (virtually, of course!) Celinda Farias Appleby, Director of Global Talent Attraction at Visa. Celinda got candid about what needs to change in recruitment marketing and offers sound advice for those who are looking to break into the industry.

Brett Furst (BF): Tell me a little about your background and how you got into Talent Acquisition.

Celinda Appleby (CA): I got hired at a staffing agency to run a switchboard. And they loved me, but I was a terrible receptionist. But, I was really good at people matching. So, the branch manager took me under her wing and I fell in love with the job. I was really good at it primarily based on the fact that I just enjoyed making sure humans were matched, you know, to the right job.

So, around 2008, I really wanted to break into corporate. And I joined HP in 2010. I joined as a Sourcer and I did that really well. Around that same time, the pop of social media for recruiting happened. And I went to a conference and became obsessed, came back to HP and was like, we need to do this, we need to use Facebook, we need this, we need that. So much so that they created a new role for me. And I ended up staying with them for about five years.

I’ve been in employer branding and recruitment marketing ever since. Oracle after that Nike and now currently at Visa.

BF: You went from HP to Oracle, kind of similar. But then you hopped into Nike, what prompted that transition?

CA: While I was at Oracle, my speaking career took off. My leadership team at the time thought, “We could really put her on stage.” But I hadn’t really been much of a speaker before then. Because of that, I developed a narrative. I always tell people to come up with a couple of good talk tracks. So my opening intro was like, I love Jordans and I love Nike. I repeated that over and over. And you know, a little bit of juju with the universe manifestation. But also I think people heard it so much that when Nike opened up the job, they were like, you need this job like you need to work there. And one intro later, I started talking to Nike.

And so we relocated cross country in the middle of the school year with eight-year-olds, um, something I don’t recommend. And I joined Nike and I will say, everything that you see online about Nike it’s so true. It’s a great brand, I’m still a huge sneakerhead.

So my job at Nike was, I would pull together production teams and work with the video producers and run around campus and make videos. So if you go to the Life at Nike page you’ll see videos created during my tenure or things I did. I

It was a very creative job so I was more of a creative manager. And I love strategy but I wasn’t responsible for that. So when Visa came knocking at my door, and they promised strategy and a whiteboard, along with the ability to change how FinTech comes to life that was exciting to me. I loved changing things and fixing things. And so it was a no-brainer to leave Nike for Visa.

BF: What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of your current role?

CA: I find myself having to pivot quite a bit. So, for example, my jobs at HP and Oracle were very similar in nature. I was responsible for end-to-end recruitment marketing, talent, attraction, content, strategy, social media, etc. I had teams, I had budgets. And at Visa, I’m a team of one.

2020 aside, we hire 6,000 to 7,000 people annually for one person to run talent attraction. I like to say that everything top of the funnel before the candidate applies is my world. But that’s a big bucket for one person if you think of all the touchpoints, so that to me is hard. Sourcing becomes my world. So on any given day, I’m on sourcing calls, I am on HR tech calls so that’s the challenging part is being a master of none and a master of many.

BF: What do you think is really helpful when trying to keep them there and you know, keep them free. By going elsewhere?

CA: So I think that my biggest pet peeve with employer branding, and I’m sure I’ve been guilty of it is that oftentimes we are tasked with creating these beautiful stories using all these amazing words. And then humans get into your office, work there a couple of weeks, and they’re like, wait a minute, where are the people that you posted on Facebook? Where are these parties? You curate such a beautiful story, but then you get to work and it’s not the same.

And so, I have, you know, gleaning on the experiences that I had at Oracle and Nike where you put your best foot forward and you should always put your best foot forward, but be real about it. Like if you’re doing happy hours, once a year, but all of your pictures are of these meetups people are going to get upset, right? If you’re posting that your team is volunteering and volunteering is at your core, but you only have one day of service as the company, you’re going to upset people that came to your company for that.

And so I think you need to be very honest. Don’t oversell. There’s a way that you can be true as an employer brand or recruitment marketer to sell the right story for your company. Because ultimately, you want people to self-select out if it’s not right for them. So if I’m someone that’s philanthropic, and I want to volunteer, then maybe this company wouldn’t be right for me, because they’re not volunteering. They’re very good at providing financial donations, you know, but I really want to roll up my sleeves every week so maybe I need to join something else. And these are the decisions that we should allow our candidates to make by providing genuine authentic content, not the content that’s trending and beautiful.

BF: What do you feel, is something that really needs improvement within recruiting?

CA: I think we’ve gotten away from being human, and acknowledging that we are recruiting people. And oftentimes, you know, it starts from the job description, we have these unrealistic expectations.

Why are we not able to give people a chance? I know, there are roles where you can’t, but for the bulk of your recruiting, why are we not able to say these are nice to have and these are must-haves? And I know companies are doing that, but are we doing it for real in the interview? Are we really looking at all the intangibles, for example, do you really need a degree to run social media? And so those are things that I think is why recruiting is so messed up.

With the high unemployment rate, people are disheartened at the state of recruiting. Humans have an opportunity to nitpick, check and research and then the story the employer brand is telling online doesn’t match the story that recruiters telling you. And so you have to have the continual story. And I think at the end of the day if you are human-centered, it doesn’t matter what the pitch is, or what the script is, you will just be aligned to that. And I think if we could get back there, we would make some strides.

BF: What advice would you give someone looking to be a Sorcer or a Recruiter that wants to get into employer branding or recruitment marketing?

CA: I think as we look to diversify our workforce, in HR, and recruiting, I would recommend anybody that has that heart to help others, as a starting place. I almost see recruiting, if done correctly as social work.

There’s so much opportunity in recruiting all because you’re consistently in a client-facing role. You’re supporting corporate America, you’re supporting the business, you’re an intricate partner to their hiring strategy. But you also are the face for the candidates. You’re kind of juggling two sides.

Recruiting is for individuals that want to do more. There’s always opportunity in HR, it’s such a growth department. You can start as the sorcerer and literally grow, you know, because there is so much opportunity in recruiting that people don’t often talk about.

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