Talent Acquisition Talks

Hiring Through the Great Resignation with Dani Laven

Nov 17, 2021 - Valery Caputi Lopez

On today's episode of Talent Acquisition Talks, listen as Dani Laven, two-time Rally Awards winner and Talent Acquisition Operations and Employment Brand Manager at PetSmart discusses the differences between employer brand and recruitment marketing, as well as how both can be successfully used to combat the Great Resignation. Use her experiences and talent acquisition tips to help you successfully hire and retain quality candidates (particularly seasonal ones) in this highly competitive job market.

Watch the whole video here or below: 

Excerpt of Transcript

Dani Laven:
Again, I think that there's so much to be learned, uncovered and celebrated in the recruitment marketing space. I have spent, as I shared, the first two years of my job just figuring out what employment brand was. If you had asked me about a week before I took that job, I probably couldn't tell you. And so spent that time and being able to highlight, and then over the two years after that was really spent honing in on what our employment brand is, and what is the avenue for that. So a handful of years ago, we started employment or candidate facing social media channels with the channel handle and the #LifeAtPetSmart hashtag. And what that allowed us to do is to unify a very online, active base.

Dani Laven:

I think with a lot of employers, and we can chat further about it in a minute, but it is very important to have your employees advocate for you in a very natural and authentic way. And by having a channel and by having a designated hashtag, it is a really cool way to tie everything together. And what started out as a way to attract candidates, actually, a byproduct of that was increased associate engagement when they were able to see, oh, this store's doing that or, oh, this person got promoted. It was a really great way just to bring the culture and the brand to life. Those were some of the tactics that we did, and we're really proud of the growth over the past couple years.

Joe Matar:

I mean, and that last point that you made there about like that residual impact it had on the employees at PetSmart, talk about like one of the best ways to combat this great resignation. It's like, let's make sure that we are showing our employees that there is growth and development opportunities, purpose, and like, I'm sure all of that kind of was front and center during the social media campaign and your employees are seeing that and feeling it and like thinking to themselves, what a great place to work, I want to commit to this company long term.

Joe Matar:

So, that's amazing, Dani. One thing you mentioned before is, you started at PetSmart as a recruiter, you've transitioned in this recruitment marketing role. For those out there that maybe aren't in recruitment marketing, or have just gotten into recruitment marketing, or maybe have been there for a long time, can you talk a little bit more in detail what that transition was like and how maybe the role has even changed in the last four plus years that you've been in it?

Dani Laven:

Yeah, absolutely. So as I mentioned, employment brand and recruitment marketing were very small bullet points on a long list of other things that I was tasked with. And those bullet points quickly grew up the list and are now their own topics. I like to think of it as two ways, two strategies that have evolved out of one like overall umbrella of employment brand. But first is recruitment marketing. And when I use that term, I really think of the paid media and digital strategy used to market these jobs. So whether it's investing in programmatic, whether it's investing in display ads or Google SEM or anything like that, that is a paid marketing initiative that really kind of propels the employer into a more digital competitive space. The other aspect is truly the employment brand, which on the flip side is more of the organic who we are as a whole.

Dani Laven:

Recruitment marketing, money, jobs, employment brand is overall brand and attraction. I think a lot of us when we started in this space [inaudible 00:03:40] interchangeably and now more than ever, they're too [inaudible 00:03:43] cannot pay to like promote an employer brand because then it just doesn't feel as authentic your employment brand needs to be based on pretty detailed associate value proposition. It needs to be understand and resonated with the associate. So it comes across authentically means to be visually appealing and written in a similar voice or associates would use your company with use. And then the recruitment marketing piece is really where you can be a lot more proactive and targeted to get applications for the job. So I would say to anyone who is either new in this space or continuing to figure out what that next step is, my thought would be to really understand where the split and the divide is, understanding where your strengths are and then continue to dealt out from there.

Joe Matar:

So almost in summary, it's like let's... What's build, create, define, and document the brand. And it has to be aligned with the employees and what our culture is, the way we do things, and that's how we make sure that it's authentic. And then recruitment marketing is how do we create the programs to get that employer brand, that incredible employer brand out into the world so that others see it, feel it, are attracted to it and start that process of like bringing them into our funnel. I love that.

Dani Laven:

Yeah. It's exactly like that employment brand is essentially why you should for PetSmart and then recruitment marketing is why you should be a pet groomer, why you should be on our IT team. That's when you're able to get more funneled and more targeted. And so for anyone who is going along in this space, I wouldn't necessarily think about how to make the funnel bigger, really where your success is going to be is how you make the funnel smaller. How do you get more targeted down the chain? So you are truly attracting the right people in the right space for the right job. Easier said than done, but that is, I think something to work for is bigger as not always best in today's market.

Joe Matar:

Sure. That's what we're all striving for. I think we alluded to this before, we've got these two incredible forces really impacting so many companies right now, one we said before the great resignation, right? People, whatever it is, they've been sitting at home for the last 18 months. They're thinking about, what's next. So people are leaving companies and [inaudible 00:06:27]. Then you've also got this on the other end, this labor shortage, more openings than there is a supply of candidates. And probably that labor shortage piece probably impacts your business in your industry. Maybe a little bit more, maybe a lot more than, than most others. But the question here is really what, how do you see employer branding helping you to mitigate those incredibly strong forces in today's current labor market?

Dani Laven:

Yeah, exactly. You mentioned two very strong forces that the fact that they're coming together and happening at the same time is bizarre and overwhelming, but I think it's a really unique time for both candidates and in players. I think as employers, one of the things that I've seen a lot of companies do is it's promoting change or at least conversation, I think with how serious the pandemic was. There was a number of people who were laid off. There were a number of people who had to switch their working situation, their childcare coverage, their safety concerns. I think coming out, hopefully on the other side, it hasn't powered the candidate to really understand what is best for them. No longer is a job, a way to make money. And I think that's a really clear point of differentiation of where employment brand comes into place.

Dani Laven:

People want more than money. And that's why people may be leaving their current roles, right? If you are tired or burnt out or not seeing any sort of incremental pay for the work that you've done, it's very easy to say what am I worth, what else could I go and grab out there? Where employment brand comes into place is to be able to position and yourself as why it's a great place to work. I think there's a lot of companies really, unless they're, you are Amazon or a similar player. Winning by salary is a very short term solution. You can definitely attract people right now with higher hourly rates, sign on bonuses and things like that's not necessarily sustainable for the true people that you want to work for you.

Dani Laven:

And so, one of the things we really focused on is the why. Why PetSmart? Why does what our mission and vision stand for? How does that align with what your mission and vision is? How can you make an impact health and wellness programs, things like that. Being able to take it beyond this as a job is really the story that's worth telling right now.


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