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Innovation: An Integral Part of Talent Management
 

By Theresa Minton-Eversole  4/16/2013
 

LAS VEGASThere are three defining characteristics of innovative corporate cultures, said Bob Carr, senior vice president of membership, marketing and external affairs at the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), during the April 14 opening keynote address of SHRM’s 2013 Talent Management Conference & Exposition, which runs through April 17. And there are innovative companies that embed these characteristics in their human resources and talent management strategies—and then there are all the rest.

Innovative companies “dare their employees to dream,” said Carr. They also “permit [their employees] to fail,” since “failure, after all, is the cost of doing business.”

Finally, Carr said, innovative companies keep their organizational structures flat because “new ideas must percolate to the top of the organization fast.”

“HR plays a critical role in unleashing innovation in companies, and [it] is in the best position to create innovative corporate cultures, starting with the hiring process,” Carr said, noting that in the current talent management environment “we have a lot to be optimistic about, but we also have a lot of work ahead of us.”

PepsiCo’s Mobile Strategy

Nowhere is this assessment more true, perhaps, than at PepsiCo, where developing a mobile recruiting strategy that meets job seekers’ needs and expectations has been a key priority and focus for the past three years.

The years 2010, 2011 and 2012 were all dubbed “the year of mobile,” quipped Chris Hoyt, PepsiCo’s talent-engagement and marketing leader, in his session, “PepsiCo’s Mobile Recruiting Journey.” But these years were false starts for many—though not all—companies.

 “2013 is actually the year to build your mobile strategy because your competitors already did,” Hoyt said to an audience that, through a show of hands, revealed few had a mobile recruitment strategy in place. He shared PepsiCo’s now three-year implementation of its mobile recruitment strategy and the lessons the company learned along the way.

“We’re living in an on-demand culture,” he said, “so [mobile recruitment] is all about connectivity on demand, when and where job seekers want it.” Hoyt explained that this type of recruitment focuses on community and the job candidate’s experience. PepsiCo is eager to create a mobile “Apply” connection for its application process and applicant tracking system.

The company began its mobile recruitment journey in 2010, launching a simple mobile app called possibilities, which provided users with basic company information from its website as well as videos, tweets and blogs. Before PepsiCo launched the mobile app, the company’s top three pages—Careers, Job Search and an FAQ—drew 6 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent of traffic, respectively. Considering these percentages, Hoyt said, “The timing wasn’t right for developing an m-site [mobile site].” So the cola giant started small.

“Apps are cheap, and we needed a way to show [where our employment site] traffic was coming from to make a case for building a mobile recruitment strategy,” Hoyt said. “Ninety-nine percent of the content is pulled from RSS feeds and xml streams produced by corporate media and marketing teams, as well as outside sources. And there’s an ‘email this job to me’ button,’ in lieu of an actual ‘Apply’ option.”

“It looks live all the time because we’re leveraging content from other departments,” he said. And the company’s recruiters are in charge of engagement, ensuring a 24-hour response rate to inquiries.

PepsiCo also started using QR codes in 2011, which, Hoyt observed, saw an 800 percent increase in adoption and usage that year, surpassing bar codes. “We put them on business cards. When scanned, they gave access to our job-search function.

“And our global recruiting team unintentionally launched a mobile recruiting e-mail strategy just by adding a link to the app in their e-mails to job candidates,” he added.

Click ‘Apply’—Coming Soon

Hoyt said the company has learned many lessons over the past few years about what works and what doesn’t in mobile recruiting. For example, he said that PepsiCo missed the mark when it decided to take a decentralized approach toward implementing its mobile application in other countries, such as Canada and the United Kingdom.

There are way too many issues in each country that present obstacles to a decentralized strategy, he said, noting differences in “legal compliance and languages. Did you know that in Saudi Arabia, you cannot feature videos with women in them?”

By 2011 the beverage and snack maker retouched the look and feel of its mobile brand. “PepsiCareers is about 99 percent like the original app, but now the mobile experience is much like the online experience,” Hoyt said.

So PepsiCo’s next moves will be to implement a single globalized app and focus on honing its brand recognition through search engines.

“Content is good, but search is king,” he noted. “If you can’t find us, then all the rest is fluff. We underestimated the power of name recognition and search, so we’ll need to make additional investments in the app to help job seekers find us.”

Hoyt said this year the company is also starting to track apply starts to conversion rates. “If you’re not tracking conversion rates, [mobile recruiting] is just a hobby.”

As for that elusive “Apply” button, PepsiCo still doesn’t have it worked out yet because of the challenges that applicant tracking systems present in the mobile environment. He’s confident, though, that the company will overcome the technical difficulties.

“Job candidates are expecting mobile now but not demanding it,” Hoyt concluded. “That [demand] will come, though. Mobile drives change and innovation, and this is the future of our business and how we will address the candidate experience.”

But companies must pace themselves, he cautioned. “You’ve got to be able to handle the response you’ll receive and offer a positive candidate experience.”

Theresa Minton-Eversole is an online editor/manager for SHRM.

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