From the beginning.

It seemed like just a typical Friday morning when I received a “Hey, happy Friday!” text from Bryan Chaney, Director of Global Employer Brand and Talent Attraction at Knowing that he responds well to GIFs (and trying to withhold my enthusiasm), I immediately texted him one of a panda doing a Friday dance.

You see, I had unofficially met Bryan a few years ago when I started my journey in the talent brand space, looking to learn from the trailblazers in this growing field. Similar to how some can “fall into” HR as they develop in their careers, I somehow “fell into” employer branding and recruitment marketing when I was in a recruiting role. Even though one of his, and the Talent Brand Alliance’s, core tenants is that there are “no experts” in this field, I saw him as one since I often leveraged his content to convince my manager why it was important for us to invest more in our employer brand.

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Bryan introduced me to the first-ever Talent Brand Summit in 2018, where a community of talent brand professionals that formed online bonded in-person. I served in a volunteer role as a scribe (a role that I would be in again) where I learned, shared, and captured insights with other practitioners on my handy-dandy laptop. They flipped the traditional session model of knowledge sharing, where you have one person at the front with their 20+ PowerPoint slides. In this new format, facilitators tapped into the minds of the attendees and encouraged roundtable discussions. Topics such as employee advocacy or measuring ROI were all value-added items that many of us brought back to our organizations to affect change.

So when Bryan asked if I was interested in being a scribe again, I immediately went to convince my manager to let me go. My second time at Talent Brand Summit felt just as amazing at the first (sans summer heat since it was held in late March vs. June). I reconnected with those who were there last year and formed new relationships with practitioners I met this year.

When a car ride turns into a conversation.

Jess Katz, Employer Brand Manager from MongoDB, and I didn’t stay at the resort where the summit was held because it had sold out. After meeting at the networking happy hour, we decided to carpool together for the rest of the summit. In conversations, I found out that she was on #TeamMarketing while I sat in #TeamHR. However, I shared my story of how I used to be on the marketing team at HCSS before moving to HR. In the 6-months I was on the marketing team (a mini-internship if you want to call it that), the VP of Marketing (who was my then manager) supported the launch of our culture hashtag and blog, let me experiment with PPC (pay-per-click) vs. PPA (pay-per-apply) campaigns, connected me to our Marketing Analyst (who had a software development background) to help implement a social-friendly applicant tracking system, and more. The experience helped me realize what can be accomplished with the help of marketing resources. After hearing my story, Jess shared that she would love to shadow the recruiters to get a better understanding of their workflow, to which I responded that she should 100% go for. It's amazing what you can learn when you have the opportunity to spend time on both sides.

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“I hate HR, but I love you Allan.”

Shaunda Zilich facilitated a topic of cross-functional partnerships and it reminded me of some frank discussions I have had in the past with the marketing team. I would get frustrated when content pushed out on one of our shared platforms (LinkedIn) was constantly highlighting our products or our industry, but not our people. “We need to drive quality leads and impact sales” was the explanation, to which I would counter “we also need to attract and hire the right people to support those sales.”

I learned a powerful lesson at Talent Brand Summit in that a stronger partnership can be formed when one takes the time to not only understand the other’s end goals, but also find ways to achieve both goals. Bringing in two members from the HR team with me in a meeting with two members of the Marketing team, we collaborated on the mix of content to gather and share that will not only drive quality leads, but also quality talent to apply. It’s still a work-in-progress, but both teams are now more aligned than before.


Blazing away.

When it’s time to convince company stakeholders what I do, why it’s important, and the resources I need, I lean on this community for support. Even though we may all be “competing” for top talent, what’s amazing is the amount of resource sharing and collaboration that occurs. It feels more like a united front towards a bigger purpose where everyone in the world of work is matched to the right roles within the right organizations.

As the talent brand space evolves to meet the needs of the organizations we support, we may not always know the answers upfront. But as champions of this profession, we’ll figure it out -- together.

About the author:

Allan Leung is a Lead Talent Acquisition Advisor for HCSS out of Houston, TX. With a long-term mindset, Allan strategically plans and launches initiatives to effectively attract, develop, and retain talent for growing organizations. Follow him on Twitter at @A_Leung7.

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