Learner. This characteristic defines me more than any other. And it’s this unrelenting curiosity and constant search for knowledge that led me to a new career in Talent Branding at Autodesk. Before joining the Talent Brand Alliance (TBA) in 2017, I attended recruitment marketing/employer branding gatherings in San Francisco as often as I could. Although these get-togethers were a great way to meet people, the learning opportunities were limited. That’s when a former colleague introduced me to the Talent Brand Alliance.
The TBA is a closed Facebook group for people working in this newer field of talent branding. Suddenly I was connected to a diverse group of practitioners around the globe who are all eager to support one another and who gladly share their insights and suggestions. It was just what I had been looking for! With a simple log in and a few keystrokes, I could be on the group page and have answers to my burning questions in a matter of minutes!
The friend and colleague who introduced me to the TBA knew I was looking for an opportunity that would allow me to grow professionally and get my hands dirty with employer branding work. When she saw the post for a Talent Brand Specialist at Autodesk in the TBA group, she shared it and encouraged me to apply. I’m glad I took her advice. In June, I celebrated my one-year anniversary at Autodesk.
When I reflect on my career, I know I’ve expanded my skills more in the past 12 months than in the previous 8 years in other roles where I had more expertise. Not only have I developed new skills and grown personally, I’ve learned some significant lessons. Here are two of them.
Networking Is Key for Growth
This is almost a no-brainer considering how I found my current role at Autodesk. Over the past year, the importance of networking has become more apparent than ever. During my interview process, my current manager and I realized that we met previously when we both attended the same Women in Tech event. It felt like fate that we were meeting again.
My earlier stint in recruitment marketing/talent branding taught me that being in employment branding can sometimes feel like living alone on an island. To most people, we are enigmas. When I say my title, I’m often met with quizzical looks and questions like: “I’m sorry, what is it that you do again? What is talent branding exactly?” I’m sure many of you can relate to having that conversation.
Meeting members of the TBA has been so refreshing because we can bypass all the explaining and go straight to the good stuff. Having a network of people who encounter the same challenges has been incredibly connective. And meeting them face to face at TBA Summit has been invaluable. My takeaway and advice? Find your tribe no matter what field you’re in. I guarantee that networking will get you farther than blazing your trail alone.
Free Food Does Not Nourish a Career
Being in Silicon Valley—the birthplace of tech—it’s common to know all about perks that other companies offer. You can bet that free food is a highly regarded benefit that many companies use to draw in talent. But this doesn’t satisfy for the long haul. I left my previous company—which had an ever-changing snack wall and an in-office barista—and moved to a company that has a handful of snacks and a DIY coffee machine. It turns out this is much better for my professional growth.
I honestly thought I would miss the free food and unlimited snacks. However, after my first few months at Autodesk where I experienced the impact of an organization that provides great learning and development opportunities, I understood that great food perks won’t satisfy my craving to learn and do more. Instead of wanting free food and drinks, I now long for the benefit of ongoing growth and development. I’m currently taking free classes at The Autodesk Technology Center in San Francisco where I’m learning woodworking. (If my family and friends are reading this… surprise! You now know what to expect as presents this year. 😉)
Joking aside, understanding this difference has helped me illustrate employee stories much more effectively. I’m able to talk about Autodesk in a way that attracts quality talent and repels individuals who don’t align with our company values. This has been so satisfying.
So far I’m 12 months into focused employer brand work, and I know I still have much to learn. The Talent Brand Alliance has been a great resource, helping me grow in my role and providing a place to share what I’ve been learning along the way.
No matter where you are in your Talent Branding career, remember, we’re in this space together. We all advance the awareness of and advocate for this emerging field. I’m glad you’re here, and I hope you find just as much support, encouragement, and opportunity to grow as I have.
About the author: Melanie Abril is a Talent Brand Specialist for Autodesk and is based out of San Francisco, California. A Bay Area native, she started her career in recruiting and transitioned to a talent brand role that's now more focused on storytelling and talent attraction. When she's not managing social media or creating content, you can likely find her reading a book, going to Orangetheory Fitness, or baking chocolate chip cookies. (Life is all about balance, right?)
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