Tapping into global talent at Atkins

Written by
Chris Marsh

03 May 2016

03 May 2016 • by Chris Marsh

Choosing your employer brand

Over the past 18 months we’ve been evolving our global employer brand. We’re all about our employees, so our brand is focused on them. By telling their stories, we believe potential future employees can begin to imagine their stories with us too. 

We’ve got a really strong global team of recruiters, all skilled in building networks and considering how to build talent pools for the future, as well as the vacancies they’re working on right now. Recruitment can no longer be a reactive process and the tools we have access to allow us to ensure this isn’t the case. Really, the team are ‘social’ recruiters and build their own profiles to ensure they’re engaging talent over a sustained period. 

Our strategy is centred on social media and gamification, two things I believe to be paramount in attracting future generations and building talent pools across all levels. These kinds of tools are much more engaging, for everyone. 

What do employees want?

Talented individuals look for a different range of things when considering a new employer now. With the rise of tech companies like Google, the expectation is that your employer will offer much more than a job, but a lifestyle too. Company culture is a big selling point for any organisation and a contemporary brand too. We’ve certainly seen this as a priority over the past few years. 

One of the main things potential employees consider is your company culture. We want our employer brand to be completely inspired by our employees and their stories. Twitter is fast becoming one of our main social platforms on which to engage with a global audience. We’ve been featuring our staff, direct from their own accounts, delivering daily tweets about their life here – anything from a picture of a team meeting or a social event to a lunchtime run or view from the office. We expect this to become a key theme from now on. For this year’s apprentice cycle we asked several of last year’s new apprentices to take us on a journey of their life here. It’s been great to watch and really does create a genuine story, especially when influencing a generation still contemplating their career path. This style resonates much more with people. Social media engagement is going to get even bigger for us this year. 

What challenges does Atkins face?

One of the key challenges we currently face is that many of the most exciting new projects are in the Middle East. This region has a relatively small population with the skills we require so we need to sell the opportunities to either existing staff or candidates in other parts of the world. With more and more people being part of dual-career households it becomes increasingly difficult to persuade them to relocate abroad. We plan to survey our staff to see who might be interested in these opportunities and do more work on providing detailed information to them and their families on what a move would entail. We want them to feel well informed and supported if they decide to take up this challenge. 

It’s possible that we’re entering a future talent crisis. But I believe we can work to reduce the impact of this. This starts at the root of the problem, the distribution of skills at an early careers level. The sectors we work across are vital to the complexities of our future world so the future generations of engineers and scientists must be influenced now. This is very close to our heart. Atkins’ work around science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) and getting young people excited about careers that genuinely change the world we live in, is high on our agenda. We’re currently looking for more than 400 graduates and apprentices, and that’s just the UK. We need a positive outlook and solutions to alleviate a ‘crisis’. 

How can you attract future talent?

When looking to attract the next generation of talent, you’ve got to know your audience. Future generations have different expectations. The best way to understand what appeals to them is to find out first hand, and where possible to use your own early careers employees to reach future generations of talent. Recruitment has changed dramatically in the past five years. Social media has taken a front seat, for all levels and all corners of the globe. That’s how you get the reach. I’d also say, use the right tone, the way you say things often means a lot more than what you’re saying, especially on social media. 

Technology will continue to evolve and this will influence the way we search for talent. For us, it’s all about digital. Originally we saw the digital platforms, such as Linkedin, as a supplement to the traditional methods of recruiting. Now they’re at the forefront and we’ll continue moving in this direction. Much of the talent we’re searching for will be passive, digital gives us much greater reach to this group, wherever they are in the world. 

We’re using more and more data to influence our strategic decisions around attraction. I fully expect data analysis to evolve even further, especially around the journey a candidate goes on to discover us. This is more prominent than ever. We rely heavily on hire source data but know there’s much more to it than that. Our strategy will evolve to reach talent around the world.