Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Heath and Desire Paths

This is Heath, making my first blog post. I came to work at Oxus about 8 weeks ago, having no background whatsoever in anything HR, ATS or Employer Branding-related. I've lived in Beijing for a little over two years, spending most of my time teaching and learning valuable skills. (read: Spending massive amounts of time on the internet, reading books, illegally downloading music and watching pirated DVDs.)

Now I find myself the Systems Solutions Manager in charge of an Applicant Tracking System. It's been an exciting few weeks here. It's been wild going from total ignorance to being pretty well versed in the world of Talent Management Systems. Luckily, I've had good teachers. Everyone in the office has plenty of experience in the HR world, and every day I learn something new. On top of that, the internet is a fantastic resource on its own. I've spent hours on sites like, fistfuloftalent,com and, just figuring out how this world works.

Now, I realize that the majority of the people reading this blog probably have a better handle on the world of HR than I do. I'm new. I think I can, however, offer a fresh perspective.

One thing that has been particularly interesting to me is the way HR departments in China seem to lag pretty far behind those in the US/UK/Europe. In the West, it's commonplace to utilize the internet to simplify the hiring process. Business in China, though, hasn't adapted.

Pre-internet, paper resumes and applications were the only ways to figure out who your applicants were. These had to be read individually and sifted/sorted by hand. An enormously time-consuming and expensive task.

Today, this process can be automated. Applicants can apply online, resumes can be parsed and relevant information can be tagged. You don't need people reading every resume. It's easy.

Why then, is this practice not in action in the world's most populous country? There are millions of people looking for jobs in China. Companies are inundated with resumes. Yet still, applicant tracking systems are far from commonplace. It's insanity.

Look at this picture:

It's a "desire path".

You see them all over the world. You don't need to walk all the way around the sidewalk. Just walk directly where you want to go. It saves time and energy. In recruitment, it also saves money.

A Post for never saw these shots did you?

These images were taken when shooting the "farmer using computer" shot for Intel's "Create the New Normal" campaign. Mid-winter, not a great day, damn cold and no greenery. We were counting on some post-production to see us through. Still, we needed a field of vegetables so we planted one! See the end result above...then see how it was done! (slide-show)

End result was a royalty-free image for the client (their own requirement) at less than half the cost of buying a lesser quality one we'd already found in an image-bank.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Employer Branding; more than just pretty pictures

Employer Branding is gaining popularity and awareness in China today and a number of companies are investing large sums to develop their own Employer Brand (EB). What most of us see as a result of this investment in time and money is a collection of creative visuals and catchy copywriting espousing the joys of employment at such and such a company. But is this really what employer branding is all about? Is there more to Employer Branding than just pretty pictures and catchy advertising taglines?

Written by Employer Branding professionals in China, this article will look into the process of employer branding by drawing on the experiences of Microsoft China Research and Development (CRD) during their 2007 Campus Recruitment Program. The article will illustrate the process taken, the justifications for them and the results that can come from leveraging your employer brand in the recruitment market.

“Brand Building?”

Legend has it that a major MNC recently approached HodesOxus asking how much it would cost to “build” their employer brand. The answer was simple, “That will cost you nothing; you already have one!”

The fact that every organization already has an employer brand is an unavoidable truth that is sometimes more easily recognized by replacing the word “brand” with “reputation”. Whether you like it or not, you all have a reputation as an employer, based on the variety of opinions that have been formed amongst your staff and stakeholders over the period of your existence. It is the sum of these opinions and the associated emotions, values, and feelings that constitute your “Employer Brand.” Companies may sometimes feel that these perceptions are underserved or maybe even downright incorrect, but as they represent the reality of your brand (or reputation), they need to be properly understood before any actions can be taken to manage them, address them and begin to leverage them to your own benefit.

So how should this MNC have approached the issue? They could have asked, “How much will it cost to discover my Employer Brand?” Obviously you simply cannot go and make up a bunch of stuff about your company and send it out to the public only to discover that your existing employees don’t actually agree with it. From a recruitment perspective, the employer branding messages must ring true. They must not only come across as genuine, but more importantly, be something that the organization is able to deliver on. Anyone joining an organization for a particular set of reasons will not stay long if these commitments are not delivered upon. A big part of employer branding is simply about making sure that your organization is attracting the right people, for the right reasons, aligning employee expectations with the reality of the job offering.

Assessing perceptions

And so it begins with research, which, done properly, should assess perceptions both internally and externally of the company. By offering a safe environment with an emphasis on confidentiality, small, internal focus groups of employees across all levels of the organization can offer valuable insights into the real state of affairs. To compliment these findings, the perceptions of the company as an employer also need to be assessed from the outside, ideally from the type of people you are hoping to attract – your target audience. Identifying candidates for this external research can be more challenging and if focus groups prove to be too difficult to arrange (getting 8 unrelated people in the same room at the same time can be hard), they can also be achieved through 20 - 30 minute telephone interviews with an experienced interviewer.

When compared, the two sets of data can show a picture of internal employer brand “reality” against external employer brand “perceptions”. This is the information that should be the basis for the design of a messaging strategy that addresses the strengths and weaknesses of the employer brand as it is. This creative application incorporates not only the copywriting but also the whole visual appeal of the brand including the overall theme and taglines.

A Case Study in Employer Branding creativity and implementation; The Microsoft China Research and Development (CRD) 2007 Campus Recruitment Campaign.

In early 2007, Microsoft CRD invested in both internal and external research into their “core-tech” target audiences across China and India. The findings indicated some external perceptions of Microsoft as an employer that were worrying to its recruitment team and that it wanted to address. These included that CRD was an intense and demanding working environment that was not as creative as its competitors. Some felt that projects in China lack challenges and involved more implementation than incubation of new technology development. Internally however, CRD was recognized for its excellent training and development opportunities, it’s exposure to cutting-edge technology, career development and “impact”, the extent to which an individual’s contribution can be felt both inside the organization and in the world at large.

Knowing that they had a compelling employment offering, CRD settled on a strategy of drawing on a selection of newly recruited “stars” to deliver the messages for them. This “dream-team” of core-tech superstars became CRD’s spokesmen and women, in some cases returning to their old campuses to talk to the graduating classes about life after school and life at Microsoft CRD.

Thus CRD went to campus with a very open-door approach that was summed up in the tagline “See for yourself”. Leveraging familiarity with Microsoft’s corporate slogan of “We see…”, this tagline was an invitation to “come and have a look” that at the same time displayed an almost defiant confidence and pride in their offerings as an employer. The result was a resounding success. The recruiting target for the event was exceeded by 20% without compromising on entry requirements and interview / screening systems. So successful was the campaign in fact that it won a creative excellence award at CEA 07 and went on to form the basis of the internship campaign in 2008.

Using a more youthful and urban theme of a colorful graffiti-sprayed wall, the “stars” partook in a half-day photo-shoot that formed the visual basis for a variety of communications that delivered a number of key messages to the target audiences. CRD was very aware of the amount of pertinent information that their target group had access to, so stretching the truth was never an option. At the same time, they were aware of the demand for this talent and the fact that nearly every graduate from the top schools was likely to be presented with more than one “letter of offer” from a major player in the IT sector.

From the perspective of the job-seeking graduate, the employer branding messaging should have given them an understanding of CRD as an employer that might have differed from what they “heard” elsewhere and by hearing it directly from their peers on the inside may have lent it increased credibility. The result is that when letters of offer come in, the candidates have the added security of making an informed decision about their very first career move.

Employer Branding however should also deliver more than that. Microsoft’s Campus road shows and presentations were attended by many more than those individuals who finally took up offers of employment. All the brand awareness and familiarity now imparted into these other graduates who will be joining other organizations will carry with them a perception of what it could have been like at Microsoft. This could mean that they would go on to consider Microsoft again in a few years time or even end up working with them indirectly as a client or service provider.

Off campus however and into a real labour market, not all of your target audience is actively seeking employment and the opportunity to seed in the minds of those who are already engaged in other organizations the benefits and features of employment with your organization is just as critical. Employer Branding is not something that should appear solely in the realm of recruitment advertising. It is about spreading that awareness into the offices of your competitors, thereby beginning to attract passive job seekers with its well crafted and well positioned messages.

Furthermore, having defined your offerings and laid them in a concise and consistent manner, the communication of them through a much broader variety of channels will also allow for the development of passive candidate channels. By building your employer brand into your careers site and coupling it with a web-based application system, the opportunity exists to turn any media channel, from industry publications to online communities, into viable recruitment channels. The company can begin to undertake recruitment advertising that does not hold a job title or job description but rather attracts potential candidates to your careers center by delivering carefully crafted messages. Once on your site, they can begin to understand what you stand for and what you offer to your employees.

Recruitment partners such as headhunters and even internal recruitment staff also stand to benefit from the development of an employer brand by becoming clearer on the jobs they are “selling” which results in a greater return on investment over the long term. At the end of the day, if they are selling your company as an employer, they must be fully equipped to do so with the maximum amount of honesty and integrity. There is too much to lose in getting this wrong.

Much more than just pretty pictures and copy, Employer Branding is an exercise in research, followed by a creative application that is intended to deliver a powerful and consistent message about your company that carries with it all the emotion, values and excitement that your company can inject into the lives and careers of your staff.

Footnote: HodesOxus is the partnership of Oxus Solutions Ltd ( and the Bernard Hodes Group ( ) who have come together to offer Employer Branding expertise in the China market. The designs used in the Microsoft campaign can be seen in the portfolio on

Thursday, January 8, 2009
















  三、强化培训是强身健体的最好选择 :


  四、企业文化建设,“稳定压倒一切,团结就是力量! ”



Monday, January 5, 2009


This is the Chinese language version of an article I wrote for "China Staff" (a CCH publication) back in August '08. An English language version will go up here in a few days.



“品牌建设” ?

曾有一个跨国公司找到hodesoxus咨询需要投入多少成本才能“打造”他们的雇主品牌。他们得到了一个很简单的答案,那就是 “您不用花一分钱,因为您已经有了” !

每一个企业都拥有一个属于自己的雇主品牌,而“品牌”一词更容易被“口碑”所取代 。不管您是否愿意,您的雇主口碑都在您作为雇主的基础上形成,这个口碑汇集了您的员工以及所有利益相关者的看法。这些看法和相关的情绪,价值观念和情感的汇集构成了您的“雇主品牌”。公司有时可能觉得这些看法是不全面的,甚至是完全错误的,但它们却真实的代表了您现实中的品牌(口碑)。所以在您决定宣传您的雇主品牌前,请全面了解公司内部的这些负面看法,并着手解决这些问题。

所以先前的那个跨国公司应该问的是: “应该需要多少钱来发现我的雇主品牌?” 很显然您不应该去编造一个个美丽的雇主谎言,并把它们传播给公众,但最终却发现您的员工会站出来粉碎这些谎言。从招聘的角度来看,雇主品牌的信息/承诺必须要真实。同时,更重要的是这些信息/承诺是能够兑现的。那些为特定的承诺而加入企业的员工,一旦发现这些承诺不会被兑现,很可能会选择离开。雇主品牌建设从很大程度上来说,是要确保您的公司用实实在在的承诺,吸引适合您公司的员工。更重要的是,这些员工入职后,将发现他们对公司的期望值与公司的现实相符合。



将内部和外部的两组数据进行比较,即可显示出内部目标群对该雇主品牌的“真实”评价和外部目标群体对该雇主品牌的“看法” 。清楚标明该雇主品牌的长处和短处,这为如何设计品牌营销信息的传递策略提供了基础。这种创造性的整合策略,将文案,整个品牌的视觉魅力,还有总主题和广告标语有机地融合在一起。


在2007年年初,微软CRD决定从内部和外部研究其在中国和印度的“core-tech”目标群体。调查结果显示,很多的外部目标群体对微软作为雇主有负面看法,这让微软的招聘团队有些担忧。这些看法包括: 微软CRD的工作强度大并且很苛刻,创造性也弱于竞争对手。微软在中国的项目缺乏挑战性,更多的是做技术执行而不是新技术的开发。但是微软内部员工认为:研发中心给与了员工良好的培训和发展机会,让员工接触到了尖端技术,重视员工的职业发展 ,员工的个人贡献无论在公司的内部还是在世界大舞台上都有着深远的影响。


微软在校园内采用了非常亲民的做法,他们打出新的口号: “see for yourself” ,成功利用了人们熟悉的微软公司的宣传标语“we see… ” 。 这个新口号邀请应届毕业生们来微软看一看,同时显示微软作为雇主的信心和自豪感。2007年微软的校园招聘相当成功。在没有降低员工录用标准的条件下,招聘目标比预计超出了20 %。这个成功的校园招募也赢得了CEA07创造性卓越奖并为微软2008年校园实习生活动奠定了良好的基础。

运用青春感十足和色彩斑斓的城市主题涂鸦墙, “新星们” 参加了为期半天的照片拍摄,这些人物加背景的视觉图片成为了微软传达其雇主承诺的基础,并加工成为不同的传播内容并通过不同的媒介传达给目标群体。微软明白其目标群体可以通过不同的方式获得相关的雇主信息,所以在传达其雇主承诺时不夸大,讲事实。同时,微软意识到几乎每一个顶级学校的毕业生基本上都可以拿到好几个科技界巨头的聘用书。







注: Hodesoxus 是由Oxus Solutions.(和Bernard Hodes( )组成,Hodesoxus为中国市场提供雇主品牌建立的专业服务。微软2007年校园招聘案例请参阅 “ 案例” 部分。