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Podcast: If you want to attract talented people, do this

Written by Lucas Reitsema on 24 April 2023 for Companies

In all Exellys countries, and especially in Belgium and the Netherlands, we continue to face a new talent shortage. Finding and retaining talented people is hard, and yet there are still a lot of companies who approach recruitment from a position of abundance. In this podcast we’d like to share with you our insights, that come from our years of expertise in attracting, developing and retaining Graduates and Starting Professionals. We will share with you 3 things we believe companies should be doing today to be relevant tomorrow, and we’ll give you concrete tips so you can improve your hiring strategy right away.

For this episode of Exellys Talks, we have Lucas Reitsema at the mic. Lucas has been working for ProjectiveGroup for 7 years, and is currently Exellys’ Country Lead for the Netherlands and Business Development Manager for Projective Group.

Note: You can check out the full podcast episode in this 15-minute video or listen to the episode at the bottom of the page. You can find us on all major streaming platforms or YouTube as well. Please note that the podcast is recorded in Dutch and there are no subtitles. For the hearing impaired or those who don’t understand Dutch, we’ve included a written account (in English) of the highlights in this blog post.

Welcome, Lucas. As Business Development Manager, you have a lot of contact with our clients. How would you describe what Exellys does for companies?

Giving our clients insights in how to work together with Graduates and starting professionals is our starting point. A few years ago, I was asked to teach a seminar at the University of Antwerp. I was talking proudly and enthusiastically about how great it is work within Financial Services – I was working for Rabobank at the time – when one of the students raised his hand. ‘Thanks for your nice story, sir,’ he said, ‘but do you realize we don’t want to become like you?’

This was a wake-up call for me: twenty-year-olds today don’t look at work the same way I did when I was twenty, 20 years ago. A moment to close my laptop/fancy PowerPoint deck and start up the real conversation

They deserve different opportunities, different jobs and guidance. That wake-up call is what Exellys aims to convey to Talent Partners. What do they need to do to bring those graduates in? We see a lot of companies are still hiring for a specific job, with a long list of requirements and expect graduates to fit in. We talk about perspective. What is a company’s ambition strategy for the next five years? And what part of that strategy is the perspective for Starting Professionals? Don’t give them a chore or a task, but show them that perspective they deserve. What will they be doing at your company in 3 or 4 years? That’s what talented people respond to.”

How does Exellys help companies with future-proof talent management?

“We offer our clients, or Talent Partners as we prefer to call them, added value on several points in the recruitment process. The first problem many companies face is finding talent. We connect with 1,500 graduates every year. Our recruiters, who belong to the same generation as these graduates, talk to them so we can really connect with them. Out of these 1,500 graduates, we only hire the top 6 %.

The next important step in the hiring process is finding the right match. We don’t just look at skills, competencies, job description. We look much further than that: does this talent’s personality match with the company culture? What is their perspective at the company in the next couple of years?

Next, we play an important role in the development of these professionals. We look at what kinds of trainings they need. People don’t come and work for us because we offer the fanciest lease car (we don’t), people come work for us because they want to learn in two years what would otherwise take them four years to learn. We draw up a Personal Development Plan for each of our talents.

And, finally, we help our Talent Partners onboard these consultants after two years. We facilitate the integration process for them.

In your opinion, what are the 3 things companies these days need to be doing to stay competitive within the context of talent development?

“I know the inner workings of many companies, and what I’ve noticed is that the companies with the best dynamic, where people really enjoy working, are all companies where there’s a nice balance between junior, medior and senior profiles. Not too many seniors, so mediors have opportunities for growth. And enough mediors to train the juniors. Diversity of your group is also key here to create a learning culture

Another thing is to look at your hiring strategy. A lot of companies still hire reactively. They look for a specific profile when there’s a specific gap in their workforce. We like to approach things more proactively. What are the big topics for the next 5 years? Is it Cloud, Data, Risk & Compliance, maybe? What types of employees will you be needing to complete these projects successfully? It’s really worth the effort of sitting down with the management team and getting some clarity on which people you will be needing in the upcoming years, so you can start looking ahead. We support these workshops on request and yearly for our current Talent Partners/clients.

Finally, stop looking for those unicorn hires. Employers today are no longer in the position to grill candidates. Turn it around. Explain your strategy, vision and ambition to young people and ask if they’d like to be a part of your story. Ask them which part interests them the most, propose a few possibilities for them in your company. Offer them perspective instead of pushing them into one box, one role.”

So how does Exellys engage with various Talent Partners to help them improve the way they manage talent?

We are not only guiding, educating and training talented people, we also advise on how to retain them. Our aim is for our talents to onboard at the client after 2 years. This happens in 80% of the cases, but some of our Talent Partners haven even higher integration scores towards 93%. Why do they do better? We invest in shared learnings a lot. What Graduates need to feel welcome, what more we can do to give them long-term prospects within the organization, and so on. It’s important to have those conversations, and to be vulnerable as well: what can we do better? What can our Talent Partners do better?

I also think it can be very powerful if our Talent Partners share these learnings with one another. Of course, there’s a competitive factor. But even if you’re both operating in financial services, you can still learn a lot from each other, right? For example as mentioned earlier, we have one Talent Partner in Belgium who has an integration rate of 93%. What are they doing so much better than the others? We could share that knowledge. We are trying to bring our clients together more and more, we see that companies are increasingly open to that.

Finally, do you have some concrete tips for companies to improve their hiring strategy that don’t take as long as improving their candidate experience or rethinking their hiring strategy? Some quick wins?

Sure. One thing companies can do is plan a meeting with the hiring team and management to discuss how they perceive talent and how they treat them in the company. Do they get a warm welcome? How much room is there for them?

Second, many of our clients draw up the budget for the coming year in September. This usually involves ambitious plans, big IT budgets, Risk & Compliance, … You get the idea. So next September, just include Graduates onboarding in the plans. Are you planning big IT transformations, then budget for new talented people as well. Not just in terms of money, but what types of profiles will you need? These are small things you can do now to integrate talented people faster and better.

Don’t worry: companies who don’t follow these tips and guidelines won’t go bankrupt tomorrow. However, if you don’t improve your new talent candidate experience, someone else will. So if you want to stay relevant and competitive in today’s job market, you need to change the way you look at and treat new talent. But you don’t need to do it alone: you can count on our 9 years of expertise and best practices. Interested? We’re at your service to come talk to you about our offering, no strings attached.

About Exellys

Exellys is a Tech Talent Incubator. We bring tech talent into the daily operations of the organisation of our customers and grow them for the innovations of tomorrow.

From the 1.500 tech talents we speak to annually, we select the top 7%. We intensively train and coach them on the right skills and competences. Our (scientifically based) training programs (Start Smart, Grow Smart & Lead Smart) accelerate the growth of our talents, and therefore also the growth of our customers.

We “unburden” our clients when looking for and retaining tech talent. We are committed to getting the best out of talent, while our customers can continue to focus on their core business.

We do this for organisations who want to strengthen their team permanently, as well as those who are looking for a flexible, project-driven solution. Get in touch with us today and find out how we can help.