Using career events to demonstrate the value of your career proposition
We’re all familiar with the idea of The Big Reset. This is particularly relevant in the context of career development, as individuals question and make decisions about their career direction, how they work, and whether they’re maximising the value of the skills and experience they’ve accrued.
In competitive industry sectors and geographies, it’s essential that organisations demonstrate how they are ‘great places to work’. One way organisations do this is by inspiring employees to see the value of their career proposition. Career events, often targeted around a theme or time, offer just such an opportunity. They provide a vehicle to showcase the priority given to development, and the range and quality of resources available to support self-managed careers.
At this roundtable Chrissy Roth-Francis, Senior Manager for Talent Development, told the story of LinkedIn’s inaugural Career Month. She shared the purpose, content and approach they took to achieve their ambitious goal. Finally, we heard about the energy and excitement it has generated and the resources and support they’re providing to build on its success.
Rosemary McLean introduced the session, by reflecting on the renewed interest she’s observed in career strategy and development. David North suggested that the pandemic disruption has accelerated a trend, with many organisations regarding the competitiveness of their career offer as an urgent as well as an important priority.
In a context of increased retention risk, record numbers of job openings, and difficulty finding qualified candidates, it wasn’t surprising that all the organisations present were introducing new ways of promoting their career and development proposition.
Participants shared how they were showcasing their career offer:
- Highlighting career stories, particularly those illustrating internal movement
- Investing in skills; so individuals can manage their career, and managers are able to lead career conversations
- Introducing talent marketplaces that give visibility to opportunities across the organisation and match people with project and job openings
- Training a network of ‘career connectors’ who provide personalised support across all professional areas
- Emphasising the importance of career development in the wider EVP framework
- Extending career development support to everyone, not just selective groups, reversing a 20 year trend
Our message to employees is ‘put your skills out there into the organisation’
Chrissy started by saying that while staff retention is strong at LinkedIn, they are very aware of the employment pressures facing all organisations. As a business, LinkedIn is all about transformation and this helped the team to position the company as the place where you can ‘transform your career trajectory’.
We decided to stake our claim and fight to retain our employees
LinkedIn wanted to create a career event that was broad in scope and audacious in its ambition; an event that would motivate and be a catalyst for people taking charge of their careers.
The timing of the event was carefully chosen, connecting data from different parts of HR. It was launched one month after performance reviews and bonuses are paid; the time when organisations are most vulnerable to losing people.
Topics ranged from how to find a job internally to excelling in your current role. They were both obviously relevant and practically useful for those taking part. Events included regional employee panels, through live workshops, to raffles for participation. Session facilitators came from all parts of HR, with significant senior leader involvement. Their contributions included:
- Sharing a personal anecdote on the theme of ‘the best career advice I received’
- Setting aside time for employees to book 1:1 informational interviews with them (an innovative approach to breaking down the power/distance barrier)
It was clear that LinkedIn had used their Career Month to advocate for key career principles, such as the value of lateral moves and the benefit of taking risks in your career. Storytelling is a great way to bring these ideas to life, and normalise them in the organisation, and Chrissy referenced internal mobility as an example of this.
She shared a tip about ways of leveraging learning across the employee community and enhancing your employer brand. If your career event is recognised as a success internally, people will talk about it via social media externally, and elevate your reputation as a great place to work. LinkedIn is, of course, a great way to do this!
We discussed where to start when you need to reposition the career offer to employees. Do you build the infrastructure first, which takes time, or do you lead with training and career events which raise expectations? Either or both can work depending on your situation, but over time all elements of a career strategy need to be in place.
At LinkedIn, Chrissy feels it is most important to provide follow-up resources and activities for individuals to engage with after a big career event. She challenged their employees with the question…
Career month may be over, but your career development isn’t. What are you going to do next?
She said the same applies to the organisation; what are we going to do to provide information and break down cultural barriers so people can drive their careers?
Drawing the session to a close, David proposed a challenge inherent in Chrissy’s presentation and many of our 2021 roundtables. What would it look like if we took an ambitious and innovative approach to transforming career development in our organisations?
You can introduce all the processes and online resources in the world, but nothing is as inspiring as the true stories of people’s career journeys
In response, attendees shared their takeaways:
- Create a sense of excitement about career development internally and build the company’s reputation externally
- Use people data to determine the timing of events
- Use employee stories to spread the word (‘we have lots of opportunities, but people don’t know about them’)
- Get the career conversation started across the organisation
- Win senior leader hearts as well as minds
- Augment line manager capability with other career supporters
- Organise local career events to connect all staff to the idea of self-managing their careers
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