This was originally published on the Telstra Careers Blog – a place to find out what’s happening in the world of work and Telstra.

Recently I had the privilege of speaking at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect conference in Sydney, which is an annual gathering of global leaders in talent acquisition. Over two days we explored how to leverage best practices of marketing, analytics and technology to re-imagine the ways organisations find their top talent and how professionals find their dream jobs.

The topic I covered was the role of employees as brand ambassadors; to help attract and recruit high performing talent. I shared with the audience Telstra’s journey of employment brand transformation and the approach we’ve taken to changing the external perception of Telstra as an employer.

I thought in this blog, I’d share with you some key insights on our approach to involving our employees in our brand journey. As well as insight I gained as a participant in the event.

We know our people are the key factor in delivering our brand promise to our customers and ultimately our organisation’s success. But brand reputation is a key factor in attracting and retaining talent. In order to be viewed as an aspirational employer in an external marketplace, you first need to create a brilliant employment experience for your people. We’ve worked hard at building a clear, engaging and inspirational brand image of Telstra as a ‘great place to work’ in the hearts and minds of current and potential employees.

We design employment brand and marketing initiatives that position Telstra as an employer of choice. But the Employment Brand isn’t owned by me, or our HR team. It’s owned by every one of our people – their ownership stems from being associated with the brand as an employee ambassador.

On every execution of our employment brand, we feature our people sharing their stories; stories about what they do, the projects they’re working on, the challenges they face in their roles, and most importantly, how their career connects them with what they love. Through this process of sharing, woven in with their individual personality (they are after all, the colour in our brand,) they’ve enabled us to attract high performing employees globally; employees who will create a brilliant connected future for everyone.

Presenting my lifework at the event was incredibly frightening, and equally thrilling – I was standing on a massive stage, talking in front of a large, high calibre audience, my peers here at Telstra, and in the industry.

Presenting at the conference
Pictured: Me, presenting at LinkedIn’s Talent Connect conference in Sydney

I was joined by some amazing speakers from both local and global organisations. A key theme that emerged from the conference was the importance of the Talent Acquisition function in the future of recruitment. Angela Farrelly, Strategy Manager, Talent Acquisition and Employer Branding at Air New Zealand highlighted how the skills shortage in Australia and NZ will get worse with Baby Boomers starting to leave the workforce in 2015. This means the talent marketplace will be much more competitive. Talent Scouts or Sourcers who are tasked with proactively finding the best talent, will be vital in ensuring we’re hiring the best in the market, not just the best who have applied.

Another theme that resonated strongly with me was the marriage of HR and Marketing. If our people are the key factor in delivering on the brand promise to our customers, we need to make sure we’re aligning HR and marketing strategies. The need for cross-functional teams who leverage each other’s expertise (rather than trying to do things for themselves) was also highlighted.

Ed Nathanson, Global Talent Acquisition at Rapid7 spoke about the importance of building a consistent and genuine employment brand. He shared some hilarious, and equally awesome examples of what they’re doing to promote their organisation; acknowledging that not everyone will like what they see, and that’s OK. What I took from this, is that your brand and employee value proposition (EVP) needs to be reflective of your organisation and grounded in reality. This way you’ll attract the right people by enabling self-selection.

Mike Hulse, Recruiting Director – APAC at spoke about his recruitment team as an extension of his sales team, and the fact the recruitment process is very similar to the phases of the sales cycle. They’ve modelled their team and process to reflect those of their sales force, and are partnering with them to adopt best practise in this space.

These, and others, were fantastic insights, ones we can draw from when designing Telstra’s talent attraction strategies. But for me, the most moving session of the event was Peter Baines, founder of Hands Across the Water. Peter has played an instrumental role in managing the response to some of the most confronting natural disasters and acts of terrorism. His personal accounts alone would have made for an enlightening and inspirational experience, however Peter also shared some amazing lessons on authentic leadership and its impact on achieving results. The one I’ll take away and apply in my role, and personal life, is to be a leader without a title.

All in all, it was a great learning and networking experience. I came away with the comfort that we’re not alone in the challenges we face; and pride in knowing that our strategy and practices are at the forefront of the industry.

It’s no wonder I love my job!