gradireland Talent Summit: Employers recognising value of developing and engaging their employees

Today, Wednesday March 25th, saw the hosting of the second Halogen Software/gradireland Talent Summit, with input from industry insiders and debate from the broader talent management community. The questions of what the core challenges would be in terms of talent management for the 12 months ahead were central to the morning’s discussion, and what any possible answers would mean for both employers and employees.

The first presentation of the morning was from Katie McGrath, an account manager with Halogen Software, presenting on the future of strategic talent management. In October and November 2014  Halogen conducted a poll of talent professionals and found that less than half had a talent management strategy. 30% of the 237 polled felt that their talent strategy was not working well and 40% of those respondents said that they expected to increase their overall talent management budget as economic improvement continues. “Talent management is clearly returning to the top of employers’ priorities,” said Katie, but what are recruiters’ priorities when it comes to actually managing their employees?

Talent management priorities were identified by the Halogen research as employee engagement, training, performance management, recruitment & retention of the right people. So what does that mean for the jobseeker or employee? It means that employers are again embracing the reality that it will be hard for them to attract and retain the talent they need for their businesses. Which is good news for jobseekers with the right core skills that the employer wants. Employers are also realising that they need to engage with their employees, according to Halogen’s research only 14% of companies saw their levels of engagement as high, with 64% agreeing it was very low.

It’s interesting to see that employers are now focusing on engagement and personal development as one of their main tools in attracting and retaining talent, because Mark Mitchell, gradireland Publisher, presented research which showed that “respondents to the gradireland/Trendence student survey also viewed development and fulfilment within a job as preferable to earning lots of money and opportunities and development as preferable to perks and amenities. This reflects research into the importance of ‘buy-in’ amongst young employees. It’s not enough to do the job, they need to have a significant level of belief in the job and trust in the organisation’s goals,” said Mark.

Indeed, speaking of trust, the closing speaker at the Talent Summit was John Ryan, CEO of Great Places to Work Ireland, who spoke about the cultures and core attributes of companies what had been recognised as unique and rewarding places to work. It was trust, clarity and recognition which was most commonly identified by employees, again pointing to the importance of engagement and development. Of course, in return for this investment in employees, companies will expect to be rewarded by loyalty and performance. Striking the balance of this relationship will be increasingly important for job-hunters, employees and employers in this time of changing workplace dynamics.


Ireland’s brightest students shine at National Student Challenge

National Student Challenge Winner Matthew Foyle

National Student Challenge Winner Matthew Foyle

Matthew Foyle from Griffith College Dublin was crowned National Student Challenge winner at the annual competition held by gradireland, writes Fergal Browne.

Bringing together over 50 of Ireland’s brightest students – who were the top performers in an online assessment specifically set to mirror the qualities employers are looking for – and some of Ireland’s top graduate recruiters like Lidl and PwC, the event was branded a success by both the competitors and the graduate recruiters.

“It’s been really stimulating. The most valuable part I’m going to take away from the day is a new way of thinking in stuff like supply chain management, and communicating,” said eventually winner Matthew Foyle who was the first National Student Challenge winner from Griffith College Dublin.

Matthew, who received a cheque for €1,000, highlighted that the event is also a brilliant networking opportunity. “The networking part is vital for me. I’m applying for a lot of graduate programme positions and this is an opportunity to talk to employers about what they are looking for and how to tailor my CV appropriately”, said the 2015 champion.

The event saw six employers – Lidl, the Public Appointments Service, PwC, EY, Bank of Ireland and AbbVie – challenge students in a range of tasks and competencies which were designed to be fun but demanding.

“We have been really impressed by the standard of students here. Some of them seemed to have the complete package; brains, personality and charisma. It’s great to see,” says Susan Murdock, Graduate Programme Manager at Bank of Ireland (BoI).

BoI set students the task of designing a mobile phone app in small groups. “We are looking for imagination and creativity because these are the qualities that we look for at Bank of Ireland”, says Susan. BoI is bringing on 80 students from across all disciplines for its graduate programme. “We are happy to consider anybody from any discipline. If they have creativity, there’s a place for them here”, adds Susan.

Major pharmaceutical firm AbbVie, which has manufacturing plants in Sligo and Cork, alongside offices in Dublin and internationally, set students the challenge of working in small teams to design and fly paper airplanes.

“What we were looking for is a good attitude”, says Angela Haran, AbbVie’s Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist. “We are very much a team-orientated environment, so a great attitude is a major part,” she adds.

The importance of a positive attitude was highlighted by Lidl too. “We are looking for three things; for students to enjoy themselves, contribute to the overall team effort and throw themselves into the task”, says Lidl’s Graduate Programme Manager, Russell Palfrey.

Lidl’s inventive task involved blindfolding four students while the other team members led the blindfolded students to certain parts of the room by directing them only by using whistles. “It’s directly linked to our business because we have trucks leaving our warehouses everyday to reach our stores,” adds Russell.

“The Lidl challenge was brilliant fun. It’s a great mix between doing something fun and serious team building,” says Stephen Brennan, a final year Engineering and Electronics student from TCD who took part in the event.


Language Careers Fair a huge success for graduates and employers

IMG_1912Over 800 students, graduates and jobseekers attended Ireland’s only language careers fair, as employers got a chance to meet students and graduates with strong language skills, writes Fergal Browne.

It’s the second time gradireland has run the GRADchances Language Fair in the RDS, which this year saw 20 employers advertising jobs for those with fluency in almost every European and world language.

One of the companies at the event, Wayfair – an online store specialising in furniture – came to the language event to source German and French speakers for customer service positions for its base in Galway.

“It’s been a great event”, says Jess Delahunt, Senior Recruiter at Wayfair. “Some of the CVs I received today, I actually wrote ‘hire’ on them, because I plan on getting these candidates interviewed next week and my recommendation to managers will be the get these people on board,” he says.

Most companies at the event were seeking to recruit immediately as many are expanding their operations in Ireland. One company, Cork-based Voxpro, currently has 700 employees with plans to expand to 1,000 by the end of this year and 1,700 by 2017. “We are looking for everything at the moment. If you have a European language, we’re interested”, says Catriona Flynn, a recruiter for the company.

Claudia Escobar came to the language fair to network with employers and see what jobs are out there. She arrived in Ireland from her native Mexico three and a half years ago and is finishing up her degree in Business Studies with a specialisation in Marketing at Independent Colleges in May.

“I’m really interested in doing either marketing or human resource management. I’ve been really surprised by how friendly all the employers are here. They are happy to answer all my questions and it’s given me a really great idea of what I can do with my Spanish and English when I finish college”, says the Mexican native.

Almost all the employers agreed one of the most difficult languages to source great talent for is German due to the large amount of positions available for those with that language.

“This really surprised me”, says Kyra Maron, originally from Nuremburg, Germany, who is studying European Studies in Trinity College. “Straight away when I told employers I speak German, they wanted to take my email address and were telling me how much they need German speakers. It’s really eye-opening to see how in demand the language is”, she says.


Meet your future employer at Ireland’s only language fair

The Higher Education Authority will be at gradireland's GRADchances language fair again this year

The Higher Education Authority will be at gradireland’s GRADchances Language Fair again this year

Ireland’s biggest language event is just two days away. The gradireland GRADchances event brings together Ireland’s most prestigious language employers with students and graduates with fluency in over 60 languages. One attendee of last year’s event tells us how one quick chat turned into a full-time job, writes Fergal Browne.

Mariana Reis went to the 2014 GRADchances Language Fair expecting to get a good chance to talk to employers and to explore future career opportunities.

Born in Brazil’s biggest city, Sao Paulo, she moved to Ireland at 19 in order to improve her English. Six years later she’s still here and works full-time with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) after a chat with a HEA recruitment member at gradireland’s Language Fair.

At the time of the gradireland event, Mariana was still in college just finishing up a four year International Business and Spanish degree in DIT. “A career advisor told me about the Language Fair and recommended I talk to the HEA. They actually told me they weren’t looking for anybody at the time but I gave them my CV anyway,” she says.

The HEA rang her two weeks after the Language Fair and after a quick meeting had “two/three weeks” of part-time work which got extended to June, and finally turned into a full-time position after she finished college in June.

Mariana points out that the best thing about learning foreign languages is that you learn for personal fulfilment and satisfaction, but then the skills can be transferred over to your professional career.

“I love learning languages. I actually never thought of learning languages for my professional life. I’ve done it because it’s such a magnificent opportunity to meet lots of different types of people and have great experiences. But now in my working life, I’m beginning to recognise how it can enrich my workplace experience as well”, says the native Portuguese speaker.

“Having foreign languages opens up more possibilities to expand into different things and just makes you and the company a lot more flexible”, says Mariana. The Brazilian graduate speaks four languages fluently; her native Portuguese, English, Spanish and Italian. She uses all four languages day-to-day dealing with clients and students across Europe and in her native Brazil.

“Be able to speak in the other person’s language is great customer service. You make your client feel comfortable and ensure nothing is lost in translation,” she says.

Mariana advises all students with languages to go to the gradireland event. “It’s a great opportunity to meet employers and even just to understand the types of jobs out there”, she says.

gradireland’s GRADchances Language Fair takes place this Wednesday, March 4th! For more information and to register for the event for free, visit the Language Fair website.