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Image counts when recruiting skilled people

The employer image is more important for companies than ever before. At Alma Media, it is the staff who build this image.

Talking about the importance of the employer image may sound strange at a time when there seems to be an oversupply of applicants and a shortage of jobs. Virpi Juvonen, Vice President of Human Resources at Alma Media, disagrees:

”The importance of the employer image is not diminishing – quite the opposite. Regardless of the situation in the labour market, companies are competing for the very few skilled people who are in a position to choose from a number of attractive potential employers. Let’s take technical experts as an example: media companies compete for them with game companies and start-ups, which can offer a great story and fancy offices.”

Virpi Juvonen tells us that the employer image has become more important to people when they consider applying for a job.

Such tightening competition together with Finland’s slow economic growth have resulted in cooperation negotiations and tighter control over costs in the media sector. Changes in consumer behaviour and advances in digitalisation are also forcing a revamp of business models and job descriptions in the sector. In a dynamic environment, organisations, procedures and management styles are constantly changing. Everyone has to learn fast.

“We’re not in a unique position. If we take a look around, we can see that sector after sector has gone through massive changes. Now it’s our turn.”

“And change is a good thing – the ability to do so enhances the credibility of the employer image. More employees, particularly in media, understand the importance of change”.

Jobs must be meaningful

Juvonen emphasises the fact that larger companies such as media houses can offer a great range of career paths and a wide diversity of duties when competing for employees. At Alma Media employees can move from one job to another or from one brand to another within the company. The connecting factor is Alma. Over the past few years, Alma Media has invested in developing the Alma brand together with the Group’s other well-known brands such as Iltalehti, Aamulehti and Kauppalehti. The Alma brand is very visible in all recruitment efforts.

But a strong brand is not enough by itself.

“Working in media is still considered relevant; content and importance mean a lot. An ambitious journalist wants to choose a channel with a large audience. The same principle applies to other professions as well; the number of users is important to coders, for example,” Juvonen explains.

The image is conveyed by the people themselves

At Alma Media, the employer image is built as work is carried out, through everyday tasks. The focus is on managerial skills, a supportive approach, skills and great atmosphere, and studies show that people enjoy working for Alma. Juvonen says, though, that the full potential of this has not been used in the creation of the company’s employer image. To support the effort, the #Almaspirit concept was created.

“Working in media is still considered relevant,” says Juvonen.

“We wanted to provide Alma employees with a way to communicate, to share their knowledge and enthusiasm for their work. #Almaspirit aims to improve the sense of community among Alma employees, to step up collaboration and to engage employees with the Alma brand rather than individual brands.”

“We would like to see people sharing real experiences using the hash tag #Almaspirit on Alma’s various social media channels. It’s important that all posts are based on real situations. When things are running smoothly in the company, this is reflected in positive posts.”

Employees’ posts shared among their peer groups have always been important, but are even more so now that they can reach so many people so quickly.

In summer 2015, Alma Media tested an employee advocacy programme: a group of summer workers published posts about their job and experiences on Alma’s social media channels. Juvonen says that the programme will continue at Alma in one form or another.

Targeted events benefit everyone

According to Virpi Juvonen, Alma Media now attends far fewer general events, such as recruitment fairs, to build its employer image. Instead, the strategy is to find well-defined target groups that meet the company’s requirements and then invite them to events that benefit both parties. For example, coders have been invited to developer events.

“We also invited young, sales-oriented business students to an event where they made a video CV of themselves together with an exercise that involved a real customer case. We selected two interns from among the visitors. It was a win-win situation for everyone,” says Juvonen.

Alma uses its strong employer image, which is communicated by its staff, and targeted recruitment efforts to ensure that a sufficient number of people with the required skill set apply for jobs in the company. And more precisely: that they have the right attitude and are flexible as well as willing to learn.

“We are looking for people who understand that change is a good force; it’s a force that keeps us all going.”

Alma Media”s Head of HR operations, Virpi Juvonen, made a speech on building the employer image and the accelerating changes in the media sector at the Monster Café event organised by Alma Career Oy at the beginning of October.