Shaunda Zilich Is Having a Moment

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Mar 30, 2017

Shaunda Zilich is having a moment.

You may not know her name, but as the global employment brand leader at GE, Shaunda is responsible for attracting a new generation to work for one of the biggest companies in the world that isn’t in Silicon Valley.

And she’s killing it.

You’ve probably seen commercials for GE where Owen, a nerdy soul who gets a job working in IT, tries to convince his family and friends that GE is a technology company. Or you may have seen the ad where Millie Dresselhaus, a female scientist, is treated like a celebrity.

Is it a commercial for GE? Is it a recruiting ad? Welcome to Shaunda’s leading-edge world, where it’s both.

With a degree in marketing and more than a decade of experience working to shape brands and messages, Shaunda is an excellent example of what it means to be a modern talent acquisition leader who translates critical business imperatives into talent initiatives with substance and meaning. (She’s also speaking about talent acquisition and marketing at the April ERE conference; say hello to her or connect with her on LinkedIn.)

Earlier this month, I asked Shaunda to tell me more about her passion, purpose, and what makes her tick.

My passion is to inspire others to dig deep and find their purpose. That’s how employment branding and recruiting fit so well into my life. If I can help others discover what it is they care about and how they can make it a part of their lives, I’m happy. My hope is that I am inspiring just one person to go on that journey in their life every time I write, speak, or communicate.

What’s the future of talent acquisition?

The future is now, but many recruiting departments struggle just to get to the present where applicants and candidates are interacting in a personalized, conversational way. Recruiters need to be present where talented people accomplish their day-to-day activities. Don’t even think about pushing job postings on Twitter. Get active with resources like Facebook Live, WeChat, VR, or even with personal assistants like Alexa (she is the bomb!).

What are other creative resources available to recruiters?

Recruiters and TA professionals need hackathons and non-recruiting events to get people interested in our companies. What if you create a flashmob in a video game store to talk about how our software engineers are solving the world’s everyday problems using video game technology? Somebody should do that. 

Recruiters should operate like business-to-consumer marketers and navigate across platforms in a unifying way by using data on what people are interested in and applying those interests to targeted and thoughtful advertising.

With all of this digital effort, where do conversations happen?

Conversations happen throughout the entire lifecycle of recruiting. Let’s say someone clicks on a GE campaign for women in technology. They’ll arrive at a website to learn more, and they also see a job that lines up with their interests because of our cross-platform approach to understanding our candidates. 

So, let’s say that someone sees an ad from that women-in-tech-campaign and clicks apply. A chat window pops open, and a human being — a woman in technology who is trained as a brand ambassador and active in our internal affinity group — is available to answer questions as a prospect fills out a job application.

Through a chatbox, our GE employee asks, “Hey, I see you are interested in this job. Do you have questions about what it is like to work at GE? Can I tell you about a cool community of women you can belong to once you work here?”

Can you imagine if more companies had easier and more personalized ways to apply for jobs? We’d solve a lot of recruiting problems in one fell swoop.

What are a few things a recruiter could do to make her job more fulfilling or the role more useful?

Swap seats with the consumer. Think of a specific situation where you’re a consumer and about to buy something. Let’s pretend a company is trying to sell you a product, and it works. You buy it and love it. Whatever it is you loved about that experience, bring that immediately into your job as a recruiter. Don’t overthink it. Was it a feeling? Was it an attitude? Was it research? Do that. 

Find white space. Find some time to get out of your head. Get away from work, out of the office, away from the noise. Spend some time thinking about the “why” behind your job. Then consider a problem you face. If you tried to implement one thing that is different, what would it be? What would it solve?  Recruiters are really smart at selling, but sometimes they don’t make the time to think and do for themselves.

I asked Shaunda for some parting advice for recruiters and TA professionals who wanted to take more risks, be creative, and learn how to be transparent.

Have fun, which recruiters sometimes forget, and be curious. No one I’ve ever met wanted to join a perfect company. They wanted to be part of the journey to make it better, and they wanted their talent to have an impact to improve something. Nobody gets excited about keeping something the same.

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