Recruiting Does That?

There I was, with three key clients: Stephanie, Suzanne, and Lauren (not their real names). These senior HR leaders within Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical business and I were engulfed in a lively discussion about talent acquisition in the pharmaceutical industry.

We had just spent an hour talking about the key business priorities of one of our growing franchises and how to translate them into talent acquisition and development strategies.

“We need to look at China,” said Suzanne. “Yes, definitely,” echoed Stephanie. “We need to better understand the market dynamics of this growing economy and what it means for us in our ability to attract top scientists to Johnson & Johnson.”

“We also need to think about new Europe,” Suzanne said. “China? New Europe?” Lauren chimed in, “I’d just like to figure out California!”

The banter continued for a few minutes before Suzanne said, “We should hire a consultant to look at the market for scientific talent. Where it is, what they want, and how talent shifts across the globe can impact us.” “Excellent idea!” said Lauren.

They then turned to me and said, “Lisa, do you know of any consultants who can help us with this?”

It was a defining moment. “Of course I know consultants who can help with this,” I thought angrily to myself. “Our entire Sourcing organization is focused intently on not only becoming great miners and assessors of talent, but also in developing an acute knowledge of the business environments in which we compete for talent. Why don’t they know this?!”

Taking a moment to calm myself, I answered lightly, “Yes, I do.”

“Great!” said Lauren. “Would you work with the consultant to prepare an executive summary of key issues in the global talent market, with a particular focus on Asia, and present back to us in a few weeks?”

“I’m already on it,” I responded.


For those who think this is an article about the global talent market or the dynamics of recruiting top pharmaceutical talent in Asia, sorry to disappoint. (I’ll write another column on that one day.) The point of today’s article is the key role that marketing the services, products, and capabilities of your internal talent acquisition team plays in ensuring your organization knows of, understands, and appreciates the value that you bring to the organization above and beyond the filling of empty seats.

In short, leaders of internal recruiting teams everywhere: blow your team’s own horn!

For those organizations with established internal recruiting or talent-acquisition functions (like we do at Johnson & Johnson), it’s easy to have a false sense of security that your organization knows what “horsepower is under the hood” when it comes to the knowledge, skills, and abilities of your internal recruiting engine.

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The conversation above is one of many similar conversations I’ve had with clients across Johnson & Johnson over the last few years. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the phrase “Recruiting does that?” when having discussions about what we focus our time and energy on in Johnson & Johnson Recruiting.

  • Have a need for workforce planning to help you ensure you understand your current workforce, consider future needs, and determine steps to prepare for the future? We can help. We have tools and methodologies we’re excited to share. (Heck, we’ll even come out and do training for your HR folks who may not be as well-versed in it.)
  • Trying to better understand your organization’s standing and stature in the employment arena? Ask us: we know. This world of selling candidates and conveying the value proposition of working for your organization is our oyster. Count on us to be honest in telling you what the candidates really think of your organization.
  • Want your line leaders to play a more active role in campus or career events, but not sure where to start? We’ll tell you why it’s critical for your line leaders and managers to be involved in career events and what role they can play to be most effective. We’ll show you data that highlights the correlation between line-management participation in events and hires and acceptance rates.
  • Yes, we can conduct a market analysis of the labor market in China. We’ll tell you not only about the market, but about what competitors are doing, what we need to do keep pace with or surpass them, and even make recommendations about where you locate your business to maximize the investment and take advantage of untapped markets. We’ll save you thousands in consulting fees because it’s research we do everyday as part of our mission to ensure we deliver to you the extraordinary people who will deliver extraordinary results to the business.

That insightful day, I went back to my office, rang two of my colleagues in Sourcing and asked for their help to collaborate on the research for and preparation of the executive summary for our clients.

Four weeks later, we presented “Global Workforce Deployment: Considerations and Trends: A White Paper on Shifting Talent Pools” to the leadership team, which helped contribute to one organization’s decision to accelerate its investment in an R&D presence in China. The research we did and compelling data we presented helped affirm the organization’s decision that building R&D capability in China was a top priority.

Shortly after that, I rang my colleague in Advertising to discuss a recruitment-branding initiative. “Let me guess,” said Ray, our account executive, trying to anticipate what was coming his way, “a new branding initiative targeting biostatisticians or PhDs?”

“Actually, we’re targeting Johnson & Johnson Recruiting,” I began. I think I took him somewhat off guard, but we talked for a long time.

Shortly thereafter, Johnson & Johnson Recruiting developed its first-ever explanation of the range of services we provide, the value we add to the recruiting process for candidates and hiring managers, and the impact of our work on helping deliver extraordinary talent to the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies.

We still have a ways to go, and the efforts need to be ongoing. However, my colleagues and I notice we’re getting the “I know this isn’t directly relating to filling positions, but can you help us with?” type of calls more often. We’ve yet to turn a client down.

Here’s the bottom line: We in recruiting need to continually market the range of our capabilities to clients, and talk beyond the simple filling of requisitions and requisite recruiting metrics.

There is one major caveat here. Be careful not to over-promise and under-deliver. Conduct a vigorous and honest assessment of your recruiting organization and its capabilities. Focus on highlighting those areas where you are strongest and most confident in the ability to consistently deliver high-quality service. Then, market them to all your clients and leaders.

At the same time, target those areas you want to develop capability in and focus intently on building it. Before you know it, you’ll have a lot more to talk about with clients.

Lisa Calicchio, SPHR, is Director of Recruiting -- Pharmaceuticals Team, for Johnson & Johnson Recruiting, the internal talent acquisition organization of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. In this role, Lisa manages the development and delivery of talent acquisition strategies and execution for Johnson & Johnson?s U.S. pharmaceuticals and biotechnology operating companies. In addition to managing this segment of the business and a significant client base, Lisa focuses on enhancing JJR's consulting capabilities through specialty teams for business analytics, training, and recruitment marketing. Her background includes extensive experience as an HR generalist and recruiting, though she started her professional career "on the line" and held several line positions across key functional areas before moving from sales and marketing into HR.


4 Comments on “Recruiting Does That?

  1. Lisa – your points could not be more spot-on. Too often the consultantcy provided by internal recruiters is overlooked by the business (and sometimes our HR)partners.

    One of the consistent messages recruiters need to hear (and embrace) is that ‘we are business people first, Talent Acquisition experts second’. Our success has a direct, tangible impact on the revenue and profitability of each of our companies.

    Would add one point to your article – in addition to becoming more strategic, it’s imperative to have solid line of sight to financial forecasting (and by extension headcount forecasting) to ensure TA isn’t a ‘drive through’ or ‘just in time’ function — our business partners have to understand the lifecycle of our processes and plan for sufficient onboarding of new employees — they won’t be 100% productive right away.


    Jim Cochrun

  2. Lisa, to your point, some of the most important strategic services that a corporate department can offer to its internal customers won’t be leveraged unless they are promoted to those customers.

    The potential risk is NOT just that the corporate department won’t get the work, but that deep and valuable internal knowledge won’t be leveraged.

    Strategic marketing outside… strategic marketing inside… Here, here!

  3. Lisa, excellent point. We need to reinforce to our clients/business partners/whatever you call them that we are in the trenches with them. Too often recruiting is seen as ‘entry-level HR’ and therefore is not taken as seriously as Comp or ER professionals. But you demonstrate that we have so much to offer. The role we play is as critical as the others but we need to take the steps (as you have) to help our internal clients recognize the value we offer as well as the diversity of our offerings. Very nicely said.

  4. Lisa,

    Your emotional control opened the door for you to lead/market.

    Nice !

    Vroooomm ( the sound of the ‘horsepower’ being brought into play ).

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