A Love for Digital Marketing with Louise Bunyan (1/3)

Welcome to episode 162 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we share part 1 of our interview with Louise Bunyan. We’ll dive into what talent marketing is, how it integrates into the hiring process, and learn about Louise’s early career in teaching and how she got into digital marketing.

Original Recording Date: 12-21-2021

Welcome to episode 162 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two Pre-Sales Technical Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we share part 1 of our interview with Louise Bunyan. We’ll dive into what talent marketing is, how it integrates into the hiring process, and learn about Louise’s early career in teaching and how she got into digital marketing.

Original Recording Date: 12-21-2021

Topics – Meet Louise Bunyan, Talent Marketing, Hiring Processes, Early Career, A Move to Teaching, Relocation to Another Country, Boomerang Back to Ireland, A Love for Digital Marketing, Advice for Bettering Your Writing

2:46 – Meet Louise Bunyan

  • Louise Bunyan is a Talent Marketing Specialist with VMware (joined January 2021). She is part of the Employment Brand team and works remotely in County Cork in Ireland.
  • Louise also owns a side business called SmartFox since 2017 specializing in LinkedIn training for job seekers and students as well as sales and business development professionals.
  • She has about 15 years experience in communications, public relations, and marketing (online and offline).
  • In Louise’s free time, she likes to write creative fiction, blog, and is a published short story writer. You can find links to her stories on her website or follow her on Twitter.

3:42 – Talent Marketing

  • Talent Marketing is a bit more common in large organizations. For example, VMware has about 37,000 employees globally.
    • Employer branding may be the term more people have heard, which started getting popular about 10 years ago.
    • Competing for talent is more and more difficult.
    • VMware has to work hard to get people to apply for top talent roles, and we’re competing with other large brands for this.
    • Louise mentioned companies want to position themselves as a great place to work and as an employer of choice, wanting to attract top talent.
    • If you’re a great place to work and no one knows, it will be a struggle to attract that top talent that you need.
    • Most folks in employer branding would be marketers, but this could be shared between HR and Marketing at a smaller organization.
    • Louise has specialized in the e-mail marketing platform (sort of a talent marketing platform) Beamery since she started with VMware and now has become the owner of the VMware Careers Blog.
      • They recently launched a new section of the blog called The Inside Scoop, and Nick wrote an article covering top tips for individual contributors (check it out here).
      • They plan to have recruiters, talent acquisition folks, and others give advice on The Inside Scoop on how to get hired at VMware.
    • There are separate university talent teams within the company that Louise’s team supports as well as many other teams inside the company with hiring needs.
    • Louise thinks of her role as being at the top of the funnel. She is focused on brand awareness / promotion of VMware as an employer of choice.
      • Once Louise and team drive awareness and event participation, the torch is passed to recruiters and sources to do the next part of the hiring process.
  • At smaller companies, Louise has worked with a number of HR (human resources) folks. Some are very comfortable with social media usage while others are not. It helps if someone in Digital Marketing can assist here to be responsible for the posting of jobs and maybe even create a careers page.
    • Ideally there would be an e-mail address or form that allows candidates to send in resumes. But you cannot just let it sit there. The resumes sent in must be reviewed.
    • Nick mentions that a company’s career page is a great resource for candidates looking for work. Hopefully openings are up to date. This page can give you a view into the organization’s culture.
      • Louise says it’s good to have a video of another employee speaking to the company’s culture and benefits. People want to see someone who looks like them (not just a CEO).
      • Young graduates want to hear about career progression, how companies look after the environment, etc.
      • People with families may care more about work / life balance, wellness benefits, etc.
  • There are personas and target markets for Talent Marketing just like when you’re trying to sell a product.
  • Louise’s team also does LinkedIn Live events for VMware. You can find a list of recorded videos here including Career Meetups and sessions on The Joy of Innovation.
    • For the Careers Meetups specifically, Louise’s team partners with other teams in the organization. For example, there was one about the sales career path which featured 3 employees with different levels of seniority.
    • These events can give candidates an idea of how the recruitment process works for these types of roles. There was an episode focused on working in Talent Acquisition that may be of interest.
    • If you follow the VMware company page on LinkedIn you can get a notification when an event goes live (no need to register, just watch). There may be 500 – 600 people on one of these events (which are completely free and about 35 minutes). The mission is to empower people who want to apply at VMware, including discussions about the hiring process and what to expect.
    • There are probably similar events out there sponsored by other companies.

15:51 – Hiring Processes

  • Depending on the company at which you’re applying you may not know the hiring process. Some people have written blogs during the great resignation about their hiring process actually becoming longer.
    • If the process is going to be 5 rounds and you don’t know it, you may not be mentally prepared to go through the process.
    • Louise says candidate experience is key and core to everything her team does.
  • VMware now has a hiring process called GO Hiring (GO = guided by outcomes). There is a Career Meetup video on this that you can watch here if interested.
    • This new methodology was developed by Nate Anderson. You can read more about it in this blog post.
    • Louise found out she was one of the first few candidates on which this methodology was used when she interviewed in early 2021.
    • Hiring is done based on performance and not on pedigree. The criteria for specific experience is not as strict (i.e. 10 years in a specific discipline).
    • Each interview stage is very practical and may involve some type of project the candidate has to complete at home. Interviewers are given practical questions to look at the thought process behind a piece of work and how a candidate thinks.
    • The job description according to Louise was very different because of this methodology and includes what is expected in the first 30-60-90 days of getting a specific role. Hiring managers have the option to add something about themselves into the job description.
    • There is feedback gathering from candidates after every interview and a net promoter score that is baked into the process.
    • Nate explains this to people by saying he wants someone to come up with a solution to cross a river. Most people (99%) will say build a bridge. But there are many ways across (swim, build a boat, walk across if it’s shallow, etc.). The presence of strict requirements ends up creating a search for bridge builders rather than really looking at how the person might do the work expected (i.e. just finding solutions to get across the water).
    • Nick suggests this might allow someone with experience in one area to showcase the relatable experience as helping them excel in a new area.
    • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion principles are baked into this process as well.
      • Research shows that women are more inclined to apply for a job if they meet 100% of the criteria, whereas men will often apply if they meet 60-70%.

21:35 – Early Career

  • In college Louise studied media, communications, and geography. She also did some post graduate work in public relations and event management.
  • She was an events assistant in Dublin, Ireland for a well-known restaurant during a period referred to as the Celtic Tiger.
    • She moved to the public sector during this time for a more sensible job.
  • In 2008 the Irish economy went into a severe recession. At the time Louise was working for a government body called Pubble that managed government funding for community development projects.
    • It was a very uncertain time. Louise was in her late 20s with no mortgage or kids. The company started offering very attractive voluntary redundancy packages.
    • Louise opted to take a package and was paid a great deal of money to leave her job.
  • Louise decided to go to New Zealand. Irish people can get 1 year working holiday visas for visiting Australia or New Zealand.
    • Louise had some friends in New Zealand. She got the 1 year visa but did not want to work in a bar or restaurant. One of Louise’s friends had a friend who studied CELTA (Cambridge English Language Teaching to Adults).
    • This was a very rigorous 1-month course that Louise decided to take. This path seemed like the best opportunity to get a job at a nice school once complete.
    • Louise actually bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand. She didn’t know if she would be there for a month, several months, etc.
    • After arriving in New Zealand, Louise toured the country for a couple of months and then went to Auckland. She stayed with two people she knew and handed out her resume to local schools. Louise started teaching for a few hours here and there for a local Kaplan school over a period of 2 years before returning to Ireland.
    • Louise was renting an apartment in Dublin at the time, took most of her things to her parents’ home, and departed with only 2 suitcases.
    • It was very freeing, almost like a tortoise that has a home on their back.

26:35 – A Move to Teaching

  • Louise resisted teaching for quite a while. She went to Mary Immaculate College to study communications as part of an arts degree, and the school was well known for having bachelor of education degrees for students to specialize in primary education.
    • About 90% of the students who did the arts course became teachers.
    • You can become a primary or secondary school teacher based on these programs, but Louise wanted to avoid these options.
    • Louise did her post-graduate work in public relations and event management.
    • The feedback she had heard on the CELTA program was the flexibility of travel to anywhere and that it keeps you from having to work in a bar or a restaurant.
    • Louise got very nervous before starting this path and finally convinced herself to do it.
    • The irony is she loved the teaching and was quite good at it, teaching for 2 years in New Zealand and continuing to teach even after coming back to Ireland (in Cork, Dublin, and even offering private tutoring to students at times).

28:51 – Relocation to Another Country

  • Louise suggests researching legal requirements for the country of choice.
    • Is there a working visa program like Louise found? Find out what you are legally allowed to do.
    • Be patient. You have to hustle. Louise printed out 15-20 copies of her resume to hand out to local schools and went knocking doors when she was looking for a job in New Zealand.
    • Think about what online recruitment boards are popular in the area. Is it Monster or something else entirely?
    • Can you register with some recruiters?
    • What are the transferrable skills from your country that will work for you and be recognized in a different country?
      • For example, Louise was able to stand out with high grades from her completion of the CELTA program.
  • Did Louise always want to travel?
    • Louise was part of a college exchange in her 3rd year and came to Houston, TX to study at the University of St. Thomas for 6 months. That was her first time so far away from home and being immersed in another culture.
    • When she was younger, her parents took her to France and to drive around Europe. They might have jumped on a plane to visit Spain for a week, for example, and were very lucky.
    • This reminds Nick of Ashley Connell telling her manager she wanted to travel abroad one day in Episode 96 and it eventually becoming a reality.
    • In Louise’s case, Ireland and New Zealand are about as far apart as you can get.

32:25 – Boomerang Back to Ireland

  • When you’re away it’s a bit transient unless you put down mega roots. Louise always knew it was never to be a long term thing to be in New Zealand.
  • Louise also volunteered as a media assistant for the Rugby World Cup in Auckland, which is the 3rd largest sporting event of the year. This was part of the reason she stayed for the second year.
    • It took a year from the time she applied online until she was selected to be a media assistant.
    • She and the rest of the team supported about 300 journalists and 250 photo journalists in the media center and conference rooms at the event.
    • This experience really ignited Louise’s desire to return to work in public relations.
    • She was ready for the next chapter and to go back home to Ireland.
  • Louise thought she would be able to get a top notch job in public relations, but around the same time digital marketing had exploded.
    • Upon returning, there were a number of people Louise went to school with furthering their public relations careers by going back to school to study digital marketing.
    • Louise didn’t have this kind of education. She didn’t know how to use Facebook for business purposes or how to run Twitter campaigns (the feedback she kept getting).
    • She had to go back to college and was lucky to get a free post-graduate course in digital marketing courtesy of the government.
  • It was hard to work for the Rugby World Cup in Auckland and not become a bigger rugby fan (which Louise was already before moving there for a time).
    • Being in the media center for this event was pretty easy and mostly involved handing out wireless access codes and running around to hand out copies of lineup changes.
    • The conference rooms had translator devices that non-native English speakers could use to follow along with the rugby action.

37:50 – A Love for Digital Marketing

  • Louise and digital marketing were like two peas in a pod. She loved it. It appealed to both sides of her brain, the logical side and the creative side.
  • She learned how to use Google Analytics, which she still uses today. She also learned about SEO (search engine optimization) and had to create and maintain blogs as part of her coursework.
    • There were presentations from a number of industry experts during her coursework in digital marketing.
  • Blogging was pretty new to Louise, but from her public relations experience she would have been quite comfortable writing press releases.
    • The keywords, formatting, and SEO aspects of blogging were new to Louise.
    • After the teaching in New Zealand Louise’s grammar has greatly improved. Her creative writing has also helped Louise become a better editor.
    • Combining all of these things and wrapping the marketing aspect into it makes blogging one of Louise’s favorite things to do now.

39:53 – Advice for Bettering Your Writing

  • One of the pieces of advice Louise received as a student in creative writing workshops was read more to become a better writer.
  • For the aspiring blogger, do your research.
    • Don’t forget to look past the first page of Google results (most people don’t).
    • Check out your competitors are and what they are writing. Consider the following:
      • What do you like?
      • What don’t you like, and why not? Ask yourself why the content in someone else’s blog may not be engaging. Keep a copy of their posts to give it some thought.
      • You’ll need to find your own tone. Why are your writing the blog in the first place? What do you want someone to get out of it?
      • Is the piece a thought or opinion piece?
      • What do you want the reader to gain from reading your work?
  • Does Louise’s training in communications make her a perfectionist when it comes to writing?
    • Perfectionism used to be a problem, but when Lousie started working for herself, she had to adopt the mantra that good enough is good enough. There are only so many hours in a day.
    • In her current role at VMware, when reviewing someone’s blog, it’s up to Louise to ensure that the best piece of work goes out for the writer because their name is on it.
    • Louise is a bit more comfortable now with the process and knows what a good piece looks like, trying not to be overly critical.
    • "At the end of the day it’s the content and the author’s tone that has to come across." – Louise Bunyan
    • Louise rolled out a training program to help educate people that want to write a piece for the VMware careers blog. She tells people that good enough is good enough. Louise tries to make things as easy as possible for potential content creators.
    • Sometimes Louise will have an idea for a piece and just make bullet points. She likes to get all her thoughts down on a page and then go back and edit later.
    • Brene Brown has a phrase about terrible first drafts. Your first draft is just to get your thoughts in order (not something you would want to publish).
    • When working with others, Louise encourages writers to send her their thoughts and let her cast an eye on it to provide suggestions (i.e. if they are writing a thought piece).
    • For the first time blogger, consider doing a top 3 / top 5 post as an easy way to get started.
    • How-to articles are also very popular with people who have visited the VMware Careers blog.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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