{Study} HR professionals hardly know high potential: Wrong employer branding strategy

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Company Tomorrow's high potentials like to attract with all sorts of employer branding frills: A cool (effective) campaign at Facebook, a couple of hip videos and then - the hiring manager's misconception - the young people will take a bite and apply like stupid. Not even close.

snv-study-working conditions

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.


No fig sheet for personel

The study concerned, which deals with the requirements of digital natives for HR management, was jointly published by the Stiftung Neue Verantwortung and Egon Zehnder International. I became aware of this by Karsten Wenzlaff of ikosom.

And overall, the study is very exciting because it is not a fig leaf for the personnel guild but shows much more how badly the HR managers can actually assess their target group. Which leads to the fact that they are often completely out of the question with their marketing efforts.

The study makes it clear that young people are much more traditionally conscious and conservative than many believe today. For example, they are looking for safe workplaces, but at the same time they want the greatest possible flexibility of their own. With a few cheap social media features they can not be lured.

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Who asked how?

The survey was conducted under 154 Alumni of the New Responsibility Foundation (SNV) and students of various disciplines, including Business Psychology and Economics, as well as 104 HR Managers. The alumni and personnel managers were interviewed from 20.12.2011 to 15.01.2012, the students in March 2012.

Data on the respondents

  • Description alumni / students:
  • Age average: alumni of the snv 33 years, students 23 years
  • Sectors of the alumni of the snv: Economy: 36%, Science: 29%, Society (NGOs, Media): 21%, Politics / Administration: 15% (N = 261)
  • Specialist disciplines of the students: various disciplines, especially economic psychology and economics
  • Description Staffchefs:
  • Age average: 48 years
  • Sex: female: 30%, male: 70%
  • 1. and 2. Leadership level, one person per company
  • HR Generalists
  • Broad mix of industries


What emerged from the study is that HR and digital natives are different Success Factors how to assess work situation or motivation quite differently. An overview:

  • Motivational factors: The top 3 motivating factors for alumni / students are “enjoyment of work”, “personal development” and “meaningful work”. In the first two points, the assessments of the HR managers agree with those of the alumni / students. However, they see the topics of career opportunities and participation as far less important than the HR managers suspect.
  • Characteristics: HR managers tend to have a stereotypical image of high potentials (confident, innovative, risk-taking). The self-assessment of high potentials, on the other hand, is more diverse. Only 16 percent of alumni / students see themselves as very willing to take risks. Overall, a large proportion of the alumni / students choose much more traditional characteristics in their self-description than the personnel managers do: 64 percent of the alumni / students describe themselves as very disciplined (vs. 27 percent HR), 38 percent as modest (vs. 4 percent HR) and 17 percent as tradition-conscious (vs. 4 percent HR).
  • Skills of the future: Social competency will become more important for both groups in the future. Consistency also exists in the fact that professional competence will not increase in importance. Competences for global cooperation - multilingual and intercultural competencies - are regarded as much more important by staff officers.
  • The ideal work situation: The assumptions of the personnel managers regarding working conditions differ very strongly from the ideas of the high potentials. Here, too, HR has a clear stereotype in mind (mobile, flexible, digitally networked). On the other hand, the answers of the alumni / students vary significantly: 23 percent want to be mobile, but 27 percent say that they attach great importance to being local. Only 8 percent want digital networking, while 62 percent want personal contact with colleagues and business partners. The desire for corporate loyalty (expressed by 27 percent of alumni / students) is also greatly underestimated by HR.

Conclusion: know the target group first

If you want to do successful HR marketing, you should first get to know your target group correctly and respond to your wishes. Many expensive social media campaigns are in trouble. The study states in the end:

In the future, high potentials will be in short supply, and at the same time their loyalty to an employer will decrease. The balance of power is shifting and executives have to respond to the needs of individual high potentials and adapt their leadership style individually.

This is exactly what many companies have not yet understood, as some rather senseless actions have shown in the past. Maybe they should just listen to the young people?

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  1. Meta HR GmbH

    Study shows how badly people know their high potentials: Incorrect Employer Branding Strategy #g

  2. Edusys AG

    RT @markenfrische: #Study shows how badly HR managers know their high potentials - #EmployerBranding #hr

  3. Pascal Maurer

    Incorrect # EmployerBranding Strategy: Study shows how badly people know their high potentials:

  4. Talent management study & raffle by IntraWorlds: Take part & win a netbook! | Profession pictures by Simone Janson

    [...] Reader Lea drew my attention to this IntraWorlds campaign yesterday: Students and Young [...]

  5. brand fresh

    #Study shows how bad people know their high potentials: Wrong # EmployerBranding strategy #hr

  6. Thomas Kujawa

    act. Headline of the #HR News: Study shows how badly personal their High Potentia ..., see more

  7. Markus Wendt

    Target group unknown: How few people know their high potentials. via @SimoneJanson #Studie #EmployerBrand

  8. Dominik A. Hahn

    Do not we #EmployerBranding responsible our target groups? (not representative!)

  9. Lea

    Insightful results! The 2012 Talent Management Study is currently running on the subject of talent retention. Short online questionnaire - a netbook will be a prize! www.soscisurvey.de/talentmanagementstudie2012

    • Simone Janson

      Thank you. Since I wisely yet again in an extra post on it!

  10. Ralf Tometschek

    Exciting #Study: HR often passes the target group! RT @SimoneJanson #karriere

  11. karriere.at

    Exciting #Study: HR often passes the target group! RT @SimoneJanson #karriere

  12. Christoph Berger

    Study: How poorly HR managers know their high potentials: Wrong employer branding strategy - berufebilder.de:

  13. Holger Froese

    Study shows how badly people know their high potentials: Incorrect employer branding strategy #Business

  14. YOUNECT GmbH

    RT @ SimoneJanson study shows how bad HR professionals know their high potentials: Wrong employer branding strategy

  15. Jacqueline Klemm

    notice your applicants, there are no quotas! "@SimoneJanson Personaler-High Potentials wrong employer branding #g"

  16. Liane Wolffgang

    Study shows how poorly HR managers know their high potentials: Wrong employer branding strategy: Die Stif ...

  17. Simone Janson

    Study shows how badly people know their high potentials: Incorrect Employer Branding Strategy #g

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