Every year, the Rally Awards celebrate excellence in Recruitment Marketing and employer branding practices that attract and recruit talent through social and digital channels, as well as practitioners who have demonstrated how they’ve moved the needle to make a difference in their organization.
Jonna Sjövall, Global Head of Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing at UBS, was awarded the Recruitment Marketer of the Year award this year for leading the way in elevating UBS’s entire Recruitment Marketing approach, from improving diversity to driving thousands of qualified applications to hard-to-fill roles to creating a metrics-driven framework to track the company’s Recruitment Marketing efforts.
Aside from driving results, Jonna is described by her peers as a role model for Recruitment Marketing leaders everywhere. Despite the pressure of today’s competitive labor market to fill roles as quickly as possible, she still encourages her team to experiment and try new things, emphasizing that “if things don’t go wrong sometimes, we’re not trying hard enough”.
Before we get to our Q&A with Jonna, let’s learn a little more about her achievements.
Meet Jonna Sjövall, 2022 Recruitment Marketer of the Year
Immediately after taking over the employer branding and Recruitment Marketing (EBM) team on January 1, 2021, Jonna was faced with a barrage of challenges: the great resignation hit banking, the competition for diverse talent got fiercer and recruitment numbers hit the roof, which left UBS’s recruitment function with major gaps.
Along with her team, Jonna got right to work combatting these challenges by targeting over 50 different target groups in 23 markets across the world, from Apprentices in Switzerland to senior investment banking women on Wall Street. Here are just a few of the changes that Jonna led to drive this audience-centric approach:
- A revamped career site with significantly simplified user journeys and the right metric tracking in place
- A revamped Employer Value Proposition and new employer brand launch focused on inclusivity
- A new paid, audience-led social media strategy driven by A/B testing
- A new approach to junior talent candidate marketing: a cohesive year-round approach to drive diversity metrics from social media, universities and events to super days
- An enhanced Instagram approach (yielding 17,000 new followers) and a revisited Linkedin strategy for UBS careers (yielding 159,000 new followers)
- A new library of 100+ diversity images for the UBS image library featuring real employees
- The introduction of Tiktok and Snapchat as Recruitment Marketing channels for Gen Z
Making all of these changes possible is Jonna’s ability to connect with and earn buy-in from stakeholders, regardless if it’s about a policy change, asking for budget or advocating for a new channel to pilot. Through making strong connections, and presenting her ideas in a way that stakeholders can get behind, she has successfully transformed the EBM team at UBS from being seen as the brand police slowing things down to a strong business enabler.
To celebrate her win, and hopefully impart some of her wisdom to our community, we sat down with Jonna. Keep reading to learn more about her career, her approach to Recruitment Marketing and driving change in a conservative work environment, how she made working in finance more attractive to early careers talent and women candidates and what’s next for her and UBS.
Rally: So Jonna, how did you get started in Recruitment Marketing?
Jonna: I’m an engineer by training, so marketing or anything HR related was really not something I planned for. After university, I worked in a consulting firm and as part of a junior’s job, I represented the company at career fairs. I quickly realized that all of our competitors said the same things as us, and it was almost impossible to differentiate, so it came down to us at the stand to make the difference.
This sparked my interest in employer branding, and 2 years later I started at an employer branding agency. There I realized that employer branding efforts need to be connected to recruitment, or it all falls flat. That’s where I started to learn about Recruitment Marketing so I could advise my clients better on their top-of-the-funnel strategies.
Rally: What do you enjoy most about working in this space?
Jonna: The ever-changing landscape when it comes to channels and tools. But also the fact that Recruitment Marketing is about bringing out the culture and what the company is about to the external world without sounding like a corporation talking. It sounds simple, but it’s not that easy. I like a good challenge!
Rally: What do you think has helped you to be a successful recruitment marketer?
Jonna: My obsession with data. It doesn’t matter how creative or fancy an idea is, it might still not work. I’m also very output-focused, so I want to always be able to connect the dots between an end result and a specific input made by me or my team. This has driven me to explore new ways to measure results.
Rally: What skills do you think are important for other recruitment marketers who are looking to forge their path in this space?
Jonna: Be curious! This space is ever-changing, but it isn’t rocket science. Staying on top of trends, understanding the hiring landscape, knowing what’s possible technically: all of these things require curiosity, and everyone is capable if you have a willingness to learn.
It’s also extremely important to advocate for your work and for permission, budget and headcount. If you’re a great stakeholder manager and can put a business case together with compelling points and passion for the topic, you’ll be unstoppable.
Rally: Can you describe an experience with failure in Recruitment Marketing and how you handled it, and if you learned anything from it?
Jonna: Even though I should know better, at times I created content without sounding it enough with the target group itself. It takes time to sound ideas and validate concepts, but it’s usually worth it in the end.
During my career I have had to pull some big production content that either didn’t see the light of day, or resulted in a big backlash. In retrospect, I should have seen it coming. The learning is to always sense-check content, especially if you’re trying to be funny, with the people you’re trying to hire. They’ll tell you if it works.
Rally Note: Learn more from Jonna by watching her speak on demand at this year’s RallyFwd!
Rally: In your opinion, what is the area that deserves the most focus from Recruitment Marketers right now?
Jonna: Three things: DEI, social media and measuring results. Everyone is on social, and everyone is struggling to cut through the noise. The space is crowded, and all companies say the same things. You need to be authentic when the world is listening, but doing it in a way that drives results is a fine balance. Invest time in getting your metrics right, and measure the right things; don’t go for vanity metrics, go for actual conversion.
Rally: What project are you most proud of to date?
Jonna: My team is absolutely amazing and they do so much great work, so it’s hard to choose. It must be a project that won a Rally award last year that my team did for our Group Internal Consulting hiring. It was a great co-creation with the business, and it was very progressive for UBS. We stretched ourselves, but we nailed it. Our internal stakeholders from the business were our best brand ambassadors, and we managed to both fill the pipeline and hire the right people in the end. On top of that we had so much fun working on the project and it was very rewarding to see the results!
Rally: What’s next for you in your career?
Jonna: We’re piloting an agile organization in UBS HR. As part of that, I recently took over broader responsibilities and will, in addition to my role leading our employer branding and marketing team, also co-lead a newly formed diversity attraction COE. I’m excited to bring a results mindset to it, but also to embed diversity even more into our activities.
Rally: What’s changed the most about Recruitment Marketing since you started your career?
Jonna: I’ve seen things go from post and pray to results-driven full-funnel marketing. The digital marketing landscape has changed the game, but it isn’t easy.
Rally: What do you think the future of employer branding and Recruitment Marketing looks like?
Jonna: When I joined UBS, my final interview was about exactly this question. Three years ago the ambition was to be able to prove that the marketing efforts actually resulted in good hires. In the future it will be even more focused on a full-funnel approach.
It will become more and more integrated with recruitment outcomes, but also overall talent management strategies. For EB to work, you have to keep the end in mind, but do it very strategically — you need to work both top of the funnel and lower funnel at the same time. It will also become much more focused on key talent audiences with specific approaches, as that’s where it can bring the most value.
Rally: Is there anything you’d do differently leading up to where you are now? What tips do you have for practitioners just starting out, or looking to grow their career in Recruitment Marketing?
Jonna: We can always do things differently, and even if I don’t regret anything I could have used some business classes during my time in engineering school. That would have saved me a lot of time later. I should also have gotten on Tiktok earlier. 😉
My tip is to really learn how different channels work, and how to use data without getting lost in it. The more comfortable you are with numbers and metrics, the easier you can bring home your pitch. If you have the opportunity to work in sales, I also highly recommend that (or to at least work on developing selling skills on your own). It takes you a long way to be able to be convincing without being condescending.
Rally: Any final thoughts on the Recruitment Marketing field you want to pass on to the Rally community?
Jonna: It’s super fun! It’s the perfect mix of “selling” something as intangible as culture, working with people, dealing with data and being creative, all the while keeping a close eye on what actually works. Have fun while you fail! If you don’t fail you don’t try hard enough.
Rally note: Learn more about Jonna’s experience with failure by reading our article, Why Failing is Key to Breakthrough Employer Branding.
Interested in reading more from this year’s Rally Award winners? Be sure to read our interviews with 2022 Recruitment Marketing Rising Stars Samantha Schuch and Ugo Nwankwo!
You can see all of the 2022 award winners on the Rally Awards website.
Check back soon, as there are plenty more lessons from Rally award winners in the weeks to come!