Christoph Fellinger: “Stay close to your candidates emotions!’

Christoph Fellinger is head of strategic Talent Acquisition and early careers programs at Beiersdorf, probably best known for its NIVEA brand. He shares his role as the lead of the early careers eam with a parttime colleague in what the Dutch would call a duojob. The Early Careers team is covering the talent acquisition for our Headquarters in Hamburg, Germany for apprentices, dual students, interns, working students and the international graduate trainee program “BEYOND BORDERS”. The other 50% of his time he is the head of strategic Talent Acquisition. In Germany he’s known as one of the most tech savvy in house TA managers and he will be speaking at TA-Live in Amsterdam, April 18th.

Doing so many things, tell us, what does your average day look like?

“Having two jobs within the company means I am dealing with a broad range of topics on a daily basis: from discussing digital campaigning to driving applications for the programs to reworking our selection criteria and processes, coaching graduate trainees on an individual basis, advising TA colleagues worldwide on how to make best use of LinkedIn for their own recruitment and Employer Branding and yes – being there for the team of six wonderfully gifted colleagues, for their questions or proposals. Thankfully no day is the same, it feels more like changing wagons on a high-speed train every day.”

Beiersdorf is a big company with a very big brands, like Nivea that pretty much every Dutchmen will know, yet as a corporate brand it’s not that well known. Since you have an employer branding background, how do you use the strengths of your individual brands for the corporate employer brand?

“To be honest: this discrepancy between the high awareness of the brands and the very low awareness of the company is both a dream and my biggest nightmare. A nightmare as the name does ring a bell with only very, very few people. Seeing the logo or the name written in for example a result list of a job search has not the impact we’d like it to have. We are being confused with pharma companies, mistaken for medical supply firms or associated with some dull boring company. Which means that we HAVE to leverage the power of the brands to enter that stage of consideration in the candidate journey. Having said that we make sure to include brands in any visual we are using and brand names as close to the company name as possible. Let me give you an example: for us the job title “Business Controller” at Beiersdorf doesn’t do it – we list the job as “Business Controller NIVEA” even if this will never appear on the person’s business card. Same for InMailing candidates: it’s always “Would you like to work for NIVEA or Eucerin?” and not “…for Beiersdorf”. Thanks to the strength of our brands we have an almost 98% awareness (at least for NIVEA) and people generally are very sympathetic towards the brands. This is the dream I am incorporating in our Employer Branding.”

You don’t come from an HR background, you studied media management and worked at Universal music before moving to Beiersdorf. What lessons from the music industry do you still apply in Talent Acquisition?

“If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the music industry it’s being close to consumer’s emotions. People don’t join a company for purely rational reasons. At least not the ones that are going to be really engaged, which in the end are the ones we really want. Thus you have to build up an emotional bond even early on in the Talent Acquisition process and follow through. And I’d say that this is easier in Employer Branding and recruitment marketing than it is in the actual recruiting process with all the efficiency it also takes to run a recruiting team in a big company.”

Last but not least, you’ve been at Beiersdorf for over 15 years now. What makes it so unique?

“You get to play with the big ones even though you come from a small player. Our competition is way bigger than us, yet we are on eye level – sometimes even ahead of them. And this goes both for our brands and for our talent acquisition. You can only achieve this by having a highly collaborative attitude in the company and a high identification with its culture and brands. This spirit has carried me over the past years – and the fact that I have always been able to come forth with new, unprecedented ideas in my jobs.”