Two students helped Hilti Finland attract fresh Aalto graduates

A students’ perspective on recruitment marketing sets the bar high for future collaboration.
Hiltin projektitiimi
Tiina Hilden (Hilti) (left), Helena Eherand, Anna Devisova, Petra Paasonen and Juha Hinkkanen (Hilti). Photo: Tommi Vihervaara

Without a doubt, attracting and retaining the best employees is a crucial factor for a company’s success. However, in the current era of boundary less, technology-driven, and rapidly changing business environment, companies are increasingly facing the challenge of competition for talent.

To stand out in this competitive job market, companies need to strategically engage in employer branding. With this in mind, Hilti Group commissioned two students from Aalto University School of Business to explore how the company could strengthen its employer brand among Aalto University’s graduates. The goal of the project was to understand what attracts fresh talent and to create an actionable recruitment marketing plan based on those insights.

The challenge was taken on by Helena Eharand, a Master’s student in International Design Business Management, and Anna Denisova from the Master’s program in Marketing. The project was carried out as part of the Customized Student Business Projects concept and supervised by doctoral candidate Petra Paasonen.

‘It was a pleasure to supervise Anna and Helena. From the very beginning, they showed great autonomy in managing the project. They also demonstrated excellent skills in both studying and analyzing the problem, and generating ideas for the solution. I was especially impressed how they applied different frameworks to support their work,’ says Petra.

Design thinking to recruitment marketing

Taking advantage of their various backgrounds, the team approached the project from a design thinking perspective and focused on thoroughly understanding the problem and the target group before starting to develop the marketing plan. Following the popular Double Diamond framework, the project was carried out in 2 stages.

In the situation analysis stage, the team started with a series of interviews with Hilti employees, to analyze the internal corporate culture and validate the employer value proposition. The interviews were followed by a survey among Aalto’s students, to identify the driving factors in Aalto’s students’ job search, estimate the brand knowledge of Hilti, as well as to assess students’ willingness to work in Hilti’s sales and account management. Finally, to deepen the knowledge about employer branding, expert interviews were conducted.

Through the research, it became clear that in addition to communicating their own brand, Hilti also faces the challenge of marketing sales positions as well as the industry in general.

The research insights and relevant literature were combined in the solution stage, where the team developed a 2-year marketing plan. To facilitate ideation and keep the marketing plan candidate-centric, the team used the knowledge from the research phase to develop a persona as well as a candidate journey. Pinpointing the actions, thinking, feelings, and relevant channels and touchpoints of the student, a flexible plan was created, using the possibilities of the Aalto Partnership Programme. They were complemented with some extra ideas to make the plan more fun and appealing to its target. The proposed activities were also placed on an impact-resource matrix, serving as a guide for the company when reevaluating future plans.

Hilti’s Sales Director Juha Hinkkanen particularly noted that in the times of “war for talent” the project was of vital importance for the company.

‘The research that was done in the course of the project was very interesting and thought-provoking. It was great to get a more realistic picture of how we currently rank as an employer. The study will be used as part of our HR team's yearly planning for activities and events and it also helps us to make decisions on the partnerships that we want to invest in the long term.’

Branding efforts have to be strategic

Throughout the project, the students understood that while the marketing plan can serve as a roadmap with concrete actions to be taken, in order to truly create a positive employer brand, it is important that the company approaches employer branding strategically: creating more opportunities already for students still at the university, engaging in recruitment marketing consistently over a long period of time, and ensuring that all communications are of high quality.

‘It was fascinating to understand how complex, time-consuming, and multi-layered employer branding really is,’ said Helena and Anna. Nurturing an employer brand is a long and incremental process, and thus, re-evaluating the plan based on the outcomes and available resources is necessary. ‘The devil is in the details‘, the students added.

Through a tight collaboration, the students got an opportunity to develop their skills in expert work, while the client got to get to know their target audience closer. ‘Helena and Anna came to meetings well prepared, asked relevant questions, and demonstrated skills to analyze, conceptualize and deliver tangible recommendations. But most importantly, they were positive, ambitious and worked in a way that they were confident in what they presented back to us,’ Juha Hinkkanen said. ‘The bar for future collaboration is set high.’

‘Helena (right) ja Anna (in the front) were positive, ambitious and worked in a way that they were confident in what they presented back to us,’ said Juha Hinkkanen. Petra Paasonen next to Anna. Photo: Tommi Vihervaara

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Opiskelijoita Kauppakorkeakoululla. Kuva: Aalto-yliopisto / Unto Rautio
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