Q&A with Kim Nixon - Strong Internal Referral Program Keeps Attrition Low


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Kim Nixon, Human Resources Manager at NetApp recently opened up on how NetApp have managed to become a star employer of choice in the IT industry. She discusses what key points they bear in mind when recruiting and retaining talent. She also discusses how their internal referral program has helped NetApp keep attrition low.

Kim Nixon will be speaking at the Recruitment and Retention in the IT Sector Conference. For more information about the event, please visit www.recruitmentinIT.com.au or call +61 2 9229 1000 or email enquire@iqpc.com.au

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Q&A with Kim Nixon - Strong Internal Referral Program Keeps Attrition Low

  1. 1. Strong Internal Referral Program Keeps Attrition Low Q&A with Kim Nixon, Human Resources Manager at NetApp Recruitment & Retention in the IT Sector 2011Human Resources IQIn recent years we’ve seen IT recruitment being increasingly social media focus. ITrecruiters and HR professionals are using Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, andothers, to find quality candidates. So what is your approach to social mediarecruitment? What kind of role does it play in your strategies?Kim NixonIt’s definitely becoming a big focus I’d say particularly at a global level within ourcompany and within other countries. I think that probably they are focusing morestrongly in this area. In Australia, we’re doing this less because we do actually findthat we are able to find the correct people for our business. We have a lot ofavenues particularly through employee referral that we actually do find… we locatethe right people with the right skills. It’s important they’re a good cultural fit as well.So it’s probably less important to us at the moment, but certainly really high on theagenda. As for LinkedIn, it would probably be one the more popular modes that wewould use. We do have some partners that we worked with on our recruiting (mainlyall outsourced) so I know that they rely on LinkedIn very heavily to sort candidatesout.Human Resources IQNow, how do you actually manage your company presence both online and offline tomake sure that you’re the employer of choice? How do you make people want towork for you?Kim NixonWe have a dedicated marketing person, he is responsible for our product marketingarea and it’s his responsibility to own a lot of blogs, and social networking pages andoverall be a very proactive base. As far as targets go, it is to mainly communicatewith the technical community, within our client base, but at the same time, it goes 1
  2. 2. without saying that we’re getting footprints and we’re getting our name out there. So,this way, NetApp is high in the minds of people when they’re thinking about jobsearching and when they’re looking for something else to move on to. So, as far asrecruitment and attracting people, probably I’m not involved direction-wise, butcertainly in terms of as a company, we’re able to get a lot of messaging out throughthese sites.Human Resources IQWhere do you actually look for IT recruitment and retention strategies? Do you lookfor externally? Do you look internally? Or do you look on the web?Kim NixonSo internally, around 30% of our job is to internally source our candidates. We arevery active in moving people into promotions and to different jobs as they come up,so that we give those people internally at this preference for what comes up. Then, Iwould say probably of the external people that we bring on board, round aboutmaybe 55% to 60% of those people come through internal referrals. We have areally attractive benefits-reward program with our referrals. Any employee who doessuccessfully refer a person into the company will get US $2,500. We tend to getreally great candidates through this process. So, I’m a firm believer that likes doattract and so I think if we got a pretty good employee in our group they are likely towant to bring on really good people as well, and only want to bring on great peoplethat they’ve worked with in the past. So, if I was to look at our attrition, for example,it’s around about 6%. And the attrition that the people that we do lose the majority ofthose do not come from internal referrals. Very rarely would we ever lose a personfrom an internal referral.Human Resources IQIt’s well known that IT professionals don’t really job seek, so what kind of innovativestrategies does NetApp have in place to overcome this?Kim NixonI think I’ve already talked about the referral program. So I think, a lot of the issuestems from the small industry that we’re in. We’re in the data storage area and it’svery small. We’re very conscious about hiring very successful managers and I thinka lot of these managers are able to bring on people they’ve worked within the past. Iknow in some companies you find the odd line manager who people just don’t wantto work for them. They don’t have a good reputation. But I think we have a verygood management team here and it attracts a lot of people who want to work for thatmanagement… for that particular manager because of their experience in the past.So, where do we look for people? It’s mainly through networking. We do userecruitment companies to do some hiring, but we keep that list of supplies very small.We like them to be aligned with our business, and that they think within our culture 2
  3. 3. and our values because we don’t want to just find a person who can do the job andfill a hole - it’s got to be someone who’s really going to fit in to our culture as well. SoI suppose it’s a very old-fashioned sort of way of finding people, but we do see thatworking well for us, so we tend to fill our roles very quickly within two to three weeks.Kim Nixon, Human Resources Manager at NetApp, will be speaking at theRecruitment and Retention in IT Sector Conference. For more informationabout the event, please visit www.recruitmentinit.com.au or call us on 02-9229-1000. Alternatively, you can email us on enquire@iqpc.com.au.Dont forget, you can also follow on Twitter @iqpc_australia. Human Resources IQ Can you please tell us a bit about your experience and your role at NetApp? Kim Nixon Sure, no problem. I have been with NetApp for around 4-1/2 years and I’m the Human Resources Manager for Australia and New Zealand, and it’s been a pretty exciting role for me, particularly given the great place to work abroad. We’ve been able to secure a license in Australia so it’s a fantastic company to work for and I have been in the IT industry all my career and I’d have to say it’s probably the best IT company I’ve ever worked for. 3