Interview with CEO Fernando Vilas (Talentese) on Employer Branding

I feel honoured to interview Fernando Vilas, the CEO of . Before starting the Talentese adventure, Fernando gained some great experience working in different companies around the world.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: Mr Vilas, please explain briefly what Talentese is all about. How did you get started and what inspired you to do it?

Fernando Vilas: The project Talentese is a result of many years thinking and questioning one particular thing: Why so many people are not happy at work (and what could be done to solve this)? Of course, there are statistics that prove this, but this goes beyond that. This is a general feeling that many people are experiencing at their work places. I’d bet that many of the readers of this interview, either are not happy at work, or they know several people who are experiencing this situation.

Talentese was born with the ambition of improving this situation, or at least mitigate it.

You might be wondering how?

Our website, will provide to job seekers a unique understanding of companies and team cultures, giving job seekers the possibility to imagine themselves working there before actually being there.

The effect of this approach is that people will only apply to those companies, with which they feel identified from the very beginning, reducing the miss-fit between employees and company culture, which has proven to be one of the most important root causes of employee dissatisfaction at the workplace.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: If we look at some studies that have been conducted so far regarding happiness at work, e.g. the research conducted by Investors in People (IIP) which shows that in the UK 6 out of 10 workers are unhappy in their current jobs, your mission of “making people happy at work” makes perfect sense. Let’s not forget the benefits of having HAPPY employees in your company: more loyal, productive, less sick staff, that sells more and forms stronger bonds with other colleagues, etc. Well, how does Talentese make sure that hired employees don’t regret their decision of accepting the job offer and are really happy?

Fernando Vilas: If we listen carefully to what people say next to the coffee machines in companies, we can extract a lot of really valuable information there. Typical topics that can be heard there, are in many cases things such as “I don’t know why I work for this company, if don’t share its values at all”. “What I expected at the beginning is really far from reality…”. “I was promised to get a great promotion if I delivered my work, but where is my promotion?”.

What I’m trying to say, is that most of the people, when they go to work for a company, they have a really vague idea of what will be found there!

Talentese will show the companies in an attractive, but authentic way. It will show how people grow in the company, how people work and interact, and most important, it will transmit the values of the companies to the job seekers. There is a well-defined methodology to come to this point and to have a very professional company profile on the website.

Once a job seeker will see different companies, it will be very obvious for him or her, which one(s) would be the correct ones, because s/he would feel automatically identified with a way of working, with the company culture etc. And this is our way to ensure that companies only receive those candidates who would feel identified with the company culture, and also to make sure that future employees feel good.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: What are the typical stereotypes that employers have about millennials?

Fernando Vilas: It’s difficult to give just a straight answer to this one, as it really depends on the employer. From our studies, managers of big corporations tend to belong to the Gen X (born between 1960 and 1980), which are really different in behaviour from the Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000. However, startups and recently created companies are usually managed by Millennials, or people with a strong Millennial thinking.

Therefore, when speaking about big corporations, Millennials tend to be seen as over ambitious and also as people who are not willing to make a lot of sacrifices in order to improve their career. It’s typical to consider Millennials as people who’ve found everything done and an easy path in life. In contrast, of course, these are not stereotypes in employers run by Millennials.

That being said, all the companies know that they must adapt, regardless their size or current way of working, because Millennials are a reality and they will become the majority of the workforce in a short time. This adaptation can be seen already by most employers.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: How attractive does an employer need to be nowadays in order to hire the best talent (considering that 40 % of the workforce are Millennials)? What are the highly sought-after features of a millennial-friendly company?

Fernando Vilas: Here companies must distinguish two things: firstly, they must offer what Millennials want, if they want to attract and retain them. Employee retention is one of the biggest issues today, which cost companies a lot of money; and secondly (once the first is achieved) companies must find a way to tell Millennials everything that they can offer them, in an authentic way. And I make an emphasis on the word authentic, because this is not just about making beautiful promotional videos of companies, where employees say how incredible it is to work at their company. It is explaining to the world how in reality the company is, what does it mean going to work there every day, etc.

It’s surprising to see how many companies are concerned and aware that they have to be attractive to the new generations, but they don’t execute this in the right way. They end up expending huge amounts of money in things that at the end don’t solve the problem. In this case, the first thing is to start listening to your own employees, to find out how your company really is (even if companies are afraid of the outcome, this must be done).

This is in fact, something that we offer to companies with a profile in our web. We audit the company and we tell them the “quick wins” to be more attractive to millennials.

The following graph is the result from a great analysis of Deloitte, explaining the preferences of Millennials at the workplace.

It is surprising to see, for example, that work/life balance comes before career progression when evaluating job opportunities. This is quite disruptive when you compare it with the previous Generation X.


Karin Schroeck-Singh: Don’t you think companies need to make a much bigger effort when it comes to promoting their employer brand? I’ve seen companies with a very good approach in setting up a dedicated ‘careers’ section on their corporate website, e.g. the company in Malaysia. They make very clear how their recruitment process works (see picture) and also what benefits they offer (work-from-home Fridays, online learning opportunities, company trips, catered meals, relocation packages, monthly hangouts).

Another example is the company ‘Job Portraits’ based in San Francisco which offers a variety of employer branding services. Among those is for example turning traditional job ads into exciting storytelling content, including interviews with executives. On the other hand, there are companies that consider having a ‘careers’ section as irrelevant or to be honest, have never thought about setting up one in the first place.

What do you personally think? Are those companies that don’t promote themselves as a ‘great place to work’, the ones who will struggle in finding the best people in the future?

Fernando Vilas: Absolutely! The world has become visual and the companies must adapt to this. The new technologies have changed radically the way that we interact with each other and the “traditional” ways of offering jobs will quickly become obsolete.

Only the companies that are adapting to this trend would be the ones that are able to attract the best talent.

Let me explain this with two hypothetical examples:

Let’s assume that a reader of this interview is searching a new job.

Scenario 1: This person starts looking for a job and visits a job website or the career page of the company. What this person finds out there is a job description of two pages, explaining the tasks in a very theoretical way, and where it looks as if the company is a ‘best place in the world’ to work for.

Scenario 2: The job seeker visits a page like and there s/he can read a clear job description, explaining what the job exactly is about (no more, no less). On top of this, he can see his/her potential future colleagues, the company culture, how the offices look like, how people dress and even from a real perspective, what the people do on a daily basis. At the end, this job seeker would be able to get a clear idea of what it would really mean going to work to this company every day, which is a feeling far away from just reading a job description.

Which option would be more attractive? The answer is pretty obvious.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: Yes, indeed! Is there any company that caught your attention and has a remarkable employer brand? What makes that company an attractive employer in your view?

Fernando Vilas: Perhaps it is a classical example, but I think Google is one of the best companies when we talk about employer branding.

The answer lies on the company culture and how well Google can transmit their company culture towards the exterior. And they do this so good that today almost everyone associates Google with a great employer, even if in many cases people don’t know what working at Google really looks and feels like.

Something that the managers at Google know very well is how to care about their employees, but above all, they know how to ensure that everyone knows about this. For example, who doesn’t know that Google has booths where people can take a nap? Or, who doesn’t know that food and drinks are free for Google employees?

Many companies around the world can offer conditions as attractive as Google, especially in Europe, where the social conditions at work are much more favourable than in the USA.

However, very few companies transmit to the world in an authentic way how attractive they can be as employers. Consequently, only those companies which do this properly, are those where everyone would love to work.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: If someone would ask me to give advice on how to promote their employer brand, I would tell them this:

* Set up a separate career section on your website.

* List all the open vacancies and welcome also speculative applications.

* Explain in detail all the steps in the recruitment process so that candidates know what to expect.

* Make it easy for candidates to apply online.

* Let the CEO or Hiring Manager share some thoughts on what the company expects from their candidates.

*Include all the non-financial related rewards.

* Show your team members and let them speak up on why they love to work there.

* Provide pictures or videos in which they give some insights about the company’s culture, the offices, other facilities etc..

* Make sure you are present on Glassdoor Job Search | Find the job that fits your life and encourage your staff to share positive experiences. Employers will google their candidates, but let’s not forget that also candidates will check out a company on Glassdoor! A survey by Careerbuilder, eg. revealed that 67 % of job seekers would be prepared to accept a lower salary if the company had exceptionally positive reviews online!

Apart from all these, you mentioned once in a recent phone conversation that RAVEJOB also provides videos/pictures about the local surroundings of the company. I find this idea very good, particularly for those who don’t live locally and want to get a better understanding of the company’s area and location. Have you considered including some virtual reality aspect to your services in the future too?

Fernando Vilas: We are starting to consider collaborations with startups such as LookAround ( to evaluate how we could integrate such aspects in the company profiles of . However this is not our first priority.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: How easy or difficult is it to promote your services to German and Spanish companies? What difficulties do you and co-founder Aitor Castiñeiras encounter? Is there any memorable episode that you remember and you are prepared to share with my audience?

Fernando Vilas: In general, Talentese has a great acceptation by the companies, especially when we talk with companies concerned about their employer branding (which are not all). In this case, they instantly see a need for a job website like The difficulties arise when companies tell us that company branding is not needed for them, that they always get the right talent. This just happened a couple of times to us, and our discussions with these companies didn’t last long.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: You also offer the production of corporate videos which I consider a very crucial aspect in employer branding. I remember having seen some very good videos from big companies such as Apple, Google etc. What have your experiences at Talentese been so far with your clients?

Fernando Vilas: People love videos, and the main reason for this has a lot to do with a general trending topic, the personal brand. When we ask people if they would like to be filmed, most of the time the answer is a “yes, of course”. And they want to do it because it helps them to be known by their colleagues in the company and even by decision makers.

Everybody knows nowadays that you might be doing the best job ever, but if nobody sees it, if you don’t go social, it’s more difficult to get a good promotion. So, videos help to create this awareness.

On the other hand, the process to create a video is really straight forward and it consumes very short time for the companies and their employees. We provide some questions that the interviewees can prepare in advance, and we come with our team of professional video producers to do the interviews. Then, there is the post-edition of the videos to create the company profiles.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: Last, but not least, what are the benefits that Talentese offers an employer, and how much do you charge for your services?

Fernando Vilas: is much more than a website to publish jobs. Our target is to accompany the companies in what we call the “candidate experience”, from the moment that they see a job offer, to the moment that they decide to apply to a job at a particular company.

To do this, we start by auditing the culture of the company and evaluating if the culture (seeing by their own employees) is aligned with the company desired by the management. You’d be surprised how many times the companies’ management teams have a disturbed idea of how their company really is. Then, we tell companies what to do in order to improve their employer branding, depending on their own objectives.

After this audit comes the creation of the company profile, to make sure that we transmit to the job candidates exactly what the company wants to transmit.

Our pricing really depends on the company that we are working with, as we provide personalized packages depending on the needs of each company. If companies want to get more information, they can get in touch with us here.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: Are you planning to hire some more staff in 2017?

Fernando Villas: Our team is growing fast and currently we are looking for professional career coaches . Our team is working remotely for the moment, but we plan to move all together to one location in the first half of 2017.

If everything goes as planned, we will be soon looking also for Employer Branding specialists and sales people.

Karin Schroeck-Singh: Thank you very much for your valuable time and for sharing your insights, I highly appreciate Mr Vilas.

Source: How to Build an Employer Brand