How thyssenkrupp Engineers Employer Branding

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

Elevators. Submarines. High-speed trains. What’s the common denominator? The answer is thyssenkrupp, a German industrial conglomerate with some 150k employees.

Dr. Stefan Schmitt is Head of Human Resources Strategy at thyssenkrupp. He tells us how the company stands out in its way of working – keeping the sense of belonging and promoting strong collaboration. This, of course, shines through in their employer brand.

Have a listen to the interview below, keep reading for a summary and be sure to subscribe to the Employer Branding Podcast.

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Describe the culture at thyssenkrupp!

Being 10 years inside this company, our culture is best described as performance and values.

We have to continuously deliver in terms of performance, and what I always say to my own people is ‘We only do safe business. We only do clean business’. Caring for people has always been a part of our business, and stems throughout not only our performance but also our values.

What talent challenges do you face?

The easy answer would be the search for talent in IT, digital, STEM, female talent and English speaking talent.

But to be honest, my challenge is finding the right people. Not necessarily the best people. You can train a lot of things, but you can’t train someone’s mindset. So we search for people with the right mindset. People who are collaborators, loyal and people who fit our key values.

What’s unique about working for thyssenkrupp?

It’s unique because of the together piece. How we do things. How we work together. We might be similar in terms of what we do to others, but we are unique in the way we work together, from interns all the way to senior roles. That’s what differentiates us from competitors. That’s why I’ve been here for 10 years!

How do you activate your employer brand?

If we go one step back, I want to talk about how we activated our EVP internally. We wanted to get the mentality of working together internally first and get our people to start living our values.

Externally, one word that stands out for me is; customize. We didn’t want to go the expensive way and paint everything brand blue, but we wanted to do it the smart way. So we would customize our EVP to the countries and the profiles we need.

How do you measure your employer brand?

We try to measure it in terms of candidate experience. We measure that by sending out surveys to many people who apply to our company to get their real perspective and what should be improved.

From a business perspective, we measure time to fill and getting the right candidates. It’s very indirect what we do, and everything we do online we measure which should be a norm for any business.

In the end what counts is the quality of traffic you generate on your channels, and then the drop-out rates you have in the application process. This is very much HR focused. The business will ultimately judge you on the quality of candidates you put through the door.

What peaks and troughs can you share with us?

I’m proud of the team who is running these campaigns. They come up with the ideas, and that for me is the key piece. Before we started we were ranked around the 60th best employer by Potential Park and now in the latest rankings, we are 2nd in Europe.

In terms of a lesson, one is understanding that I am not the target group. Most hiring managers are NOT the target group. To really get into the candidate’s shoes, that’s the most important factor for me.

In the first days of my job, I told my team we should to a Facebook posting with a hex code in and create a new server just to cope with all the applicants we will get. It was a disaster.

So from now on when they come in with a proposal I ask myself two things:

  1. Is it a match to the thyssenkrupp values?
  2. Is it a match to my values?

If it’s a yes to both answers then the project is a-go.

What’re your top 3 tips for employer brand managers?

  1. Know your business. Know your customer. Be out there and talk to people.
  2. Know your target group. Be precise about it. Deliver on their needs, not yours.
  3. Be authentic. Be a role model yourself and a brand ambassador yourself.

Connect with Stefan on Linkedin.


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