Big Fuel’s Anthony Onesto on Attracting Talent Through Marketing

Anthony Onesto is the Chief Talent Officer at Big Fuel. Anthony has been working in HR management for the past dozen plus years at companies including Fresh Direct and Zeta Interactive. We recently  spoke with Anthony about his current role.

The Makegood: Anthony, you have facilitated growth of companies, for example Fresh Direct. What would you say are some best practices a company should take into consideration when they have to hire quickly?

AO: Yes, build a process and structure, but not a rigid one.  One that can be changed based on environment and hiring needs.  Companies also need to think about recruiting in a marketing sense.  What I mean is that the old way of recruiting does not work anymore, you have to market your company.  In the same way you market to customers, you must use marketing techniques to attract talent.  The person you want working for you is not on a job board, but sitting at a desk working really hard.  You must have an authentic identity on social, digital and offline channels and each one must be tailored to the audience – passive job seekers.  This is why our recruiting department at Big Fuel is called Talent Marketing.

The Makegood: Currently you are the Chief Talent Officer at Big Fuel. Can you tell us what your day to day is like?

AO: Crazy!  That is the fun part.  A typical day consists of building strategy on how to tie talent practices to overall business success.  Coaching.  Culture building.  Workforce planning.  Talent Marketing.  Some minor paperwork.  Meetings, always meetings.

The Makegood: Having worked in online media and advertising industry for the last 10+ years, what would you say is the biggest challenge for the industry in terms of talent?

AO: I think the biggest challenge in the industry is US.  It seems much of the advertising industry is still doing things, as they pertain to Talent, as they did years ago.  There are proven strategies and techniques that did not exist years ago that work to improve revenue and increase profit.  We HR executives need to think differently.  We are being asked to be more strategic, but some are still locked in the world of compliance and paperwork.  You can NEVER be strategic when your entire focus is risk.

The Makegood: Have you seen any recent trends in talent management that seem promising?

AO: There are three things happening right now that warm my business and HR heart.

The first is what Zappos has done for culture.  We in HR always knew that culture was important, but it was always this “fluffy” HR thing that business folks had a hard time buying.  Frankly, I blame the folks selling it.  Zappos has proven that with a strong culture, you can build and scale a successful company.

Second is HR metrics.  There is an effort right now to standardize HR metrics and make them part of Wall Street reports.  Wow!  The challenge right now is to make sure we find the right metrics to report and that they correlate to revenue and profits – but what a step in the right direction!  We know that a strong HRM practice impacts top and bottom lines, but this will now place so much importance on the practice of Talent.  Lots pressure for those traditional HR folks!

Lastly, I love the current conversation and movement around performance reviews.  Years ago I was talking about eliminating this wasteful practice and instituting a new practice of quick, more frequent coaching sessions that ladder up into a yearly, bi-annually or quarterly reviews.  Annual reviews as they exist today fail to motivate teams and have a negative impact on a company’s performance.  Businesses are talking about more frequent coaching sessions as a great way to do business, but also as part of a leader’s responsibility to her/his team.

I always give an example of a baseball coach.  If a player is on the field and makes error, you will always see the field coach walking over to him after he walks into the dugout and talk to him about what he did wrong.  The coach does wait until the following year’s pre-season – its real-time coaching.  This is what we need to do in companies, now.

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The Makegood: Thanks, Anthony.