International Staffing Perspectives: PASCALE COGNARD, Staffing Specialist, Freescale Semiconductor - France

By Dave Mendoza, Master Cybersleuth, A JobMachine Affilate Partner

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Last month “Six Degrees From Dave” initiated a series of articles
focusing upon global perspectives among fellow colleagues in the staffing industry from each corner of the Earth, in the spirit of fostering best practices and understanding. As part of my continuing effort to research perspectives and identify fundamental patterns among recruiters, newspapers and other mediums, and the role of demographics, I have reached out to global staffing leaders and recruiters to inquire on their methods of recruitment, to examine their personal efforts to develop social networking relationships to foster talent pools, and to identify the types of job boards, blogs, user forums, Listservs, etc. particular and useful to their countries, regions and continents. Today another small step forward to initiate a series of inquiries in the hopes that together we can learn from each other.

Again, I thank each of my colleagues in advance for their willingness to confront the questions posed. Your contributions will assist in identifying patterns we can sort together as part of an ongoing discussion. I invite the staffing organizations of Corporate America and Multi-National companies to share in the dialogue.

(*** INTERESTED IN PARTICIPATING? If you are an overseas staffing professional, and wish to be interviewed as part of this series to share your perspective, please email me at ldavemendoza @

International Staffing Perspectives: PASCALE COGNARD, Staffing Specialist for Freescale Semiconductor - Toulouse, France -Sixth In A Series

Pascale Cognard is a Staffing Specialist for Freescale Semiconductor in Toulouse, France. The city is located in the south of France. Toulouse was once a major metropolis of western Europe, but it sank into a sleepy regional-level status in the 18th and 19th centuries, completely missing the Industrial Revolution. In the 20th century, relocation of key military and aerospace industries in Toulouse by the French central government have awakened the city again. In an ironic twist of history, what was once a big liability for Toulouse has now become its best asset: no Industrial Revolution meant a falling economic status for the city, but it has spared Toulouse the environmental damages and painful socio-economic restructuring that are plaguing so many northern European industrial cities.

Benefiting from its status as Europe’s capital of aerospace industry, as well as from the flow of population from the industrial belt to the sunbelt of Europe, the Toulouse metropolitan area has doubled its population between 1960 and 2000 (in the meantime the population of France increased only by 30%). With good prospects for Aerospace and Biotech industries, growth is likely to continue in the near future. Toulouse is thus recovering step by step its former rank as a major European metropolis, but it faces increasing challenges: how to accommodate such a rapid growth, how to upgrade transport and develop housing and infrastructures, in short how to reinvent the city in the 21st century.

Pascale oversees corporate EMEA hiring needs in Paris, Madrid and Milano, Manufacturing and Engineering unit in Toulouse. In addition, Pascale provides strategic support and training to the other EMEA countries on behalf of Freescale where no staffing presence is available. Pascale has been recruiting for over 10 years now primarily for technical professionals (85%)and the rest covering both exempt and non-exempt positions. She has served Freescale since its earlier manifestation as a semiconductor unit on behalf of Motorola since 1999, and served previously as an executive search assistant and as a recruiter in High Tech and Industrial sector at ALTEDIA GROUPE COURTAUD, an HR consulting company recruitment, development, outplacement from 1993 to 1999.

Pascale is fluent in French, English and Spanish and well versed in Portuguese.

Pascale started as junior researcher, providing data sourcing following an academic career earning degrees in Information Organization and Management, an Associate Degree in Portuguese, and a Masters Degree in English & Spanish applied to business. She eventually became enamored of the staffing industry and gained additional training in Effective presentation, coaching for success, PAPI, DDI Administrator, and is now in the learning process of adding the Japanese language to his list of accomplishments as an international staffing expert.

Pascale was kind enough to share his perspectives as a French national with diverse EMEA expertise:

How is culture a factor in the hiring practice different from other countries you recruit from?

“As I fill recruitments for Mediterranean countries culture is not that much different. There is still a high impact of Education/Diplomas on the job offers, except for very senior professionals. The key difference, however, is the role of each of the legal systems of France, Italy and Spain as they effect your staffing strategies and we need to adopt our staffing approach within these different environments.”

Where is Europe ahead of the USA in certain recruitment tactics?

“Just to put things in the right perspective, Europe is not a whole. It is central to understanding that different strategies and approaches are needed. What is key in considering tactics is in determining whether European countries have large internet coverage, an established history of recruitment within an open market, in addition to appreciating the rapid pace at which Eastern European countries are catching up on recruiting tools and techniques.

In addition, there is also a very huge difference between big companies working with solid and consistent staffing processes where we tend to see a global approach worldwide and small companies where recruitment can be handled by the manager’s admin.

To sum it up I would say that UK has recruitment practices very similar to the US one (as their legal constraints are also very similar). The rest of the European countries are more conservative in their approach, they use internet but web.2 is still not very much in use, except for communication branch traditionally more ahead of technology trends.”

What networking groups are available and influential within Europe as a whole and within your country in particular?

“In western Europe I would say that alumni association are quite powerful, and even more so in France - specifically in the areas of Engineering and Commerce Schools. We also have quite active Science networks, for example, the European Research Network, that are effective sourcing resources.”

What types of training in sourcing/recruitment are available to you and have you taken advantage of?

“Being fortunate enough to work for a big US company I had some interview training. During my data sourcing experience (seems like a previous life…) our Executive search company used to organize best practice sharing as there was around 5 to 10 passive talent sourcers within France.”

Does your staffing organization “DIRECT SOURCE” from competitor companies to hire talent?

“Although we seldom cold call our competitor companies, as French recruiters we use job and/or science fairs and our engineers network in order to approach those talents (the only legal obstacles in France is that we are not allowed to call people at their workplace or to completely deplete a company’s department or service).

Otherwise we try to take every opportunity to advertise Freescale Semiconductor as an “Employer of Choice to raise awareness and curiosity from our potential candidates and we heavily rely on our university and alumni associations relations.”

How do French government laws affect your ability to recruit?

“French law is written in the interests of the candidates. The laws are enforced to ensure privacy concerns, and the way we keep data on them is closely watched by the CNIL (governmental agency) and has to be directly related to the use of this data. This is written in an official engagement of the company to stay within a strict regulation. For example as EEC is still forbidding racial discrimination we have to remove any question about the candidate’s origin which can cause problems when implementing a CMS tool globally.

As in many other countries interviews are to be directly related to a position and no other question is suitable (like marital status, age, hobbies…).

A person is free to look for another position and any action to prevent this mobility is against the law. To elaborate, if you have a gentleman’s agreement with one of your competitors not to recruit from each others company a candidate can sue you on the basis that your competitor agreements are in effect, reducing a candidate’s freedom to work. Overall, French people are usually not keen on pursuing this type of action, however, it is well recognized as a worker’s right issue.”

How are US and European recruitment culture different? How are they similar?

“In France you can find a legal rule for almost everything, it protects the individuals but burdens companies in their Human Resources management. Here selection is quite strategic as you will not be able to separate from an employee easily. Non exempt work 35 hours a week with 5 weeks vacation during the year. Exempts are hired on projects so can work more (average is around 42/43 hours a week) but as in any business they usually stay until the job is done.

French candidates, with the exception of those in Marketing and Commerce professions, usually have difficulties in really “selling” their expertise and achievements as they just feel they are “doing their job”. Still the new generations are getting better at this exercise. Foreign languages are still an issue, English is today a basic for master level persons, but it is still too academic.

A specificity is that we have Engineering Schools, where students are admitted after comprehensive examinations, and as it is a competition, only the best have the opportunity to integrate. Schools “groom” their students during 3 to 5 years, in which they create a very strong “esprit de corp” — which is why connecting with their Alumni Associations is a good investment for a recruiter.

I would also say that French people are more cautious when changing jobs and usually money is not the key factor, which helps when building the offer but needs to have a real characterization of the non financial advantages (job interest, career opportunities…). “

What recruitment software tools do you use in your day to day recruitment activities & do they translate effectively within all of the different countries where you recruit?

“We use a CMS tool that has been implemented globally. Difficulty is to have it used globally. Just for Europe there are over 20 different languages, legal constraints are also different from one country to another so data collection and conservation is a nightmare.

We also face different degrees of penetration of the Internet in the countries where some face technical challenges to maintain a stable network (slowing full use of the internet)and some face cultural differences (in some countries people are still reluctant to deposit their data online. “

How many applicants do you estimate are hired from your corporate website as compared to how many are hired through referrals?

“For France around 10% of the hires are done through our career page and 8% through our referral program. The referral figures are quite low as the program has been dormant for over 2 years, despite staffing lobbying.”

Do you use blogs specific to each country’s talent within target industries/competing companies?

“Currently we are not using blogs as web.2 is not altogether widespread throughout Europe”

Where are the “Most Hires” collected from? (In terms of Quantity #)

“Internal applications make the most of our hires for France. We implemented a mobility program both for exempts and non exempts.”

What is the source of your “LOWEST COST OF HIRES?” - (least amount of invested resources for the easiest hires, regardless of quality)

“Lowest cost of hires is also through the mobility programs.”

Is French Culture a factor in the RESPONSE RATE you get when sending an email requesting a CV versus calling the candidate directly at their work?

“In France, candidates are quite ok with sending their resume. Although cold calling at their workplace can be a factor of rejection it is more in the way things are done than on the actions themselves that candidates will react. French candidates are still very attached to respect and politeness in relations.”

What methods/resources produce the FASTEST amount of time in producing hires”

“For external hires web is the fastest (company site or external providers)”

Is it acceptable, or common, in your country’s culture to offer a referral fee for a successful hire to someone who recommended the candidate?

“A Referral fee is acceptable and welcomed, but it is considered a bonus and submitted to IR.”

What are the BEST JOB BOARDS ** SPECIFIC** to each of the countries you recruit for, BOTH overall and SPECIFIC TO each industry?

“For France best generalist job board is for exempts positions. For technical positions we tend to use this site and specific sites like for telephony, for PhD graduates.”

Can you provide a list of recommended/effective local newspapers, ALL known major associations & conferences and industry-specific website portals?

“For France industrial on the mechanical side type of positions can be advertised at “l’Usine Nouvelle“, Electronic positions at “Electronique Internationale“, IT job on “01 Informatique“, “Le Figaro” is suited for Finance & Marketing positions. Still newspaper is less and less used as a job advertisement medium.

Here is a very useful entry point for Research and Technology: as it is generic but links to specific industry networks. Plus, as mentioned previously, the European Research Network

Which 3rd party agency/ recruitment search firms have you successfully used and would recommend to others for the types of positions (IT, accounting etc) you recruit for?

“I can recommend PSD and MRL agencies for France in the Semiconductor business. Also IC Resources (UK based agency) is knowledgeable in Electronics. I can also recommend Altedia for Finance, Marketing and support positions as well as Director level talent. Their contact info as follows:

PSD: my contact for France is Jean-Michel Vadeleux who is a very capable consultant with also ethics, quite an important quality in his line of business.

MRL: my contact for France is Jean-Baptiste Noreewho has quite an extensive address book in semiconductor business in France.

IC Resources: my contact are Annie Gerardin and Chris Kirkwood, they have a good knowledge of semiconductor business in Europe and also Asia.

Altedia:, my contact are Catherine Maistre du Chambon for the South East of France and Christian Degeilh for the South West, they are both seasoned professionals with an extensive record of successful recruitments.”

Pascale, what single event had the most impact on your sourcing/recruiting career? What inspires You as a Recruiter?

“I was fortunate to have the assistance of engineers to help me familiarize myself with key terminology and I gained a broader understanding of the technical and engineering positions and a constructive way of finding answers and information on new technology developments. At the time I recruited within the same year several maintenance process and device engineers for the paper industry, an Artificial Intelligence engineer for a recognition system company, a statistician specialized in satellite images treatment. Learning from an engineer I befriended was key to my ability to manage and fulfill all my obligations within time targets although I was starting from scratch. Befriending an expert opened doors for me and helped me succeed. Every recruiter should be willing to ask questions and seek insight from their talent base.”

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