Tapping Digital Opportunities

A vital contributor to the “celebration recognition” market, Jostens harnesses digital platforms to recruit personnel that reflect the company’s values

“Because our culture is so rich with pride and passion, it’s more important now to hire for attitude and a positive mind-set … It’s more important to hire someone who is willing to do and learn anything and everything to get the product out the door.” —Natalie Stute
“Because our culture is so rich with pride and passion, it’s more important now to hire for attitude and a positive mind-set … It’s more important to hire someone who is willing to do and learn anything and everything to get the product out the door.” —Natalie Stute

In Minneapolis, Minnesota, the overall unemployment rate hovers nearly two percentage points below national levels. For information technology jobs in the area, that number drops more than two-and-a-half points below even that. This is great for the local economy, but presents challenges to companies like Jostens, who are looking for talent in this area. 

Still, the company is making the most of it as it builds a new array of digital offerings. “Our mission is to capture, to celebrate, and to inspire,” says Natalie Stute, Jostens’s vice president of human resources. “Which is pretty cool—it’s easy to remember, it resonates, and it’s something that’s very true when you think about the products that we deliver every day.”

Those products, which include class rings, yearbooks, and championship rings—including 30 of the 46 rings made thus far for Super Bowl champions—are delivered by 3,000 Jostens employees from 12 different locations across the United States and Canada. As one who sets the company’s recruitment strategies, Stute stresses the importance of looking at someone’s entire career spectrum—particularly in the case of IT talent. Hiring people two to three years out of college is important, but so is training them on the job, making sure the technology they work on continues to be new and exciting. 

Once new hires are on board, they can help the recruitment process, too. “We want to make sure every touchstone along the way is a great experience,” Stute says. “And we want our employees to be ambassadors as well: [They] can help explain why Jostens is such a great place to work. [They] know the culture, the people, the ropes—and help us navigate this for others.”

As great as employer referrals and word of mouth can be for Jostens, it is digital platforms that have become invaluable resources in the past few years. More than 4,000 followers on the company’s LinkedIn profile, for instance, led to them receiving 400 résumés in a matter of days for a recent opening—tangible proof of social media’s new importance.

“It’s no longer something that companies can afford to avoid,” Stute says, stressing the value of having everyone, from senior leaders on down, educated and comfortable with the utilization of different digital platforms. In Jostens’s case, the role of chief digital officer was created a few years ago to help the 117-year-old company realize its 21st century sales and marketing potential. “It was about looking at our e-commerce digital platforms, our marketing and IT strategies … looking at all our different products, and anticipating how customers will want to do business with Jostens going forward,” Stute says. “We needed that leadership and that vision around our online platforms.”

As critical as its digital presence is, it is the way Jostens leads and tends to its staff that makes the company continue to shine from the inside out. To this end, Stute has outlined 10 guiding principles for her HR team. These principles are underscored as Jostens hires more millennials, who tend to bring different expectations to the workplace culture. But interestingly, the core needs for all remain the same. “Because our culture is so rich with pride and passion, it’s more important now to hire for attitude and a positive mind-set” Stute says. “It’s more important to hire someone who is willing to do and learn anything and everything to get the product out the door.”

And once a new hire grasps one of the toughest tenets on Stute’s list—Understanding the business impact and implications (of all that is done)—their contribution to the Jostens legacy becomes all the clearer. “As we create new digital technologies around our offerings, such as designing rings and yearbook development, we must know what it means to hire incredible talent in the marketplace that can do certain development, certain coding behind the scenes in the system,” Stute says. “We’re looking at how we structure certain teams differently … so that we can be the best in the marketplace for that technology or that new product. That’s what I try to do internally with my team.”