Don’t Isolate Your Employment Function – Coordinate Your Recruiting And Marketing Efforts


  • Places newspaper ads to get people’s attention and to bring in potential clients?
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  • Holds events and goes to “shows” to attract people?
  • Has the responsibility to build the company image and to attract future customers?
  • Uses the web to find “potential new contacts/customers”?
  • Develops marketing campaigns and conducts market research in order to “profile” our target customer?
  • Uses “one-on-one” discussions to “close the sale”?
  • Stages events and uses a network of contacts to get increased press coverage?
  • Uses referrals to find potential contacts?

The answer is of course…Recruiting, but it’s also… Marketing and Corporate Public Relations. The similarity between the tools used by the Sales, Recruiting and the PR functions are striking but unfortunately, the degree of cooperation and coordination between these 3 functions is almost zero! Sophisticated recruiting departments from firms like Cisco Systems have learned that recruiting can have a major impact on sales. For example, selling college students on jobs also involves sending a dual message to these “soon-to-be professionals.” Even if they can’t all work for us, they can buy or encourage others to buy our products after they become employed. Apple Computer used that strategy successfully for years on college and high school campuses. Early brand identification builds a company’s image among impressionable people. It also sends a message that you are an “employer of choice” as well as a firm with a great product. If you are having difficulty seeing the interrelationship between product image and recruiting, do a comparison between the firms that are frequently listed as great places to work and those with strong brands. Great recruiting builds brand image and poor recruiting along with PR kills it fast! Marketing is a form of recruiting and recruiting helps sell our product! Recruiting calls are sales calls and good brand and product marketing helps attract great candidates. Now why don’t HR types normally work more closely with marketing and sales? The answer is generally that many employment people have a weak knowledge of the business and our customers. So weak, in fact, that few in marketing want to work with recruiters. Often the sales organization is allowed to do its own training, recruiting, and compensation because sales managers have such a low regard for HR types. Unfortunately too many recruiters treat recruiting as an “art” while marketing types rely on data and sophisticated research to find more “scientific answers.” Marketing doesn’t need to become more of an “art” but recruiting does need to become more data-driven and less “but we have always done it this way!” Many employment functions need to wake up and realize they have multiple goals in addition to just putting “butts in chairs.” Attracting the best applicants doesn’t happen in isolation, it also requires that the firm have a strong brand and product image. Many recruiting professionals fail to grasp the fact that recruiting is a specialized form of marketing and sales. Locating the best candidates from around the world now requires a sophisticated marketing plan, whereas before the only question was “how big should the ad be in the newspaper?” Recruiting needs to learn from marketing about how to use focus groups, how to do “customer/candidate” profiles, and use other marketing research tools to better identify where to find the perfect candidate. The recent shift toward recruiting “employed” (passive) professionals, GenXer’s and “free agents” now means that a firm must have a much more sophisticated marketing approach to recruiting. Getting a candidate to say “yes” now requires more sophisticated job offers and “closing” strategies, whereas before “how much to pay them” was the only major selling point. Below are some steps organizations need to take to break down the “silos” between Marketing, PR, and Employment and to begin to coordinate recruiting, marketing, and PR efforts. The results will be increased sales, better brand image, higher profits, and a higher quality of hire! Steps in building a coordinated marketing / recruitment effort:

  • Coordinate advertising so that product ads also help attract workers and employment ads also sell the product and the brand
  • Employment must improve its customer service so that applicants that are “not hired” leave wanting to buy (or refer others to) our product
  • Get the sales team working as auxiliary recruiters. When they meet sharp people or when they gather “recruiting intelligence” they can share them with recruiters
  • Employment needs to gather and share competitive intelligence information gathered from applicants they interview (who work for our competitors)
  • Coordinate recruiting events and ads with PR events and media publicity. Turn your 15 minutes of “fame” into job applicants
  • Employment needs to add a few of the marketing staff to its “advisory team” to coach recruiters on the latest marketing tools and strategies
  • Use retail customer mailing lists as recruiting lists. If customers are already using the product they probably also admire the company
  • Get sales and packaging people to include notices in products that “we are always looking for good people”
  • Coordinate and “cross pollinate” each others brochures and video tapes
  • Invite recruiters to product trade shows and product demos. Train recruiters on how to sell the product
  • Build a referral system between the sales staff and the recruiters. Use small incentives to keep the excitement up
  • Make sure your web pages have links between your sales and recruitment sites
  • Develop a joint mission statement between Marketing, PR, and HR so that their individual efforts build on each other
  • Hold joint meetings once a year to help break down silos and to build understanding and cooperation between Marketing, PR, and Recruiting
  • Provide short-term job rotations between the 3 functions to cross train some proportion of the employment staff on marketing, sales, and PR techniques
  • Train recruiters and sales people on how to build PR and get increased press coverage
  • If you want to improve your college recruiting efforts as well as increase your future sales, place your products in college campus bookstores and in professors’ offices/labs. Send a message that may help develop long-term brand loyalty.
  • Coordinate campaigns and “giveaways” so that the 3 functions don’t send conflicting messages at the same time Employment misses a golden opportunity when it fails to coordinate its recruitment efforts with its product promotion and PR efforts. Those that fail to integrate these three will likely do poorly in both recruiting and in sales!

Dr. John Sullivan, professor, author, corporate speaker, and advisor, is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high-business-impact talent management solutions.

He’s a prolific author with over 900 articles and 10 books covering all areas of talent management. He has written over a dozen white papers, conducted over 50 webinars, dozens of workshops, and he has been featured in over 35 videos. He is an engaging corporate speaker who has excited audiences at over 300 corporations/ organizations in 30 countries on all six continents. His ideas have appeared in every major business source including the Wall Street Journal, Fortune, BusinessWeek, Fast Company, CFO, Inc., NY Times, SmartMoney, USA Today, HBR, and the Financial Times. In addition, he writes for the WSJ Experts column. He has been interviewed on CNN and the CBS and ABC nightly news, NPR, as well many local TV and radio outlets. Fast Company called him the "Michael Jordan of Hiring," called him “the father of HR metrics,” and SHRM called him “One of the industry's most respected strategists." He was selected among HR’s “Top 10 Leading Thinkers” and he was ranked No. 8 among the top 25 online influencers in talent management. He served as the Chief Talent Officer of Agilent Technologies, the HP spinoff with 43,000 employees, and he was the CEO of the Business Development Center, a minority business consulting firm in Bakersfield, California. He is currently a Professor of Management at San Francisco State (1982 – present). His articles can be found all over the Internet and on his popular website and on He lives in Pacifica, California.