Recruiting and Marketing

The world is changing. Okay, maybe that’s nothing new. But some of these changes are affecting how your company is able to attract and retain the best employees. Ultimately, this forces ó yes, forces ó you to start working closely with your corporate marketing department. Now that is something new. We all look at the world and our immediate surroundings ó including our family, community, and employer ó through a certain set of glasses. Those glasses may be rose-colored for us in some or all of these areas, or they may be some shade of gray (depending on how much sleep you got last night). But overall, that perception of your surroundings is impacted by other people and other companies marketing to you every minute of every day. So where am I going with this? Your current employees and those top-level candidates that you want to hire are being impacted by employment-related messages all the time. Some are intentional and others are not. But one thing is certain, you must ensure through a focused effort that the messages coming from your company are positive. To start this focused effort, let’s take a brief look at the general roles of the recruiting department and the marketing department. Recruiting and Marketing The recruiting department tasked by senior management or hiring managers to create and implement a strategy that will find, assess, convince, and either recommend or hire the best and brightest people, people will not just fill a job opening, but truly add to the overall value of the organization. The marketing department is directed by senior management to create and implement a strategy that will find, assess, and convince the best consumers to buy a product or service over and over again. These roles sound very similar, don’t they? As it turns out, ultimately the recruiting department and the marketing department are not that different. Unlike many people in the recruiting profession, I have spent a great portion of my career in marketing as well as recruiting. I can say with all sincerity, great recruiters could be marketers and great marketers could be recruiters. I know of three major companies that have moved the marketing and human resources departments together under the same management. These companies see the immediate value of marketing and recruiting working together. But even if your own company is not wholly convinced, that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage each other’s strengths just because you don’t work in the same area. Building a Relationship That Bridges the Gap The best way to start leveraging these strengths might seem easy on the surface but is often quite difficult: create a real relationship with the opposite department. By real relationship, I don’t mean saying “hi” in the hallway or chatting in the parking lot. I mean real as if your job depended on the success of the other person or department. If you don’t currently know anyone in marketing, get up today, or even right now, walk over there and introduce yourself. Schedule some time to talk over lunch to get an understanding of the person and what they are working on. I wouldn’t be surprised that in the first conversation you have, one of you doesn’t immediately see an opportunity to work together to benefit the company. Now, some people may be looking at this and saying, “I can see how marketing can help recruiting, but how can the recruiting department help marketing?” Trust a professional marketer here; it can. Marketing is not something that stands on its own, but is part of everything a company does. From creating and pricing a product to selling it and taking care of the after-sale relationship, every part of your company has the ability to impact marketing. If one or more areas of operations is not positioning the company the same way as marketing, then the marketer’s job becomes that much more difficult. They not only have to create a marketing brand or image, but also work to overcome any adverse image that is created by another group that deals with people outside of the company. As an example, let’s say that you position your company in a certain light to all candidates that you interview. You want to be honest and know that your company is very structured and conservative in how they operate: suit and tie are the norm, and being a team player is expected. Now let’s say that your same company just launched a new marketing campaign surrounding a new product line. The ads talk about not following the pack, encouraging prospective buyers to find their own path to success and happiness through use of the new product. It’s easy to see how a conflict can arise in a candidate’s mind based on the two disparate messages they are hearing from your company. It might even cause you to lose the candidate to a competitor. That doesn’t mean that the recruiting or marketing messages are wrong; it simply means that if the two groups worked a little closer, they might be able to leverage each other’s strengths a little better. Now, let’s take that same example and adjust it slightly, assuming the recruiters and marketers are working together. The marketing ads stay the same: take a risk to find success and happiness using your product. But the recruiter’s message can be adjusted to still tell the truth, while at the same time leveraging the marketing message: Yes, we require a suit and tie because we are a conservative company. But we still stand out from the pack ó because in a world where so many other companies have gone casual, we feel strongly enough about our own values that we’ll continue to do what we think it takes to be successful, regardless of what others are doing. A simple adjustment to the message, and suddenly coming to work for your conservative company and wearing a suit is taking a risk ó and that might be just what the best candidates need to be happy. With the marketing and recruiting departments working together, the marketers are able to help the recruiters with a marketing message that fits with the overall brand of the company and its products. Recruiting Benefits the Most The best part of the relationship between marketing and recruiting has to go to recruiting. Because your job as a recruiter is to “sell” the company to top candidates, and the marketer’s job is to “sell” the company to top buyers, leveraging the marketers’ expertise can be incredibly valuable. Even better is your ability to leverage some of the dollars from the marketing budget to benefit your recruiting efforts. Your CFO will be very happy to know that two departments are working together to maximize dollars spent!. So how do you make those marketing dollars work harder than normal? One idea is to create a separate web page URL for your corporate career site. Then have the marketing department put that URL on all of their advertising and print collateral. Even if you only get a few direct hits, it didn’t cost anyone anything extra, and you are gaining strength marketing your recruitment efforts. Another idea is to create co-advertising budgets with marketing. When budget time rolls around each year, spend some time with the marketing department to understand what their plans are and how your recruiting efforts fit with those plans. I guarantee that you will both find opportunities to leverage budget dollars for marketing and recruiting. Creating ads that tout the company from a recruiting standpoint and mention your products at the same time can be very powerful. People like to work for a well-known company, and they like to buy products and services from companies that care about their employees. No matter what the message, the relationship between marketing and recruiting can and should be very strong in every company. A few quick meetings, lunches, and phone calls might be all it will take for your company to start sending a strong positive message to both buyers and candidates at the same time ó and at a lower cost than you might have expected.

Jeff Dahltorp (jdahltorp@trustarsolutions.com) is the director of global marketing and business development for TruStar Solutions, the leader in "creating exceptional hiring strategies." He is a regular contributor to notable industry publications and is a recognized speaker at tradeshows and events. His responsibilities with TruStar Solutions include overseeing the marketing department and developing new strategic alliances. Jeff has over 10 years of business experience in the area of marketing, sales, consulting, product development and product management.

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