Let’s Move Recruiting to the Marketing Department

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 2.37.51 PMIn a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, more than 1,250 company leaders from 60 countries have made it official: recruiting key talent is priority No. 1 for CEOs. Yes, CEOs say there is a big threat to business growth by not having the right talent in place.

At the same time, we have all heard ad nauseum that HR needs to become more strategic and less tactical. Since recruiting reports to HR, this criticism applies to them as well. It’s a case of guilt by association.

Let’s face it: It’s always seemed like Recruiting was tossed into the HR function because no one knew what else to do with it. Employment, yes — having it report into HR makes sense. You know, filling reqs for those positions that are relatively easy to find.

But true strategic recruiting? No — it has just never “clicked” in HR.

I want to talk about how we might “save” Recruiting — the strategic kind — by transferring it to another department that is more closely aligned with it. The transfer I propose would strengthen Recruiting’s ability to take on a more strategic role. This is important because of the new attention it’s getting from CEOs.

A Home in Marketing

I believe that Recruiting should report to Marketing. Recruiting and Marketing are both outwardly focused, concentrate on the future, share a common vision for the business, and have very similar responsibilities, albeit with different populations — Marketing with customers and Recruiting with candidates.

Yes, there are some differences between the two, but let’s look at the similarities:

  • Market intelligence — In Marketing, this focuses on providing the company with information to understand what is happening in the marketplace, what the issues are, what competitors are doing, and what market potential exists. For Recruiting, this involves researching supply and demand in all company locations; competitor companies in terms of who they hire from, who they lose people to, and who their competitors’ key employees are.
  • Branding — Marketing builds an image/brand of the company’s products/services that is essential for product success. The branding process is about creating specific, positive, mental and emotional associations to these products/services. Branding is also important to Recruiting. A strong employment brand enables the company to attract potential employees. Getting people to view the company as a great place to work is what employment branding is all about.
  • Communications — Tailoring messages to different types of customer groups and using different communication channels is something that Marketing does well. Recruiting needs to do the same. Using some of Marketing’s communication methods would help them create material for the company website, job sites, social media — any place communication is used in recruiting efforts.
  • Segmentation — Market segmentation involves dividing the broad market into groups of individual markets. It is about understanding each individual market’s wants or needs and how they make buying decisions. If done properly this helps to insure the highest return for marketing/sales expenditures. For Recruiting it means segmenting jobs between difficult and those relatively easy to fill. It takes more time and effort to source and recruit people for jobs that are key and have critical skills. For example:
    • Recruiting: Reporting into Marketing. Requires high-end skills in sourcing candidates. This function is responsible for finding candidates with very specialized skills.
    • Employment: Reporting into HR. Responsible for hiring for jobs which require skills that are relatively easy to find and where there are typically a lot of candidates. The job is mostly administrative — no special sourcing skills are necessary.
  • Differentiation — Marketing differentiation is the way to make a company’s products/services more desirable than similar products/services of its competitors. Marketing looks for ways to differentiate — to make products/services “stand out” and be noticed. It is the heart of competition. For Recruiting, differentiation means making the company “stand out” to candidates and making it look like a more desirable place to work than its competitors.

Let’s face it. HR has always been risk averse — both for legal reasons as well as the mentality of needing to “follow the pack.” Differentiation for Recruiting, like Marketing, is the heart of competition.

Making Recruiting Truly Strategic

By placing Recruiting under Marketing, it would strengthen its ability to become truly strategic. There is also an opportunity for synergy between the two in a way that would not occur if Recruiting continued to report to HR.

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The combination of these two functions is a real “natural” to me. Picture the swan finding a home with other swans. Works better than the swan trying to look like a duck with the other ducks in HR.

What do you think? Does it make sense to you?

Jacque Vilet

Jacque Vilet, president of Vilet International, has more than 20 years’ experience in international human resources with major multinationals such as Intel, National Semiconductor, and Seagate Technology. She has managed both local/ in-country national and expatriate programs and has been an expat twice during her career. She has also been a speaker in the U.S., Asia, and Europe, and is a regular contributor to various HR and talent management publications. Contact her at jvilet@viletinternational.com.