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Should Recruiting Be Part of Marketing

August 7, 2003
Related Topics: Candidate Sourcing, Featured Article, Staffing Management
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Should the recruiting function of a company be part of the marketing department? If so, why? If not, why not?

    Several experts offer their opinions below:

Cynthia Kay Stevens, associate professor, Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland

    "The suggestion to shift recruitment to marketing has greater merit than it might initially seem.

    Recently, many recruitment researchers have found that prospective applicants rely on product or services marketing campaigns to form ideas of what it would be like to work in the firm. Thus, brand image plays a critical role in the decision to apply. In fact, many job-seekers fail to reconsider a decision not to apply even when they simply lack information about the firm they disregarded.

    For these reasons, marketing staff should be actively involved in recruitment initiatives and should consider spillover effects of marketing campaigns on recruitment. Then again, recruiters need specialized knowledge that marketers may lack about particular jobs--how to interview, compensation trends, etc. I suspect that the best organizational structure is one involving cross-functional teams of marketing and recruitment specialists that can capture natural similarities involved in outreach to prospective consumers and applicants."

Stephen A. Sasser, president and CEO, Peopleclick, a recruiting and workforce-technology company

    "Recruitment is and should remain ‘the business’ of the human resources function. Human resources should have the domain expertise to drive and manage the recruitment process more effectively than any other function within a company. Just as marketing’s traditional responsibility is to support the selling efforts of the company’s products and services, the same should apply to supporting human resources and its selling efforts in recruitment.

    Human resources needs to ensure that the recruitment process is viewed as important enough to command a similar level of assistance. By using marketing’s capabilities, human resources can increase its effectiveness and accomplish one of its main business goals--attracting quality people to the company."

Mike Temkin, vice president, strategic planning and development, Shaker Recruitment Advertising & Communications

    "While recruiting should not be part of the marketing department, HR and recruiters should rely on marketing expertise to enhance employment strategies.

    Recruiting prospective employees--as well as retaining current employees and encouraging referrals from your current workforce--is clearly a sales strategy, not a clerical function. From establishing and maintaining an employer brand to converting an inquiry into an actual hire, the recruitment function is part of a sales process as crucial to your company as the marketing of a new product or service.

    As a recruiter, you want to have access to every possible means for identifying appropriate applicant pools, reaching prospective applicants with compelling messages and then persuading qualified candidates to consider and accept your offer of employment. You need more than just a job description, a list of benefits and an initial offer of compensation. You must be able to market your company as a preferred employer, create interest in an immediate job opening and establish a commitment to a possible long-term career path with your company.

    To begin this process, a human resources department has to partner with either an internal marketing department or an outside marketing/advertising agency. You need to use all the tools of motivation and persuasion to attract top talent to your company. You have to consider various aspects of advertising and public relations to support the marketing of your human resources objectives.

    As part of this marketing partnership, you should evaluate your investment on more than just the cost per applicant and cost per hire. Your messaging and interaction with unqualified employment candidates can be just as crucial as your ability to reach highly qualified candidates. Each prospective applicant will most likely be a possible customer or client for your company; no one can afford to alienate a possible employment candidate who then might decide not to patronize a company."

Julia Long, marketing director of service excellence, Clarian Health Partners, Indianapolis

    "Historically, the department of human resources assumed the sole responsibility for seeking applicants who possessed the appropriate skills to fill a vacant position. These responsibilities included the posting of positions, interviewing, processing and some degree of orientation. While these functions are still necessary, attracting talent and finding a good fit for an organization is the role and expertise of marketing.

    These activities--attracting talent, finding a good fit--are increasingly difficult in this shrinking job market, and many organizations make the mistake of filling positions on the basis of skill qualifications alone. Hiring talent involves the selection of applicants with behavioral skills and personal values that are in alignment with the organization.

    To attract talent aligned with the organization, a company must first create a strong product or image that increases customers’ trust in and loyalty to the organization. However, if customers’ (in this case, job candidates’) experiences differ from the advertising message, customers will believe their experiences and not the advertising. Therefore, it’s equally important that marketing also brand the organization as an Employer of Choice®--in a way that connects with people’s emotions--in order to attract a pool of talent."

David Pantano, national recruiting manager, Boston Scientific, a $3 billion medical-device manufacturer

    "Recruiting is best based within human resources. There are a lot of legal issues you need to pay attention to from a recruiting standpoint, and you need to be sensitive to different legal requirements in different regions of the country. You also have a lot of EEO reporting. Rules and regulations change, and the focal point for regulations affecting recruiting and affecting labor is human resources.

    Yes, there’s a certain component of salesmanship with recruiting. I get out and talk to groups of people about how great Boston Scientific is to work for, so in effect I’m selling the company to them. But you have to look at the skill sets of the people doing the recruiting. Part of that skill set has to be salesmanship, but that’s only one part of it. Being a good listener isn’t a skill set every salesperson has to have, but it’s a skill set every recruiter has to have. Also, a lot of the selling has already been done, and by the time recruiters talk to a candidate, they already have an interest in Boston Scientific."

Farhan Yasin, vice president of business development for the CareerBuilder job site

    "The recruitment function of an organization should fall into the hands of the human resources department and/or the hiring managers of a specific department. These individuals are closer to the open positions and respective job requirements and bring expertise to the process of finding the right candidates that will be a good fit for the company culture.

    However, to attract the right candidates, human resources departments and hiring managers should team up with their marketing departments to create an employee brand for the company. Every company has two unique brands--their customer brand and their employee brand. People buy Nike shoes because they offer high quality and sporty comfort. People work for Nike because they see a good career opportunity. When you message your brand to customers, you are selling a product or service. When you message your brand to employees, you are selling a work experience.

    Knowing this, the question at hand is: How do you market your company to attract the right candidates? Different messages will appeal to different candidates. How do you present your culture? Is it developmental, diverse, quick-paced? Do you offer autonomy and opportunities for career advancement? How do you present the benefits of your industry and your financial strengths? How do you present your leadership style and what the employee will get out of working for you?

    Human resources departments, hiring managers and marketing departments working together to sell the company's work experience effectively is key to finding top performers."

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