Hiring new employees is never an easy task but it starts long before you make a final offer. Often, a candidate's journey with a company begins before the company is even aware of the candidate. A lot happens before the application stage that makes a candidate decide whether or not to pursue a role and those activities are all part of a company's recruitment marketing strategy. Recruitment marketing is a complex mix of tasks and strategies that occur to brand your company a certain way in the eyes of job-seekers. These days, everyone researches a company before applying to a job, especially top talent, and what candidates will find online is a reflection of your company. But who owns that task of ensuring a positive brand presence for current and future candidates? Many of the strategies are taken from marketing techniques but HR knows more about hiring and recruiting. So which department really owns recruitment marketing and what can they learn from each other?
What's the difference between recruitment marketing and employer branding?
We’ve written about employer branding before, so it’s not a new concept, no. But there is a difference between “employer branding” and recruitment marketing,” and that difference helps you figure out where the line between HR and marketing can fall. Namely:
- Employer branding is about developing the external reputation of a company, broadly so that it’s viewed as a great place to build one’s career.
- Recruitment marketing works with the employer brand; essentially it’s the promotion of that employer brand out into the market, i.e. writing job openings, creating culture videos, using social media for talent attraction.
Employer branding, therefore, falls under recruitment marketing though is it arguably the most important aspect of the strategy. It's easy to see here that HR will likely have a better sense of the employer brand but marketing will have more expertise in how to disseminate the message effectively.
What activities should marketing own?
So if there is a split within recruitment marketing, are there any activities that are better suited to the marketing department? This will vary by organization, but in general, the marketing team should own the following:
- The development of the external brand (it largely owns this concept anyway)
- Social media postings
- Branding (i.e. booth, logo, etc.) at talent events
- Collateral creation (if brochures or applications are needed at an event)
What activities should HR own?
If marketing is going to be making the branding and pushing it live, what should the human resources department own? Again, this will vary by organization, but usually:
- The creation of job descriptions
- The creation of job ads
- The monitoring of Glassdoor and other review sites
- The relationships with hiring managers about what types of people they need
- The interview process and funnel
As you can see HR's portion should be more fixed on activities directly related to hiring and relationship building.
Can there be overlap between the HR and marketing departments?
The most interesting part of the discussion isn’t HR vs. Marketing, but how HR and Marketing can work together to make sure the employer brand is clearly communicated in the recruitment marketplace, so that the company -- which houses both departments, obviously -- grows and gets the best people. Some ideas on how both teams can effectively work together include:
- A culture video: Organizations can reap huge benefits from good culture videos. It’s also a great place for marketing and HR to overlap. The two departments can have an initial meeting to discuss what (and perhaps who) to showcase and what company events should be filmed (day at a baseball game, morning meetings, a town hall, etc.) HR and marketing can work together on scripting -- HR can contribute key phrases they use in talent acquisition, and marketing can add some of their “marketing speak” too -- and even shooting and editing. When the video is finished, marketing can handle external promotion, while HR can handle internal promotion, perhaps even encouraging employees to pass the video on in their social networks or to position referral candidates.
- Candidate newsletter: You ever land on a job site and you’re interested in the company, but they don’t have any openings that fit for you right then? Usually, there’s some type of box to sign up for future content, right? Well, it turns out companies aren’t very good at actually sending passive candidates anything. According to Smashfly, 48% of companies with an email capture on their Careers page never send emails to the people who signed up. HR and marketing can overlap to fix that. They can work together to decide on employee stories, company events, and current openings to showcase, then marketing can design and write it, HR can edit it, and marketing can send to interested candidates within their regular cadence of other external emails. Now you’re keeping potential future employees engaged, and the two teams worked together to get it done.
- Job ads: This is another easy win for collaboration. HR can own talking to hiring managers about the needs for a role, then HR can draft the initial job ads based on those needs and keywords related to the overall culture. Marketing can edit those ads and add a flash of external branding, then HR can handle the posting of the ads (so, it’s the inverse process of how the newsletter can work). When HR and marketing work together more, now you have internal branding and terminology more consistent with external branding and terminology, which makes the entire talent attraction process a little bit easier -- for example, on referrals, current employees are more likely to use a consistent script if HR and marketing are working together.
- Branding meetings: 2-4 times a year, HR and marketing should come together with senior leadership and look at branding, both external and internal. Is it consistent? Are candidates hearing one thing and employees hearing another? What’s the true culture of the place? How well is it being lived? These discussions can help reframe what needs to happen and eliminate any issues that are cropping up. And it gives both HR and marketing a “seat at the table,” so that HR doesn’t think they’re mostly compliance and marketing thinks of themselves as more than just a support structure for sales.
The bottom line
Marketing is often seen internally as the “rah-rah” or “fun” department. HR is often not seen that way, and at worst can be viewed as office cops. So it can seem like a weird pairing to bring these two together, but on questions of talent acquisition and especially pre-applicant acquisition, they need to be working together. They can each have their own lanes, as defined above, but making sure they overlap is also crucially important. And when that consistency is there, the quality of hire and the quality of referral will be there too!