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Oct 2015

Why today’s recruiters need to start thinking like marketers

By using content, personas, employee engagement and other marketing tools, recruiters are becoming more tactical than ever to try to win the “war for talent.”

By Margaret Magnarelli and Bret Silverberg, Monster staff

Recruiting and marketing. Traditionally, no one has seen these two industries as having much in common.

The former attempts to find the best talent to move an organization forward. The latter discipline is about attracting a specific audience to products and services. In practice, the goals are a bit different. But how are an organization’s recruiters supposed to hire the best talent unless they can somehow attract them?

That was a point made at Friday’s Monster Recruitment Summit by Charlene Li, founder and CEO of tech research consultancy Altimiter Group. “Recruiters must think and act like marketers,” she said.

Charlene Li

Li, who has written an e-book on the topic in conjunction with Monster which will be public in November, presented a three-tiered approach.

First, an organization needs to develop a talent brand. Second, the organization needs to scale this brand through employee advocacy. And finally—and most difficultly—the organization needs to build a fully-functioning digital operation to support these “marketing” efforts.

Following her remarks, Li sat on a panel alongside Glen Cathey, senior vice president of talent acquisition strategy and innovation at tech and IT staffing firm Kforce; Shahbaz Alibaig, HR PMO and strategy leader at Synchrony Financial (GE); Raul Valentin, vice president of human resources at Comcast, moderated by Kim Mullaney, chief human resources officer at Monster, where they talked about implementing the practice.

Here are some key quotes from their discussion:

Be candidate-centric

“At Comcast, it starts with the candidate. We’re even calling our recruiters ‘candidate-care specialists.’”—Valentin

Avoid hiding behind the technology

“When we talk about the words ‘social recruitment,’ we often talk about the technology. But the best sales and marketing people are still those that use a notepad. Now many recruiters hide behind the technology—pushing out jobs on social media and job boards, and we’re not engaging. We need to encourage recruiters to pick up the phone and talk to candidates to understand what motivates them.” —Alibaig

Remember the actives

“We’re so focused on passive that we’ve made active a dirty word. But they’re people too. It’s not about active or passive, but is it the right person for the role? This is a filter we’ve created.” —Valentin

Know your targets

“When it comes to recruitment marketing, we are lagging traditional marketing. Personas are one example. Personas are the fictionalized representation of your customer—or, in talent acquisition, your talent. Start thinking about who they are and what their pain points are so that you can target more effectively.” —Cathey

Make a real connection

“There are four levels of connection: Text, voice, video and in-person. Each one goes up in level to connect and influence someone’s emotional state. We need to let [recruiters] say [to candidates] “I’m interested in you,” because that can foster an emotional response. We should all be thinking about not limiting ourselves to just text because it’s not engaging.” —Cathey

Engage with video

“What we try to do in a two-and a half minute [video] vignette is to give a snapshot of what goes on and share our our culture. How transparent can we be about that opportunity? Is the work cool? And are the people they’re working with fun and excited? And can [candidates] picture themselves in that environment?” —Valentin

Choose words carefully

“I try to tell people that they need to be a person first and recruiter second. When you look at the communication most recruiters use, it’s very transactional. We’re going after people who are not looking for a job, so how do you get people who are not looking for a job to engage? Not by talking about a job.” —Cathey

Get into the conversation

“We use Hootsuite to listen on social media. If people are talking about big data, say, we can be alerted and jump into conversation in a way that’s nonthreatening and not recruiting. We feel likethat gives us more credibility. And over a few months, these people become our biggest advocates, sending us referrals left and right. It's about how we can connect as people first and recruiters second. —Cathey

Build relationships with email

“In 2012, we did a survey of over 1,000 recruiters at GE to see what products would make them more effective, and they said CRM. But when you give them a CRM, most don’t know what to do with it. So we took some of our existing initiatives and rolled them out via CRM, rolling those out got us traction we needed.” —Alibaig

Align with traditional HR

“It’s time to break the divide between talent acquisition and talent management. When we hire someone we throw them onto the other side and don’t know what’s happening. We need to see onboarding and the assimilation experience. We need to break those walls and make sure we’re more in sync.” —Alibaig

Consider previous applicants

“First and foremost, focus on people who have already expressed interest in your organization. Once a position is filled, people are no longer applicants, so we should be moving to a future solution where those people go into a CRM because they have already expressed interest. The bronze medalist for one role could be the gold medalist for another” —Cathey

Assess workload

“Look at the req load of recruiters. If we want them to be proactive and do all the things we’re talking about here, they need to have the intellectual capacity and capacity from a time standpoint to build those relationships.” —Alibaig

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