In a recent HBR blog post, strategy consultant Mark W. Schaefer defends his position on why HR needs to learn from marketing and how. I couldn’t agree more, because company culture plays a pivotal role in companies hurtling into out digital transformations.
Study performed in March 2012 by LinkedIn’s Hiring Solutions Insight Team amongst 7,250 members worldwide shows that a strong overall company brand certainly helps with attracting talent. It stands to reason that if people admire your brand, they’re more likely to be aware of your company as an employer and potentially think it would be a good place to work. Overall brand impacts job consideration, though not as much as you might think. Thinking favorably of a company isn’t the same as genuinely wanting to work there. A strong employer brand – as indicated by an individual having a positive impression of your company as a place to work – is twice as likely to be linked to job consideration as a strong company brand. A strong employer brand is especially critical for attracting more junior employees, candidates from younger demographics, and those outside the country.
Success in HR could use a major assist from marketing with HR professionals who think like marketers. The competition for the best talent is fast and furious and, in many cases, that battleground is the social web.
According to Schaefer, HR could benefit from adopting seven marketing practices:
1. Compete for talent the way companies compete for customers. Today there is intense competition for the very best talent. When a high-potential employee checks out a company, the first place they go is increasingly social media platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn. In many industries, finding the best employees might be as important as finding the best customers. Why wouldn’t we take a more balanced, recruiting-centric approach to our web presence?
2. Pay more attention to user interfaces.Very often, the process is not human-oriented, it’s computer-oriented. Why not fill in a few fields and then have access to a live person through chat or maybe even a live person via web video. This is a common practice in customer service. Why wouldn’t we provide the same kind of attention to people who want to work for us and lead us into the future?
3. Be. More. Human. In the digital age, the most human companies will win. We have fantastic opportunities to use technology to tear down barriers between people instead of erecting them.
4. Build employees’ brands to help them amplify your message. On the marketing side, we frequently dream about people who post stories about our products, leading to massive new views to our content. In reality, that doesn’t happen too often. Employee social sharing networks look good on paper but in reality, there has been mixed success. But talking about the culture at work, commenting about the pride they have in an organization, or posting photos from a company picnic … well, that’s easy to do. We should give employees the training and tools to do their very best job when creating content about the employment culture of the company.
5. Try contextual advertising. Today any kind of marketing usually has a paid promotional component. If we are trying to attract employees instead of customers, why wouldn’t we do the same thing?
6. Think strategically about touchpoints. The buyer’s decision is a tangled mess of touchpoints. They may see ads, search online for information, and talk to friends. Marketers try to have some kind of content waiting customers at each point in the fragmented journey. Obviously there is also a similar winding path to the employment journey. Why not consider populating those touchpoints with helpful information like we do on the marketing side? Consider adding content for each of the decision-points in a potential employee’s journey. Help them assess (and perhaps even compare) your company culture, pay, benefits, etc.
7. Use influencer marketing to recruit. We are rapidly moving toward a world in which ads are blocked or ignored, but people still love to receive information from the online personalities they love and trust.
When people seek information about a company, who are they most likely to listen to? How do we connect with those important online personalities in a meaningful way so that they become advocates for our company? Most of these ideas are untested. But at least to a marketer’s eyes, existing HR recruiting practices are so behind our digital times that there’s little to lose in trying them.