Marketing v. Recruiting: Who Owns Social Talent Acquisition? You Be the Judge

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 8.43.59 AMBailiff: The District Court of ERE will now hear the case of Marketing v. Recruiting.

Marketing: May it please the court, we believe that an organization’s Marketing department should own its social media recruiting channels. Marketing professionals have experience in social media from their consumer-facing efforts. They know how to create content, how to engage audiences, and how to track success with analytics. Recruiters have little experience in this type of interaction. They should stick to careers sites and job fair brochures, where they can best use their strengths — evaluating résumés and holding one-on-one conversations with candidates. A company should have one brand and speak to all its audiences with the same voice: the voice of Marketing. Thank you.

Judge: Very well. Recruiting?

Recruiting: With all due respect to my colleague, Marketing has no experience in connecting with job-seekers. Marketing messages don’t speak to the talent that most organizations want to attract. Job-seekers can’t interact with a careers site or a Taleo form; they want to ask questions, make comments, and share their experiences with a hiring manager. In addition, Marketing is known for, shall we say, embellishing the truth when it comes to describing products and services. But we’re talking about a job that someone will have for years or decades. Recruiting communications must be honest and transparent and should be in the hands of those who understand what today’s workers are looking for. This is our position.

Judge: Marketing, do you wish to present evidence?

Marketing: Your honor, I present Exhibit A: the U.S. Coast Guard. Its Twitter and Flickr accounts are for marketing purposes only. But their content includes photos, historical fun facts, and news of the Guard’s latest operations. Its Flickr albums include “Women in Command” and “A Week in the Life of the Coast Guard Academy.” These do a perfect job of enticing candidates. And they’re run by the Marketing department.

Recruiting: Objection, your honor! The Coast Guard does specifically recruit on YouTube and Facebook, with great success — a quarter-million likes on Facebook and almost half a million views on YouTube. And these are run by recruiters; the Coast Guard posts their names and photos.

Judge: Sustained. Does Recruiting have evidence to show the court?

Recruiting: We present Exhibit B: Taco Bell Careers. 145,000 likes on Facebook. 2,077 followers on Twitter. 571 followers on Pinterest. And well over 100,000 views on YouTube. All run by a social media recruiting team. These experts maintain Taco Bell’s casual brand voice while providing entertaining content that job-seekers want to see. They present the job of preparing food honestly. They show employees having fun, attending company events, and advancing their careers. These aren’t marketing messages and have nothing to do with how good their burritos taste.

Marketing: Your honor, Recruiting admits that Taco Bell Careers has only 2,077 followers on Twitter. While its main Twitter account has more than 1.5 million. Why are these “experts” reaching less than half a percent of what their marketing colleagues reach?

Recruiting: It’s called “audience segmentation,” which should be an obvious concept to anyone with a marketing degree.

Marketing: A brand’s customers become its employees, and vice-versa. That means a single voice is more important than personalized messaging.

Recruiting: Job-seekers are looking for information that’s completely different from what a customer needs. Their goal is to actually make the company part of their lives.

Marketing: That’s Marketing’s goal as well! Branding that creates a personal connection.

Recruiting: Who has a connection to a lightbulb? And yet employees love working for GE.

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Marketing: Small businesses don’t have the luxury of hiring a separate social media recruitment team. They may not have a recruiter at all! They do their own recruiting and marketing, and they do them both very well.

Recruiting: Slick salesman.

Marketing: Silly softy.

Judge: Enough, both of you! Counsels, I’m ready to render a verdict.

Recruiting: Yes, your honor.

Marketing: We’re listening.

Judge: After listening to both sides, I think organizations can find the most success in attracting top talent by having this department run its social media channels.

Recruiting: Yes?

Marketing: Which one?

You be the Judge. Which department do YOU think should run an organization’s social media recruiting channels — Marketing or Recruiting? 

Jody Ordioni is the author of “The Talent Brand.” In her role as Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Brandemix, she leads the firm in creating brand-aligned talent communications that connect employees to cultures, companies, and business goals. She engages with HR professionals and corporate teams on how to build and promote talent brands, and implement best-practice talent acquisition and engagement strategies across all media and platforms. She has been named a "recruitment thought leader to follow" and her mission is to integrate marketing, human resources, internal communications, and social media to foster a seamless brand experience through the employee lifecycle.

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8 Comments on “Marketing v. Recruiting: Who Owns Social Talent Acquisition? You Be the Judge

  1. Interesting Points from both the parties. Ideally a collaboration is a must between Marketing and Recruitment Teams. Companies which are able to do that, will be successful. The Top Mgmt will be more concerned of end results. They would not worry who owns it. Its upto to both parties to come at a common point and achieve results that work in their favor.

  2. Objection: neither party has standing, for lack of an actual controversy between them.

    Social media is conducted at various group and individual levels. The question presented is moot.

    1. Thanks Martin – I just spoke Monday with a talent acquisition leader at a large banking company that has an actual controversy. The marketing department and the talent acquisition department both feel like they should be in control of the pages. I think the marketing department also wants one page (like twitter or Facebook.com/toddsbank vs. twitter or Facebook.com/toddsbank and Facebook.com/toddsbankcareers)

      1. Ha 😉 Didn’t this exact dynamic play out at the dawn of the Internet- (e.g. fights over front page real-estate). I mean, isn’t the answer obvious that EVERYONE will get their SM bits?

  3. Most recruiters use social media as a “post and pray” tool – blindly blasting job posting to the masses and ultimately killing their own credibility and that of their company. Using social media properly and for long term results takes training in marketing. As a result, unless you hire marketers as part of the recruiting organization, a close collaboration with marketing and recruiting is a must. Even if you have marketers embedded within recruiting there is generally many synergies that can be drawn from the corporate social media marketing groups.

  4. Both parties must work together so that the organization speaks with “one voice.” Marketing should own the feed to customers, analysts, media, investors, et al. Recruiting should conduct the dialogue with candidates. The two should be synchronized and choreographed so that they not only do not conflict with one another, but ultimately develop a synergy that benefits both as well. Sadly, few organizations have the maturity or “long term perspective” to forego turf wars for the sake of the overall enterprise.

  5. I think we are approaching this dilemma incorrectly; instead of being an “either/or” question, it really is a “both/and” opportunity; at least in an enterprise sized organization, it must be a partnership with whoever owns the brand (marketing or communications).per Stephen Lowisz D. Mark Hornung Kunjal Kamdar The last thing an organization should want is talent acquisition doing their own creative that violates the investment that is made in a brand. Not only is TA not qualified for that role, we lack the big picture perspective. On the other hand, in most organizations, career site traffic is the either the first or second most popular destination, so it is important to marketing/communications. But perhaps the most important reason is that talent acquisition lacks the ability to adapt to what the data tells us and pursue different course of action. The data tells us that social media is not a successful channel to post a job and expect to get a hire; it turns out that social is more of an influence on the hire. So instead of providing content that would build our brand, we continue to push jobs into the social channel. TA cannot seem to understand that when only 15-20% of job seekers are active (and reading job posts), that the semi-active and passives do not respond to ads regardless of the channel. Marketing would have designed some inbound channels to nurture and engage our candidate customers because they have understood for a number of years that we need to map our job marketing to the web behaviors of our target audience. We can learn from marketing.

  6. Oh did I enjoy this article. I’ve been a part of this debate a few times over, and I love the way this was presented. I think the Coast Guard example makes the waters even murkier though. The Military Services do an outstanding job of branding to the masses of being a part of their organization – rarely do you see them advertising a single job, but more on the thesis of being a part of that organization. That’s a smart approach. However, to say that those Coast Guard recruiters own the USCG facebook channel is stretching things.
    A recruiter in the Coast Guard is not a career recruiter like corporate recruiters. They come from the fleet, and do 2-3 years as a recruiter, and then head back to the fleet. This is great for recruiting efforts because they are able to speak to what the job/life is actually like from 1st hand experiences. Rarely do we have corporate recruiters that have spent years as a functional expert in the areas they recruit in.
    Additionally, the moderated chatroom they held, to me it looks more like the USCG Social Media team pulled together the live chat, and then invited the recruiters in to be a part of it and interact with the candidates. The actual recruiters aren’t the ones running around snapping photos around the country and posting them on the sites – they’re too busy recruiting.
    With that said – the coast guard example highlights what a team concept using social channels to recruit actually is. Imagine having to build your own road every time you wanted to drive your car somewhere? There are teams that build the channels to be used, and then there are team that use the channels and benefit from it. It has to be a combined effort to make sure that the branding aligns with the organization, and the right messaging is sent to the right audiences. Neither the marketing nor the recruiting teams should be operating independently in this, close teamwork is the way to build a highly successful campaign.

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