Let’s Move Recruiting to the Marketing Department

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 2.37.51 PMIn a survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers, more than 1,250 company leaders from 60 countries have made it official: recruiting key talent is priority No. 1 for CEOs. Yes, CEOs say there is a big threat to business growth by not having the right talent in place.

At the same time, we have all heard ad nauseum that HR needs to become more strategic and less tactical. Since recruiting reports to HR, this criticism applies to them as well. It’s a case of guilt by association.

Let’s face it: It’s always seemed like Recruiting was tossed into the HR function because no one knew what else to do with it. Employment, yes — having it report into HR makes sense. You know, filling reqs for those positions that are relatively easy to find.

But true strategic recruiting? No — it has just never “clicked” in HR.

I want to talk about how we might “save” Recruiting — the strategic kind — by transferring it to another department that is more closely aligned with it. The transfer I propose would strengthen Recruiting’s ability to take on a more strategic role. This is important because of the new attention it’s getting from CEOs.

A Home in Marketing

I believe that Recruiting should report to Marketing. Recruiting and Marketing are both outwardly focused, concentrate on the future, share a common vision for the business, and have very similar responsibilities, albeit with different populations — Marketing with customers and Recruiting with candidates.

Yes, there are some differences between the two, but let’s look at the similarities:

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  • Market intelligence — In Marketing, this focuses on providing the company with information to understand what is happening in the marketplace, what the issues are, what competitors are doing, and what market potential exists. For Recruiting, this involves researching supply and demand in all company locations; competitor companies in terms of who they hire from, who they lose people to, and who their competitors’ key employees are.
  • Branding — Marketing builds an image/brand of the company’s products/services that is essential for product success. The branding process is about creating specific, positive, mental and emotional associations to these products/services. Branding is also important to Recruiting. A strong employment brand enables the company to attract potential employees. Getting people to view the company as a great place to work is what employment branding is all about.
  • Communications — Tailoring messages to different types of customer groups and using different communication channels is something that Marketing does well. Recruiting needs to do the same. Using some of Marketing’s communication methods would help them create material for the company website, job sites, social media — any place communication is used in recruiting efforts.
  • Segmentation — Market segmentation involves dividing the broad market into groups of individual markets. It is about understanding each individual market’s wants or needs and how they make buying decisions. If done properly this helps to insure the highest return for marketing/sales expenditures. For Recruiting it means segmenting jobs between difficult and those relatively easy to fill. It takes more time and effort to source and recruit people for jobs that are key and have critical skills. For example:
    • Recruiting: Reporting into Marketing. Requires high-end skills in sourcing candidates. This function is responsible for finding candidates with very specialized skills.
    • Employment: Reporting into HR. Responsible for hiring for jobs which require skills that are relatively easy to find and where there are typically a lot of candidates. The job is mostly administrative — no special sourcing skills are necessary.
  • Differentiation — Marketing differentiation is the way to make a company’s products/services more desirable than similar products/services of its competitors. Marketing looks for ways to differentiate — to make products/services “stand out” and be noticed. It is the heart of competition. For Recruiting, differentiation means making the company “stand out” to candidates and making it look like a more desirable place to work than its competitors.

Let’s face it. HR has always been risk averse — both for legal reasons as well as the mentality of needing to “follow the pack.” Differentiation for Recruiting, like Marketing, is the heart of competition.

Making Recruiting Truly Strategic

By placing Recruiting under Marketing, it would strengthen its ability to become truly strategic. There is also an opportunity for synergy between the two in a way that would not occur if Recruiting continued to report to HR.

The combination of these two functions is a real “natural” to me. Picture the swan finding a home with other swans. Works better than the swan trying to look like a duck with the other ducks in HR.

What do you think? Does it make sense to you?

Jacque Vilet, president of Vilet International, has more than 20 years’ experience in international human resources with major multinationals such as Intel, National Semiconductor, and Seagate Technology. She has managed both local/ in-country national and expatriate programs and has been an expat twice during her career. She has also been a speaker in the U.S., Asia, and Europe, and is a regular contributor to various HR and talent management publications. Contact her at jvilet@viletinternational.com.


61 Comments on “Let’s Move Recruiting to the Marketing Department

  1. I agree that there is a big marketing component to recruiting but also has equally a big Sales aspect to it. In my opinion, sitting recruiting with sales and marketing but having its own department and budget is the winning strategy. This way the recruiting department can leverage and learn from those two creating a synergy like never before. I am working towards that 🙂

  2. I always felt recruiting was much likes sales and worked with marketing as the sales team does. We hunt, prospect, cold call, discovery phase (about candidate) and demo (explain company) and then need to negotiate and close business. Often recruiting gets commission too, like sales. I have reported to a SVP of Sales in the past and it was a great relationship.

  3. I agree- there are strong synergies between marketing and recruiting. Recruiters have incredible market intelligence and access to information that provides value to marketing and the business. Great article, thanks!

  4. Well I read an article which suggested recruiting might fit best in finance which didn’t make too much sense to me and I’m not so sure recruiting fits any better in marketing. What about a decentralized recruiting function sitting in various business streams or functions such as marketing, engineering, finance, etc. with a solid line to that unit head and a dotted line to a titular or coordinating head in HR? Does the recruiting role need to be centralized? Great article!

  5. It sure as heck belongs somewhere other than HR – I used to think it belonged under Finance
    ( https://staging.ere.net/2009/09/10/recruiting-belongs-under-finance/ ) and I still lean heavily in that direction but with today’s (over) emphasis on social media I like the idea of pairing it with marketing but I like more the idea of sales.

    I could see scenarios where sales and marketing go up through Finance to the CEO though with recruiting a third leg in that (un)holy triumvirate underneath.

    How does that sound?

  6. Recruiting is part marketing/part sales/part sourcing now so it makes sense that those in recruiting departments need to think more like marketers and sales pros. The goal of marketing is to generate leads so the sales people can “close” them. In this case leads = applicants. The way you get those leads is through advertising, referrals and sourcing. So you’d better be good at those things if you want enough candidates to come through your doors.

    If I was starting from scratch I’d hire a copywriter/creative person to write every job description that actually sells the opportunity and value proposition. All branding would be done by creative and social media would be the main channel to publish it on. Its a noisy world out there, you have to make your message stand out.

  7. In our organization (about 160 people)recruiting is autonomous, & reports directly to our VP of Marketing; it’s fantastic.
    Your assessment was absolutely correct.
    It’s forward thinking & especially for a growing company, it affords recruiting to truly be part of the heart of the company, and the all important talent branding process.
    I also agree with several other posters that sales is recruiting and recruiting is sales… a consultative sale; I do not agree however that is should report into that department or finance.

  8. Jacque: Thanks for writing about what many of us have been thinking about and discussing for years. I began talking about this problem over 10 years ago when the line between HR and recruiting became blurred. When I began to build my Recruitment Process Optimization solution for companies I interviewed multitudes of people and specifically addressed this issue. Without exception I had total agreement that recruiting needs to report to almost anyone other than HR. Who they report to depends on a number of factors, the most critical being the size of the organization. In smaller companies general consensus was that it report to the COO or VP of Sales. I still believe this is a smart solution. Marketing may be a good alternative as well.

  9. Interesting article! I agree that alignment under HR is not a good fit. By reporting to HR recruiting becomes a 2nd rate department that is normally held to guidelines (very conservative) that were drafted by HR leaders. Recruiting needs to be forward leaning, creative and collaborate with marketing to brand the company.

    The role of recruiting as a whole has substantially more overlap with that of the marketing department (role, message delivered, and driving people candidates/customers towards the business).

  10. I have heard this proposal in the past. I agree with the intent. However, in light of most businesses focusing on the immediate future, how will moving it to Marketing make recruiting it more strategic? Most marketing departments are under pressure to deliver support to immediate revenue growth and have been distracted from projects that have strategic value. Would the same not happen to recruiting when moved to marketing?

    I think there is some value to moving it to marketing. Many of the disciplines (market research, targeting, etc.) are applicable to recruiting. However, I believe that CEO’s have to put their money where their mouth is and allocate proper budgets to strategic recruiting, no matter where you place it on the organizational chart.

  11. Thanks, Jacque. I agree with you that many of the functions you mentioned should be moved to Marketing, as I do not consider them to be Recruiting which I define as: “Putting quality butts in chairs, on-time and in-budget.”

    I am indifferent who we report to as long as they:
    1) Provide Recruiting with the resources we need
    2) Provide Recruiting with support and loyalty: has our “backs”
    3) Let us recruit, and don’t have us “sweat the small stuff”.


  12. If they think talent is the No. 1 priority I wonder if these CEO’s will start compensating people appropriately?

  13. I agree with a lot of the points in this article. Recruiting has many functions that are very related to marketing, sales, and HR. I think a true recruiting platform will provide these tools to enable sourcers and recruiters to build campaigns, have a CRM, nurture talent pools, engage in collaboration, brand on multiple platforms including social, etc… I also agree that its important to an extent, as to where recruiting should report into. The only place I have not seen it work is when recruiting reports into a function that doesn’t see the strategic value or the influence recruiters have on the entire company. They can literally change the culture of a company better then anyone. If that department sees recruiting as managing assets, or managing a compliance risk, then it hand cuffs one of the most strategic functions a company should be focused on, RECRUITING.

  14. WOW!! Lots of good comments!! Frankly I don’t understand why Marketing and Sales don’t combine more of their activities. And I don’t necessarily believe Recruiting should report UNDER Marketing — I’m rethinking. And I think it’s unrealistic to have it report to the CEO. But about having Sales, Marketing and Strategic Talent Acquisition report under someone that reports to the CEO. Can you think of a good name for that whole function? Doesn’t exist today. What do ALL 3 of them have in common that we could have the top person’s title (VP or SVP)reflect that? Like VP, Talent and Markets. That’s not a good example — but see what I mean???

  15. Marketing, Sales, Design/Development are strategic as well. If biz strategy is to go after certain markets — Marketing has to find them, analyze them, understand whether company products can penetrate (competitors may overwhelm it), what group in the market to pinpoint, etc.

    Sales has to figure out a sales strategy (when global can’t use the same sales strategies in every country), etc.

    Same for Talent Acquisition — can’t use the same strategy necessarily.

  16. I’m with Kevin. Just make it a stand-alone dept. My VP of HR just confirmed yesterday that approx 80% of the HR budget goes to recruiting. Recruiting works WITH marketing, but having it fall under marketing doesn’t make a lot of sense. Messaging to candidates is different from messaging to clients/consumers.

    That said, if a companies HR team is very ‘talent’ oriented, then there’s no reason to pull it out of HR. It honestly depends on how the company values the overall Talent Management function.

  17. It certainly DOESN’T belong in Human Resources. I 100% agree there. However, marketing isn’t right either. By moving recruiting to marketing, you’re just trading one bias that’s in HR being process & compliance based to another organization which will be branding centric. The sales element, which is the most important part of recruiting in my opinion, would suffer under marketing because of their bias.

    An earlier commenter said, report to CEO & COO directly. That’s the right way to do it. Because if all your recruiters are embedded, each silo will pursue their own strategy and go native to that silo. Rather, a strategic recruiting function in conjunction with CEO COO to execute their strategy. Also, we can remind them than an HRIS/ATS doesn’t close deals or find anyone.

    When we need to brand, we tap marketing. When we need a process, tap HR. But the technology or brand cannot drive our tactics/strategy. Only the CEO & COO of a company should do that.

    In my dream world, the VP Recruiting reports to the CEO/COO directly, and we execute on the vision of that company.

  18. @Robert you hit it right on the nail. This is right as long as your organisation is big enough to support that model. Unfortunately when you are small you have to put too many hats like HR tasks to move to this type of model.
    Again this is a dream that i am working towards.

  19. This has been traditionally been part of the question: why keep HR at all?

    Legal and accounting can handle compliance and benefits & payroll. Operations can handle recruiting. Marketing is tempting but human capital to me is basically a logistics function at scale and an executive/CEO office function at the high-end, just as Robert suggests. Investor relations can pick up retirees and alum, which is a nice way to think of those audiences. What that leaves is what used to be called the Personnel Department; training & development, compensation, and on/off boarding.

    One thing is for sure; the HR mindset and the Recruiting mindset are always going to be in tension….

  20. Kevin nailed it. He’s my hero. PARTNERING with Marketing not reporting to marketing. That’s like a plumber reporting to an Electrician. They both might be working on the same house, but there’s something both of them don’t know about each other. Recruiting should be it’s own department but works with Marketing to craft a message and strategies. Reporting to the C level is how it should be done.

  21. Organisations that know their stuff tend to appoint external specialist recruitment communications (previously known as recruitment advertising) agencies to help them with their recruitment. The reason being is that because these agencies (they’re not recruitment consultants but advertising agencies that are used to marketing organisations recruitment offering) have in-depth recruitment knowledge and experience in pretty much every business sector, as well as being able to come up with creative solutions rather than the bland, same old same old ones you see when some companies advertise direct.How do I know this? I worked in such ad agencies for many years and these days a lot of my work involves writing recruitment communications for them on behalf of their clients. HR knows HR, Marketing knows product or service. Recruitment communications is a different animal. Appoint an ad agency and let them come up with the answers.

  22. Makes sense, and I have seen it work. As a US Army Recruiting Commander in Nashville, TN., my company’s relationship with our Marketing Department was crucial. My company consisted of nine recruiting stations with a staff of 42 recruiters that covered 144,000 square miles of Tennessee, 85 high schools and 15 colleges. Directing that company without the Marketing staff’s support would have been nearly impossible. They kept us in the loop on key events happening within our area, market analysis, recruiting objectives, arranged job fairs, supplied us with updated product material, training, and individual recruiter results. Again, my First Sergeant and I would not have achieved the success we did without their support.

  23. I completely agree with the sentiment that recruiting needs to be separated from HR. I have been saying this for years. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t see it. They just want to put recruiting in a box, and that box is HR. At one of my previous companies, because I was often networking with potential clients and decision makers for my company’s product, I asked the VP of Sales for a referral agreement in case I was able to generate new leads for sales while recruiting and networking. He totally didn’t get it, or want to get it, and replied: “but that doesn’t make sense, you’re a recruiter.” Great recruiters are also great opportunists. We are always looking for the value in the people we are talking to or evaluating. “Can we put them here, can we put them there…?” Every company out there today is missing out on opportunities by not leveraging recruiting teams to their fullest potential.
    While I believe recruiting requires good marketing tools, the functions of recruiting are much more aligned with sales: prospecting, networking, pitching, negotiating, and closing. Recruiters need to be as market savvy and aware of their company’s offerings as a sales person. Recruiters are on the front lines as champions their company’s brand. Yet, these same companies treat recruiters as a money pit and as a highly disposable resource. But… what if… instead of hiring recruiters as contractors, recruiters were hired as highly leverageable resources that could hot-swapped between recruiting, sales, account management, lead generation, etc? This would turn a company’s biggest evangelists form an “expense” to revenue generating team members.

    This definitely needs to be an ongoing conversation with companies and how they structure their organizations.

  24. “… what if… instead of hiring recruiters as contractors, recruiters were hired as highly leverageable resources that could hot-swapped between recruiting, sales, account management, lead generation, etc? This would turn a company’s biggest evangelists form an “expense” to revenue generating team members. This definitely needs to be an ongoing conversation with companies and how they structure their organizations.”

    Like i said, this is one of the most important strings in recruiting talk in years!

  25. Thanks again everyone —- meaningful conversation here.

    I personally think that Talent Acquisition — wherever it resides in the future —- will be re-structured.
    Talent Acquisition would include:

    1) Workforce planning — done with top management to fit ongoing business strategy. GLOBALLY —- otherwise too easy for local operations everywhere to ask for new people willy-nilly in a piece-meal fashion —- where they end up hiring not to the strategic biz/recruiting plan — but where they want. It has to fit the plan — fill the strategic positions that are critical in achieving the biz plan. And Talent Acquisition at Corporate level has to oversee it.

    2) Expatriates — people from/to any country — not just U.S. These people are part of the strategic talent acquisition plan/biz plan. You may want to move a person from Country A to Country B where they can be used in a more strategic fashion. So talent acquisition is not just new hires but new hires/transfers of ALL talent.

    3)All branding, market research, selling methods/strategies, etc.

    Don’t want to upset anyone but all this needs to be CREATED at corporate. And then if rolled out to business units/divisions/global locations —- Corporate needs to oversee the global plan — it has to be managed.

    I still think that Sales, Marketing and Talent Acquisition ALL have to do with “meeting the strategic biz plan” —- end achievement to make revenues. Sales (obviously), Marketing (where can money be made — markets) and Talent Acquisition (getting the right people to help achieve strategy).

    I don’t think that the CEO can have all reporting to him. The C-suite sets the strategy and then have to implement it with CEO oversight.

    The CEO can’t do everything and there is no reason to say that talent acquisition is more important than Marketing and Sales. I’m not talking about Marketing doing ad campaigns — maybe that is part of Marketing but same as “employment” of easy-to-fill jobs belonging to HR. It’s strategic Marketing that I talked about in the article.

    All three have to work together so having all report under one person makes sense to me.

    My 2 cents.

  26. @Maureen, I literally had a discussion about leveraging recruiting in sales just last week with a peer of mine. I think that’s a great idea.

  27. About outside search firms, contract recruiters, RPOs —- maybe it’s a personal belief but if you bring in all these outside specialists they can never know the company like TA does inside the company. Plus you have to MANAGE them and TA doesn’t have time to become “vendor managers”. PLUS for TA to outsource filling strategic positions negates the whole point of TA working outside HR.

    Please, please, please don’t turn over strategic recruiting to outsiders. Remember we are talking about strategic recruiting not easy-to-fill positions.

    If you get caught up in filling easy positions there is no need for TA to leave HR. TA becomes an “employment” function —– and that is not part of the company biz strategy. The CEO would laugh if you wanted to include easy positions — no way would he want you on his team. TA wants to be recognized as a strategic function then get rid of all the stuff that’s not strategic. That includes job postings, career fairs, etc.

  28. Hi again —- I apologize. I think I came on a little too strong in my last 2 comments. I think all ideas are worth pursuing. Companies have different styles and it won’t be “one size fits all”.

  29. Jacque: As I’ve written in the Fordyce Letter, great recruiters will almost always have work. Great recruiters, and even the average ones, stay in business because corporate isn’t getting the job done effectively. The average ones stay in business because they’re doing contingent search. Companies figure what’s the harm having multitudes of contingent people work on an opportunity. They take the risk and the company gets the reward. In the retained world, however, things are done very differently. They are done effectively and are over 90% successful in most cases because of a commitment on both sides.

    Also, you shouldn’t be apologizing for being passionate about your opinions and ideas…

  30. I agree. Great recruiters thrive no matter where they’re at, or who they report to. But rather than exist with what has always been, I think it is time us recruiters stage the appropriate type of coup and extricate ourselves out, and make an active move to where we should be. It’s just time. Bye bye HR.

  31. @Jacque. Nice job creating a very interesting commentary thread. Perhaps ERE should create a live … what’s the word, panel to discuss it. I’d be curious what the SHRM types say too. Would be a fun lively debate.

  32. ONCE AGAIN, Todd you guys could be ahead, way ahead of the pack on something that could entirely and truly (no more talk/real action verbs!) change recruiting.

    (Now, watch all the pundits start to (seriously) spout on this.)

    First, though, it’s going to take people who understand the business proposition and that means forever banning the “What does this have to do with recruiting?” mentality so prevalent – even today.

    We’ll see where this goes.

    I’m (guardedly) hopeful.

  33. Interesting view – while there are certainly similarities between marketing and recruiting, the answer to making recruitment more strategic is surely to give it the dedicated time and attention it deserves, rather than just integrating it into another business function that doesn’t ‘get’ the process.

    Understanding that recruitment is a separate entity to HR and moving away from the HR generalist model is the first step to making it a strategic enabler for the business, where talent acquisition and management is conducted by a dedicated team of recruitment specialists that understand the demands of modern recruitment.

  34. Jacque,

    I’ve been reading through your “rethinking” (and give you great credit for such fast rethinking – it takes me years to come off an opinion, stubborn as I am!) and I notice you said this:

    “And I don’t necessarily believe Recruiting should report UNDER Marketing — I’m rethinking. And I think it’s unrealistic to have it report to the CEO. But about having Sales, Marketing and Strategic Talent Acquisition report under someone that reports to the CEO. Can you think of a good name for that whole function? Doesn’t exist today. What do ALL 3 of them have in common that we could have the top person’s title (VP or SVP)reflect that? Like VP, Talent and Markets. That’s not a good example — but see what I mean???”

    That has always been pretty much my view – that sales, marketing and talent acquisition are financial objectives (that’s what they have in common) and as such I saw recruiting under Finance (at first because of the financial fee-based initiatives it requires but also for the revenue increasing/enhancement recognition it would ultimately receive.)

    I still believe Finance is a good place for it but I’ve just written and submitted an article to Todd called “Recruiting Belongs Under The CEO” and I hope he sees it fit to run. The idea behind it is somewhat some hidden shock value with the objective that if we don’t land there we might land at the CFO’s door.

    But my first choice at this point is the CEO.

    Yes, definitely the CEO.

    Is the madness in the method making any sense?

  35. The fact that you feel that changing bosses will make you more strategic overnight is proof in point that you are not ready to make the transition.

    This discussion is as stale as old bread. ANY function within a company worth its salt does not need to report into a vertical to harnass its power.

    Ofcourse it makes sense for us to report into HR because we report on similar metrics to C-level. Metrics that no Finance, Sales or Marketing VP could place in context of their own deliverables. Our reporting to C-level makes sense only in a wider HR context. And that is all there is to it, that simple.

    If you want to borrow knowledge from Marketing, do it! If you feel your recruiters could learn from the cold calling skills of your sales team, set up a workshop. No need to live with them or join the same vertical.

  36. Same article, different year… almost like clockwork every year ERE manages to find someone to write an article asserting that recruiting needs to be somewhere other than where it is. Here are a few “betcha didn’t knows”:

    Recruiting isn’t sales, it’s marketing. Sales is what happens when people already want to buy your product (job ad responders); marketing is what happens when someone doesnt want to buy your product and you have to ascertain what a superior career opportunity would be like for them. You might get them, you might not. If you think recruiting is a sales function, you’re likely a post and pray recruiter. “I have this great job and I think it would be perfect for you (even though all I’ve seen is your LinkedIn profile and haven’t spoken with you)”.

    Marketing the way JV sees it functions in a partnership with sales and as such HAS to generate revenues ahead of honesty. Marketing helps come up with such employment branding gems like “we only hire the best and the brightest” (no you don’t – I’ve met many of your company’s MENSA members) or “we’re a recognized Employer of Choice” (actually I can’t think of anyone who wants to work there).

    While these read like testimonials for putting recruiting under Marketing, they’re the reasons for NOT putting it there. There’s a difference between convincing someone to spend their money on a product or service versus partnering with them on their next career move – if you can’t FEEL the difference deep down inside you then you probably also believe that candidate experience is just another marketing initiative.

    This ongoing discussion won’t change many people’s minds because it’s such a polarizing issue with decades of misinformation and bad practices behind it. Recruiting should be, as noted by others, a quasi a stand alone function reporting to the CEO or COO. When a CEO makes the honest claim that “people are our most important asset”, she’s recognizing that people make the balance sheet what it is and people wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for recruiting. When most in HR still believe that CpH is a valid recruiting metric, that all the great talent is on LinkedIn, and that there’s a shortage of talent (yeah, confuses me too), it becomes clear that HR isn’t the place for recruiting. When most in Marketing are now substantially orienting themselves towards all digital, it becomes clear that Marketing isn’t the place for a relationship function to call home.

    Same time next year???

  37. Fascinating discussion and many similar as well as opposite points of view. When reading this I have though to ask myself the question why the division, why the wish to change from reporting into one function to the other, why the need to consider this? I understand that in a lot of companies the role of HR and that of recruitment are two separate ends of a spectrum, two different mind-sets and attitudes why there may be a temptation to veer towards corporate functions that are more ‘like’ the recruitment function in what they do, what they think and how they act. That is fine, but I have been in two MNC’s where the ‘friction’ that I believe is being referred to by many that may see a change as the answer simply wasn’t there, it was a seamless and harmonious co-operation that meant that there was no ‘friction’ and/or issues and the working relationship was one of as long as we get the work done and that we all understand what that entails then that is really what matters. Keith Halperin said it very simply early on in the discussion, this is not necessarily about who/which function that talent acquisition/recruitment report to, as long as the understanding, the tools and the support is there. For me therefore this is not a discussion about ‘departments’ but about overall attitude and approach to the needs that any company may have in acquiring best people and assets for themselves. It is about the fundamental yet all important attitude towards the function of talent acquisition, the importance that this very subject is given by the CEO and C-suite and how that them translates to the various departments and functional heads. The best and most seamless relationship I had was one where there was fluidity as to departments, as to who did what and how, as long as the work was done, owned and accounted for and to the wider benefit of the organisation. I am aware that in most companies this is not the case, that this level of ‘fluidity’ simply cannot and will not be done, but my argument is that this is simply a question of will and attitude coming from the CEO/C-suite more than anything else. Therefore as much as I am in the ‘recruitment belong under marketing camp’ I am also of the opinion that this ‘division’ is not the answer nor the way forward, but rather a question of overall attitude by those that manage.

  38. I’d welcome the chance to attend a panel discussion on the topic…but ONLY if the panel includes a mixture of:

    1) A current Fortune 1000 CEO
    2) VP/SVP Marketing
    3) SVP/CHRO from a Fortune 1000 organization
    4) Leadership from an organization where the proposed structure exists and can discuss pros/cons

    Otherwise it’s just selling to those who want to be sold….and per Steve’s comment, “same time next year”.


  39. @ Jacob. Thank you again.

    @ Everybody:
    1) If I am interpreting things correctly, the ERE discussion which has produced more commentary than others in months has been (in effect): “Which column of an org chart should we be on?” THIS is what gets us all fired up? REALLY?

    2) I’m not familiar with any research that says a particular type of departmental organization is clearly best. If there is: we should use it, and if there isn’t: perhaps we should commission an unbiased study (as I think we should do with so many major recruiting questions which seem to have no firm answers). Until then, or until some very powerful and politically secure Staffing Head gets to move us wherever s/he wants to and reports on the results after a while, THE POINT IS MOOT. IMHO, we should concentrate our intellects and passions on important things we have reasonable ability to effect as, opposed to largely symbolic issues which we don’t.

    Happy Holidays,

    Keith keithsrj@sbcglobal.net

  40. @Steve L: “This ongoing discussion won’t change many people’s minds because it’s such a polarizing issue with decades of misinformation and bad practices behind it. Recruiting should be, as noted by others, a quasi a stand alone function reporting to the CEO or COO. When a CEO makes the honest claim that “people are our most important asset”, she’s recognizing that people make the balance sheet what it is and people wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for recruiting.” PRECISELY!!!

    @Jacob M: “It is about the fundamental yet all important attitude towards the function of talent acquisition, the importance that this very subject is given by the CEO and C-suite and how that them translates to the various departments and functional heads. …but my argument is that this is simply a question of will and attitude coming from the CEO/C-suite more than anything else.” PRECISELY!!!

    @Jim R: Correct

    So here’s my take and experience on this issue. I spent 4 years building and then selling the process I discuss in my comment above. Here’s what I discovered:
    1. For talent strategy and business strategy to be aligned the CEO must buy in. This is not even close to becoming a reality.
    2. CEO’s give a lot of lip service to talent being the most important thing to them, but when the rubber meets the road they’re not interested in, or committed to, actually making this happen
    3. Virtually everyone below the CXO level believes talent needs to be handled at the CXO level and report to anyone other than HR (and as I said above, depends on the size of the company) and should be sitting at the exec table.
    4. As long as companies are unwilling to hire professional recruiters to work inside and pay them at the same level as their sales people, this conversation is moot.

  41. How about not UNDER anything? How about on the outer ring of the organization, at the interface between the enterprise and the marketplace? And if really serious about human capital (i.e., people’s potential to create economic value) and willing to accept that more than 80% of today’s work is knowledge work (i.e., cultivating opportunities to create economic value), then why not just go ahead and commit to design and manage the work of the business so as to maximize people’s potential to create and monetize economic value?

  42. I think the operational aspect of recruiting is too different than marketing and sales to be fully absorbed into that organization. But I would go as far as saying that, for some companies, the Employer Brand should be managed like a product brand – from general awareness, to purchase/offer acceptance, to confirmation and reconfirmation – to gain long-term personal commitment. That’s the pot o’ gold for both marketing and employers. It would be interesting to see what might happen if HR and marketing reported into the same C-level executive.

  43. I’ve just become the Ere member and have to say: Great article and even more discussion! The problem I see is a distance between business and HR. I help companies build brands in the Czech Republic. And it starts with people in companies. What I daily get in touch with is HR people have only basic knowledge about company brand. So how they can do recruitment / hire somebody (I mean “right fit”) at all?

  44. Look at Maureen’s post for my comments.

    Shame on you “nay-sayers”. For those of you that don’t know —– business people have been preaching to HR for years to become more business oriented. And nothing has changed (in most companies.) AND there is tension between STRATEGIC Recruiting and HR.

    Again — I can’t say this enough —- my post has nothing to do with “employment” — an administrative task of filling reqs from ATS resumes, etc. Lot of people looking for mostly common jobs. Not strategic.

    Some of you say it shouldn’t matter where Recruiting reports — just do a good job, etc. and ignore the rest. As long as STRATEGIC Recruiting reports to HR they are viewed in as negative light as the whole of HR. It DOES matter where they report.

    And Recruiting has more in common with Sales and Marketing than HR. There is a common thread here. And contrary to HR Recruiting does KNOW the business — at least STRATEGIC Recruiting does.

    Lots of reasons to get it out of HR. Let HR survive or not — but let’s move STRATEGIC Recruiting to a better place.

  45. Petr — EXACTLY. Recruiting (the administrative type) doesn’t know much about the business of the company. STRATEGIC Recruiting should — or they don’t belong in STRATEGIC Recruiting.

    That’s why STRATEGIC Recruiting should be closely aligned with Marketing/Sales and no better place than under a VP/SVP that reports to the CEO. The HR exec (in most companies) isn’t strong enough to do it —- and in some cases doesn’t understand the business him/herself.

  46. Jacque is DEAD RIGHT on this.

    STRATEGIC Recruiting is the answer.

    It’s the differentiator that’s been ignored for far too long and is the “perilator” (I made that word up but it does seem to have preceded my cognition in the gaming world – yay for the gamers!) that threatens to destroy – at least promises to hold stagnant – organizations if not allowed to flourish within them.

  47. It certainly is misplaced. But moving recruiting under the VP Sales just creates a new set of biases to fight.

    I’ve found strategic recruiting is viewed very positively. In fact, our function is one of the few viewed positively in HR. CHRO would rather die fighting than give up one of the sole bright spots.

    I had an interesting conversation with Operations & Strategy executives. They tended to agree about better alignment with strategic recruiting, for key roles.

    Seems to me you leave staffing under HR, and have a strategic recruiting function moved under the COO/Chief Strategy person. More than an ES&H COO to be sure, or a facilities centric one. I’m talking chief execution officer type.

    But that’s me. Without that direct connection, leadership will tend to go it on their own in searches and fail. The stronger connection will just unleash existing capability more.

    I think the smart CEOs see this, know this.

    So for all our typing, I think this exists already, even if it isn’t on most org charts.


  48. Hi Rob — agree. And not to pick on you but my whole point (maybe I didn’t make it clear in my post) is to leave “staffing/employment” (the administrative type of recruiting) under HR and move STRATEGIC recruiting out of HR and under ____.

    Most companies DO have a Sales/Marketing function and my personal opinion is that STRATEGIC recruiting does have more in common with them than say, Engineering/R&D, Mfg/Operations, etc.

    Maybe the first step is just agreeing that STRATEGIC doesn’t belong under HR. Then let the company decide where it belongs.

    Some of you may think that I am focusing on a picky point of reporting relationships —- but as I said above I think it does matter in terms of support, impression of internal/external partners, etc. I’ve seen top-notch STRATEGIC recruiters embarrassed (grinding their teeth) about reporting into HR. Many times their needs/priorities just aren’t viewed as important as they should be by most heads of HR.

    It’s GREAT Rob if your VPHR understands your importance but I would venture to say that that is unusual for most heads of HR. (Hope none are reading this.) I think you would agree.

    The response here has been incredible and I appreciate all your comments and points. Maybe Todd will think this issue belongs at one of the conferences where we can even get more input AND hear from some C-level execs!

  49. With all due respect Jaque, but it seems you are confusing a better home with a broken home. What you are describing in your comments is a disfunctional relationship with HR, rather than a better relationship with marketing. It is certainly not the relationships that I have seen recruitment have with HR. I’ve seen the two work seemlessly together on many occasions in companies large and small.

    If you have not managed to work well with HR, you may find that you will equally struggle with Marketing or whereever else you want to end up. It all seems slightly petulant. Like a 2 year old screaming “I want a new mommy!” when denied a second ice cream cone. Have you ever asked a CMO whether he’d even want to have you?

    Like I said before, levels of strategy do not come with reporting lines. It comes with cooperation. Ask your next employers CEO what reporting he looks at and you’ll see recruiting is but a small part of a larger set of HR metrics that he/she looks at. That and that alone is the reason we are right where we ought to be. Straight up the most logical reporting line for a CEO to get his data from.

  50. Recruitment has just been gradually processed and automated until it is now generally inefficient and ineffective. This has resulted in ‘outsourcing’ because fewer people in the organisation really know what is required and don’t want the responsibility. This has resulted in failure to recruit well even at the most junior level. Retailing is the classic Example: churning of Sales Assistants so customers seldom see the same staff twice. They know little about what they are supposed to be selling because why should anybody train them as they won’t stay long? So much for the customer experience.

  51. Frank — And look how it happened. HR wants to “outsource” everything that is “transactional” — and they include recruiting in that definition. Technology may be an “aid” but it takes more than spitting out resumes to analyze and make recommendations/decisions.

    Can’t force any changes. But if we bring this issue out in the open it might stir some thinking and in the end companies that want to make the change with the CEOs support might actually make the change.

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