Is there a Chief HR Marketing Officer ?

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Ok, at this pace there will be far too many “Chief Something Officers” in the workplace so call him director or whatever you want. But if we want to be honest, consistent with the current discourses and respect the symmetry of attentions, there is no reason to have any difference between the one who recruits the client and make the product land on the market and the one who recruits the people who’ll make the business work and make the employer brand land on the market.

But if we want the title to exist, we need the function and the practice to exist, what is not obvious at all.

HR marketing is not HR communication

To start, HR marketing is not HR communication. On the client side we often see the same person having the two roles but on the HR side  it’s clear that the focus has always been on communication only. If both are complementary, they are not the same thing.

Communication is about delivering a message, marketing is about making it actionable. On says “we’re nice”, the second says “sign !”. There are businesses everyone know without knowing their products and so without having any idea if it’s possible and worthy to become client.

It’s the same for recruitment. Between “I know they exist and have values” (real or not) and “they have a project and a vision I’m comfortable with and I want to be a part of their future” there is a wide gap.

Employer brand vs Employee experience

Businesses have been communicating about only two things so far : the brand and the job offers.

The brand used to be a more or less credible piling of values aiming at making the company acceptable. The offer was an open door to the transaction. It often resulted in counterproductive strategies : the  brand is designed to attract a wide range of people, the offer to get as many CVs as possible and the bottleneck moves to recruiters who receive lots of irrelevant CVs.

Client marketing has understood that for a long time. Grasp all, lose all : one must segment and qualify to allocated resources where it matters.

Marketers also understood that beyond a product or a service, clients wanted to buy experiences. By focusing on the offer, HR communication misses the opportunity to move to the employee experience field.

The consumerization of HR

I often consider that enterprise digitization equals to enterprise consumerization. What means that anything that is done for the client will be done for the employee  (with as little delay as possible).

How can we believe that candidates does not apply in their job search the same decision process, the same approaches they apply to choose a product. We can even think that they will have higher expectations since choosing a job is more critical, engaging, structuring that most of consumption choices.

In short, candidates are looking for an employee experience and it’s even more true when it comes to profiles businesses struggle to attract or to new generations no one can promise the same things as 20 years ago and hope they’ll “buy” without discussion.

A marketing approach to the candidate is needed

Everything suggest that HR should be more marketing minded. What means :

  • proactive profile segmentation
  •  the job, the company, are products with a value proposition, a clear promise and engagement, a “contract”. The Employee Value Proposition as we know it is not enough anymore.
  • Candidates follow a journey (unknown, targeted, candidate, employee…) that must be consistent over time. It’s not about the message delivered but what people live.
  • Candidate knowledge and understand matters. (and employee knowledge too)
  • The experience must be personalized based on the candidate knowledge. Personalized way to get in touch, personalized offer, interactions….and that’s also true when the candidate becomes an employee.
  • The candidate journey is omnichannel with experiences designed for each specific channel. Being aware that more and more candidates want to be able to apply on mobile and forcing them to upload a resume is a nonsense.
  • Touchpoints matter : which should be used, how to make sure they all are aligned with the desired employee experience, what candidates must live at each touchpoint ?
  • Programmatic works for jobs offers.
  • The message, its tone and format must be adapted to the candidate and the channel.

I’m sure I forgot a lots of points. But one thing is sure : HR must adopt a true marketing approach, focus on candidate experience and go beyond the window dressing approaches HR communication used to rely on.

Is marketing about to hack HR ? Why not. I’m sure that a part of the future of marketing is to be learned on the marketing department side… provided marketing does not steal the whole job to a too passive HR function.

Should HR follow this direction ? It’s obvious that they have no choice.

Do most businesses have the mindset, the resources and even the right HR services and consultancy providers to do so ? I’m afraid not.

Photo Credit : Fotolia