Talented managers and employees are an essential key to the success of any business and this is particularly true for emerging companies seeking to move rapidly to become competitive in dynamic industries and markets. One of the problems for emerging companies is that the human resources they most covet (e.g., skilled scientists, engineers and software developers) are hotly pursued by a number of other firms and in order to be successful companies must be prepared to integrate sales and marketing into their recruiting strategies. In fact, this process has been referred to as “employer branding” which means creating and maintaining an image of the company as “a great place to work” in the minds of current and prospective employees as well as other important external stakeholders such as investors, suppliers and customers.
Larger companies may have difficulties in get veterans of marketing and human resources to work together. Experienced marketers are rarely asked to spice up the look and feel of job postings and human resource professionals have little or no training or experience in actively selling and promoting job opportunities within their companies. However, smaller companies may be able to forge the link more effectively because they have not yet reached the stage where marketing and human resources have been formally separated and the founders and CEO still have sufficient contact with all of the managers to make sure that they are working together on identifying and fulfilling the company’s essential staffing requirements.
One major problem for smaller companies in creating an employer brand is that they are usually still involved with staking out their niche in the marketplace and often do not even have a finished product or service to use as a centerpiece for explaining their goals and objectives to potential employees. In fact, traditional recruiting efforts generally do not work very well for many companies during the start-up stage because they are unable to direct candidates to products, services, established customer relationships or a network of strategic alliances. In that situation the company needs to be smart about the way in which it invests resources in recruiting and this often means going directly to those persons who the company is most interested in hiring. For example, a software company may compile a “wish list” of skilled, creative developers and send them a specially prepared package of materials that carefully and fully describes the mission of the company and the specific reasons that the recipients should consider joining. The materials should include instructions on how to get further information, such as by logging into a dedicated part of the company’s website, and should have enough of a “wow factor” that word will quickly travel outside of the initial group of recipients.
Another simple and effective way to bring marketing and recruiting together is to ensure that all prospective employees, regardless of where in the company they may be working, will be interviewed by representatives from the sales and marketing groups as well as by human resources professionals and managers from the group doing the hiring. This process provides an opportunity to deliver a strong and consistent message regarding the company brand and image to everyone that the company thinks highly enough about to invite in for an interview. Candidates who receive and accept an offer will join the company with a clear understanding of its employer brand and those who do not join the company may nonetheless have a sufficiently favorable impression of the firm that they will steer business to the company in the future. In addition, ongoing participation in employment interviews provides sales and marketing personnel with an change to continuously reinforce and refine the “company story” that they want to get out to customers and other business partners.
The important thing to do is to make sure that a “marketing angle” is explored for every contact with potential employees. Once the company has a product or service and has developed a brand that it is prepared to market to customers information on the brand should be incorporated into the text of every job listing distributed by the company. Sales and marketing representatives should deliver a short and concise sales pitch during employee interviews and candidates should be provided with samples for their own use and gift cards to give to colleagues who might have an interest in the company’s products. The marketing department should be closely involved with planning and promoting recruiting events and such events should be given the same level of importance as new product launches and celebrations of other company milestones. Finally, consistent with the goal of being known as a “great place to work,” companies should regularly sponsor community oriented events in order to create a positive image and provide information about job opportunities.