What can HR Learn from Marketing?


My guest on this week’s Digital HR Leaders podcast is Richard Collins. We're living in a time of massive disruption, whether it's politics, business, technology, or HR. Perhaps no part of HR is facing bigger disruption than recruiting. The vast bulk of investment in HR technology continues to be in the talent acquisition space, but how is automation, AI and analytics changing recruiting?

In this extract from our conversation, Richard gives some great examples of what HR can learn from Marketing and how HR still has a long way to go in terms of creating a customised recruitment experience. If you’re interested in learning more about how automation and artificial intelligence are impacting the Recruitment function, then I urge you to watch the video with Richard below, read the transcript in this blog, or to hear the rest of the interview on the podcast then you can listen or subscribe here.

David Green: I think it's probably fair to say that marketing is a little bit more advanced outside of the HR and recruitment space than in it. Although to be fair recruitment is a bit different. What can we learn from our colleagues in marketing?

Richard Collins: Yeah. So if we look historically of how the consumer side has changed and then we map that against recruitment, there's obviously a lot of similarities in terms of the shift to pay per click advertising, increase in automation, look at tools like HubSpot, Infusion Soft, Marketo, and how those type of automation CRM tools, how we're talking to people, how we're producing content, how we're delivering personal experiences for individuals as they go through a buying process for the consumer side or the recruitment process. Those tools are all being applied to our world in a very rapid way. If we think about the idea of CV databases and how we talent pool, and how we build content that's relevant for those people, how we deliver that content. A lot of it is around the plumbing, but I think once you get the plumbing in place, if we look at what is currently going on with the consumer marketing world, it's moved beyond plumbing.

So, for example, media buying. The olden days where you produced a spreadsheet and have a list of places you want to advertise on. Now the computer does that. Programmatically the system decides based on the job, based on what's worked before. I'm going to advertise, I'm going to monitor it, change it, all that kind of stuff. But that's just plumbing and that idea of the spreadsheet will disappear. As you look at each element of the recruitment process, we have the plumbing in. The bit that actually adds value is not the plumbing. It becomes that creative bit. So it's about the messaging, it's about what content you're going to deliver to those people, employer branding, that kind of stuff. How do you communicate what you are about to those individuals? This idea that, oh, we have a talent pool, so every three months we send them a copy of our company newsletter. I mean, really? Is that all you got?

Whereas in a consumer world you would be talking to those people about what is it of interest for them in career, all this kind of stuff. Not, here's my CEO yet again telling me what brilliant results we've had. So, and I think we'll see a lot more of that particularly change. So everything where the plumbing goes in that will be the first change, and then the rest will be about the creative, the content and how you actually communicate that stuff to the people that you want to bring into your organisation.

David Green: So I can expect less messages on LinkedIn saying, "David, how would you like to come and work as a project manager at X company?" Even though I've not actually been a project manager before. So it'd be slightly more targeting and slightly more subtle?

Richard Collins: Yeah, we've seen it in terms of what we've done in our market. I mean it's slightly different, but that B2B approach of let's try and educate and tell the world about what's going on. And if people are engaged with that, then they will come to you. It's the same in recruitment. If you talk about the stuff that you're doing for sure and the things that are relevant within your industry, people will build communities that will engage them, and they'll want to work for you. The whole employer brand thing is probably a whole hour to be talked about. But for me I'd say it's about, the recruitment world I think will follow the consumer world in terms of that plumbing and then I think it will be about the messaging and the content within that.


David Green is a globally respected writer, speaker, conference chair, and executive consultant on people analytics, data-driven HR and the future of work. As an Executive Director at Insight222, he helps global organisations create more cultural and economic value through the wise and ethical use of people data and analytics. Prior to joining Insight222, David was the Global Director of People Analytics Solutions at IBM Watson Talent. As such, David has extensive experience in helping organisations embark upon and accelerate their people analytics journeys. You can follow David on LinkedIn and Twitter and also subscribe to The Digital HR Leader weekly newsletter and podcast.