Featured Image

In light of the recent Olympic games, the first-ever Recruitment Marketing Conference, SmashFly Transform™, and our love of recruitment marketing pioneers everywhere, our Recruitment Marketing Champion Series will highlight a lineup of big thinkers, bold leaders, and simply awesome people paving the way in transforming how modern organizations attract and hire top talent.


Name:  Sondra Dryer

Tweet her: @sondradryer

Title: National Recruitment Marketing Leader, PwC

Celebrity Sighting: In acting class with Matthew McConaughey in college; paired up with him on a scene for A Streetcar Named Desire.

Weirdest Experience: My husband and I traveled to 60 countries before we were married. On an overnight train from Belarus to Moscow, the train was stopped and held up by a group of pirates. When they got to examining my passport, one commented in the little English he knew, “Ahh … a Texas girl.” Then my husband said, “You’re on your own honey.”

Transform session: Recruitment to Recruitment Marketing: How PwC Transformed Its Thinking to Better Attract Candidates

Quick work credentials:

15 years of experience in communications and marketing

As the head of Recruitment Marketing for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), one of the world’s largest professional services firms, I lead efforts to articulate PwC’s employee value proposition to potential candidates. My team manages everything that discusses why PwC is a great place to grow your career, across everything from print collateral, event branding, advertising and all digital marketing channels.


Quote of interview:

“To be able to sell a career, you have to get to the emotion of what that candidate is thinking and wanting from a company and career – and every person will have a different perspective.”


Four questions with Sondra:

How has PwC gotten into Recruitment Marketing?

I came into this role six years ago as the company strengthened its focus on Recruitment Marketing. Before that, we’d always marketed ourselves as a strong employer, particularly on college campuses, but we didn’t have a defined marketing strategy or a dedicated team to develop and execute a strategy. Employer presence in social media was still relatively new, but the number of marketing channels has skyrocketed, so our team has grown with it. Now we have separate functions for campus, experience and digital marketing.

Our strategic vision is to promote PwC as a place to “Grow your own way,” which means different things to different people, depending on what they want from an employer and a career. We have one defined strategy: to showcase PwC’s culture and illustrate there are many different ways to grow your career here by leveraging social media channels and messages very specifically targeted to the demographic and career stage of each audience we’re trying to reach.


How do you focus on building your employer brand with students?

PwC has an active recruiting presence at over 200 campuses across the country, enabling us to really build and nurture relationships throughout an academic career. We have a very focused strategy on early identification, which entails nurturing relationships with students early in their academic career. Some have not even chosen their major when they are first introduced to our firm. Our strategy is to introduce them to PwC by first focusing on them and their development as they begin to think about their potential career path. Our recruiters deliver workshops on areas such as how to discover their personal brand, assess potential employers, strengthen their professional presence, leverage opportunities on campus to help determine a career, leadership development and more. That way, should a student end up pursuing opportunities in professional services later, they already have a relationship with PwC that was based on something that was helpful to them.

Once students are juniors or seniors, we shift the discussion from mentoring and professional development to PwC as an employer – sharing our culture, career paths and key benefits. Our recruiters get to develop strong relationships with students along the way, helping us in broadening the top of the funnel and then later in determining a good fit for the individual and PwC.

Of course, we hire students from almost 500 campuses, so my team also focuses on how to develop these relationships virtually and share the PwC story with those candidates that may not be able to meet with us in person, that’s where the importance of our digital marketing efforts really comes into play.


What is your biggest success in getting an organization to embrace Recruitment Marketing?

People assume that large organizations have well-oiled machines in place, with lots of people behind the wheel, but that isn’t always the case. Our team started as three people who did everything, without the tools or resources to adequately support hiring close to 18,000 people per year. Recruitment marketing was new, so it took several years to grow the team. Today, we have eight team members who focus on three areas: campus, experienced and digital marketing. So, while we work harmoniously together, we have segmented our strategy with defined campaigns that create specific experiences. We have gotten past “check-the-box” activities and can now focus on many platform, engage in social media dialogues and watch what other companies are doing.

A big win our team has had is creating a platform called CareerAdvisor. It’s a mobile-optimized website that truly focuses on helping job seekers identify the right career path for them and develop the skills they need to succeed. It provides an array of tools, such as personality tests, behavioral assessments, and access to databases, to help people at early and later career stages to identify the right career. It was a significant investment for PwC, but it’s not PwC-specific, as it’s relevant to people pursuing a wide range of career paths. Now, we’re at a stage with SmashFly where we have new opportunities to create relationships at early stages. PwC understands how critical it is to cultivate potential hires before they become an actual candidate.

Other wins include our market-first forays into social media platforms like Snapchat or Instagram. It all shows that PwC gets it – that we need to talk to potential candidates like we cultivate potential clients.


What is your one piece of advice for other Recruitment Marketing leaders?

Don’t be afraid to fail. Play in the sandbox. We have tried a number of things that didn’t work. Yes, you will lose some time and money, but we’re targeting a generation that most of us in these roles really don’t relate to, so we need to play in their sandbox.

If it’s an option, ask for forgiveness, not permission. You’ll know your boundaries after a while, but if you wait for everyone to agree to venture into a new area, you’ll be waiting so long it will no longer be relevant. While not all of the times we played in the sandbox have been successful, the initiatives where we did were extremely successful, changing the dialogue with candidates and affording our team more flexibility to experiment.

I’m not a renegade, but I’ve thankfully been empowered to take some risks. That’s important for anyone looking at creating a Recruitment Marketing function. You can’t use the same content, language or tactics that you use with clients or selling a product to consumers. To be able to sell a career, you have to get to the emotion of what that candidate is thinking and wanting from a company and career – and every person will have a different perspective. You have to get to “what’s in it for me?”


See Sondra speak live at SmashFly Transform™ November 2-4, 2016!

Leave a Reply