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It looks like a room full of practitioners, analysts and vendors sharing their best-kept secrets to success, their biggest failures and their vision of the future, no holds bar, to further a discipline.

It looks like sharing your Integrated Marketing Communications Plan with your peers to help them grow.

It looks like outlining your route to building your employer brand organically, without a dollar in budget, so others can find similar success.

It looks like displaying your internal company metrics, slide after slide, to a room full of people you’ve never met, but who feel the same drive for change and improvement as you.

It looks like SmashFly Transform™, thanks to all of the exceptional, forward-thinking people – recruitment marketers – who attended our inaugural conference last week.

It was a huge success, and hopefully the start of a growing recruitment marketing community who can push each other to push this discipline forward across their organizations. But it was a success because of the ideas shared, the results presented and the open dialogue every day about recruitment marketing best practices.

To that end, I wanted to share what the future of recruitment marketing looks like, directly from the takeaways of the conference sessions and workshops:

Don’t be afraid to fail. If there is one resounding theme from the speakers and message of Transform, it was to boldly push forward this transformation in talent acquisition – without being afraid to fail. Every single speaker – from keynote Mel Robbins to Thomson Reuters’ John Qudeen to PwC’s Sondra Dryer – talked about taking chances, figuring out your failures and experimenting in uncharted waters. That’s what marketing does. That’s what humans do. My CEO, Mike Hennessy, said in his keynote: “Recruitment marketers are fearless change agents.” Be the leader who thinks a little more outside the box, then actually does it. Be a little crazy. Don’t overthink. 5-4-3-2-1-GO (I love you Mel!).


Brand first. People come for the brand, convert for the job and stay for the culture. In reality, they stay if you deliver on the promise of the brand that attracted them in the first place. An engineering job is an engineering job. A marketing job is a marketing job. What makes these jobs different is the brand and people behind them. Just ask Charlotte Marshall of Thermo Fisher Scientific, who created the “What Story Will You Tell?” campaign that highlighted the personal and professional stories of unique employees. People needed tissues after she played one video. Plus, Thermo Fisher saw 162% increase in apply clicks and reduced cost per hire by 60%. Or talk to Jared Nypen of Great Clips, who in five words, simply stated about getting his recruitment marketing started across hundreds of franchises: “We started with brand first.” Jobs aren’t emotional. Brands aren’t emotional. Real people doing amazing jobs for honest brands are.


Shifting from engagement to influence. Honestly, I think I heard the word engagement once at Transform. Is that a change from typical conference lingo or what?! What I did hear was authenticity, connection, influence. Engagement is important – great engagement drives influence. But what we need to strive for is that end goal of influencing candidates to take their career to our company. We do that through storytelling. We do that through white-glove moments throughout the candidate experience, like Fiserv’s Julia Levy spoke about (they give interviewees goodie bags!). We do that through making personal connections on social media. We do that through providing real value that will help candidates in their career, not just our company. Aim to influence with your engagements.


Understanding key skills groups. One size doesn’t fit all, one size fits none. I was so very impressed with how many practitioners at Transform not only understood personalization, but were either implementing or doing it. Personalization is not custom job alerts that pop up on a career site. Personalization starts with understanding what the drivers and interests are of specific groups of talent, from engineers to veterans to new graduates, and continues throughout each candidate interaction until hire. Pam McKnight and Allyn Bailey of Intel talked about the importance of being present at all the micromoments throughout the candidate journey through tapping into emotions and behaviors. But how the heck do you do that successfully? Pam and Allyn outlined Intel’s way, with the help of a Recruitment Marketing Platform:

  • Get to know and enrich the contact record, what they call the “contact continuum”
  • Learn who the candidates really are (diversity is just one factor) and where they best fit at Intel
  • Match talent to the right opportunities at the right time



Bringing marketing skills to TA. Whether this means training and re-training your team or hiring marketing-savvy talent into recruiting teams (most likely both), the way forward is truly having recruiting and marketing expertise.

  • Shaunda Zilich, Global Employer Brand Leader at GE, came from marketing. She built a thriving employer brand on a $0 budget by understanding how to use the right hashtags, the right mentions and the right employee advocates to drive organic social media interactions.
  • John Cotton, Recruitment Technology and User Experience Strategist at CH2M, came from marketing. He showcased his SEO chops, proving that a candidate’s career search doesn’t start on your career site, it starts in search (hello Google!).
  • And then there’s Julia Levy, who didn’t come from marketing (lifelong recruiting props!). But she mastered retargeting (over 1MM impression at 72% viewability), hired a Social Media Candidate Experience Manager (uh, how about that job title!) and trained her recruiting team and hiring managers on the real-world application of candidate experience.

FYI, I came also from marketing! I went into marketing to make people feel things, and now I’m in recruitment marketing to make people feel things for their next employer.


Measurement with a purpose. When a VP of Recruiting and Staffing takes the stage at any conference, you pay attention. When he takes the stage at an inaugural Recruitment Marketing Conference, you get your fingers ready for tweeting and note-taking. While every single speaker at Transform talked about the integral role of measurement in a recruitment marketing strategy, John Qudeen of Thomson Reuters put it all out there: slide by slide, he walked through the global data that his team analyzes and uses to make better business and hiring decisions. It looked like a lot of data (and it was), but he had a purpose for measuring every single point. Along the way, he even stopped reporting on specific metrics that weren’t actionable or insightful. Start simple. Measure with an end goal in mind. Choose the right technology that will partner with you and adapt with you moving forward (Mike Hennessy’s keynote revealed that 70% of companies plan to invest in a Recruitment Marketing Platform next year!). It’s the only way to maturity.


I felt at home at this conference – talking with and learning from my peers who are redefining the purpose and boundaries of talent acquisition and creating a new discipline of recruitment marketing. I never felt more certain that this is what the future of recruitment marketing looks like. To feel a part of this amazing movement, catch ALL the recordings of Transform sessions and keynotes here!

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