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Five years ago, recruitment marketing was an abstract concept that most confused with recruitment advertising and even fewer experimented with as a marketing-focused strategy. It had many definitions and not so many adopters.

Fast-forward to today, and that’s swapped. Recruitment marketing is a new discipline, and with a new discipline comes new business processes, best-known methods (BKM), technologies, tools and channels. Bold leaders are excited. They see a vision. They see opportunity for big change and bigger results. But simply having great ideas or implementing new technology isn’t enough if we can’t drive capability adoption within our organizations.

Paving a new way in more traditional or resource-challenged organizations is often met with statements like: “We can’t do that,” or “I don’t think that’s possible,” or “That won’t work.” I bet you’ve heard all of those statements from at least one person, from the C-Suite to your recruiters or sourcers.

But one thing you need to remember is this: Just because others say it’s impossible doesn’t mean it can’t be done.

At SmashFly’s Transform Virtual 2017, I discussed the ways we can drive capability adoption in our organizations by playing different roles for different audiences to facilitate change.


The Tour Guide

A tour guide always knows where they’re going and helps direct others along the path, pointing out the best attractions, suggesting side trips and offering tips for the best travel experience. A tour guide helps provide context and clarity to what might otherwise look like a building or a rock or an old bone.

That’s what your organization needs from you: to help it clearly see the opportunities ahead, provide context for each specific audience, and suggest where and when to try that new technology, insert the new BKM or attempt a new practice.

As a tour guide, your real value shines beyond simply pointing out the obvious – you have to observe your audience’s interest and application of potential opportunities and offer them the path or route that makes the most sense for them, without you there. No one wants their tour guide joining them on their next adventure.

Let your team try the new practice or work through the technology in real situations to learn and adapt. Failure is a given, but so is learning. You, as the guide, are there to connect all the opportunities, successes and failures to mark the best route forward.


The Sample Lady

Whenever you go to Costco, Sam’s Club or any big-box store, there are usually workers stationed at every aisle with a variety of food samples: cookies, different types of cheese, chips and salsa. (Yes, this is the highlight of grocery shopping for me. Who doesn’t love free samples?!)

But then, there’s always one lady with something no one really wants, like tuna fish dip. (If you like tuna fish dip, substitute with your own food nightmare.)

The lady knows she has a harder sell. That’s why she has bite-sized samples, so you might give it a try and be shockingly convinced that you must have it. She’s opportunistic – she’ll watch when you step into her aisle and wait for the right moment, when you pause long enough or catch her eye. Then the tuna fish dip pitch begins! (Take note: This is a skill you need as a change agent in your organization.)

For the past couple years, I’ve used a simple method to help my team and organization adopt new capabilities and thinking. It’s written on a sticky note and has three bullets:

  • They’re consumers first.
  • It’s all about pipelines.
  • Use data, not your gut.

Based on the person or group I’m talking to, I carefully weave in at least one of these points to prove what tool, capability, BKM or business process we could adopt to meet our goals. More often than not, it works. It’s a way to get people interested in taking a bite of a process that might seem like tuna fish dip at first.


The Mechanic

When I worked in user experience design, I learned that people don’t articulate everything they do in a process. For example, say you ask a recruiter how they find candidates on LinkedIn. They’ll probably tell you two or three key steps, but they’ll often leave out the little things that they subconsciously do, like what they specifically read on a candidate’s profile or what words catch their attention.

The “little things” are critical to understanding how and why people work the way they do – which thus make them critical to introducing new tools or practices that will replace their status quo. You have to know how to fit the new process into what people are already doing.

How do you get to the little things, then? Get under the hood and get your hands dirty. Ask a lot of questions, and spend a lot of time observing how they really work. Every member of my team at Intel has spent hours sitting behind a recruiter watching them work. It’s not about micromanaging or stalking, it’s about learning, understanding and truly seeing. When you do those three things, you’re using more data than gut in finding behavior themes and identifying opportunities to enhance your team’s process and work.


The Therapist

No matter how you spin change, people will always take it personally – it’s human nature. You can introduce the coolest tool on earth that will enhance their results and make them superhuman, but people will still think you’re slighting them and changing their work style.  “I must be doing something wrong or bad if you want to change it.”

Just like a therapist, you have to accept how people feel and understand that change is emotionally. You have to frame your message in a way that identifies their concerns, but also helps them realize the reason for change. Most importantly, you have to be adept enough to take a unique approach and style to every different decisions-maker in your organization – you won’t be able to pitch your idea the same way to recruiters as you would to the C-Suite.

Change isn’t a single instance, especially when it comes to changing an organizational strategy. It’s a process that your conversations will guide and support. There will be ups and downs, and it might be exhausting (therapists know this better than anyone!). But with patience and perspective, you can help each audience imagine their future with this new way.


The Caterer

As you seek to drive change, your recruiting managers are the most pivotal buy-in for adoption – because they directly manage the people that need to adopt the new capabilities or ideas the quickest. These managers have a difficult job because they’re serving two masters (hint: neither one of them is you!).

On one hand, they have to meet the expectations of their leadership, and on the other, they need to keep their employees satisfied and engaged. Both are demanding. Your role is to find out what’s driving the managers’ decisions and behavior patterns, then cater to them.

Figure out their biggest pain point and give them a taste of how your solution can help meet their needs. Then you can give them step-by-step guides for how to coach their teams to adopt the new tool or process. It’s about helping them and making their job easier, which in turn, will help you and make your job easier.


I bet you didn’t wake up today and think, “I have to be therapist.” Or that you might need to be a therapist who also can give a great tour. Welcome to the world of leadership and talent acquisition! The industry is seeing a lot of change, and it’s going to continue to change, with or without your organization. There are going to be new processes and bold ideas and strategic technology that we need to bring into our organizations over and over again. If we’re going to excel at change, we have to excel at getting people to adopt it.

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