No business operation is so antiquated or poorly run in most companies than human resources (HR).
While your company’s personnel jockeys spend staggering fees on applicant tracking systems and online recruiting tools, HR is so far behind in marketing that you—the CMO—should be the whistleblower and demand that HR start to act like customers and marketing matter.
Any CMO who takes a good look at HR will find that, in most cases, HR fails every day to follow the simplest rules of marketing.
HR Fails To Advertise
HR’s idea of advertising and promoting your company starts and ends with job postings on Internet job boards. Last year, companies spent billions on Web sites such as Monster.com, CareerBuilder, and LinkedIn to do little more than list jobs. Yet job boards as a group delivers no more than about 10 percent of hires to employers polled about their sources of hires (see “Fired! Job Boards Get Their Walking Papers”).
But listing jobs is not advertising—and it certainly isn’t marketing. Imagine if your marketing department merely published lists of your company’s products online, then waited for customers to come along. Imagine if you invested $900 million in one media outlet to catalog your products—and that outlet yielded just 1.3 percent of your sales. Yet that’s about how much HR departments collectively dumped into Monster.com alone last year, and what they got in return. Your CEO would fire you. Yet HR reports that it’s online, digital, and with the times.
HR Never Heard Of The Presence Campaign
Any HR department could launch a presence campaign—and it should. A company has three basic constituencies: its customers, its investors, and its professional community, which includes employees and the people it would love to hire. Between the public relations and marketing organizations, intelligent presence campaigns keep investors and customers well-informed and close to the company’s heart. But where is the HR department’s presence campaign? Any HR department that’s not actively creating a compelling image of life at work is operating in the 19th century.
Personnel staffers sit in front of displays all day, sorting incoming resumes and LinkedIn profiles, without any strategic marketing effort designed to brand their companies as the place to work. With precious exceptions like Citi, HR in most companies acts like its corporate marketing department doesn’t exist.
HR Thinks Big Data Is A Fire Hose
Look at your company’s HR strategy. Is it to acquire as many millions of resumes and job applications as possible? Because that’s what posting jobs online yields—more tire kickers than HR can possibly process. My guess is that your VP of HR will smirk and proudly explain he has a multimillion-dollar applicant tracking system (ATS) in place to handle all the volume.
Then ask that HR VP what he knows about the professional community he recruits from, and his eyes will roll up in their sockets because he has no idea. To HR, big data means Lots Of Resumes. While your marketing department pores over customer data all day long to learn how to focus your ad spend more profitably, the HR VP is looking for more “aggregator” sites where he can post jobs so even more people will submit applications.
What’s your HR VP doing with applicants he has interviewed? You call them “prospects.” HR calls them “rejects.” While you’re struggling to understand abandoned shopping carts, HR is not even staying in touch with its “customers”—applicants judged valuable enough to interview and to spend overhead dollars on. Every time HR interviews to fill a job and gathers a set of good prospective hires, after it makes a hire it ignores the candidates it rejected. And the next time it recruits for a similar position, HR reinvents the wheel and starts the process all over again—without mining the rejects.
Imagine your sales team invested time and money to pitch products to prospective customers, then totally ignored them when they didn’t buy. Big data? HR says, “No Big Deal.”
HR: “Customer-Facing? What’s That?”
I don’t know many HR departments that act like they have customers. Yet your company’s professional community—the pool of people from which it recruits—is HR’s customer base. I’m not even going to suggest to you how HR treats these customers. I’d rather that you instead stop reading right here and spend just 30 seconds thinking about your last experience when an HR department processed your application for a job.
How “customer-facing” did that HR department seem to be? Did HR seem to care what you thought when it was done with you? Think HR could benefit a bit from some basic rules of marketing?
With few exceptions, HR fails miserably in marketing. I think any good CMO could run HR’s recruiting and hiring functions better than HR.