2 min read

Recruiters Becoming Marketers: Why I Was Wrong

It actually doesn’t take sexy marketing. It just takes a good job product that people are excited to tell others about.

1-minute 30-second read

Preface: Evolution of thought is often the result of awareness. And I’ve come to see the flaws with this idea and the realities of the recruiting industry. Onwards, my friends.

“Recruiters need to become marketers.” (Formerly one of my “hottest takes” on the recruiting industry.)

Let’s face it, it sounds great in theory.

And I wish that turning your recruiters into modern-day marketers was this simple. Unfortunately, it’s not. Let’s get into why:

1. No division of responsibility.

The vast majority of recruiting teams—unlike their Sales counterparts—do not have a companion marketing team doing the act of marketing for them. (And no content team, making this gap even wider.)

As a result, recruiters often need to choose between sales or marketing activities. So they choose the approach that closes deals. And that approach is much more akin to sales.

I’ve long said that the solution to this either/or dilemma is changing the way recruiting teams do sourcing: truly investing in copywriting, better personalization, and creating content and assets that can be shared in both outbound messages and in social channels. Couple this with some members of your recruiting team posting organically on the relevant platforms and you have a more evolved approach to meeting talent.

But let’s not mix words here. What I just described is not recruiters being marketers. It’s just recruiters being smart, modern-day recruiters. There’s a big difference between the two.

2. No structure.

If recruiters are to become “marketers” (whatever that means—there’s a ton of context needed here to even define this term and get us all on the same page) a recruiting function will have to change fundamentally: mindset, approach, expectations, OKRs, and very likely Talent leadership and the recruiter skillet/role design altogether.

Bottom line: some people would need to be fired and replaced with entirely different types of leaders and ICs and the function itself would require a redesign.

3. Buyer behavior.

Buyers of jobs—especially the talent that already has jobs—behave differently than the buyers of products. Buyers of jobs are generally open to other opportunities if those opportunities check enough boxes. Meaning that DMs, referrals, and warm intros are open. It actually doesn’t take sexy marketing. It just takes a good job product that people are excited to tell others about.

On the other hand, buyers of products require need, budget, and timing to align. This is a very specific point in time as opposed to a general openness to something new.

All said, I think recruiting is its own unique thing. At least for now.

P.S. I’ve been clear that my POV is ever-evolving. And mine has certainly done so when it comes to this idea. (One that I’ve been soapboxing for going on 3 years now.)

P.P.S. I’m feeling a Part 2. Something about building a standalone Recruitment Marketing team vs. turning your recruiters into “marketers”. Likely more to come.

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