Another Key for HR: Partnering with Marketing to Build a Better Employer Brand

Recruiting top-tier talent is crucial for any organization wanting to achieve and sustain success, and hiring the right people is essential to building a workforce that’s truly engaged in what your company does.

However, attracting that talent has become an increasingly challenging proposition, as candidates have become more discerning, and have far greater resources for evaluating your organization.

Discovering brand inconsistencies between what’s promised externally and the internal reality employees experience – and share on Glassdoor and social media – could be enough of a deal-breaker to turn-off those coveted candidates.

To prevent that from occurring, we have to consistently tell our brand story through a variety of channels, not just to reach customers but to reach prospective employees as well. Many companies fall short on doing a good job of communicating with current employees, much less extending the brand story to those they hope to recruit.

It’s essential: You must have a compelling employer brand

Communicating the brand is just as critical – and more challenging than ever.

HR’s role is to connect the dots between the brand position and the various codes of conduct around the organization – starting with the mission, vision and values, to the employee value proposition and leadership model. A frequent challenge is that these values are often generic, disconnected, and say very little about the brand they represent.

HR professionals should take branding into employee and organizational processes that underpin the delivery of the brand. Reconfigure existing HR processes like hiring, onboarding, training, reward and recognition – adapting them to ensure effective delivery of the brand and strategy.

Yes, HR needs to tell the brand story, but they also need to discover new stories about why people come to work at the company, what matters to them, and how their own stories mesh with the brand story.

Even though most communications to potential hires are distributed electronically, “We still need customer stories and other things to make it real,” said Susan Vitale, chief marketing officer of iCIMS. “The human element will continue to be paramount.” (Vitale’s comments are from an excellent post by Steve Bates, exploring Marketing’s influence on HR in recruitment advertising.)

What HR gets from partnering with Marketing

Marketing has the talent to help HR target an employee audience – just like it does a customer audience – and bring the brand alive by creating passionate, emotional connections with potential candidates. The qualities that matter to customers also matter to the high-potentials we want to recruit – especially on the topics of culture, leadership, challenge and growth.

Marketers know how to drive and measure audience engagement, how to create engaging experiences, how to nurture audiences, and how to tell a story that keeps people interested and engaged over a long period of time.

Invite Marketing to help you map the employee journey, understand what matters to potential employees, how to find them and capture their attention, how to woo them into an employment relationship, and how to nurture, grow, and retain them as valuable leaders at all levels of the company.

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Likewise, invoke Marketing’s assistance to craft congruent messages so what new employees are presented with is consistent with the external brand promise.

As the War for Talent continues to rage, we need to begin to create incredibly customized and personal experiences for those who have such enormous impact on our organizations and our ability to achieve our corporate goals.

Targeted collaboration between Marketing and HR will go a long way in helping to accomplish those goals.

The post originally appeared in a somewhat different form on

Michelle M. Smith

A highly accomplished international speaker, strategist, and author on performance improvement; Michelle is a respected authority on leadership, workplace culture, employee engagement and talent. She’s published and presented more than 1,100 articles and lectures and is a trusted advisor to many of the world’s most successful organizations and governments.

Named as one of the Ten Best and Brightest Women in the incentive industry, a Change Maker, Top Idea Maven, and President’s Award winner, Michelle is a highly accomplished industry leader who has worked in every facet of recognition and incentives, both domestically and internationally.

She has appeared on Fox Television and the BBC, and been featured in magazines like Fortune, Business Week, Inc., and Return on Performance; as well as national radio programs, and contributions to the books “Bull Market” by Seth Godin, “Contented Cows Still Give Better Milk,” and “Social Media Isn’t Social.”

Michelle is President Emeritus of the Incentive Marketing Association and Past President of the FORUM for People Performance at Northwestern University. She’s Vice President, Research for the Business Marketing Association and serves on the Boards of the Incentive Federation and the Incentive & Engagement Solutions Council. She was also the Founder and Chair of the Editorial Board of Return on Performance Magazine.