Marketing, Meet HR #HRTechConf

Most panels about the challenges of the relationship between marketing and HR start with one thing: finger pointing. They’re also typically made up of all marketing or all HR people, depending on the conference.

Not this time. Not on my panel.

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hosting a panel during the Women In HR Tech Conference. I’m biased but I think it was one of the best panels on this topic I’ve seen. Not because I moderated. Because the panelists were really smart and they 100% “get it” – Courtney Martinez, VP of Talent and HR at Houlihans, Susan Vitale, CMO of iCIMS and Katharine Mobley, Global CMO at First Advantage.

Here’s a recap and some lessons I was reminded of yesterday speaking to these brilliant women…

  1. We had the old, “are candidates really your best customers” conversation. Answer: a resounding yes. Whether you work in a restaurant or an HR Technology company, your customers are the ones who can explain who you are, what you do and why that job matters to them on a personal level. That’s a powerful conversation and one no AI or machine learning can do (yet).
  2. Most people in the room were not doing any text recruiting. Good for TextRecruit. I was surprised. Our panelists are using text recruiting in a few different ways – recruiting, marketing and branding. It’s a check point, a check-in and a conversation tool.  The most important feature I think people are missing out on here is the ability to capture someone’s contact details in 1 input. It’s not one click apply, because really, do you even want that? More is not more in recruiting. But encouraging people to sign up for text in the first interaction also means you’re not losing the candidate who has a… let’s call it a short attention span. Susan shared that the biggest drop off point in the application is consistently at 4 minutes so keep that in mind when you’re testing your apply process.

  3. It’s hard to be brave in recruitment marketing. Case studies favor the brave but here’s the reality. Most companies don’t have a great relationship with marketing – for lack of trying or lack of attention, I’m not sure. Telling stories and being 100% yourself, accepting the good of your company with the bad, isn’t always easy. But it’s authenticity or bust. Courtney is doing a great job of that. She brings her people to the marketing always.

  4. That brings me to my next point. Consider your audience. Don’t use fake people, not in the figurative but literal sense. If you’re doing a hyper local marketing campaign, use the people in that region. Customers notice things like that, especially in restaurants. Also, if you try to do a movie as a job ad – make sure not to show it in a theatre next to a high production movie preview. I won’t name names but skip that.

  5. Don’t make midnight marketing decisions. I know we all get into that “I have a great idea” mode at midnight but here’s the reality. You should think through things a little more – whether it’s a new marketing channel or what. Think through it. Test it on people.

  6. Great recruitment marketing doesn’t come because you have all the resources. It comes because you took the time to listen. At Three Ears, we do a minimum of 10 hours of listening before we ever start a project. You have to talk to people and know their passion before you can put that into your strategy. When you’re working with a global audience, that’s even more important. While you may find consistent themes, you need to know the nuance of the local audience. Katharine has been there and done that. I was surprised to hear that she has consistently found themes in every corner of the world no matter what company she has worked with.

  7. Don’t freak out at bad Glassdoor reviews. Glassdoor is a road map, not a wrecker. You should be looking to those reviews so you can learn, not as your source of panic on a Monday morning. Remember, even a review motivated by anger and frustration has some truth to it. Shut up and listen.
  8. As for how recruitment marketing and traditional marketing can better work together? It’s different at different companies. For iCIMS, Susan has recruitment marketing report to her as the CMO. At Houlihan’s, Courtney partners with marketing and they work together to make things happen with agencies. Whatever you do, don’t let marketing try to trap you into traditional marketing metrics and convince you that they work for recruiting.

If you want to talk about how to make this relationship work or get advice on how to listen to people, I’m happy to introduce you to any of the panelists or to have a conversation with you 1-1 whether you’re at #HRTechConf or watching the hashtag.

More soon! Thank you again to Jeanne Achille for this incredible opportunity.

*Note, I’m writing live from a really long Starbucks line. You’ll have to accept any typos from exhaustion.

recruiting Recruitment Marketing Advice

Kat Kibben View All →

Kat Kibben [they/them] is a keynote speaker, writing expert, and LGBTQIA+ advocate who teaches hiring teams how to write inclusive job postings that will get the right person to apply faster.

Before founding Three Ears Media, Katrina was a CMO, Technical Copywriter, and Managing Editor for leading companies like Monster,, and Randstad Worldwide. With 15+ years of recruitment marketing and training experience, Katrina knows how to turn talented recruiting teams into talented writers who write for people, not about work.

Today, Katrina is frequently featured as an HR and recruiting expert in publications like The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, and Forbes. They’ve been named to numerous lists, including LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Job Search & Careers. When not speaking, writing, or training, you’ll find Katrina traveling the country in their van or spending some much needed downtime with the dogs that inspired the name Three Ears Media.

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