Failure to align marketing and HR causing brands to miss out on top talent

Companies need to start treating job candidates like customers if they want to attract the best workers, according to research by LinkedIn.

UK businesses are missing out on hiring the best talent because of a disconnect between marketing and HR that is leading to a failure to promote a company’s values or purpose.

According to new research by LinkedIn, an organisation’s purpose is a deal-breaker for more than half (52%) of UK professionals when they consider whether to take a job offer. That number rises to 56% among those aged 16 to 24.

Yet a third of businesses fail to include their values on their website, while three-quarters (77%) don’t mention it on their LinkedIn company page making it very difficult for prospective employees to find.

During the recruitment process, just 27% of organisations mention their purpose in job ads and 39% talk about them in a job interview.

Dan Dackombe, director of LinkedIn talent solutions, told Marketing Week: “Companies are very good at explaining what they do but not why and how they do it. Yet a company’s ability to share its ethical and corporate moral compass is becoming more and more important to job seekers. Increasingly, they want to know what type of company they work for, what its values are and what it stands for, and how that manifests itself in the business.

“Yet most companies are really poor at promoting that.”

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The research suggests the issue arises from a disconnect between marketing and HR. One in 10 HR professionals surveyed admitted they struggle to articulate their own company’s values. A fifth claim HR and marketing do not work well together to promote an employer brand externally.

Dackombe believes the problem comes down to a “breakdown in communication” in part because recruitment comes under the HR business function and it is rarely aligned with marketing. Yet he believes this needs to change and recruitment and marketing need to move out of their siloes.

“Companies are investing a significant amount of time and money in their consumer image but this does not necessarily translate to the employer brand. The two things need to work in harmony, especially as people and talent are one of the biggest priorities for most companies,” he explained.

“Plus research shows there is a direct correlation between people’s experience as a candidate and how they perceive a company and its product. Particularly if you are a big consumer brand, if you provide a poor experience for a candidate you are likely providing a poor experience to a customer.”

“Companies need to treat candidates like customers, because more often that not they are.”

Dan Dackombe, director of talent solutions, LinkedIn

Yet Dackombe admits this can be difficult. Many companies do not have the confidence to talk up their values, especially if up to now they have not been a values-driven organisation. Yet to help he suggests organisations start by thinking about their internal marketing so that a company’s purpose is top of mind for all employees, especially those hiring.

Issues can also arise where a brand is trying to hire people in an area that might not be what the brand is known for. For example, retailers such as Marks & Spencer and John Lewis are increasingly looking to hire tech talent, yet most consumers would see them as first and foremost a high street retailer.

“At Sainsbury’s the consumer and employer brand are similar and its values and mission are relevant to both sides. Yet they are trying to hire tech talent. That changes who their competition is and the brand they need to portray to that audience,” said Dackombe.

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  • Gianluca Bregoli 13 Sep 2016 at 1:58 pm

    I think that the disconnection between marketing and HR is only part of the problem.

    There are more significant issues to consider in the context of employer branding and missing out on hiring the best talent.

    1. Even when marketing and HR are aligned, quite often the appealing statements that appear on the career and LinkedIn pages or in the glossy brochures are only a “sales pitch” and do not reflect the real culture and values of the organisations. Job seekers trust more the feedback they can find of websites like Glassdor or the insights they get by talking to current or past employees of the target organisation. Networking plays a key role in all this. How many times our connections have suggested not applying for roles within certain organisations because what is behind the façade is quite different?

    2. The values and purpose communicated by a good number of organisations are pretty similar and there is no differentiation. Actually, some values, such as integrity, teamwork, cooperation, etc., are more a given than a point of difference.

    3. How can we expect that values and purpose are communicated effectively externally when they are unclear, if not unknown, internally or more simply are not lived by the company’s employees? Some organisations (or many?) fail to communicate their brand to all employees, focusing only on senior people or partners. The firm’s brand should be explained, even before the induction, during the recruitment process to ensure that both parts feel that the job applicant is the right fit.

    4. Another mistake is to create two different brands, one external and the other internal, with two different sets of values. Global organisations sometimes label the benefits deriving from working for specific offices or regions as “local values,” creating a lot of confusion amongst job seekers.

    5. Last but not least, failing to deliver on values and purpose also means losing goodtalent, not only hiring them.

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