Content marketing and recruitment – The recipe to success?

It’s been an interesting few months.

Five months ago I made a total industry shift. It’s been one I’ve been pretty keen to get stuck into – recruitment.

With no current marketing team, it was time to come up with a plan of action.

If I’m honest, when I set out I wasn’t sure where the industry was at when it came to content marketing in the recruitment sector. A few things became clear from the get-go.

A couple of guiding principles have been front of mind whilst considering how we should be using content:

  • The power has shifted.Gone are the days of top talent trying to get a recruiters’ attention. According to Ere.net, 83% of recruiters report that the power has shifted away from where it has been for years: the employer. In a candidate-driven marketplace, traditional recruiting approaches simply stop working.
  • Employer branding can help with recruiting efforts.56% of 4,125 global talent leaders in 31 countries surveyed for LinkedIn’s 2015 Global Recruiting Trends said they believe cultivating their employer brand is a top priority.
  • Content has a huge role to play.In order to stand out as an employer, companies will need to start posting more work culture related posts and leveraging their employees to share them. 58% of people are more likely to want to work at a company if they are using social media and over 20% are more likely to stay at their companies if they are using social media. People want to work for interesting companies and when they see interesting posts that gives them a better sense of what the company is about. The recruitment industry has a huge opportunity to take advantage, tell a story and get involved.
  • It never stops. Forbes recently reported that 86% of employees are already looking for work outside their current occupations and nearly one third of employers expert workers to job hop – there’s a continuous job search and content marketing needs to take a similar tack.

We’re quite lucky here at Salient in the profile of clients we get to work for – they’re pretty hot and they grow really fast. Naturally, they have awesome stories – but every brand does – you just have to know where to look for them.

Traditional recruitment marketing is still very short sighted – filling roles for now, which just doesn’t cut it for these guys who need to plan ahead and build pipelines of talent for next week, next month, next quarter. No more riff-raffing around scrambling to fill an ad.

These are the core areas I’m going to be focusing on over the coming months because I reckon they may just make or break content marketing in recruitment.

1. Know your pipelines

I wish I had time to write stories about all the brands we work with, touching on all the areas of the business –but I don’t.

Be focused with content efforts. Pick a couple of your key industries – in our case that’s SaaS and Digital. From there look at the job roles that are in high demand and short supply and tailor your campaigns by segmenting them in a similar way. It makes it one thousand times easier to work with Sales if you’re both working on the same funnels. It also gives you a better chance of conversion.

2. Find the right stories

Recruitment content doesn’t have to be around ‘how to build your career’. There’s a huge amount of content topics to be covered. Personally I’m really interested in telling and hearing the stories of the people that work inside a company. What were the expectations when you started? How do you feel about it 6 months on? What opportunities have you been given? What’s the stationery like!? (Ok maybe I’ll save the latter for my friends).

3. Give talent some breathing space

Top talent get calls and messages from recruiters on a daily basis. Many have become cynical about recruiters as a result. Be smart with your marketing, instead of asking if you can call back in 6 months to check in, why not ask them if they’re interested in signing up to your content and keeping up to date with the movers and shakers in their industry through some weekly stories from inside those brands? Use your smarts to pick up on any changes in behaviour, then sure it’s pretty reasonable to give have a recruiter call. They’ll be much more likely to communicate with you if you can be bang on point with the time you call. Make a guided decision.

4. Use the technology and make the experience easy

Whether you use a technology product or you have a savvy product use your technology then show it back to clients. Track all your analytics then feed them back to clients – they’ll be much more keen to do more content with you when they see it’s working.

Curated content would also fit in here. There are some pretty awesome products around, from Feedly to NewsCred (free to $3000+) – you can easily keep an eye on the content your clients are publishing themselves and re-purpose them with your own brand content to provide a nice balance of stories.

5. Play the long game

Starting a new career path is not the same as buying a television – there’s often anything from 1 month to 3 years between thinking about another job and actually leaving for one. But if you’ve been nurtured for months, reading stories and really buying into the values of a brand – chances are you’re more likely to go there.

I’m looking forward to checking back in a few months to see how the results are working in practice. If you’re working in recruitment, I’d love to hear about your plans..

Is this the hottest brand hitting Australia right now?

There aren’t many growth stories quite like Qualtrics.

In January 2010 they had 37 employees, by December 2013 there were 260 employees and now (Oct 2014) there are over 550 employees. They’re going through hyper-growth and there are no plans to slow down.

The Utah-based start-up, which produces cloud-based survey software, recently secured $150 million in venture capital. The new stream of funding has been allocated to product development and overseas expansion.

In addition to the HQ in Utah, last year saw expansion to Dublin; the office grew from 3 to 50 employees in a year – next year the aim is to be around the 100 mark.

They’re now about to take on the same mission is Sydney.

Bill McMurray is the man tasked with the job.

Starting out as just a team of just three renting out office space in the Sydney CBD.

However, that’s all going to change pretty quickly.

“I’m currently in the process of securing 8,000 sq ft of office space in Sydney. We’re unlike most organisations that taper at around the $100 million mark – Qualtrics is still going through rapid growth.

“We’re aiming to be over 50 employees in Australia within 12 months and then we’ll start building out local operations in key APJ countries.” Explained Bill.

But the team aren’t starting from scratch, deployment has been years in the making and they already have an impressive 250 active customers here in the region.

Bill explained how people have been at the core of the organisation’s success and are consistently provided opportunity at the same rate as business growth:

“It’s the people that have really driven this business. They’ve been tapping away and built up a great base before we even arrived. Opportunities are passed down to the people in the organisation, I’m a firm believer in promotion from within.”

Tim’s story

The man behind the mission…. And it’s not who you’d expect.

Tim Pales was a man with a plan. It started back when he had one year left of his course studying Chinese and Business at BYU. Like most students Tim took a part time job.

It was 2008 when Tim joined Qualtrics – as employee number 29. He’d be at school all day and on the phones all night. The night calling was a very deliberate decision for Tim “My interest was always APAC. I had lived and studied in Asia and coupling that experience with my focus on business in school it seemed like a good fit. Seeing how rapidly the economies in Asia were growing, I knew there would be good opportunities there.”

“We first focused on academics and we successfully managed to land pretty much all of the major universities in Australia and New Zealand.”

The last three years have been spent managing his own sales team whilst building business in Australia, without so much as an office space here.

With continued success year on year, it wasn’t long till Tim became a senior manager. The mission never faltered “The goal has always been to create a problem so we had to come here. It got to a point where (after pushing it for three years) there was enough of a customer base in APAC. The appetite was there, the time was now – it was time to go.”

Whilst excelling quota for both him and his team members, Tim and John developed a full business plan for launch here in Australia. Part of that plan – hire an exec: “Qualtrics needed executive leadership on the ground in Australia. I have been fortunate to manage teams but I wasn’t the guy to strategically launch Qualtrics here. I found myself in the unique position of helping our executive team hire my new boss.”

Sitting with the team of three in their temporary rented office in Sydney, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking you were chatting to a group of guys about to start their own business. Bill McMurray jokes “We see this as we’ve just started private school and have our parents financing – we’re all so interested in this region, it’s exciting to lead the launch here.”

Coming soon…. John’s story

This was John’s first role out of university. Like most he started in entry level sales 3 and a half years ago.

Over the course of the last 21 months he’s had 4 promotions.

How? The company has a really clear development path, it’s not based on politics or people leaving – it’s based purely on performance.

Every quarter you’re given a quota. Hit the quota of the level above you for 2 quarters, you get promoted. It’s that simple.

John played a big role in developing the business plan and now as part of the landing team, is a big part of leading the roll out in the region.

Article published on behalf of Salient Group, we connect great talent to fast growth brands. If you’re interesting in hearing more about brands like Qualtrics sign up here.

Inside Johnson & Johnson: Transforming the HR function across 14 countries

After working across the SSON portfolio for a couple of years now, I’ve seen few key trends starting to emerge.

One that really stands out is the heightened focus on the HR function. I first noticed the theme during the 2013 Shared Services and Outsourcing Week, which saw a huge increase of HR professionals in the room. Since then, it’s continued to be a hot discussion topic. So, what’s causing the spotlight to shine on HR? And, perhaps more importantly, how can this core function that affects every single employee help drive a smarter business?

To uncover some answers, I recently caught up with Cherrie Porter, Senior Human Resource Director at Johnson & Johnson. She’s responsible for ensuring the successful transformation of the Human Resource function in 14 countries across Asia Pacific. Cherrie is going to be kicking off our HR Transformation stream during Shared Services and Outsourcing Week Australasia 2014 and it’s looking set to be a packed room.

We discussed the changing role of HR, the importance of taking a staged, tailored approach and the pitfalls of change management during a transformation project.

SSO Week has seen massive growth in number of HR attendees, why do you think that is the case?

It’s one of those things where I don’t know exactly what’s caused it, but I think some of it is driven by the fact that HR is becoming more sophisticated as a function and the professional HR people now working in that function really do want to be part of the strategic activities, the more value-adding activities rather than the pure transactional piece.

HR wasn’t always seen as a profession that required qualified people in the role. In its own right, it’s now starting to be elevated to where it should be.

Why was the decision made to standardise processes at J&J over the 14 APAC countries? Did you face any integration issues?

We’ve approached it on a couple of different levels. Historically J&J has operated as a very decentralised company, meaning that in any one of those 14 countries there could be multiple operating companies.

In Australia there are four, in China 13, in Singapore nine, each with a different number of companies; it’s meant that there has never been a head of J&J in Australia.

Firstly, we standardised processes, not across Asia Pacific as a whole, but at a country by country level. From there we said: ‘OK Australia, here are your four ways of doing different transactions for HR, pick one. You can start with a fresh sheet of paper; just pick the one you think is the best option and build on that.’

The focus is currently on China, there are nine different ways of getting compensation information to Payroll, and there will soon be just one.

Technology also had an impact. Our aim has been to keep things as simple as possible, so we developed a template of how we thought a process should be. That template was taken to different countries to establish if it could work. Sometimes we’d have to change a few things depending on legislation, etc. For example, some countries would require paper copies of certain documents.

Aligning processes to fit the technology template was a challenge; we were faced with some real push back. These new electronic processes interfered with the way things had always been done for years and often required a few cultural shifts. We really had to challenge the value-add on each process and ask how we can become more efficient and effective in the way we’re operating.

Our mantra has been ‘simple, standard, global’ and we really just questioned if it doesn’t fit any of those three… Why not?

Using a phased approach clearly helps achieve success. How does your change management strategy fit in with this and how have you been ensuring continuity and support throughout?

Change management is always tricky, it’s relentless. I’ve been at J&J now for nearly eight years and I’ve been working on this transformation for all that time.

A few years ago we decided to move everybody onto a SAP platform, reengineering all the processes, harmonising all the policies, using an outsourced vendor. We went live with that in several markets.

It lasted three years, and in April 2013, we brought all those countries back into J&J. They’re still running on SAP but now they are under our control, we run them and don’t have our third party vendor doing the transactional work anymore; it’s set up internally.

In the meantime we had to deal with all those other countries that weren’t on SAP.  We had to be flexible enough to say, we made one decision and it’s not really working for us and it’s time to change course, but that doesn’t mean we’ve thrown everything out. We’ve tried to leverage the best of what we had before and revisit that strategy, the vision and the direction. Our vision and direction of the transformation was right (moving transactional work into one area so HR partners could focus on business strategy), we just needed to make some changes to our approach.

As a result, countries went backwards and forwards so they’d probably been on a bit of a rollercoaster. The more progressive HR operators in those countries have jumped on board and got on with it to see where it’s all going. There are still people that are clinging to the old way of doing things, or believing that this is just another fad and if they sit it out long enough it will all go away.

For us the key was to just bite chunks off and move at a pace people are comfortable with. Some of our staff have been here for over 25 years, so it was important to not rush in.

At a country level, China has always been the big challenge for us. It’s the fourteenth and last country that’s coming on board and it’s where we are currently. They’ve looked at the project and seen that it’s not going away and as a result are much more bought into it.

Success builds success; the momentum has led to people more willing to participate. The softer approach, the small steps rather than large leaps, has certainly helped us.  It wouldn’t work everywhere, but it’s something that is working for us, never lose sight of the big picture. We learn from each other and we listen.

Have you been faced with any unexpected obstacles on your journey? Are there any lessons learnt you could share with other organisations on the same route?

Some of them are a little bit sensitive as it’s our own internal doing, such as the battle between HR and Payroll (I’m sure we’re not the only ones that have that). It leads to a lot of politics and has definitely been one of our biggest obstacles, working cross-function, internally.

Change management has also been an obstacle in terms of how people react when things don’t go well. Looking back to the start of our journey, it wasn’t going well with our third party vendor and a brave call had to be made to bring it back in-house. Unfortunately after that, we were almost too scared to move, so we went into this 18 month period where not much really progressed. The countries that had been on the brink of going live were told to hold for two months, it turned into almost two years where nothing happened.

Choosing your external partners wisely makes a huge difference. Spend the time finding a really good fit and someone you can trust and really work with; that makes all the difference if they understand you and what you’re trying to achieve.

Finally, you’re delivering a case study presentation during the Australian SSO Week 2014, taking place in June in Melbourne. What will the audience be able to take away from your session?

If I put myself in the shoes of someone attending rather than facilitating that conversation, it’s those lessons learned that can help the journey. There’s no right and wrong to any of this, it’s just keep your eyes wide open. Ask yourself, if I’m about to embark on this journey what do I need to be on the look out for? It may not be exactly the same as what happened at J&J but it’s still a really good question to have on a checklist. Some of those watch-outs and some of the big ‘ah-ha’ moments, those are the things people will walk away with.

I know myself when I’ve sat in these sessions, it’s reassuring to hear that others are having a similar experience and that you’re not going crazy! It’s a great experience to be with like-minded individuals and take away a few things that are potential pitfalls and traps. I can hopefully help people avoid going far down the wrong path. I don’t know there’s any way to totally avoid it but the eyes wide open is a good way to describe it.