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19 Feb 2017

Every HR Person Needs a Marketing Buddy

“Who’s your best friend?” A question that has been heard echoing around primary school playgrounds of the world for decades.

Now, here’s the grown up HR version:

Who’s your best Marketing friend? If you don’t have one, it’s time to start looking.

We often think that because recruiters, talent and HR are all becoming more like marketers, it makes us expert marketers. Wrong. If you are in the process of building a talent community, and you’re not yet working with your marketing department, you’re missing out on leveraging some of the most valuable assets available to you. Your Marketing team has the expertise, tools and possibly budget to help launch your talent community, so if they’re not in the mix, you’re missing out.

In this 3 minute video excerpt from his session at HR Innovation & Tech Fest 2016, Erin Wilson, Former Head of Talent at Yahoo, shares his experience of creating a mutually beneficial partnership with Marketing to create valuable content for his highly successful talent community.


A big part of talent community, when you do get down that ROI funnel and you want to talk about hiring, is you have this asset already in your reach and it’s called your career site. I would venture to guess most of the companies in this room have one – if they don’t, they should – but we noticed a few things about it. It wasn’t leveraging our talent brand, it was treated as part of the corporate brand, so we worked really closely with marketing on redesigning that career site. What was really cool was once we brought the talent brand to life on this site, we saw the quality of source triple; the number of hires from our career site, we did twice as many in half the time. And it wasn’t magic and it wasn’t because our company was that much better than every other company next to it, it’s that we really focused it on “Who is our target audience? Who are we speaking to?”

There’s one part that I think we learnt from marketing that we could take into our own hands the next time around, which was this concept of content marketing and really going through the process of developing personas, understanding who you’re marketing to and how you’re going to reach that audience. At that time we were looking for up-and-coming engineers, so we would say, “Jane is a rising software engineer, she just graduated from Berkeley University. She studied Python but she’s open to any language. What she really cares about is building a product that changes the world. She’s not as concerned about working with her friends, but she does want to make her parents proud.”

So, we started to develop those personas, and we came up with an editorial content or calendar, so we said, “We’re going to start writing some content, basically pushing content to Jane and anyone like that.” This was our next obstacle, because who is going to write the content? That one is hard. Everybody wants to write a blog; nobody wants to write a blog. [laughter] All the engineers “We need an engineering blog! – Great. You want to write it? – No, no. I don’t write, I don’t write.” But we found a few, and, again, partnering with marketing we were able to get into it. I think what was big there is we held people accountable. You had to go through a small training – it was 20 minutes, it wasn’t a big deal – on what it took, and then we made it easy for them. “Hey, just write us a paragraph, 500 words, and we’ll take care of the rest.”

We eventually got that content engine started, again, helping marketing. Marketing loved to help us, because they tied back to our company goals of empowering and developing great people, and that engine started to spin up. Lots of fun, partner with marketing, and respect their expertise. Blogging is hard, so take the time but make it easier for people writing for you. The last thing I’ll say on that is we have all the assets we need to share the content, guys. LinkedIn, there’s 400 million people and plenty of share tools there, Twitter is free, Glassdoor is free, unless you want to pay them, Quora is free, Instagram is free, Snapchat is free at some level – if you want to filter, pay five bucks. All those things you can do, just by sitting down and putting some thought into your talent community and executing the strategy.

About the Speaker

Erin Wilson HR Tech Fest

Erin Wilson is the Head of Talent Engineering at Yahoo (USA). Throughout his career, he has spearheaded some of the most innovative talent campaigns and was instrumental in the strategic up-scaling of BrightRoll for its acquisition by Yahoo. Equally addicted to learning and sharing, Erin is passionate about disseminating knowledge throughout the global HR Tech community.

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