#WorkTrends: Why Every HR Pro Should Think Like a Marketer

Look at your company’s org chart. Since you’re reading this, odds are you’re comfortably nestled in HR, and marketing is somewhere far away. The marketers at your organization have one job, and you have yours. Perhaps you meet up a bit to think about recruitment or engagement, but your jobs are separate, right?

Not really, says Donna Scarola, interim head of digital strategy for talent development at Johnson & Johnson. In fact, she says, HR has a lot to learn from marketers, particularly in regard to how we communicate with employees — and how we can advance our organizational goals to create a better, more equitable workplace.

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HR’s Problem with Language

Are you ready for a hot take? Scarola says that too often, HR doesn’t consider the human factor when communicating with employees — and that the language HR uses isn’t breaking through. “We don’t think about the human-centricity of it,” she says. “I’m sure people will not be happy with me for saying that, but it is my own experience as an employee.”

Scarola says the issue is that HR is too focused on itself, and approaches communication as if each user is the same — it doesn’t know how to translate its HR speak into something readable and concise. It’s a “brain dump,” she says. “People are spending more and more time working, and they have less time to read things like emails and 12-page documents on change management.”

The Importance of Natural Language

Scarola says HR needs to think like marketers in order to get employees’ attention, and that means using more simple, natural language. An example she cites is the clothing brand Outdoor Voices. “All of their marketing is just ‘Doing Things,’ ” she says, citing the company’s slogan. “It’s the opposite of Adidas and Nike.”

Additionally, HR needs to make sure its communications get employees’ attention. “My team and I will always put our heads together and ask, ‘How can we make it more simple? How can we make it more human?’ ” she says. She suggests thinking in terms of text messages rather than emails. How can you get your point across concisely?

Also, consider other means of getting your employees’ attention. Ask yourself how you can make an employee laugh — or even shock them. It’s the antithesis of the typical dry, long HR email, but it can advance your organizational goals.

It’s a strategy that has seen results at HSBC Bank. Inspired by a study of political propaganda, the organization rethought the communications for its diversity and inclusion programs. The company simplified its language, shortened its presentations and made sure it used fewer words in conjunction with images. The changes showed marked results, which you can read more about in the book “Rewire: A Radical Approach to Tackling Diversity and Difference.” “It’s really fascinating,” Scarola says.

Resources Mentioned in This Episode

Report Says Marketing Hiring Will Increase This Year

Digital marketing is on the rise in recent years, so it makes sense that marketing professionals will be increasingly in demand in the near future. And McKinley Marketing Partners recently provided evidence of this when it released the 2017 Marketing Hiring Trends Report. The findings are based on the company’s survey of 314 marketers, and they offer encouraging information, like the fact that hiring in this industry rose by 19 percent from 2015 to 2016. Want more reasons to love the fact that you’re in marketing? Check out what else McKinley Marketing Partners’ report found.

What’s Going on with Marketing Hiring in 2017?

One of the most important findings in this report is that 44 percent of respondents said they plan to hire more marketers. In 2016, just 28 percent of marketers said the same thing, so expect there to be growth in marketing jobs this year. In particular, medium companies that make between $10.1 million and $50 million annually will be doing the most hiring this year.

And while 78 percent of respondents said they don’t have any job cutbacks planned this year, some companies will be cutting back in certain areas. The areas that are most likely to be affected include creative services, traditional marketing, and marketing operations.

When it comes to traditional marketing in particular, which services are most likely to be cut back this year? Well, traditional advertising tops the list, followed by direct mail, print, broadcast, direct response, and telemarketing. So, if these happen to be your top skills right now, consider learning some new ones to remain employable in the marketing field.

What Are the Most In-Demand Marketing Skills This Year?

If you’re looking to switch gears to become more competitive in the marketing industry, you should know that 56 percent of the survey respondents said they plan to hire professionals with digital marketing knowledge. This means you should be adept at the following skills, in order of importance:

  • Digital advertising
  • Content creation and curation
  • Content strategy
  • Social media
  • Email
  • Web development
  • Display marketing

All of these skills can increase your chance of getting a good job in marketing, since employers are looking for these more than ever when hiring.

The second most important area to be experienced at is creative services, since 35 percent of survey respondents said they’ll be hiring professionals in this area. The most in-demand skills within creative services include:

  • Graphic design
  • Web design
  • Visual design
  • Copywriting
  • Web production

What You Should Know If You’re Hiring Marketing Professionals

If you’re a hiring manager looking for experienced marketers this year, the competition may be fierce because the demand exceeds supply in most areas of marketing. For example, this study found that the demand for new employees in the digital marketing area is 56 percent, but the supply is just 24 percent, since that’s the amount of marketers who at least occasionally look for new job opportunities.

It’s not much better in the creative services area, where the demand is 35 percent and the supply is 27 percent. The numbers are similar in marketing operations, research and analysis, and communications, though the supply and demand are at least only a few percentage points apart.

The only area where supply matches demand is relationship management. If you’re looking for a marketer with product marketing expertise, it should be easier, since demand is 20 percent and supply is 21 percent. And if you’re hiring in the traditional marketing field, demand is only 19 percent and supply is 24 percent.

So how can you stand out to the top marketing professionals when you’re hiring? You need to keep in mind the main motivation for marketers who switch jobs, and that’s money. About 45 percent of survey respondents said they’d consider a job change if they were offered a higher salary. The only other perk that came close is career advancement, since 25 percent said they might switch jobs for this benefit.

Aside from offering a competitive salary, you should know that 86 percent of respondents said they also expect health insurance from their employer, including dental and vision coverage. About 80 percent want paid time off for vacation. Other benefits they would like include:

  • Casual dress in the office – 64 percent
  • Paid sick days – 59 percent
  • Telecommuting – 42 percent
  • Floating holidays – 40 percent
  • Office perks (free snacks and drinks, game room, TV, etc.) – 34 percent
  • Flex time – 31 percent
  • Summer hours – 19 percent
  • Every other Friday off work – 11 percent

If you can offer not only a competitive salary and health benefits, but also the option to telecommute or at least take more paid days off, you’ll be more likely to draw in the talented marketing professionals you seek.

Are you a marketer looking for a new job this year, or part of a company looking to hire? How do you feel about the information in the 2017 Marketing Hiring Trends Report? Let us know if you’re excited or apprehensive about the state of hiring in the marketing field this year.

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