How Marketing Talent Transformed The Way We Recruit: Intuit’s Jennifer Hasche

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Intuit’s recruiting team stopped hiring recruiters and started hiring marketers. Talent Acquisition Manager Jennifer Hasche shares why and how they did it.

Jennifer Hasche, Talent Acquisition Manager at Intuit

“The old era of job postings was dying off. The new social era had begun.”

That’s Jennifer Hasche, talent acquisition manager at software company Intuit, talking about the big challenge that led to a bold change for the company’s recruiting team.

“Our reactive approach wasn’t working anymore. It couldn’t scale at the level that we needed. We looked at the challenges we were facing, looked at what it would take for us to be able to win in the market, and made a tough decision. We would shift our resources from hiring more recruiters to building a brand-new marketing team dedicated to talent acquisition.”

But why bring in marketing talent? How did the team’s recruiters adapt, and what did they learn from their new marketing peers? Can this approach work for other employers, too?

Jennifer kindly agreed to a little Q&A …

“We work extra-hard at, not just telling, but showing our story to make sure people understand what we’re about.”

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Why bring in marketing talent? And how was that decision made?

The marketing challenges we faced were complex – and getting more complex. From keyword selection to A/B testing, frankly, we felt pain dealing with all of it. We were partnered with an agency to help us, but when you’re working with a third-party like that and you’re not a subject-matter expert, you don’t know how to interpret their recommendations or what questions to ask so you can make the right purchase decisions. I’d end up having to say to make decisions I was unsure of. It became clear to our leadership team that we should hire top marketing talent to help make these decisions.

Another thing was that we looked at what our competitors were doing, how they were approaching talent acquisition. They clearly had marketing resources.

The final straw was that we couldn’t have the talent acquisition team doing all this heavy-lifting anymore. If you’ve got them working on branding strategies, they’re not recruiting!

Did you face any challenges getting internal buy-in?

We did, because you don’t see the benefits right away. It would come up casually – someone might say, “I could really use extra recruiting headcount, but I don’t have it because we gave it to marketing.” But in general, we were all on board. Once we made the decision, there was not a lot of looking back. It felt right, it was right, and you just have to trust that when these decisions are made, it’s for the better of the whole team.

What did implementation look like?

We started by making internal hires; we brought over great marketers from Intuit products like Mint, TurboTax, and QuickBooks. It was so cool because not only were they amazing marketing talent, but they were so excited to join us in HR. It was new to them. For the first fifty days or so, they just did interviews with all the recruiters, talked to all of us about how we think about things, how we do our jobs. It was really fun, and if you fast-forward to today, we have a really robust marketing team. We have a marketing leader, a digital marketing leader, direct marketing, campaign analysts, marketing operations. We have six or seven people dedicated to marketing now.

“… We couldn’t have the talent acquisition team doing all this heavy-lifting anymore. If you’ve got them working on branding strategies, they’re not recruiting!”

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How long did it take to start to see results?

The big changes we felt, like our career site, the look and feel of what we were doing – it probably took a year.

What kind of results have you seen?

We have better, more accurate data – and we stopped chasing every piece of data.

We’ve matched the marketing dollars against our business and talent acquisition priorities and have become very focused on them. For example, we allocate marketing dollars in challenging areas like engineering, versus peanut butter-spreading those dollars into every functional area we hire.

We were able to get better results with our direct marketing campaign. That was huge. Previously we were taking the approach of ‘just keep sending emails’. You know recruiters: we want to move fast, so we tend to shoot from the hip and send out mass emails. With a marketing campaign expert, we’re able to do a good job of qualifying our lists – making them shorter and higher quality – before we hit the direct marketing trail. Our direct marketing leader – she’s amazing – has got us to think about why we do each campaign, to consider the end-to-end experience we’re giving prospects.

We see more conversions on our recently-upgraded career site, and in our media. And when we don’t see increased conversions in something, we stop doing it.

Is this an approach that you think other employers should take?

That’s a good question.

In Intuit’s case, we’re an awesome place to work. People love it here and we have cool people. But we’re financial services, and at the end of the day the perception of us is ‘finance’. That word makes people think suit and tie, which is absolutely not what our environment is. So we work extra-hard at, not just telling, but showing our story to make sure people understand what we’re about.

If your brand is so strong and your product so sexy that you don’t have enough stamina to get through all the applicants, I don’t know if you’d need to put a lot of money into marketing.

“We have better, more accurate data – and we stopped chasing every piece of data.”

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What advice would you give to other leaders in HR and recruitment who are looking to add marketing expertise to their talent acquisition teams?

If you have a marketing team or person in your company, start there. Talk with them first. Try to understand their role, and try to determine: What’s our biggest pain point? How could a marketing expert help us with that?

When hiring marketing talent, be explicit with people you interview: “Hey, you’re the first person who’s going to be in this role, and there will be a lot of trial and error.” They’re going to have to figure a lot of it out, fail fast, and determine priorities.

It’s funny, I remember when our marketing manager first started, the questions she asked felt painful. It was so hard for us to unpack everything she needed to know. Have your recruiters and your managers prepared for that – you might not know the answer, and that’s OK. They’re just trying to understand. We move so fast as recruiters, it’s hard for us stop and really be explicit about why we do what we do and connect it to the impact to our business.

Once you have a marketing resource on the team, the recruiters will love it: “Cool, we’ve got new this resource!” She or he will have to prioritize very quickly, pick two or three things to get done, because the recruiters will want to use their new resource to do everything.

If you’re a smaller team that doesn’t have the budget, go contract first and feel it out. Figure out, “Hey, is this right for us?”

What can – should – recruiters learn from marketing professionals about attracting talent?

First, care about content. Less is more, and personalization is critical. I’ll give you an example: Recruiters will typically write emails to potential candidates with a cut-and-paste message, a laundry list of things they want the recipient to know and things they want them to do. So basically, it’s like trying to make out on the first date. They need to slow down. Our marketing team has really taught us that the content of our emails is so important. It’s got to be personal, and it can’t be a laundry list. That cut-and-paste approach is something we’re trying to wipe out of our DNA in recruiting. We want initiate personal conversations.

Second, if you’re going to do something, understand why you’re doing it. What problem does it solve? Is it aligned to priorities? How will you measure the results? Our marketing team has really helped us, as recruiters, to think end-to-end. To think about why we’re investing that time and those resources in going to that event or taking that action, and making sure to measure the results.

Third, get better at benchmarking and researching. Marketers have to do benchmarking and researching all the time. Let that bleed into your recruiting team’s practices. When you’ve got that great candidate on the phone, ask them a few nonchalant questions about how they feel about going to a career event, or whatever it is that we’re trying to figure out.

It boils down to being more strategic in your decision-making, what you pursue and – more importantly – what you don’t.

“Care about content. Less is more, and personalization is critical.”

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From an interview with Christian De Pape.