The CMO’s Newest Assignment: Talent Acquisition

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Over the past year and a half, I’ve noticed a new trend: CMOs are asked to advise, and in some cases lead, their company’s talent acquisition efforts.

I’m not suggesting that they’re screening applications. Rather, they’re being called upon to attract potential candidates by telling a compelling employee experience story. In other words, they’re tasked with articulating why the best and the brightest would want to work at their companies.

It’s a new frontier for CMOs, but one that makes a lot of sense. CMOs are experts at defining what makes for a stellar customer experience, and many of those skills and insights can be applied to create an experience that’s equally positive for employees. On top of that, employees who feel empowered by the job are more helpful to customers and prospects, creating a virtuous cycle of one experience improving another.

CMOs and the post-pandemic war for talent

It’s hard to fathom that companies still struggle with filling positions, but the U.S. jobs reports prove otherwise. Despite concerns of an impending recession, the Great Resignation is still thriving. Up to 40% of employees say they’re considering leaving their jobs.


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More concerning, the term “quiet quitting” has entered the vernacular, sending chills down the spines of HR people and department heads who struggle to keep vital positions filled.

These two trends are important barometers that smart CMOs can view as opportunities, not threats. Clearly, there is a great swath of the workforce that is looking for more engaging and meaningful work. That fact has opportunity written all over it.

What is the CMO’s skillset? First and foremost, CMOs are masters at relevancy. They can tell their brand stories and describe their companies’ values in ways that perfectly align with their customers and prospects. Second, they are future-forward, meaning they’re always looking to where the market is heading, and are willing to pivot to meet it.

As it happens, these are the things restless and talented people are looking for in an employer.

Focus on end-to-end employee experience

CMOs are focused on creating a consistent end-to-end customer journey: from how prospects learn about a brand and make first contact to nurturing, activation, loyalty and upgrades. CMOs are wise to also plan and optimize an end-to-end employee experience, from talent acquisition, onboarding and developing avenues of growth all the way to retirement.

After all, employees are every company’s most important stakeholders. Ensuring that all employees have consistently positive experiences is one of the most important activities a CMO can focus on.

One of the most important functions of a CMO is to ensure that the corporate culture welcomes the input of all employees. Ambitious and talented people want the opportunity to affect the direction of their company and product line. Here’s just one example: Global ESG initiatives have taught people that their values matter, and they bring those values to the office with them. A company that welcomes an employee to contribute to, say, its net-zero initiative will earn that employee’s loyalty. In fact, companies that encourage people to contribute in meaningful ways enjoy many competitive advantages in the battle for talent.

First, when employees feel as if they’re engaged in meaningful work and can see their contributions to the company’s success, they’re happier. Consider this: 39% of employees say they’ll work harder if they’re happy with their jobs.

Such companies are also more profitable. A multi-year study by Glassdoor shows that the companies deemed good places to work outperform the stock market (since 2009, companies on Fortune’s “Best Places to Work” list have outperformed the market by 82%!).

Perhaps most importantly: Talent attracts talent. People who work at companies that actively build a positive employee experience are more likely to recruit star performers they know from past jobs to join the team. They do the selling on behalf of the company. For instance, when they hear of a new position opening up, they’ll go through their LinkedIn and college networks, amplifying the company’s recruitment efforts and lowering recruitment costs.

Collaboration with the CHRO

As a CMO is tasked with understanding and telling the employer’s brand story, they have a lot to offer the chief human resources officer (CHRO). A close collaboration between the two will contribute to the company’s overall success by attracting the best talent available. Specifically, the CMO can help the CHRO translate the brand story to the overall employee experience.

Keep in mind that the pandemic changed people’s career calculus. They want more meaning out of their jobs. A sense of personal fulfillment often ranks above salary level for many employees, especially among the tens of millions of Zoomers who are just entering the workforce.

For instance, CMOs can articulate to the CHRO how to offer flexible work environments and describe to potential candidates the many ways the company can help them establish a work/life balance that fits their lifestyles and enables them to give 100% to their jobs.

Work has undergone radical transformations driven by technology, world events, the pandemic and changing social mores. These transformations greatly impact the attitudes and expectations of talented people. As CMO, you play a crucial role in shaping your company’s culture and positioning it as one of the most desirable places to work.

Neil Dowling, CMO at Rightpoint.


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