How Dell's Recruiting Team Partners With Marketing To Drive Employer Brand Success

Five years ago, recruitment marketing at Dell was a completely different landscape than we have today. There was no consistent global employment brand, no real social media strategy when it came to attracting talent, and very little recruiter engagement through social media. Though we did have career-related social platforms, we had little to no interaction with teams outside of our HR organization.

We knew that to scaling and amplifying our impact would depend on a deeper relationship with our Marketing teams. Over the last few years, our Global Talent Acquisition Center of Excellence team has built bridges within different branches of our marketing team including Global Brand, Online Experience and Social Media and Communities (SMaC) teams. The resulting impact helped us take our Employer Branding efforts to the next level.

WHY WE DID IT

We realized early on that our Talent Acquisition organization needed to focus on what they do best - recruiting world class talent. We did not want them to worry about designing branded collateral for events or spending a lot of time curating compelling content to share on social media platforms. We already had expert teams with tools in place to support those pieces of recruitment marketing, so we didn’t need to start from scratch.

WHAT WE DID

Knowing that we already had amazing internal teams doing great work in those areas, we decided to build close relationships with our internal brand, social media and online experience teams to help us out in those areas. What resulted was even better than we could have imagined - a collaborative partnership where both teams benefit from content and insight when it comes to marketing and recruiting best practices.

HOW WE DID IT

Jennifer Newbill, our fearless leader and Senior TA manager for Candidate Attraction, Engagement and Experience, started thinking about brand ownership in 2011 when our organization started this journey.

“We thought about it differently. At Dell, we all own the brand, whether in an official marketing capacity or just being social media certified and talking about the company on our own personal profiles,” she shared. “So, while one team focuses on end users like customers of our products and services, another team focuses on our employee narrative for internal team members and candidates who may become team members. These are not in conflict with each other and, in fact, compliment each other quite well.”

We began by forming relationships with our internal agency, Dell Blue, when we realized we needed a distinct employer brand campaign to communicate why Dell is a great place to work to candidates. Establishing that relationship was similar to selecting an external vendor during an RFP process.

There were several introductory meetings between the Dell Blue team and our team (including our Executive Director and VP) to scope out the project, gather information on how we messaged Dell as an employer to candidates at the time and what materials we already had that could help guide the creative team in how they built out our employment brand visual identity (VID).

We supplied our EVP document, newly redesigned careers website and existing marketing materials to them, as well as properties where we engaged with candidates - social media, job boards, event listings - so they could see our efforts in action.

Dell Blue has put in a lot of effort into understanding the recruiting landscape as well as our employment value proposition and how we talk to candidates about working at Dell. From the beginning, they have agreed that having an authentic employment brand rooted in reality is the best way to show candidates who Dell is as a company. That approach has informed all of the content our team produces and shares.

We launched this campaign, called “Bring Everything” four years ago and have continually refined the support process for global and local brand needs. Since then, we continued our relationship with the Dell Blue team through a quarterly retainer and use them for all of our recruiting creative needs - from digital to print to copy, for local needs and global campaigns.

Donna Felix, our Account Executive from the Dell Blue team, said, “Having an effective partnership with our internal clients is critical to the quality of our marketing communications. Fortunately, our clients on the Talent Acquisition team understand this and demonstrate best practices from start to finish on every project. Specifically, they do the following:

Tips on partnering with Marketing:

  • Provide clear, concise and insightful input briefs
  • Gather information for our team and respond quickly to all questions
  • Give thoughtful and actionable feedback on our creative work
  • Support the work and help sell it into executives

In addition, they are sensitive to our team’s capacity and are always flexible and willing to work with us to prioritize our projects. And most important, we have established a relationship based on respect and trust. All of this truly helps to inspire the creative team to do their best work in the service of our company and our customers.”

Working with external agencies can reap the same benefits through a close partnership with your marketing and recruiting teams. At the core of a successful employer brand is authenticity to your EVP and consistency in the look, feel and tone of the creative across all platforms.

Ensuring all parties have a seat at the table in the initial stages of development will help you start your campaign off with a solid foundation. If you don’t have access to an in-house or external agency, partner with your Marketing team to develop visual guidelines and templates so that you can present a consistent visual identity to make it easier for candidates and prospects to find you.

After we got the creative assets squared away, our social media and brand engagement leads started laying the groundwork with the owners of the major Dell social platform owners, social governance leads, and social media training leaders. We are incredibly fortunate to have leadership within Global Talent Acquisition who value being social and have set the expectation that all of Talent Acquisition should be SMaC certified.

Through a partnership with SMaC training leads, our Talent Acquisition social media brand engagement leads have held trainings, encouraged local teams to attend certification courses and been advocates for social media as an important component to the recruiting process.

Our SMaC team has worked diligently to reduce the time it takes to get certified. What once took 2-3 days now takes 4 hours - a much more reasonable ask for busy professionals! It’s now mandatory for everyone within our Talent Acquisition team to be both Brand and SmaC certified - even our Vice President, Marie Moynihan has both of her certifications!

After getting SMaC Certified, the SMaC University (SMaC U) team regularly provides hour-long sessions about the latest on the social media landscape called Power Hours. These are lead by Sean Carey, the Lead Facilitator and Content Developer for SMaC U who says that “success in social media is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time and consistent application to turn a person’s social presence into a value for the individual and the business. Career development is no different – it must be approached with a long view for results. That’s why the HR team’s involvement in promoting the SMaC U (Social Media and Community University) Power Hours is so important.”

Our team maintains a relationship with the SMaC teams and our Senior Manager Jennifer Newbill continues to be a great advocate for employment branding as an ongoing focus area within Dell’s overall social media strategy.

“Talent Acquisition is seen as one of our most important business partners in the social media space. Some of the same techniques marketing uses to attract customers can be used in employment branding,” Social Media and Community Director Amy Heiss shared, “We are fortunate to have Jennifer Newbill from Dell’s HR team as a regular contributor to our global social media meetings. She shares what is happening in the TA space while marketers share best practices for reaching the ever changing digital audience.”

One specific partnership we’re especially proud of is our “Most Influential Intern” blogging contest. For the last two years, our Global Internship Program Manager, Chelsea Rigney, has hosted our “Most Influential Intern” blogging contest where Dell interns compete for best blog on LinkedIn Publisher. All interns go through SMaC Certification training from our SMaC U team and we even asked Sean Carey to help judge.

Last year’s winner Zaid Nasir presenting this year’s winner, Jeremy Klutts, with his prize.

Last year’s winner Zaid Nasir presenting this year’s winner, Jeremy Klutts, with his prize.

“Partnering with HR on the Intern Blogging Contest the past 2 years has been a great benefit to all involved. The interns get career development that they crave right out of the gates,” Carey, said, “HR gets the boost to employment branding and recruiting that comes with interns sharing their authentic experiences at Dell with the public at large. My team gets to showcase their output as way to demonstrate the power of in-depth content creation on business results, and encourage more existing employees to get more involved in social!”

Partnering with Marketing has allowed us to support and maintain a consistent, globally relevant employer brand identity at an affordable rate with rapid turnaround times. It’s allowed us to move more quickly and innovate, as the mutual trust we’ve established removes some of the typical review

We have an employer brand that is rooted in our employer value proposition, is authentic and true to the employee experience, and aligned with our company look and feel.

So what’s next for us? Well, we’re working with our internal partners to build new relationships with our new colleagues at EMC. This includes a brand-new employer brand visual identity, refreshed creative assets, educating our new colleagues on our internal processes and support structures and continuing to foster a culture of collaboration across our HR and Marketing teams. But that’s a conversation for another case study!

KEY RESULTS

LINKEDIN

  • We crossed 1 million followers on LinkedIn in June 2015 [Michael Dell video marking the milestone above] 
  • A talent content post (below) was the most successful organic post in Q2 on our LinkedIn company page with a 1.63% click-through rate and nearly 190,000 impressions. 

GLASSDOOR

Our Glassdoor ratings have steadily risen in the three years we’ve been engaged on the platform.

  • Our company rating is up from 3.2 in 2013 to 3.5 today

  • In 2013, only 57% of people would recommend Dell to a friend compared to 69% today

  • Our CEO approval rating is up from 57% in 2013 to 85% today

  • Our average page views to our company page have risen from about 55,000 per month in 2013 to over 150,000 per month today

Instagram

More recently, our social media brand engagement leads gave the reigns to our @LifeatDell Instagram over to Joanne Mortell - one of our featured team members in Limerick - to further illustrate what life at Dell looks like. 

  • We experienced a 13% increase in followers because of Joanne’s takeover (all organic!) and are planning another one in the near future.

Hiring Influence

In addition, we’ve seen an upward trend in ratings for diversity, ethics/integrity, innovation and work-life balance across our global population over the last 3 years (According to our CLC new hire survey). All of those topics are explicitly promoted within our employment brand campaign so we can say that there has been a correlation in our EB efforts and the top reasons new hires chose to come work for Dell. In the US, specifically, we’ve seen large gains in our new hire ratings for diversity which is a core foundation in all of the recruitment marketing we do.

WHAT WE MISSED

One of our initial misses when establishing our first separate employer brand visual identity was not getting regional and local feedback on messaging. What made sense for those of us based in “Western” countries did not resonate as well in other parts of the world. “Bring Everything You Are” has no meaningful equivalent in several countries where we hire. During our current process of completely redoing our visual identity, we made sure to get regional input on copy early in the process so we can avoid that issue in our next employment branding campaign.

Another miss was that both our Talent Acquisition team and Marketing team had independent relationships with LinkedIn. The TA team was using the platform as a sourcing and recruitment tool and the marketing team was using its social capacity to promote Dell’s products and services. It wasn’t until about six months ago when we realized that we had no idea what the other team was doing, how they were utilizing the platform and what their spend was.

Dell LinkedIn platform owner, Suzanne Doughty said, “I really viewed LinkedIn as a platform solely for Corporate Social Responsibility, thought-leadership and third-party articles. Talent content would stay on Careers pages and stay separate, but putting it out on the company stream has been really popular and valuable. In fact, I would even say the way I view LinkedIn, it's changed the strategy on LinkedIn. This is our three-part strategy on LI - we want to position Dell as an end-to-end solutions provider, positions Dell as a company you want to do business with (thought leadership, CSR, human-interest), position Dell as a company you want to work for.”

We have since started inviting stakeholders from the marketing side into Talent Acquisition business reviews with LinkedIn and vice versa.

One of the toughest things for us is nailing down how to accurately measure our employment brand sentiment from an end-to-end standpoint. We have great tools like Glassdoor reporting, data through Sprinklr (a social sharing scheduling and measurement tool) and LinkedIn’s Talent Brand Index, but we haven’t yet cracked the nut on a full bird’s-eye into how Dell is seen as an employer. That continues to be something we work towards!

KEY TAKEAWAYS

Know your strengths - our recruiting team are great at sourcing and hiring talent. We don’t expect them to be designers and social media experts. We are constantly evaluating how we can best support them in those extra needs so they can stay focused on the core parts of their jobs.

Networking never hurts - getting to know those key players on the marketing side of your organization is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome, especially in larger companies like Dell. This is a great opportunity to practice your networking skills and get to know how your marketing arm works. You can make great contacts and learn new things along the way.

Collaboration goes a long way... - while we lean heavily on our marketing teams for creative support and marketing best-practices, we have also helped them by providing great content for the parent platforms.

“In marketing we know that our employees are our best brand advocates,” Social Media and Communities Director Amy Heiss, said. “At Dell it is our team members within the HR space who are our best employee advocates. We can depend on the HR team to consistently share Dell content with their social networks which increases our brand reach and share of voice on digital networks.”

...And so does appreciation - our marketing teams at Dell aren’t required to help us. It’s not part of their performance plan, yet because Dell values collaboration and transparency, we have built a partnership that works for both sides of the table. We work hard to never take those relationships for granted. “We appreciate your upbeat and positive attitude – and the fact that your team is so appreciative of the work!,” Donna Felix said, “That appreciation really goes a long way!”

TECHNOLOGIES USED:

To support the team-generated content on our social platforms (like Elaine’s testimonial above), our employment brand team all use Photoshop Elements with templates that the trained designers on the Dell Blue team put together for us.

We used Brainshark to record on-demand training for our employment brand campaign as well as social media initiatives.

Our SMaC team run regular trainings on a variety of topics called “Power Hours” using Adobe Connect software. One of the most successful ones in recent past has been a discussion about online streaming capabilities like Periscope and Facebook Live.

Sprinklr is our social media sharing management tool of choice. All of our Talent social media engagement leads use this when managing our Dell Careers platforms.

Everyone Social has been a great tool to activate internal brand and social ambassadors. It allows internal team members to easily source and share great content on behalf of Dell. We even worked with our internal product owner to create our own Talent Acquisition channel.