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HR News You Can Use - Recruiter Secrets and CMO Employee Turnover

In the edition of HR News You Can Use we share two very smart talent management guest blogs.

The first blog from Tim Sackett provides an interesting set of insights about the secrets that recruiters think but rarely say.  It is a great insider look at the profession and well worth reading.

The second blog from Adam Kleinberg is from an interesting post that we saw in Ad Age. It discusses the concerning trend of the incredibly high CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) employee turnover rates.


Don’t you love Clickbait titles!?  I mean you read that title and you’re like, “JFC, Tim! Okay, I need to see what crazy sh*t he’s going to say about recruiting and who he pisses off today!”

Okay, so, here you go!

I recently got back from CareerBuilder’s Empower. It’s basically a recruiting conference for CB clients. Empower had a great recruiting content for both sides. Both corporate recruiters and agency recruiters were in attendance. You can easily spot the two groups. The agency recruiters wear suits and have big watches. Watches so big Flavor Flav would be jealous. The suits aren’t your dad’s suit, either, they’re the new ‘modern’ fit suits that look like they might be one size too small.

The agency guys don’t care. They’re making twice what the corporate sap makes, who is wearing either jeans and button-down or Khakis and a button-down. I’ll say most of the corporate TA ladies dress smart and stylish, most are also former agency recruiters!

Being surrounded by 1,000 recruiters always helps remind you why so many folks dislike the industry and function of recruiting. Here’s my take:

  1. There’s no difference between selling cars and recruiting. In cars sales you make the car look as great as you can, even when it’s a piece of sh*t. In recruiting you make the organization and the hiring manager look as great as possible, even when they’re a piece of Sh*t.
  2. Recruiting has nothing to do with Quality. Recruiting is all about speed. Every recruiter wants to argue it’s about quality, but it’s not. It’s not because you don’t actually know if someone is a quality hire until about a year into position, for most roles. Recruiting is about filling positions as fast as you can with the best talent that is available at the time you’re actually looking to fill the position.
  3. The majority of Recruiting leaders have no idea what they’re doing. That sounds harsh, doesn’t it? It’s mostly true for a couple of reasons. First, TA was a dead function for about 8-10 years in most organizations during the recession, so most TA leaders either weren’t in TA or weren’t developed. Second, the technology is evolving so quickly, 99% of TA leaders can’t keep up with it. So, you get a mix of incompetence and old school know-how.
  4. Real Recruiters have figured out Employment Branding has little impact in filling positions. Great recruiters can fill roles in a company that has no brand, or a negative brand, it makes no difference to them. What real recruiters understand is that the majority of the population pays little attention to your employment brand. Great TA comes mainly from great recruitment marketing (which I know some of you will argue is all about branding). You can be great at recruitment marketing and still have a brand no one knows about and fill your positions.
  5. Your organization would fill openings with or without a Recruiting Team. Ugh! That one hurts, but it’s true. I speak with organizations every week that don’t have TA and don’t use agencies, but still fill positions. What!? How can that be!? The executives, the hiring managers, etc. all do it. They own their own staff and make sure they find people to fill the needs they have. As an organization grows this becomes harder, but not impossible.
  6. Corporate recruiters will always be less effective to Agency recruiters until you change your compensation.Corporate recruiters only have to work as hard as the weakest recruiter on the team. Agency recruiters have to work to eat. Corporate TA leaders would do well to add some incentive to the compensation mix to their teams that is directly tied to individual recruiting accomplishments of the roles they fill.
  7. 90% of your positions are filled by candidates finding you, not a Recruiter finding them. Take a look at your source of hires, how many are sourced directly by one of your recruiters reaching out to a candidate that didn’t first reach out to you? This number will put that giant corporate TA recruiting salary into perspective! I can find a great admin pro to run a TA process for $15-18/hr.

About The Author:


 Tim Sackett is a 20 year HR/Recruiting Talent Pro with a Master’s in HR and SPHR certification, currently residing in Lansing, MI.  Currently the President at HRU Technical Resources – a $40M IT and Engineering contract staffing firm and RPO.  Prior to joining HRU, Tim was the Director of Employment at Sparrow Health System, Regional HR and Staffing Director with Applebee’s Intl., Retail Health Recruiting Manager and Regional HR Mgr. with ShopKo Stores and Pamida respectively.

Why Are CMOs Dropping Like Flies? Intense Demand to Prove ROI Is Contributing to Churn

By Adam Kleinberg. Published on September 02, 2016.

A study published last month by Russell Reynolds Associates shows that CMO turnover is higher than ever. In some industries, the trend is eye-popping -- particularly in retail, where 48% of the top 30 retailers in the U.S. have had a change in marketing leadership in the last 12 months. Consumer tech, media, CPG and hospitality industries also had high levels of churn in the CMO hot seat. 

What's more, 62% of companies replace their CMOs with someone from outside the company, a clear indicator that many CEOs don't believe anyone else who works at their companies has the answers either.

What is going on? 

Well, in interviews with a dozen CMOs and CEOs, Russell Reynolds concluded that there were eight distinct factors -- but if I were pressed to summarize them, it would be:

"Digital, digital, digital, digital, digital, digital, digital, and CEOs making scapegoats out of CMOs to buy more time to deal with digital."

The business world today places intense demand for a quantifiable ROI on every dollar of marketing expenditure -- and an overly optimistic expectation that digital will be able to deliver it. 

What are we left with? Misaligned needs and expectations all over the place. Organizations look to marketing to deliver attributable short-term sales with little or no regard for long-term brand health.

That's not a recipe for long-term success. And I've got news for you: "Long-term" is only a year away. 

As a marketer, you need to have a balanced view. Let's say you're a CPG marketer. If all you cared about was driving sales, you'd pour all your money into retail promotions -- but you'd have invested absolutely nothing in changing the attitudes and perceptions that make people love your brand. Those sales would fall off a cliff the second you stopped promoting. 

If you don't build brand while you drive sales, you're pouring ocean water into the sand.

One telling observation in the research is that in some categories, up to 90% of sales are influenced by the web, while 80% of purchases are actually made in a brick-and-mortar store. That insight implies we should be very thoughtful about the role of digital to influence, but not necessarily close the sale.

But many CMOs don't have a mandate to use digital thoughtfully. They are pressured to focus through a myopic lens. 

In other words, in order to truly succeed they need to do their job in a different way than everyone else around them wants and expects them to. The net result? They either wind up with their head on the chopping block or say, "Screw this," and quit.

One telling statistic comes from a recent Salesforce report: 83% of marketers in organizations rated as "high performers" say their execs are completely committed to supporting their overall marketing strategy. That's compared to only 31% in low-performing marketing organizations. I'd venture to guess that a pretty high percentage of CMO turnover is coming from the low performers.

As someone who has run an agency for fifteen years, I learned the hard way long ago that if we don't set the right expectations, make sure stakeholders are in alignment with those expectations, and then deliver on them, we're going to lose that client a year down the road.

Before you can set the right expectations you need to make sure your client shares your point of view. That requires direct conversations to educate, and sometimes change mindsets. Sometimes that's hard. Clients hire us to help them be successful, not tell them what they already know -- but changing perceptions is a difficult task.

Difficult, but essential.

CMOs have clients too, nowadays. Strategy connects the dots between what you do and why you do it.

My advice? Make sure your clients understand the "what" and the "why."

About The Author:


Adam Kleinberg is CEO of Traction, a digital agency based in San Francisco.