Here’s the big secret: Recruitment is marketing.

This is a much discussed 'trend' in the recruitment industry in recent years.

"Recruitment is becoming more like marketing". "Recruiters need to act more like marketers".

The Undercover Recruiter reports that 86% of recruiters believe recruiting is becoming more like marketing.

While this is a relatively new 'trend' - it’s not news. Perhaps because I came to recruitment via a career in marketing and communications - and my clients and candidates are marketing and communication people.

While recruitment marketing has been a ‘thing’ for a long time - it’s often something that only large corporates have in their organisation structure. And it’s often part of marketing ie separate to the recruitment or HR function. In some sectors, recruitment marketing is traditionally part of graduate recruitment ie marketing campaigns to attract the best and brightest to a firm. 

When you think about it, recruitment being like marketing make perfect sense. It’s not hard to make the connection between attracting customers - and attracting ‘candidates’. After all, they’re both people, right?

We don’t expect customers to walk through the shop door, jump online and buy, or chose a brand, product or service without some effort to attract them, engage them and tell them the story about why they should chose you.

Why should job seekers be any different?

Recruitment is a people business. If we put people at the centre of the process (just like marketers and businesses are putting customers at the centre), the rest will follow.

So, if recruitment is marketing...

Here are the 5 things you should expect to see as part of an effective recruitment process.

#1 - Research

Get to know your market. Who’s looking? What are they looking for? What other similar opportunities are out there for them right now? Understanding supply - and demand - is super important. If you’re going to attract the best people, you need to know what they are looking for (including market salaries) and how to best engage with them.

#2 A candidate persona

Developing the candidate persona is a key step at the beginning of any recruitment process. And guess what? It’s about MUCH more than the job description. It’s thinking carefully about your ‘ideal’ employee and what they could bring to the role. Where might they currently be working? What have they achieved in previous roles? How would you describe their personal style, approach and attributes?

#3 Engagement - LOTS of it

It’s important that you can articulate the ‘why’ of the role. Always remember that the recruitment process is a two-way street. People want to have a sense of purpose, the bigger picture and what this opportunity will give them (as much as what they can give). This is essentially the difference between approaching recruitment as ‘talent acquisition’ and approaching it as a process in attracting and engaging the best people.

#4 A flexible plan

People are unpredictable. You can’t control everything in recruitment. Accept that you might need to be flexible and change your ‘plan’ in order to get to the best outcome.

#5 Excellent communication

This is an obvious one… but based on many, many anecdotes over the years, I know it’s also something that’s often NOT done well in recruitment.

An effective recruitment process MUST include clear, timely, honest communication.

Communication during recruitment is about interpersonal communication skills, written communication skills, transparency and how and when you communicate with everyone involved in the process. It’s about managing expectations - and having an open, authentic dialogue that cuts through the noise.

Communication in recruitment is also about engagement and storytelling. But that’s a story for another day.

As you can see, the connection between recruitment and marketing isn’t all that tenuous. In fact, it’s pretty obvious.

Customers are people.

Candidates are people.

Recruitment is a people business.

#recruitmentdoneright is about attracting and engaging people.

It's not a transaction.

It's not about 'acquiring' something (or someone).

Just like effective marketing, recruitment is a process to identify, attract and engage the best people... to chose your role, your team and your organisation.


At the risk of sounding like your Mum (or Granny), times have changed.

The global talent landscape - and specific job markets - are not the same as they once were. How organisations attract and engage (aka recruit) the best people is not the same process it once was.

This is not just about technology. It’s about market dynamics. Choice. Expectations. 

It’s about what people want out of their lives (and by extension, their jobs and employers).

This change is also about the prevalence and power of social media - and new norms in the job seeker-employer relationship.

This isn’t the first time the job seeker-employer relationship has changed.

The history of recruitment goes back to the first human civilisations. Ancient empires ‘recruited’ subjects to serve in the army and work on large-scale building projects (like the Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China).

At this point in history, the groups or organisations doing the recruiting held the power.

Over the years, the common person began to demand the right to choose their own profession (and sell their own goods). This was the first of many shifts which has lead to the talent landscape we have today.

Modern recruitment as we know began to take shape around the time of World War II. When the war ended, millions of veterans with new skills came home and were looking for work - giving rise to the beginning of headhunting (as we have come to know it). Companies were established to connect potential employees with businesses.

Originally, recruiters worked for the job seeker - not the hiring organisation.


In the 1970s, economic growth saw companies outsource their hiring efforts - to reduce costs.

In the 1980s, the classifieds section of the newspaper was the main place to advertise - and find - job opportunities.

The rise of the internet saw job boards take over newspaper classifieds as the ‘go to’ place for hiring organisations and job seekers alike.

While those job boards are still alive and well today - they’re only one channel. Just one of many places for job seekers and hiring organisations to ‘meet’.

The talent landscape today is characterised by rich choice, individual expectation and a real need for mutual respect.

This year is my 20th in the professional workforce. I distinctly remember the feeling when I was offered by first professional job. And my second. Never in a million years would I have considered turning down a job offer.

My second job was in the public service. My Dad was delighted. “You’ll have a job for life”. Ha!

Times have changed.

The talent landscape today isn’t about power or obligation or a ‘job for life’.

The hiring organisation is not in the drivers’ seat. The idea that if a person applies for a job and/or attends an interview, they will accept your offer - is archaic.

The recruitment process is a two-way street.

People aren’t just looking for fancy job titles and big salaries and a job for life. It’s far more complex than that.

We have a highly-skilled workforce. Low unemployment. More prevalent use of social media. Greater reach of personal networks. New norms in the employee-employer relationship. A high percentage of passive candidates.

The talent landscape has changed.

If we want to attract and engage the best people to our teams, the way we manage the recruitment process will have to change too.

The historical information included in this article was adapted from Recruiterbox.


Heart recently launched a new, flexible service offering.

A flexible recruitment offering? Yes.

What, no massive 20% fees? No.

Flexible support? Meaning I can choose (and pay for) only what I need? Yes.

I know this isn’t what you’re used to.

It’s not what you expect. But it is what some organisatons need. Maybe most organisations (time will tell).

The future of work – and recruitment – is flexible.

It’s also more collaborative, more transparent and more customer-focused.

Recruitment is a people business. I reckon we should put people – and customers - at the centre of what we do.

So that’s what I did. 

Based on many years of experience and really listening to what my customers want and need, I decided to design a service offering that can flex to meet the needs of the customer.

Some customers want an external recruiter to look after everything, end-to-end. The traditional outsourced model. Great – we can do that – with Heart Exclusive.

Other customers have an in-house recruitment/talent team that might need support with sourcing specialist skills and background. Or they’re trying to recruit for 20+ jobs across multiple different business units and they simply don’t have the bandwidth to give all of those 20 jobs, and 20 hiring managers – and hundreds of candidates – a great experience and the best outcome.

This customer doesn’t need to outsource everything – but they need help with the most time consuming part of the recruitment process – getting from brief to shortlist. Enter Heart’s most popular flexible offering – Heart Shortlist.

Another customer might be a small business or start up with no in-house recruitment or HR function. The founder or hiring manager knows how crucial it is to get the right people in the team - but they’re already wearing several ‘hats’ and while they know recruitment is business-critical process – it’s not their ‘day job’.

There are a couple of different options for this customer – including Heart Retained or Heart Consult. The same specialist, professional support – with ultimately flexibility.

No matter what part/s of the recruitment process you need support with, Heart has a solution – a flexible, cost-effective solution that will help you attract and engage the best people to your team.

Flexible, transparent options. A collaborative approach. Customer-focused offerings.

Since the launch of this new service offering, 75% of clients have opted for one of the non-traditional, flexible options. Here are some recent examples:

Role: Community Fundraising Officer
Client: Small nfp with 25 staff and $9m revenue
Hiring manager: Head of Philanthropy and Community Giving
Scope: Manage the entire process from brief to placement and beyond
Service offering: Heart Retained
Project cost: 45% less than an average placement fee 

Role: Chief Executive Officer
Client: Small nfp with 10 staff and $1m revenue
Hiring manager: Board of Directors
Scope: Review applications, recommend process, proactively source candidates to widen candidate pool,  conduct initial interviews, recommend five candidates to meet Board.
Service offering: Heart Consult
Project cost: 80% less than an average placement fee

Role: Fundraising Manager
Client: Small nfp with 30 staff and $5.3 revenue
Hiring manager: GM Partnerships and Engagement
Scope: Proactively source additional candidates to widen candidate pool.
Service offering: Heart Shortlist
Project cost: 78% less than an average placement fee

The moral of the story? It is possible to get recruitment support that suits you.. You’re the customer.

One size doesn’t have to fit all. 

No compromise on quality or service or results – just a customer-focused, flexible approach.


75% of job success is predicted by optimism, social support and ability to see stress as a challenge (not a threat).

I’ve been trying to get my head around this. Only 25% of our success at work is down to our IQ, knowledge, skills and education?

That’s what the research says.

Have you heard about the orange frog? Positive psychology? The happiness advantage?

I promise this is not some ‘fluffy’/hippy/yoga/chanting thing (I’m a hot yoga girl, not a chanting yogi).

It’s positive psychology - for beginners. Easy to understand. Crazy simple to implement. 

It's based on Shawn Achor’s research with thousands of Fortune 500 executive in 42 countries around the world. You might know Shawn from his TED talk - The happy secret to better work.  Which by the way (in case you’re not one of the 20 million people who have watched it), is 12 minutes of insightful, funny fast-talk. 

Shawn is part of the team who taught the most popular course in the history of Harvard University - Positive Psychology 1504.

But we don’t have to go to Harvard to learn this stuff.

It’s been three weeks since I attended the Orange Frog Happiness Advantage workshop hosted by AIM and Positive Scenario.

And let me tell you, the last 21 days have been very different for me. The course was full of fantastic information, insightful examples and loads of practical things to take away in to your personal and professional life.

So far I’ve implemented just one of the things I learnt - and it’s changed my lense on the world.

I’m more optimistic. Calmer. I have more clarity, more patience - and more courage.

During the last three weeks I’ve tackled a new work challenge - completely uncharted territory for me - without fear. I’ve met the challenges and frustrations of parenting differently. I’ve smiled more. I’ve actually said (in my head and out loud), I feel happy today. Yep, I’m that 'happy weirdo’.

During the last three weeks, I’ve also lost a dear family member - far before his time - to a very aggressive form of cancer. It’s the first time I have personally felt this kind of loss. It’s been a very sad time. But somehow, I still have my optimistic lense.

For me personally - the Orange Frog Happiness Advantage workshop couldn’t have come at a better time.

Professionally - I’m fascinated by the happiness advantage. Fascinated by the fact that happiness can fuel performance. Here are some more benefits drawn from the research:

Happy people and positive teams and workforces are:

  • Up to three times more engaged

  • 31% more productive

  • Experience 23% fewer symptoms of stress and fatigue

  • 37% more successful in sales

  • Produce work which is 19% more accurate

I’m someone who needs to see the facts, the evidence - the whole picture. So knowing that science says that 75% of job success is predicted by optimism, social support and ability to see stress as a challenge is incredibly powerful for me and what I do with clients and job seekers. 

I’ve always believed that people should be happy at work. I even go as far as saying that people should #lovework. 

Maybe I’ve always been that ‘happy weirdo’.


If you’ve ever seen any of my content, you’ll know I’m pretty honest. I like to call it how it is.

We used to joke in my last team that we could write a book with all of the stories we’ve collected over the years. Which, when you meet new people every day and speak to people on the phone all day long, is a LOT of stories.

But, I’m not sure that anyone wants to read a book about the recruitment industry (!?!), so after more than a decade of conversations and anecdotes about the industry I love, I thought I’d pen this little piece.

If you’ve ever worked with a recruiter - as a hiring manager or a candidate - some of this will be familiar. But even if that is the case, I reckon some of it could surprise you. Here goes.

Fun fact #1: Most recruiters ‘fell into’ recruitment.

I love chatting with fellow recruiters about how they came to work in the industry. Everyone has a story about how they came to be a recruiter - but I’ve never met anyone whose story goes:

“I woke up one day and decided I wanted to help people build great careers and great teams so I became a recruiter”.

Most recruiters had another career before they came to recruitment. Some worked in sales, customer service, business development or real estate. Some worked as a specialist in the field they now recruit for (ie lawyers, teachers, engineers). Others worked in HR and transitioned into recruitment. Some joined a recruitment business as a graduate - but even those people probably didn’t set out to build a career in recruitment.

All of these paths are fine and each brings a unique set of skills to the recruitment process.

As a 14-year veteran of the industry who had a career in corporate communications and PR before I ‘fell’ into recruitment (yes, me too!), I've always had an interest in people and what motivates them.

Early in my career, I was the person people asked for advice on their resume, and how to write cover letters and selection criteria. I was the person people asked for advice about interviews and how to make decisions about job offers and their career.

So while I did ‘fall’ in to recruitment - it did really make sense to me - from day one.

I love this industry because it’s the human part of business.

It’s still business - there are commercial objectives and challenges and a job to be done - but recruitment is the part of business that's all about people.

Yet somehow, ironically, this can be lost in the recruitment process.

Recruiters (internal and external) are often guilty of treating people as ‘another CV’ or ‘another applicant’. I even had a client once refer to the recruitment process as a ‘procurement process’. Um, I’m sorry, Mr Client, you can’t ‘procure’ a human being.

So how did the people business lose it’s focus on people?

Fun fact #2: Recruitment is not for the faint-hearted

When you come to start your career in recruitment, you’re coming into a highly-competitive, fast-paced commercial industry. There are KPIs and targets and a focus on driving results.

You are (typically) expected to build (or grow) a business within a business (ie your ‘desk) - and it takes a lot of hard work, drive and pure grit to make this happen.

There may not be blood, but I can guarantee you there is sweat - and for those recruiters who really care about what they do - there’s tears. Trust me. Some ‘happy’ tears, some not-so-happy.

It’s bloody hard work. The ‘product’ is people - and people are unpredictable. Like it or not, people are emotional first - and rational second. They have lives and families and sh*t going on - and their job and career is just one ‘piece’ of their life.

As an agency recruiter, you are typically expected to generate at least three times your salary in fees each quarter. That’s the bottom line.

And the traditional, contingent recruitment model means you only invoice a fee if you successfully fill a role, the candidate you place is suitable - and stays.

Here’s the way it typically goes: If you’re working on 4 jobs, 1 of them will turn in to a placement. Maybe 1 in 3 if you’re very good at what you do - and a little bit lucky.

Fun fact #3: Up to 75% of hours worked as a recruiter do not directly result in revenue.

Yes, really.

In which other business-to-business professional service industry would that be the ‘norm’?

I'm not a big fan of fun fact #3. But this isn’t the main reason I think the traditional recruitment model needs a shake up.

The traditional recruitment model needs a shake up because it doesn’t empower recruiters to approach their job in a way that puts people first.

Putting people first? Yes, really.

Recruitment is the people business.

It’s about helping people build their careers and helping leaders build their teams.

It’s also - first and foremost - about communication. Storytelling.

Fun fact #4: Recruitment IS marketing - and communication - and storytelling

I'll admit, this is more opinion than ‘fact’ - but stay with me...

Effective client and candidate service is about clear, timely, honest communication.

Representing a candidate to a client is about telling the story of what that person can bring to the role and organisation.

Supporting a client with their recruitment is about taking an opportunity to the best talent in the market - and communicating what that role and opportunity might provide for them and their career.

The truth about recruitment is this.

It’s about MUCH more than ads on job boards.

It’s about going BEYOND the CV and the job description.

It's about attracting and engaging the best people to your team and organisation.

It’s NOT about ticking boxes (or putting people in boxes).

It shouldn’t be a painful process.

It shouldn’t be a numbers game.

It shouldn’t be characterised by terrible candidate experience (aka recruitment horror stories).

It SHOULD put people front and centre.

People and their careers. What they do for 40+ hours a week. How they pay their bills. Their sense of identity.

Leaders and their teams. Finding the best people is crucial to achieve organisational objectives.

When we get this right ie find the best people for a team and the best employer for an individual - everyone thrives. People are happy, engaged and can achieve great things.

This is #recruitmentdoneright

It’s a people business. If we put people first, the rest will follow.


The #futureofwork is flexible - this we know. What about the future of recruitment?

I’ve written about the future of recruitment before. But this post isn’t about AI and robots and digital technology. It’s about how the recruitment industry - a professional service industry - works with it’s clients.

I believe the traditional recruitment model needs a shake up.

Recruitment shouldn’t be a high risk transaction.

It shouldn’t be characterised by poor client (and candidate) service.

It shouldn’t be a numbers game.

Recruitment is about people. Which means it’s about communication, relationships and connection.

Like anything to do with people, recruitment is complex. It’s unpredictable and it's time consuming. It can easily go pear-shaped. So, some organisations engage external support to assist with recruitment.

Enter the dreaded recruiter.

A little dramatic? Maybe. 

An honest assessment of how most people feel about recruiters? Yes - people love to hate us.

A prediction of why the traditional business model needs a shake up? Definitely.

Let’s get back to the organisation that needs support. They engage a recruitment consultant to manage the process for them. Are all recruiters consultants? I'll leave that with you to ponder.

Consultants are ‘experts’ in their field. They solve problems and add value. 

Consultants provide a professional service to their clients. In the recruitment world, the fee for this professional service is a percentage of the successful candidates’ salary. Usually a big percentage.

There are various forces at play which dictate recruitment fee structures and large organisations can usually negotiate a more effective fees based on volume of role the recruitment business fills for them.

But what about smaller organisations - SMEs with less roles to fill? 

What about not for profit organisations which simply can’t afford big placement fees - but absolutely need to attract the best people to enable them to grow and reach their mission?

These are the businesses I love working with. SMEs and not for profits. 

I love the energy, passion and purpose. These things are contagious - and they go a long way to attract excellent people to join these organisations.

Where does the traditional recruitment model leave these organisations? Most likely unable to afford external support.

Unable to engage support for the crucial, complex and time-consuming process which will bring the best people on board to share in the energy and passion - and drive the purpose.

During my 14 years working in an industry people ‘love to hate’ (often for very good reason!), I’ve worked with clients of all sizes and across most sectors. I’ve worked with large complex public sector organisations, global corporates and professional services firms, fast-paced retailers and media businesses, educational institutions, tech businesses, creative agencies, health businesses, membership organisations and my favourite (shh don’t tell anyone) - not for profit organisations.

Right now, all of my clients are SMEs and not for profits. 

I love working with hiring managers to solve a problem for them - and equally with people and culture teams to support them with specialist recruitment, especially when they have so many competing priorities in their remit.

Aside from the nature of my clients and my personal experience working in the industry for which I recruit, the other thing that makes Heart Recruitment distinctive is the flexible service offering.

Based on many years of experience and really listening to what clients need, I have designed a service offering that is flexible around the needs of the client.

A flexible recruitment offering? Yes, really.

Heart Recruitment's offering includes the traditional end-to-end recruitment service as well as flexible ‘unbundled’ options ie support for only select parts of the recruitment process.

This offering means that I can work collaboratively with hiring managers, people and culture teams AND internal recruiters, helping to solve a business problem, adding value and saving busy people precious time.

Since the launch of this service offering, 70% of my clients have opted for flexible options.

Just this month I supported a small, high-impact nfp with recruitment for a role pivotal to their next stage of growth - in a completely flexible, bespoke way. They couldn’t pay a traditional recruitment fee - even a reduced one - but they got the support they needed.

What does the future of recruitment look like?

I think the future of recruitment is flexible, collaborative, transparent, service focused and people focused.

Yes, technology will be an enabler, but it won’t replace human connection. And recruiters will need to add more value through flexible services that help their clients solve problems.


I recently interviewed and surveyed hiring managers about the challenges they face with recruitment.

Surprisingly, half of the hiring managers I spoke to don’t get support from a HR/people and culture team for their recruitment.

When they do get recruitment support, I asked them what they’d like their recruitment partner (internal or external) to do more of.

Here’s what I learned.

91% of hiring managers want the person sourcing candidates to have an in-depth understanding of the role and skills required.

55% would value a recruitment partner with personal experience in the field/s they’re recruiting for.

Here’s the ultimate hiring manager wish list:

Be proactive

Listen to my needs

Really understand the brief

Have honest conversations

‘What I need most is honest communication. I understand that strong candidates are difficult to find so if it’s becoming a challenge, let’s have that conversation’.

 ‘The best (internal) recruitment partner I've worked with actually sat down with me to take the brief. Just like one of my creative agencies would’.

‘Seek out top talent from the market using their networks – versus just relying on ‘in market’ applicants’.

In the next post, I’ll share the top 10 tips I learned from hiring managers in marketing, communication and fundraising.


I recently interviewed and surveyed hiring managers about the challenges they face with recruitment.

Here are some of the things they told me . . .

43% said they wish they had more time for recruitment.

‘Finding the time I’d genuinely like to spend looking through CVs and in interviews - that’s my biggest challenge’.

‘Making the time to really connect with candidates - as human beings'.

31% said they don't have the right resources to manage the recruitment process.

 ‘One of my biggest challenges is a lack of support internally to work with me through the recruitment process - and provide guidance’.

19% said they have difficulty finding relevant/suitable candidates.

 ‘Finding people with a balance of technical skills and a human approach, that’s my biggest challenge’.

More insights to come next week.



I recently interviewed and surveyed hiring managers about the challenges they face with recruitment.

We talked about the how, where and who of sourcing candidates, reviewing CVs and conducting interviews.

Here’s one of the most surprising things I learned through this research.

Only 9% of hiring managers use LinkedIn to source potential candidates.

Yes, using LinkedIn as a sourcing tool is very time consuming. But I believe proactive sourcing is an essential part of your recruitment strategy, here’s why: