How a Rookie Manager Got the Recruitment Branding Program She Wanted

Celinda Appleby’s social media recruiting efforts for HP were so successful, Oracle lured her away to lead a similar initiative. She arrived at her new job with extensive experience working for a Fortune 100 company, but had never directly managed staff.

Now, 13 months later, she has nine direct reports and heads the company’s global recruitment branding program, which acts as an in-house recruitment marketing agency to position Oracle as the top employer of market.  How did she do this? She shot for the moon – and won.

Appleby will share tips and tricks to building a program from scratch as a keynote speaker at TalentBlend, a conference held April 27-28 in Washington, D.C. TalentBlend is designed for professionals who build, optimize and innovate talent acquisition programs, systems, tools, and practices.

“When I joined Oracle, they didn’t have an agency of record,” she said. She noticed that much of Oracle’s recruitment marketing collateral was inconsistent and didn’t position the company as a top employer, leveraging the Fortune 100’s strong brand. While Oracle’s recruitment teams had a social media presence, the company’s recruiters on college campuses were using print materials that they had created themselves in MS Office. Email signatures and messaging on other recruitment materials also missed the mark. And in her opinion, that made the company look bad.

This was something Appleby knew she could fix. Her idea was to revamp her role to focus on building an internal marketing agency that would cost far less than an expensive external agency charging $6 million a year. Within two months of presenting her case to executives, she began hiring her experts in copywriting, graphic design, branding and advertising, and social media.  Focused entirely on recruitment branding, her team is super busy improving “Oracle’s handshake to the world” –in the last quarter, Oracle hired 2,800 people across the globe.

Here’s how she built her case (she’ll provide more details during her keynote speech at TalentBlend):

“At Oracle my mission is to make them look good,” Appleby said, which she does by supporting Oracle’s recruiting efforts and placing them as a top employer in the market. For example, her team’s  efforts have a clear business goal: generating leads to deliver quality candidates quickly. But not all goals have to be huge. Yours could be as simple as recruiting engineering graduates, increasing diverse hires or improving your social media presence.

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Do a competitive analysis and gather data.

“Like losing weight, you can’t go into it without knowing what you’re up against,” she said.  To show how an in-house recruitment marketing agency would be cost effective, she gathered proposals from three top agencies. Each one averaged about $1.8 million a quarter. These were hard numbers she could include in her presentation. “It was very cost driven and ROI driven,” she said.

She also analyzed what Oracle’s competitors were doing in the same space, to show executives what these companies were doing well, yet not necessarily suggesting Oracle do the same thing. This helped establish a baseline.  “Microsoft killed it,” she said of the software giant’s recruitment marketing, but they also have an agency.

Figure out what your bar is.

Knowing what to shoot for will help guide your decisions. “At HP, my bar was Dell,” Appleby said. Your bar, of course, will change on what you want to do and what your contributions to your program are. If you’re a team of one, then your bar may be lower because you don’t have the support or the time. But you should still aim high.

Give execs three options to choose from.

Before Appleby worked for Oracle, she played two roles at HP: one as a sourcer and another handling HP’s social media recruiting program. It was at HP where she learned a valuable lesson.

“HP taught me that when you’re presenting to executives, you have to give them three levels of delivery for a program,” she said, which includes costs, headcount, and more. It’s much too easy for an executive to say no if you have only one option, but with three options on the table – which she described as Wal-Mart, Macy’s, and Tiffany’s — executives are going to pick the best one for them.

In what she called her State of the Union PowerPoint, she went “full Tiffany on Oracle.” And she thought, “They’re going to shoot me and tell me to go away.’ ” Instead, she got a resounding yes. “I didn’t expect to get a yes so fast,” she admitted.

Decide how you’re going to implement our

For Appleby, the first thing she needed to do was add headcount, close down 89 social media accounts, and pick a name for the program that would resonate. “If you’re starting out in social media, everyone says join everything,” she said. “No, that’s not true. If you want to attract recent college graduates, maybe you use Instagram. Maybe it’s Quora if you’re looking for developers. You don’t have to go full Tiffany. You can start really easy.”

Ultimately, though, you have to fight for what you want, which is what Appleby did. And if you’re not afraid to ask for what you think will make a program succeed, you might just get it.

To learn more about Celinda Appleby’s approach to building a talent acquisition program from scratch, register to attend TalentBlend*, a conference featuring industry practitioners and leaders who will transform the way you think about talent acquisition programs, operations, and projects.

View Celinda’s Appleby’s LinkedIn profile You can tweet her @CelindaAppleby


We are giving away one free pass to TalentBlendIf you enter to win, you not only stand a chance to attend our April 27-28 conference at no cost, but you also get some other TalentBlend goodies as well. The whole package means you’ll have a terrific time at TalentBlend 2016!  Click here to enter the giveaway >>>

About Bonnie Nicholls

Bonnie Nicholls is a freelance writer who supports Meritage Talent Solutions through Digital Style, a full-service creative agency. You can see a portfolio of her work on her website, Hear Ye! Writing.

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