Training And Compensation’s Role In Recruiting And Branding

Most people see the role of recruiting as a relatively isolated one. Managers and recruiters are intimately involved in recruiting, but other HR functions (like training and compensation) play only a shadow role. This is a major error because the training and compensation functions need to accept that they also have a key responsibility in helping build an organization’s external image and brand as a “great place to work.”

An Example

When you survey applicants, and ask them what they expect in a job, learning and growth in training are consistently listed in the top five reasons for accepting or remaining in a job. Unfortunately, outside applicants generally have no chance to find out about a company’s training and learning programs because training departments fail to take an active role in outside PR, marketing and brand-building.

If outsiders are unaware of the quality of a firm’s training programs (because training failed to see the need for external marketing), they certainly will be less likely to apply to that firm. The same may be true for compensation. Paying extremely well, but keeping it an internal secret, does little to inspire applications. The company must sell the candidate on both:

  1. The company (building the brand) and
  2. The job

Training and compensation can play a significant role in both of these “sales” roles. It can spread the word in the general media in order to build the company’s image as an employer that develops and rewards its people. Training and compensation can also have a major impact on potential applicants by providing them directly with job specific information on the excellent training, learning and compensation opportunities an organization offers.

The “Sales” Role Of Training And Compensation

Unfortunately, most HR functions seem to expect PR and marketing to do all the image building. Most training (and almost all compensation) departments do a poor job of building their internal image within the firm. This hurts recruiting because if your current employees fail to see the excellence of your training and compensation, they are unlikely to “sell” it to other professionals they meet outside the firm.

This can have a negative impact on the number and the quality of employee referrals. When it comes to external marketing however, both functions are complete “non-players.” Some of the steps that training and compensation can take to help build our internal and external brand and to excite potential applicants about our training, learning and compensation opportunities include:

  • Speaking at local service clubs and events
  • Speaking at career events and job fairs
  • Speaking at professional conferences and trade shows
  • Writing articles for industry journals about best practices
  • Getting quoted in industry publications
  • Getting your firm “ranked” in best places to work lists as well in the related training and well-paid lists
  • Writing and distributing brochures outlining your programs for both internal and external distribution
  • Building a corporate Web page that lists the available courses and opportunities (the Web page might also offer actual training for outsiders, in order to give them a taste of what your firm has to offer)
  • Providing managers and recruiters with side-by-side comparison lists showing how your firm’s training and compensation are superior to your direct competitors
  • Informing executive search professionals about excellent programs

Success Metrics for Training and Compensation

It is equally important for the training and compensation departments to assess how well they are doing in building the company’s image and brand. This can be done in a variety of ways, including by:

  • Surveying new hires and people who leave the firm. Great training and compensation should be listed in the top five reasons why people accept your offers and it should not appear in the top five reasons why people decided to leave. People who reject your offers should not mention training or compensation as primary reasons for rejecting you.
  • Surveying current employees and managers to assess their knowledge about your offerings and their willingness to spread the word.
  • Sampling potential applicants and website visitors to assess how they view your programs.
  • Sitting in periodically on interviews to assess how capable your managers are of selling your training and compensation programs.
  • Surveying employee referrals to see how aware they are of your programs.


Building the brand and making outsiders and employees aware of the quality your HR programs is the job of everyone. It is essential that HR staff functions like compensation, benefits, and training are both measured and rewarded for excellence in building your company’s image. Making insiders aware of your excellent programs also aids in retention. Recruiting and PR can help build your image, but if you’d expect to become an employer choice, other functions must also take an active role.

About Dr John Sullivan

Dr John Sullivan is an internationally known HR thought-leader from the Silicon Valley who specializes in providing bold and high business impact; strategic Talent Management solutions to large corporations.

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