As I studied both Management and Marketing at University, I focused a proportion of my time on Human Resource Management. Not until recently, however, have I appreciated the immense amount of overlap in the two disciplines; marketing and human resources. When employees become a commodity and in high demand, human resource management and recruiting becomes more reliant on the principles of marketing than some companies realise.

Let’s think about this. You need an employee. Your first step is to probably exhaust all the traditional channels;,, West Australian advertisement, advert in your local paper, spiel on your website etc, etc. You get a trickle of a response. So you start to think, ‘what else can I do?’

You might look up or purchase a database of people in the particular field and send them a nicely designed flyer. You might attend a careers expo armed with speccy banners, flyers, pens and all the rest. You might get out and about and start looking to your competitors for people you can ‘poach’. You might visit universities that offer your profession as a course and introduce a traineeship scheme. As a last resort, you might fork out $10,000 to $20,000 for a recruitment agency to find you the perfect candidate (apparently).

What you’ve just done is a mini marketing campaign, except your target market is no longer the consumer. The example I’ve just given is of an ad-hoc recruitment method. One with no real plan; one done as a matter of urgency. More often than not, this method is really the only way. If you have a great team – why keep looking?

The case I’m trying to make here is in favour (surprise, surprise) of forward planning, or as they call it in HRM, a ‘succession plan’. This is a plan you put in place to maintain a consistent work force, so that the flow of work is not interrupted by someone leaving your organisation. It is very much an internal process; looking to the people inside your organisation that have potential and start planning with them for the future; talking to them about their career paths and dreams for the future. As an example; if you have a junior in place whose dream is to become something completely different and you’re just helping them to pay their bills – find this out! As another example; a prized employee has a kid who’s not settling in well at school and they’re thinking of re-locating – find this out too! My advice is to be completely open with your employees as possible. Tell them your dreams for the future too – make them feel like ‘part of your dream’.

Effectively, a succession plan is a marketing strategy in disguise. Like a marketing strategy, I encourage any organisation, large or small, to have one. In today’s market, you will simply shrivel and die without it.