Stacy Van Meter has gotten used to occupational déjà vu. It could be timing or simply a keen eye for catching The Next Big Thing early on, but Van Meter has managed to utilize internet and social media capabilities to bolster business before many even had an online presence. Van Meter has caught waves early multiple times in her tenure, and the now vice president of talent acquisition and employment brand at Deluxe Corporation has harnessed marketing for HR and mastered proactively approaching candidates where they live.
“Feedback we get from candidates is often ‘I never would have thought of Deluxe as the place to come to work in technology had it not been for the innovation I saw online,’” Van Meter says. It’s exactly what the VP wants to hear, and she’s focused on treating candidates as customers and employees as evangelists.
“When you put on the hat of a marketer, you tend to look at things differently,” Van Meter says. During the initial tech boom of the late nineties, Van Meter created the first direct-to-consumer nurse-counselor service on the internet for UnitedHealthcare. She saw the possibilities of the internet well before many brands had a web page and the unique opportunity to both build a technology team and learn what early internet consumers wanted from web services. This led Van Meter to eventually consult for other companies in just how technology could enable their reach.
Van Meter would get “that feeling” in the mid-2000s when she saw social media being cast disparagingly as a platform for children, not business. “I knew I had been here before, and I know exactly where to take this,” Van Meter says. “I understood if we could acknowledge that our recruiting process was antiquated that we would be able to apply these new technologies to reach people in the right ways, utilizing marketing and social media to turn recruiting upside down.”
Going Where Candidates Are
At Deluxe, that meant being one of the first organizations with a head of talent acquisition that began creating social media, marketing, and candidate experience programs to revolutionize recruiting. Van Meter pioneered several ways to appeal to candidates and engage passive talent.
“Recruiters often fail when they neglect to do their research,” she explains. “The investment of time to understand how to be within the candidate consideration space is critical. We need to meet them where they ‘live’ online because the vast majority of A-players are not actually looking for a job.”
When Deluxe needed to hire a group of product marketers, Van Meter was able to partner with a high-profile marketing blog to cross-promote the positions. “We’re reaching the candidate pool and not making them come look for us,” Van Meter says.
She has also helped influence how recruiters look to contact potential applicants on LinkedIn. “Many people get spammed with messages on LinkedIn about job openings, but we do our research. We look to create some sort of connection with these potential recruits,” Van Meter says. “There is a higher likelihood of response if you’re able to establish a connection.”
The VP says that likelihood is further increased because Deluxe will often have their hiring managers make that reach out, showing its emphasis on applicant experience by having a leader be the first contact from Deluxe.
Telling the Story
Van Meter is pretty certain that Deluxe was one of the first companies ten years ago to hire a full-time social media marketing strategist, and in doing so has cultivated a staggering amount of content that showcases the culture of Deluxe. The VP introduced the idea of video job descriptions early in her tenure and says that finding a way to better relay not just a job description but also the stories of experience at Deluxe can be much more alluring for potential recruits.
The culture at the company is focused on treating all candidates like customers, and it really shows. “So much of this goes back to social media and seeing the connections between marketing, recruiting, and approaching recruiting from a marketing perspective,” Van Meter says. The VP has helped meld that perspective into the cultural DNA of HR.
Deluxe company culture has also stepped-up its commitment to building more than a robust hiring program. Deluxe’s “Extreme Candidate Makeover Contest” offers potential candidates the opportunity to beef up their résumés, interviewing skills, and LinkedIn profiles with hiring managers. “These people might not wind up with jobs at Deluxe, but they’ll still be brand ambassadors,” Van Meter says. “It’s also an opportunity to just give back to our community.”
Creating a New History
Having been early to the party on multiple paradigm shifts not only in her industry, but in culture at large, Van Meter says she’s always working to learn about the next movement, the next inevitable shift in an increasingly complex world. That can provide challenges.
“I’ve often heard that I’m in the boat halfway across the lake while everyone else is still back on the dock,” Van Meter laughs. “That’s something I’m working on personally, and it’s hard because this isn’t just a job for me. It’s something I’m incredibly passionate about.” It’s a passion that’s helped a 100-year-old check printing company evolve and become poised for true organic growth in a new and exciting way.
Van Meter says a new level of partnership between recruitment and hiring managers continues to enable Deluxe to approach candidates in novel ways. Deluxe has won Candidate Experience Awards seven of the nine years the awards have been offered. “Everyone from the receptionist to the CEO should know what our candidate experience goals are, what they mean, and what the expectations are,” Van Meter says.
At her core, Van Meter says she’s an entrepreneur who just happens to operate in the corporate landscape. It’s the mind-set that’s allowed her to think outside of her own role and allowed a marketing perspective to work its way into the HR process. The VP says she’ll continue to lead her team while waiting for that déjà vu all over again.