Rally Awards Recruitment Marketing

Q&A With 2020 Recruitment Marketing Rising Star Dani Kaufman

Dani Kaufman, PetSmart
Profile photo of Lori Sylvia
Written by Lori Sylvia

Recruitment Marketing is an exciting field that is changing the future of talent acquisition. Who are tomorrow’s leaders? Meet Dani Kaufman, the 2020 Rally® Awards Recruitment Marketing Rising Star, who’s making a big impact at PetSmart.

Q&A With 2020 Recruitment Marketing Rising Star Dani Kaufman
5 (100%) 4 votes

Recruitment Marketing is still a relatively new discipline, which means that many of us are also new to the field or are looking for ways to break into Recruitment Marketing. For others, Recruitment Marketing is one of our many responsibilities in talent acquisition, HR or marketing, and we’d like to learn more about how we can maximize  this vital recruiting strategy.

No matter how you practice Recruitment Marketing, there’s a lot that we can all learn from Dani Kaufman, the 2020 Rally® Awards Recruitment Marketing Rising Star. You can find a list of all of our Rally Awards 2020 Winners here.

What’s a Rising Star? A Rising Star is a practitioner who has spent between 1-3 years in a Recruitment Marketing role. This is a person who has helped to transform the Talent Acquisition strategy for their company into one that is brand-led and marketing-driven, and distinguished themselves as a future leader of our profession.

As a Rising Star, Dani transitioned from recruiting into Recruitment Marketing a few years ago, where she has since built the function from the ground up for PetSmart. Since she is relatively new in her Recruitment Marketing career, Dani is able to offer fresh insights on how she transitioned into Recruitment Marketing, alongside tips for how to excel if you’ve been in a Recruitment Marketing role for awhile.

To learn more, Rally’s Lori Sylvia interviewed Dani about her career journey and how she approaches Recruitment Marketing at PetSmart. We hope you find this Q&A inspiring as you advance your own career.

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About Dani Kaufman—the 2020 Rally Awards Recruitment Marketing Rising Star

Dani Kaufman of Pet SmartDani Kaufman is the Manager of Talent Acquisition Operations and Employment Brand at PetSmart. While Dani worked as a recruiter for numerous years, she began to take on Recruitment Marketing and employer branding responsibilities a few years ago when she was promoted to a manager role on the PetSmart Talent Acquisition team.

Since then, Dani has made significant progress executing on a range of Recruitment Marketing work to attract and retain great talent. She has operationalized Recruitment Marketing as one of PetSmart’s core talent acquisition strategies and executed on high-value projects that have increased brand awareness and applicant volume.

2020 Rally Awards Ceremony

Watch Dani receiving the news that she was the 2020 Recruitment Marketing Rising Star winner, and hear her gracious acceptance speech.

Dani’s award-winning work

Dani was nominated as the Recruitment Marketing Rising Star for a number of recent accomplishments including:

Guiding the careers site refresh project for PetSmart

This project involved developing the site map and a range of engaging new content pieces that tapped into candidate motivators that Dani had uncovered while recruiting for PetSmart over 2 ½ years. Take a look at their careers site (warning: includes a whole lot of cute puppy content!).

The new careers site that Dani launched in January 2018 was a success:

By the end of 2018:

  • The site bounce rate decreased from 25% to 12.5%
  • The average session time grew by 17%
  • The apply conversion peaked to 60% (an increase of 20% from 2017!)

In 2019, the second year after launch:

With some additional tweaks, the team observed an additional 29% increase in new users and 43% increase in pages/session!

Developing a careers social media presence

Another major achievement for Dani was to ramp up PetSmart’s careers social media voice—#LifeAtPetSmart was born! By creating unifying hashtags and channels (@lifeatpetsmart), Dani’s team organically created an easy way to engage associates and share the authentic employee experience.

Results and impact on recruiting:

  • @LifeAtPetSmart’s Instagram following has grown to 5,000 in under 18 months, and the engagement rate has increased by double digits (upwards of 7-8%!) quarter over quarter
  • The PetSmart LinkedIn account has grown from 60,000 to 100,000 followers in 18 months, and the team has observed a 157% increase in careers site traffic from LinkedIn
  • The #LifeAtPetSmart hashtag has been used over 80,000 times!

Q&A with Dani

LS: Congratulations on winning the 2020 Recruitment Marketing Rising Star Award! What an amazing accomplishment and something you should be really proud of! I’d love for you to tell the Rally community about your career journey and how you got started in Recruitment Marketing.

DK: Thank you—I was so surprised and of course thrilled to receive this award, so thank you for this recognition. I’d be happy to share how I got into Recruitment Marketing!

So originally, I got a degree in retail and consumer science, and right out of school I started my career in corporate retail as a buyer.

I really loved the work, but I didn’t love the financial component, so when I was contacted by a recruiting firm that was looking to get into the retail space I decided to transition to the recruiting industry. They had a team of recruiters who knew nothing about retail, and I was someone who knew a lot about the retail world but nothing about recruiting, so it was a great fit!

From there, over time I started to focus more on recruiting for creative roles in marketing and communications. This is what I was doing when I initially joined PetSmart as a senior recruiter 5 years ago. By recruiting for these types of roles, I learned a lot about marketing and communications, and more and more I knew this was what I wanted to do.

Three years ago, I transitioned into my current role which was very operational at first—Recruitment Marketing was just a small bullet point. However, with my background and interest I was able to dive in, learn and really expand on what we were doing from a Recruitment Marketing standpoint and prove that these strategies can really work. We started from scratch and the more I learned, the more I wanted to do! I was fortunate to have a leader who supported my (sometimes) crazy ideas!

(Rally note: You can read more about pivoting in your career and Ashley Walls’ story of why employer branding is the right career, right now)

LS: I love to hear about people forging their own paths into Recruitment Marketing! Good for you! Can you tell us what you enjoy most about working in this space?

DK: I think Recruitment Marketing is just such an interesting career. In today’s recruiting landscape, it’s a two-way street. Hiring managers aren’t the only ones making decisions. Candidates need to understand who they’re working for and make a choice about if your workplace is the right fit.

I like being able to think through and share those “why PetSmart” messages with candidates in creative ways. I’ve enjoyed being able to evolve our messaging from “we’re hiring” to “here’s why this is a compelling opportunity for your career.”

An example of this is our approach to hiring Distribution Center (DC) associates. It’s a very competitive job market and our DCs are often located close to several other companies’ buildings. We decided to set our DC roles apart by focusing on why our full-time fulfillment roles were way more than “just a job.” Our DC associates can truly build a long-term career with PetSmart!

To communicate this we built out an EVP that emphasized our career paths, learning opportunities, pay increases and more. While we have received less applicants since rolling out this messaging, we’ve seen an improvement in the quality of candidates and a decrease in 90-day turnover. Plus, receiving fewer unqualified applicants has saved our recruiting team time!

(Rally note: If you’re struggling with your EVP, read more about an expert methodology for defining, or Refining, your EVP)

LS: And what do you think has made you successful as a recruitment marketer?

DK: I think what’s made me successful is that I’m a really curious person by nature. I’m always looking for new ways to do things and looking to find the answers to things I don’t know.

I think this sort of mindset is helpful because we always need to be innovating in the way we reach people with our messaging.

LS: Definitely agreed! And this is something you have in common with Chloé Rada, the 2020 Recruitment Marketer of the Year. Both of you are curious and always innovating. Now do you have any tips for people looking to get into Recruitment Marketing, or who are new to the space?

DK: I would say lean into it and just be as proactive as you can! Read as much as you can—Rally has countless helpful resources that I’ve used and have really helped me learn both strategies and tactics. Plus, since Recruitment Marketing doesn’t differ that much from traditional Marketing, you can access loads of great Marketing resources online too. You just need to substitute out the word “customer” for “candidate” in most cases and you’ll find that a lot of the same practices can help you in recruiting.

Other than learn as much as you can, my other biggest tips are to just be creative and follow what other organizations with strong employer brands are doing to gain different perspectives.

LS: Great and next question for you: what work are you most excited about or proud of to date?

DK: I think developing our #LifeAtPetSmart social presence! This has created so much employee-generated content and really given our associates a voice on social media. It’s helped build our employer brand in a big way. In less than two years, we’ve seen the hashtag used over 80,000 times on Instagram alone!

LS: Wow, talk about engagement! That’s fantastic. Okay, last question for you: as the 2020 Recruitment Marketing Rising Star, you undoubtedly have a very promising career in front of you. Would you be willing to share any of your career goals with us?

DK: Definitely! My main goal really is just to continue to learn and grow. There are so many different avenues to explore within Recruitment Marketing—from a creative and a technology perspective.  There’s a ton of stuff going on in Consumer Marketing that no one has applied to Recruitment Marketing yet! I’m excited to just continue to do interesting work here and hopefully keep helping to move our space forward.

LS: Music to my ears, Dani! Thanks so much for this interview and congratulations again on being recognized with this prestigious Rally Award! I’m so excited to watch your career journey and I know you’ll continue making a huge impact on this community!

We hope you enjoyed this interview with Rally Award Winner Dani Kaufman. She is a true inspiration and represents the future of talent acquisition!

If you’re interested in finding out more about the Rally Awards, you can view our independent panel of peer judges and see all of the other 2020 award winners on the Rally Awards website. We hope you’ll enter your amazing work in the 2021 Rally Awards.

Lead with employer brand webinar from RallyFwd

Q&A With 2020 Recruitment Marketing Rising Star Dani Kaufman
5 (100%) 4 votes

About the Author

Profile photo of Lori Sylvia

Lori Sylvia

Recruitment Marketing evangelist and community builder. Founder of Rally.

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