Kerry Noone has made a significant impact on Recruitment Marketing — not only at CVS Health, but throughout her career as one of the early pioneers in our space. Last year, CVS Health had to fill 50,000 essential services roles amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, and Kerry’s leadership helped the talent acquisition team rise to meet this unprecedented challenge. It was one of the reasons why Kerry was honored as the Recruitment Marketer of the Year in the 2021 Rally Awards.
In this Q&A, Kerry shares more about her background, process and where she sees Recruitment Marketing and employer branding going in the future.
About Kerry Noone, the 2021 Rally Recruitment Marketer of the Year
Kerry Noone is an industry leader, innovator and mentor with more than 15 years of experience in Recruitment Marketing.
After starting out in traditional marketing, Kerry got her first dedicated role as a recruitment marketer in 2007 working at Sodexo, a hospitality company. In 2011, she joined Amtrak and then landed at CVS Health in 2016, where she’s spent the last 5 years supporting CVS’s transformation from a pharmacy to a healthcare company.
Today, Kerry is the Director of Employer Branding & Recruitment Marketing at CVS Health, where she and her team lead and develop career-specific digital marketing and candidate engagement strategies and measure for Recruitment Marketing campaign effectiveness.
Kerry’s award-winning work
Kerry was nominated for the 2021 Recruitment Marketer of the Year because of her contributions to shaping the Recruitment Marketing profession and for her role in helping to staff up COVID testing centers and getting them ready to support the vaccine rollout.
Working together with 60 companies, Kerry and her team helped an unprecedented 50,000 people, many of whom had been furloughed or downsized, find work at CVS Health, and in the process, provide the essential services that so many of us relied on last year.
Q&A with Kerry Noone
Rally: Kerry, you were one of the first practitioners who created a career in Recruitment Marketing. How did you get your start?
Kerry: So I come from a traditional marketing background. I was a corporate communications major in college, and then I got a master’s degree in publication designs. So I actually started in graphic design but worked in a traditional marketing role at a non-profit in D.C. I then worked at an engineering company before moving over to membership marketing at the United States Naval Institute closer to where I live here in Annapolis.
When my daughter went off to half-day kindergarten at the time, and my son was in half-day preschool, I decided to take a little bit of time off while they adjusted to the half-day schedule. I didn’t want to have to put them into another child care, so I took about 8 months off.
When it was time to go back to work, I applied at Sodexo for a Recruitment Marketing role. At that time in 2007, there really weren’t many roles like this, first of all. And second of all, there were not many people who were in this type of role. So that sort of launched me into Recruitment Marketing, and honestly, I felt like it was my new home. It was pretty much instantly that I felt a connection to the work that I was doing. I really enjoyed it and appreciated all of the hard work that the recruiters put into bringing people to organizations. Starting at Sodexo was a great first opportunity.
Rally: What’s changed the most about Recruitment Marketing since you started your career?
Kerry: Options for connecting with candidates, I think, has been the biggest change that I’ve seen, especially on social media. We’ve also seen an interesting shift away from traditional job boards. You know, back in 2007, it was all about Monster and CareerBuilder. And then somewhere down the line, Indeed came in, and then, of course, LinkedIn really turned into a powerhouse too. So it just sort of set everyone on a new path of how to connect with candidates.
I think also since 2007 there have been ups and downs in the economy and in the job market itself. In 2007, it was just before people started using the term “war on talent.” Then it suddenly became easy to hire because of the recession, and we’ve seen that kind of go up and down ever since. Now we’re headed into what my boss likes to say, “an employment pandemic” post-pandemic, because we’re finding it harder and harder to hire people.
Plus, the wants and needs of people who are applying for jobs now have changed because we’ve proven that being able to work from home and have more of a work-life balance is possible. So as companies, I think we need to be more resilient and accommodating to people in order to get them to not just join but to stay long term.
Rally: What do you think the future of employer branding and Recruitment Marketing looks like?
Kerry: It is definitely going to be more culture-based. It’s going to be less about the job and more about the value it brings, the quality of the employees and how they fit within the culture. We actually started to see this change in 2020. We had a shift in our employment branding to be more about how we work, how employees will come to work, feel appreciated and feel like they’re making a difference. So it’s less about “work, work, work” and more about how you can enjoy your work and feel like your work really makes a difference.
Rally: As you look back at the different roles you’ve had in Recruitment Marketing, what project are you most proud of?
Kerry: I would say there’s a couple. When I started at Sodexo, because I was one of the first to be in this type of role, I helped lay the ground for using social media and the @SodexoCareers handle to connect with candidates. In fact, @SodexoCareers is still the handle that they use across their careers social channels.
If you fast forward to my current role during the pandemic, because of the tools that we have on hand and how they work together, we were able to deploy several accelerated hiring initiatives over the last 18 months.
The first one had to do with bringing people into our organization to be able to work. We partnered with companies that had to lay off or furlough their employees in a way that was mutually beneficial. Basically, we said to these companies, “we are hiring now, we know that our hiring will slow down after life gets back to normal and we know you will want to hire these people back.” So it was sort of a borrowing-type mentality, and we were able to shift within a week to really kick that program off.
We had that accelerated program going for quite some time, and then we as a company shifted into seasonal hiring. People were moving back to their homes. For example, people who’d gone to Florida for the winter were moving back to Massachusetts. It wasn’t a normal seasonal hiring year, but we still had to shift to make sure that we were accommodating the store needs because of the heightened population.
Our seasonal hiring year then transitioned right into flu season where we also generally have a hiring surge. But the flu season turned into vaccine hiring, so almost overnight, we were having to very quickly staff long-term care facilities to start with the vaccinations, and then return to filling our stores. And then just as we were getting that under control, we went right back into our seasonal hiring and our ramp hiring. So it was just that pivoting from one urgent hiring need to another that has been so challenging, but also so rewarding because we’ve made it happen. Looking back, being able to use all of the tools at our disposal to accommodate the different changing needs has been a source of pride for me.
Rally: What do you think has helped you to be a successful recruitment marketer?
Kerry: I think it is a combination of being able to be strategic, but also being able to roll up my sleeves and get things done myself. Even though I have an amazing team of people who work on different job categories, like distribution centers, our Aetna business, HealthHUBs, pharmacy technicians and just general business, they’re also very busy. So I have to be able to get in there and do as much as they can do.
It’s really making sure that I’m not losing the skills that are needed for the backbone of Recruitment Marketing. That means not forgetting how to set up things like Indeed hiring events, but also being able to look past just next week to strategize the best way to attract candidates in the future. Even though there is a component of having to be very reactive, if we’re not proactive and able to change based on what candidates are looking for, then we will fall behind.
Rally: What tips do you have for practitioners looking to grow their career in Recruitment Marketing?
Kerry: Great question! We actually have an intern this year, and I’m so excited. It’s been a while since we’ve had an intern, but the work that we have her doing is real work. It’s work that she’ll be able to master in the next 10 weeks that she’s with us, and she’ll be able to take that work elsewhere. So even though the work and content are specific to CVS, she’ll be able to take that experience to her next role. Or if she decides to stay with CVS, she’ll have a leg up because what she’s learning is very actionable.
I also think that in Recruitment Marketing, you don’t have to be a recruiter and you don’t have to be a marketer. So people who have a traditional marketing type of education (like a marketing degree), just keep an open mind that there is really a huge opportunity in Recruitment Marketing. And it’s rewarding because you’re working with candidates, you’re helping job seekers find jobs and you’re making connections internally.
So I would say to keep an open mind if you’re a marketing person. The same goes if you’re an HR person, as you also have the ability to reach candidates, perhaps in ways that people from traditional marketing backgrounds aren’t aware of.
For more lessons from Rally Award winners, check out our article Great Recruitment Marketing Videos: 4 Winning Examples to Elevate Your Strategy. And if you’re interested in applying to the 2022 Rally Awards, be sure to keep an eye out for our call for submissions by visiting RallyAwards.com.