Each year, to round out the annual Rally Awards competition, one person is named Recruitment Marketer of the Year. This award is presented to a practitioner who serves as a role model for raising up the entire profession, distinguishing themselves through extraordinary leadership, business impact and pioneering work in Recruitment Marketing and employer branding.
This year, the title was bestowed upon Liz Gelb-O’Connor, VP, Global Employer Brand & Marketing at ADP. In submitting Liz for this award, her team started the nomination by writing:
“ADP’s Global Employer Brand and Marketing Team is excited to nominate our extraordinary leader, Liz Gelb-O’Connor, for Rally’s Recruitment Marketer of the Year award! Liz deserves this recognition because she is not only a leader in the space but is committed to developing the next generation of EB/RM leaders while innovating and delivering stellar results!”
And, in reviewing her nomination, the independent Rally Awards judges commented:
“I’m so impressed by your impact and the value you’ve brought not only to your own team and company, but to this industry!”
“What can’t this woman do? Her results are incredible. Her team members respect her well. She has grown the EB function. I love how the EVP was infused across the company.”
“Your impact is global and the ripple effects are immeasurable.”
As Rally’s own Lori Sylvia noted at the 2023 Rally Awards ceremony, Liz not only turned her employer into a leading example of a marketing-driven talent acquisition strategy, but has also inspired her team and practitioners across the industry with her mentorship. Now, let’s meet Liz!
Meet Liz Gelb-O’Connor, 2023 Recruitment Marketer of the Year
Liz started her role as VP, Global Head of Employer Brand & Marketing at ADP in 2015, leading the development of ADP’s entire employer brand ecosystem – including the employer value proposition (EVP), a career site in 17 languages, CRM, Talent Community and much more – and responsible for making ADP’s Employer Brand a strategic asset of the company. Since moving into this role, Liz has grown her team from 3 to 11 individuals, some joining the employer brand space just to learn and grow under her leadership.
In 2019, Liz and her team built and launched a Tech Talent Brand initiative to change the way tech talent view ADP, which included a new tech EVP and employer brand and won a 2021 Rally Marketing Award for Best Employer Brand Launch. The ADP team also received a 2021 Rally Award for Best Careers Social Media.
She is passionate about developing the next generation of recruitment marketers and, in 2022, created and launched a 12-week Global Employer Brand Certification Program that provides ADP associates interested in employer branding with training and work experience. Liz and her team have also built internal brand advocacy with their Life@ADP Brand Ambassador program, growing it to over 6,000 members!
Since winning Recruitment Marketer of the Year, we spoke with Liz about her career, her advice to other recruitment marketers and insight about the future of the field.
Rally: How did you get started in Recruitment Marketing?
Liz: Before I started this role, I was the VP, Strategy & Innovation for our Inside Sales channel, reporting directly to our Sr. Division Vice President responsible for building the channel. I worked with him to grow the channel to over $300 million (much more now!) before he moved over to become the Chief Talent Acquisition Officer. We worked as an incredible team. When he created a new exec level VP role to lead this new thing called Employer Brand, he suggested that I post for the job despite having no experience in talent acquisition or recruiting. Make no mistake, my candidacy wasn’t a shoo-in, I had to compete for the role with other professionals with more experience in the space. I thank everyone that took a chance on me! That was 2015, and the rest is history.
Rally: What do you enjoy most about working in this space?
Liz: I love the tight-knit community and the supportive professionals I’ve found there. Employer Brand & Recruitment Marketing continues to evolve, which has kept me engaged and in my role for almost eight years. Plus, I love the company that I do the job for. We’ve had the privilege of creating a full employer brand ecosystem from scratch, which has turned into a powerful recruiting tool for us.
Rally: What do you think has helped you to be a successful recruitment marketer?
Liz: The leadership and organizational support, as well as the generosity of my peers in the industry!
Rally: What skills do you think are important for other recruitment marketers who are looking to forge their path in this space?
Liz: Candidate- and ease-of-use centricity, empathy, and the subtle art of authenticity. I think many people have the capability of entering the field, but really understanding and achieving the balance between making your recruiters’ lives easier and serving up a fantastic EVP narrative through authentic storytelling and a stellar candidate experience are at the core of great Recruitment Marketing. Those things, plus the ability to measure and articulate value and impact.
Rally: What advice would you give recruitment marketers earlier in their career who don’t have a lot of resources and support?
Liz: We may be a large company, but I started our team with 2 people and a budget that didn’t include funding for paid “recruitment marketing.” We were scrappy, created our own assets, and organically posted on social media. Today, Canva is a great free tool for anyone without design experience. Plus, capturing authentic video has never been easier. You don’t need a big budget to make a big impact.
My advice? Find people in your organization who might want a stretch assignment with the skills you need and who want to earn a “marketing credential” for their resume. Focus on the things that need the most attention and will have the biggest impact first. Test and learn, measure results, and use those results to secure more funding. Find a sponsor in the organization. Have them amplify your success.
Rally: In your opinion, what is the area that deserves the most focus from Recruitment Marketers right now?
Liz: How we can leverage AI when it comes to advertising, job descriptions, and tools like LinkedIn. We are in a very unique time where innovation and AI is moving at the speed of light. There are so many ways we can capitalize on this. Platforms like LinkedIn, Meta, and more are all rolling out new features that leverage AI and directly impact RM activities. It’s important that we dive in and understand not only what AI is, but what it can offer.
Rally: What project are you most proud of to date?
Liz: Launching our Tech Talent Brand during the pandemic in 2020 (which won first place in the Best Employer Brand Launch category at the 2021 Rally Awards) and raising awareness of ADP as a tech company! Oh, and, our Came For/Stay For campaign that authentically speaks to the core of our EVP.
Rally: What’s next for you in your career?
Liz: Great question! Given my winding career journey, it’s probably something that hasn’t been invented yet!
Rally: What’s changed the most about Recruitment Marketing since you started your career?
Liz: I think the tools have changed a lot. The technology has collapsed into fewer but smarter solutions. Also, more personalization. Networking and referrals are still very important, and leveraging your employees’ networks for activation is essential.
Rally: What do you think the future of employer branding and Recruitment Marketing looks like?
Liz: I think that employer brand will eventually merge into a company’s DNA and converge with associate experience, internal mobility, internal communications, and more. We know the best employer brands are built from the inside out, but when you ask someone what your company EVP is, more often than not, you get a deer-in-headlights look. But if you ask someone why they came to your company and why they stay, they will light up and without knowing it, share your true EVP.
Interested in reading more from this year’s Rally Award winners? Be sure to read our interview with 2023 Recruitment Marketing Rising Star Whitney Wallace!
You can see all of the 2023 award winners on the Rally Awards website.
Check back soon, as there are plenty more lessons from Rally award winners in the weeks to come!