Welcome to the Lead with Indeed podcast, a series of fireside chats with experts in employer branding, recruiting, HR and more.

Lead with Indeed logo, featuring Chrissy Thornhill.

In this episode, Bryan Chaney, Indeed’s Director of Employer Brand, speaks with Chrissy Thornhill, Senior Manager, Global Recruitment Marketing at Salesforce. Thornhill was a content creator in corporate communications before moving into her current role at Salesforce, a company often seen as a leader in their creative marketing efforts.

Learn about:

  • Appropriate tone and voice for employer brand content during a crisis
  • Why strong executive leadership creates a company culture that employees love to share
  • How to empower recruiters to be marketers to attract candidates and build their personal brand

More episodes:

Facebook's Camille Richardson brings a unique perspective to building a strong employer branding team

Emily Firth of truthworks shares her insights on competitive storytelling and the value of employer brand efforts

Instacart's Rian Finnegan explains how to foster remote company culture and create content like a journalist

Alex Her of Informatica shares his secrets to managing as a team of one and his journey on the talent brand career path

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Bryan Chaney: Welcome to the Lead with Indeed Podcast, where we chat with the experts in employer branding, recruiting, HR, and much, much more. We'll hear how and why they do what they do, and expand our knowledge of how they're driving results in today's world of work. I'm Bryan Chaney, Director of Employer Brand at Indeed.

On today's show: Chrissy Thornhill, Senior Manager, Global Recruitment Marketing at Salesforce. She's worked in corporate communication and recruiting roles, and today works as the Senior Manager, Global Recruitment Marketing at Salesforce. With so much uncertainty in the labor market, the landscape for attracting talent to your company has changed and keeps changing, and it's important that we share thoughts and insights to solve these challenges together.

With that in mind, I spoke with Chrissy about the appropriate tone of voice for employer brand content during a crisis, why having strong executive leadership creates a company culture that employees love to talk about and how empowering recruiters to also be marketers can help them attract both passive and active candidates while building their personal brand. Let's get started.


Bryan Chaney: Welcome back to the Lead with Indeed Podcast. I am so excited to welcome a friend of mine, somebody I've known for several years. I first heard her speak in San Francisco, and I've watched her career path for a long time, and somebody that I admire. I am so excited to welcome Chrissy Thornhill.  Chrissy, welcome.

Chrissy Thornhill: Thank you so much for having me.

Bryan Chaney: A lot of people think about what a company like Salesforce is doing during the pandemic, during this year especially. But, your specific role: Tell us a little bit more about that, for those of you listening who might not know you.

Chrissy Thornhill: Right, so I've been at Salesforce for about five and a half years now, and my role has just been all over employer brand and recruitment marketing, but one thing that has stayed with me constantly is overseeing our social media channels. And as you can imagine, the last several months have been wild, for everyone, for so many reasons. For social media, it's been crazy.

Adapting tone and voice during a crisis

Bryan Chaney: Yeah, I can totally appreciate that. I know my team has gone through some of that working in alignment with the corporate social media team. I feel like a lot of walls have kind of come down, and there's a lot of conversations happening now that might not have been happening before? But for your team, what have you done to shift the tone of your social media content over the last few months? How has that process gone for you all?

Chrissy Thornhill: The process has been ever-evolving. But one of the things that struck me — so interesting and I kind of had this ah-ha moment — we were starting as a company to really pivot our social strategy. I started noticing that the marketing teams all over the globe and our recruiting content and communications team and the things that I was Tweeting about or putting out on social — we were all talking about the same thing.

And everyone was putting out content about working remotely, managing people remotely, how to represent yourself visually in this new virtual world, working at home with parents. And it was this really amazing opportunity where all of these marketing teams, we just kind of came together. And we even had some pieces that got translated from our recruiting team that went on the corporate marketing blog in Latham, and just all of this cross-collaboration, and there's been some really, really powerful partnerships that have been developed throughout that.

A global approach to recruitment marketing

Bryan Chaney: That's very cool. Was there any piece of content that surprised you — that maybe originated on the corporate side — that ended up being a great piece of employer branding or recruitment marketing content on social or vice versa? Was there anything that kind of surprised y’all?

Chrissy Thornhill: I think immediately what comes to mind is, kind of all of a sudden it felt like corporate marketing had this big aha moment of how important employer brand is. Because all of a sudden, they were running series and blog series and highlighting executive leadership quotes, and all of these things that just really represented who Salesforce is as an employer. Not to say that they weren't doing that in the past, but it was just this really, really big moment where I noticed. I just felt like some lightbulbs went off. It's, how we're marketing our company and how we're treating our employees through this pandemic is really critical to the success of Salesforce.

Bryan Chaney: In a previous podcast, we talked about how employer brand is front-page news. It's now, how companies are treating employees is the story.  That's the headline that people are wanting to talk about. That's a big shift, right? How have you partnered with all the global stakeholders internally during that shift, right? More communication, more talking with corporate marketing — when you think about all the different time zones and countries and headlines that might be making the news, that may or may not be relevant — like, how have you managed that communication over the past several months?

Chrissy Thornhill: I'm going to answer that, but let me start with a story. And that is the story of how I feel like I listened to COVID sweep the world, through my teammates that were located around the world. So I remember the first teammate that started talking about, ‘Hey, it's really impacting us,’ was in Japan. She was in our Tokyo office, and she was just telling me, ‘Chrissy, I think we should probably pause our ads that we have running in Japan, or maybe just cool it; be sensitive about what we're putting out there because a lot of people are scared, and it's just a really sensitive time for us right now.’ And then it was probably a few weeks later and one of my teammates in Dublin started saying kind of the same thing. And I'm in the United States and I'm taking it pretty seriously, but I'm like, ‘Okay, this is coming.’ And then it was my teammate in Amsterdam, and then it hit the States.

And it became so apparent to me that in the world of social media especially, you need to be hyper aware of what is happening around the globe and where you're doing your marketing, and your branding, and driving lead generation and the tone and voice that you're using if you are posting in social media. You need to be hyper-aware of what's going on, because it wasn't until it hit the United States, and I had that moment where I'm like, ‘Okay, this is what my teammate in Tokyo was talking about. Okay, no more exclamation points, no more party emojis on the social Tweets, no more big group photos of things.’

Bryan Chaney: And I think that's a good lesson for everybody really, is that mindfulness to think about everything from a, ‘boots on the ground’ scenario, what is life like living there. It’s always a challenge working globally, and a lot of those things, you have to find your sources of inspiration from all these different places. When you think about a company like Salesforce, and you ask people who they look to for inspiration when it comes to social, when it comes to employer brand content and those types of things, how the company is represented — Salesforce is actually one that comes up a lot. But I'm curious: Who do you look to for inspiration? Where do you find it?

Chrissy Thornhill: I do want to mention Twitter because Twitter … equality, diversity, inclusion channels are just blowing my mind right now. I just think they are doing brilliant, brilliant work there. They went ahead and ran with their Pride campaign, but they moved in a lot. … they interwove and kind of cross-promoted between their Twitter channels — this is Twitter, on Twitter. But the way that they interwove it was really, really impactful, and we did end up running our Pride campaign, and we did take some inspiration from that.

Empowering recruiters to be recruitment marketers

Bryan Chaney: A lot of what you do — based on my knowledge and past conversations we've had — you empower a lot of your recruiting teams, right? You have to actually have an active group of talent acquisition, talent attraction, sourcers, recruiters — all these things, this team of people who's willing to take these stories and put ’em out there into the world and share them with the people that they identify. How do you overcome blockers, right? So occasionally you'll have people who either won't share content, or people who go off-book, and we don't want to share completely different content. How do you work with that? How do you partner with your recruiting teams?

Chrissy Thornhill: I would say the biggest blocker is just the recruiters having time. Time to give their social profiles love, and I noticed that sometimes, sharing content on the social channels like, kind of gets de-prioritized because they're so busy filling reqs and doing all the things that recruiters do. So, hosting quarterly sessions for all of the worldwide recruiting team on how to use the resources and the tools that we have available to able to find content; to make easy for them to share; to understand why it's so important and how it can make such an impact, and show the drive of brand awareness that they're able to create compared to what our social channel can create; to just open their eyes.

And so one of the things that we've done in the past (that I'm pretty sure I'm about to implement again, because I'm noticing we're falling off the rocket a little bit again), is ensuring that all members of the recruiting team take a training course within their first 90 days at Salesforce on recruitment marketing and how to be a recruitment marketer — because we're all marketers.

Bryan Chaney: Some recruiters will get excited and they'll start sharing content and they might get some engagement; they might not. But seeing the actual traction — what's happened, what's converted, how was that turned into applicants potentially, or at least long-term conversations. So I do think it is not only when a recruiter first starts like you said, within the first 90 days, but also ongoing, and to think, ‘How can we keep feeding this machine so that you understand the value of it, ’cause you are helping the company, but you're also helping your personal brand and you're putting yourself out there, and you're positioning yourself as a knowledgeable person within the industry.’ And I think that part is really valuable to recruiters and sourcers.

Chrissy Thornhill: I like to tell stories that kind of help paint the picture. So one in particular that stands out to me is a recruiter who's always sharing content. And a lot of time, it's content she's creating on her own — like, maybe it's just a cool picture of the office or something fun that happened that day. She gets so much engagement. And she had connected with a candidate, and it didn't end up working out — like, stars didn't align — but they were connected on LinkedIn. 

And about a year later, he came to her and he said, ‘Okay, I'm ready to make a move, and I've seen from all your LinkedIn posts for the last year, what an amazing place it is to work, and I want to talk to you. Like, I think Salesforce is where I want to go.’ And he got hired. And that's a perfect example of, maybe you don't see the like, instant gratification immediately, but just because she was sharing content — little known to her that he was watching it. And he was getting more and more and more interested until he just said, ‘I don't even want to work anywhere else. I just want to come to Salesforce. Does that offer that you had to me a year ago still stand?’

Bryan Chaney: There's a lot of things going on in the world right now. And the phrase, ‘doom scrolling’ —  I don't know why, but it's a thing — and I want to focus on something that makes you happy.  So what's making you happy lately?

Chrissy Thornhill: I am like, an employer brand social media nerd, and we have some recruiters that are kind of stepping into our world to do some stretch projects because hiring is obviously not full throttle like it normally is. And so they're having an opportunity to kind of dig into other areas of the company that they're interested in. And so I have a recruiter who is doing a stretch project with me, and I gave her an assignment of content calendar for our social channels of fun things — /like, fun creative things to have on our social channels.

And it's just I love having fresh new eyes and people who are super, super green that come into our space because she had this idea that I would have never thought of, and I've been in this space for like 12 years. And then we started riffing off of it, and I am so jazzed and excited about her idea and just seeing someone start to get excited about our world. And they don't know much about our world, and then they have that moment where they realize I did have a good idea and this veteran or whatever in the space loves my idea — and it's really exciting to see people get excited about recruitment marketing and employer brand.

Bryan Chaney: I do think it's important to focus on the things that make you happy and right now having this chat with you and geeking out over recruitment marketing and employer branding is making me happy. Thank you so much. Is there anything that you would share that I didn't ask you about?

Chrissy Thornhill: You know what, I will add this. There's one thing we didn't touch on, Bryan, that I love about employer brand and recruitment marketing — and I've been doing it since 2007, so a long time. It's still a fairly new space, but you're able to just try things and fail and nobody knows because it's new and nobody does it. And so nobody has to know that you messed up that one thing, or whatever it might be. But now there's so many people that are in the space that I'm also able to learn from, definitely you being one of them, and there's just more and more … and I mean, heck — we have podcasts now about the work that we do. And I think that's been fun too, I used to feel alone, like it was just me out there flying solo, but now it's just a big band of people that are learning from one another, and it's pretty awesome.


Bryan Chaney: I love that. I love our community of employer brand and recruitment marketing practitioners where we are one of the earlier ones, and I love seeing what the fresh minds bring to our space, so.

Chrissy Thornhill:  Yeah, me too.

Bryan Chaney: I'm always looking to you for some of that inspiration and I really appreciate your time today.

Chrissy Thornhill: Thank you for having me.

Bryan Chaney: Thanks Chrissy, have a great rest of your day.

Chrissy Thornhill: Thanks, bye.


Bryan Chaney: I'm Bryan Chaney, my thanks to our guest, Chrissy Thornhill and a big thanks to you for listening. I think there were some key takeaways for us all there. Take care of your teams and colleagues as we navigate through these uncharted waters. Look for inspiration in other brands, and train your recruiters to be marketers, to create an engaged employer brand army.

Sign up for Lead with Indeed for more content, episodes and to meet more independent thinkers and doers from the evolving world of employer brand. Up next, Alex Her of Informatica.