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Employer Branding vs. Recruitment Marketing: What's the Difference?

You hear about employer branding and recruitment marketing day in and day out, but what actually makes them different?

Recruitment Marketing and Employer Branding are powerful buzzwords in the world of recruitment. And although you hear these terms day in and day out, you might still be confused about their differences and whether you can use them interchangeably. At face value, it could be easy to assume that these two terms mean the same thing. And while the terms are interconnected, they have clear distinctions regarding their purpose and how you implement them.

You may wonder why you should care about these two terms at all or why you should dig into knowing the nuances between the two terms. So, first off, let's start with some definitions.

Put simply, employer branding is your company's consistent outward message about what makes you unique as an employer, while recruitment marketing is about using that message to promote job opportunities to potential candidates.

This distinction means you can't really have one concept without the other. Because without an employer brand in place, your recruitment marketing efforts won't be effective. But without recruitment marketing to operationalize your employer brand, your messaging and positioning might sit in a strategy document and bring little value to your talent acquisition efforts.

In addition, LinkedIn insights show that 72% of top recruitment leaders globally say employer brand significantly impacts hiring, and companies using recruitment marketing generate 3 times more applicants and 10% more revenue - stats that clearly show these two concepts' power when they work hand-in-hand. This is why a clear understanding of the terms and how they complement each other will bring long-term value to your talent acquisition strategy.

So, let's dig a bit more into what each of these terms are all about and their role in attracting top talent.

Employer Branding Explained

As mentioned, an employer brand is what makes your company unique as an employer. This could be a combination of the projects you work on, the benefits you offer, your mission and vision, the culture you have, and everything in between. In addition, a positive employer brand resonates with both current and future employees that you are a "good employer and a great place to work."

We touched on the importance of building a strong employer brand earlier, but let's revisit its impact:

  • 75% of job seekers consider an employer's brand before applying for a job.
  • 92% of job seekers would consider changing roles to a company with an excellent reputation.
  • 69% of candidates would not accept a job in a company with a bad reputation even if they did not have a job.

Not surprisingly, results also revealed that having a strong employer brand can significantly enhance crucial hiring metrics such as;

  • Time-to-Hire
  • Cost-per-Hire
  • Quality-of-Hire

Why? Because a strong employer brand will make you stand out compared to competitors, ensuring that you fill your pipeline with candidates that will feel confident that working for you is the right and best choice - all of which ultimately will decrease the time-to-hire and the cost-per-hire in the long-run. A strong employer brand will not only set you up when it comes to building large pools of candidates it will also ensure that you have a solid foundation to build a pipeline consisting of the best, which will directly influence the quality-of-hire metric.

Recruitment Marketing Explained

Recruitment Marketing is all about using marketing strategies to promote the value of working for you as an employer to attract, retain, and recruit top talent. More specifically, it's about using marketing tactics to promote job opportunities to relevant candidates.

Today, however, simply posting job openings on job boards is no longer enough to be considered "recruitment marketing." Instead, if you want to go all-in on recruitment marketing, you'll need to build ideal candidate profiles, draft messaging to draw these profiles in, and launch hiring campaigns targeted at these individuals.

To get started, you'll want to take a step back to your employer branding strategy and draft out what the perfect candidate(s) look like for your role(s). For example, what do they currently work with? What company or industry do they have experience with? How many years of education or experience do they need to succeed in the role?

Once you have a clear picture of who it is you want to market to, you'll need to answer a few strategic questions, such as;

  • What social media platforms do they use.
  • What type of content do they like.
  • Would they apply now, or do I need to trigger their interest (it's most likely the latter)?
  • If I need to trigger their interest, what makes them tick? Once you know what interests them, you can take that messaging out via blogs, events, videos, etc.

With this information in your hands fueling your recruitment marketing activities, it will ensure you can build a pool of high-quality candidates in the short term. In addition, since you are targeting talent before they even apply, you're helping build motivation from the get-go, which means you can expect to see a positive impact on metrics like these:

  • Reduced cost per application.
  • Increased number of applications received.
  • Increase in the quality of candidates.

Key Differences

Now that we've discussed employer branding and recruitment marketing, let's look at three three essential differences.

  1. Practical implications: Regarding employer branding, start by focusing your energy on defining ideal candidate personas and creating your employee value proposition. Whereas, for recruitment marketing, focus your energy on creating and promoting high-quality content like writing engaging job descriptions, optimizing your career site, and even using hiring metrics to monitor the success of your efforts and make improvements when needed.
  2. You need a strong employer brand before you turn to recruitment marketing: Employer branding lies at the heart of recruitment marketing. Think about it; recruitment marketing is basically you promoting your employer brand (i.e., concretely showing that you are a great place to work). Without a solid employer brand, you will struggle to develop marketing tactics that can attract top talent later on.
  3. An employer brand is stable, but your recruitment marketing must evolve with the latest trends. An employer brand will remain relatively stable as it is based on the company's core mission, vision, and values, and a lot of time goes into developing it. However, recruitment marketing will evolve depending on what works and what does not. In addition, your recruitment marketing must also keep up to date with the latest HR and cultural trends to stay competitive. Don't shy away from blogs, TikTok, Instagram, Reddit, or anywhere else your ideal candidates spend their time!

While employer branding and recruitment marketing are often used interchangeably, they have clear distinctions. Your employer brand serves as the foundation, while recruitment marketing is how you use that foundation to attract top talent. By understanding the differences between the two, you can develop a comprehensive talent acquisition strategy that leverages both to bring value to your organization.




Author profile Sally Tarr

Holds a Masters in Industrial Psychology and is currently a Talent Acquisition Consultant at Amby. Writes on culture, employee experience and talent strategies.