Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing. What’s the difference?

I’m Michael Willson and I’m the Creative Director at Blu Ivy Group. Blu Ivy Group has been fortunate to be recognized as one of the top ten Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing companies in the world and I am so proud to be leading our creative department. But here’s the thing. I am often amazed at the lack of understanding of what employer branding is.  I love working in this niche and seeing the impact our work has on talent, on company brand value, and ultimately the impact has on employee experiences.  I am surprised by how many people think employer branding is nothing more than a creative advertisement for a job.

Can YOU tell the difference between Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing?

I would probably take for granted that most creatives may not know, but in fact, it is surprising how many HR and recruiting leaders still feel confused by these terms.  Gone are the days of waiting for talent to come to you after posting your job openings. Even if those jobs offer bowling alleys, ping-pong tables, free beer or ice cream Fridays. For real.

The best talent has numerous options to choose from in today’s competitive job market. And because of this, companies who are looking to attract top-caliber talent need to have a competitive advantage, a great recruiter alone cannot get the job done. Clever employers have now started using marketing methods and tactics in order to differentiate their company from their competitors. As a result, Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing have gone from HR buzzwords to full-blown business strategies, marketing programs, and ad campaigns.

So, what’s the difference then?

In order to clear up this confusion once and for all, here is a detailed explanation of the difference between the Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing.

Do Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing have anything in common?

YES! As a matter of fact, they most certainly do, both are focused on driving the same result — elevating a company’s appeal as an ideal place to work.

Ummm. What’s an Employer Brand again?

Ultimately your Employer Brand is your company’s reputation as an employer.  To ensure a great reputation as an employer, the strategy is comprised of far more than the jobs that one is marketing.  Much like a corporate brand is comprised of far more than its product or service marketing campaigns.

When building an employer brand strategy, the companies that drive the biggest results, start with an understanding that the work will brand the culture and employee experience.  To brand the internal employee experience there are multiple efforts that need to be taken. That includes leadership practices and communications programs, internal newsletters and video messaging built around the EVP, employer brand ambassador programs and celebrations, recognition and rewards programs, gamification and internal employee storytelling.

Your Employer Brand is also made up of external recruitment marketing efforts. This includes the careers site design and U/X, the recruitment and brand campaigns on digital and out of home advertising. This includes Television ads, YouTube ads, social media content marketing and great visual and video job ads. More and more this means pop up events, recruitment events, and campus experiences with employers.  Any employer that wants to stand out, to attract highly demanded talent, to up the quality of candidate pool, needs to have this external recruitment marketing effort.   Otherwise, your company is simply lost in a plethora of other similar job postings.  

One: Know your audience

Invest in building your talent personas upfront. Understand this audience well.  What matters most to them, what employers are ideal, where they look for work and where they tend to have the most traffic.  Build your campaigns to connect with them first and foremost. Ultimately you have only so much budget for this work.  Your careers site, social content marketing, and editorial calendar, events, radio and tv ads, videos and even job postings should all be designed to connect with them deeply. To get them to take a risk and consider you as an employer.

Two: Be clear on what your differentiator is

Understanding what makes you different and compelling to talent is critical to an effective employer brand. Too often, employers in the same industry try to emulate each other’s branding or outdo similar themes. I call this the “Sea of Sameness” – Ads that play it so safe that we can change a logo and color and it would work for almost any employer.  Be bold, different, take risks and think 10 years out. It ensures that you are an aspirational brand, and helps creatives get to so much more of the heart and soul of your culture story.  

Three: Campaigns need media planning and ad spend

As a creative director, I work for months with our clients and employer brand strategists to ensure award-winning art direction and copy for the recruitment marketing campaigns. The truth is, though, no matter how incredible the ads are if talent doesn’t see the ads because they are only residing on your careers site and company social platforms, you will not drive a significantly measurable result. Using the insights from the employer brand research, we encourage our clients to look at the media plan, set aside enough budget to ensure your ads are seen on digital platforms, transit, campus, main street traffic locations, etc. Top of mind awareness in a campaign is key to your share of voice, and conversion results.  Plan and budget for this work!  Too many campaigns fall short because HR didn’t have a budget to place these great ads on the channels that would drive the greatest results. Use a vendor that will measure the impact and regularly share the results of the campaign and programmatic advertising.  Your success lies in understanding advertising is about more than creating the posters and ads but getting eyes on your work!

And there you have it. Hopefully, you are now able to tell the difference between Employer Branding Strategy and Recruitment Marketing.

My wish is that I have provided you with some food for thought that aids in your first, or next campaign.

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