Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing – What’s the Difference (According to Experts)?

Although they are often used interchangeably, employer branding and recruitment marketing are not the same things.

Sure, they are both critical areas to focus on when you’re trying to attract and hire new talent and they each do rely on the other to some extent, however, to ignore the differences between the two concepts would be a huge oversight. You’ll not only confuse yourself and your team, but by mixing them up you’ll also miss out on being able to maximize the effectiveness of each type of strategy.

To get some real clarity around the difference between employer branding and recruitment marketing, we did the same thing we did when looking for the best definition for employer branding – we gathered insight from a bunch of experts who have firsthand knowledge about it. Share this valuable information on live streaming platforms such as Twitch and get the chance to interact with your audience in real-time. If you wish to have a stronger digital presence, buy twitch viewers.

In this case, we asked 10+ business leaders and HR experts:

“What’s the difference between Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing?”

Their answers, while all unique and valuable individually, all supported a similar premise – which is that…

Employer branding is the identity, heart, and culture of your company displayed in various places, while recruitment marketing is a tool, method, or set of tactics that work with your employer’s brand to get job candidates’ attention.

Read on for even more helpful explanations about the difference between employer branding and recruitment marketing that should settle the matter once and for all:

Lisa Wilms, Operations and Talent Acquisition Manager at InfoTrust

There is a fine line between Recruitment Marketing and Employer Branding. The major difference is that recruitment marketing is telling your company’s story in order to catch the attention of the right candidates and encourage them to apply for open positions while employer branding is more simple and focuses on who you are as a company.

Ultimately, the biggest thing to point out about Recruitment Marketing and Employer Branding is that the employee experience is at the core of both. If employees are not satisfied then the employer brand is unsatisfactory, which means recruitment marketing is a stretch or fabrication of the story of that brand.

Susan Braakman, Operations Manager at Seuss Recruiting

Employer branding is about how you market your company as an employer. You point out why your company is the best to work for and broadcast the best aspects of your culture, employee benefits, and the great team of people you have. Essentially, employer branding is more about the company as a whole and making sure that the correct image is being reflected in external and internal communications.

Recruitment marketing is the tool or the way to promote jobs to the right target group and using the right media for it. So recruitment marketing is inherently more focused than employer branding, as it is geared towards a specific job within a company rather than the company as a whole.

Manan Shah, Co-Founder & CEO of Recruiterflow

What is employer branding? Employer branding answers the question – Who are our target candidates?. It tells the world why you exist and what you stand for. Employer branding goes beyond the stocked refrigerators and catered lunches. It is the ethos behind everything that you do for your candidates and the team.

Employer branding answers questions like:

  • How do we define our culture?
  • How do we treat our people and why do we do certain things a certain way?
  • What kind of work and culture do candidates associate with us?
  • What do your candidates associate your company with?

What is recruitment marketing? Recruitment marketing is a delivery mechanism that will help you get noticed by the potential candidate pool. It encompasses your tactics and strategy to get in front of your candidates. Your employer brand is what drives your recruitment marketing message and helps you select channels.

Recruitment marketing answers questions like:

  • What events do we need to attend to attract our desired talent?
  • What social networks do we need a presence on to attract candidates?
  • What are the channels where we will actively promote our current job openings?

Let’s take an example. A rocket scientist sees a tweet from a SpaceX engineer that they are looking for rocket scientists to join the team. The fact that the tweet reached her, is recruitment marketing. However, once she sees the tweet, there are several things that get processed in her head in a matter of a few seconds. The brain answers questions like:

  • How talented would my colleagues be?
  • Where will I be in 5 years?
  • How awesome/awful would it be to be spending hours every day at SpaceX?

The answer to these questions is employer branding!

Brenda Stanton, Vice President of Keystone Partners

Employer branding is the ying to recruitment marketing’s yang. If the two are balanced then magic happens, if not, you have conflict and dissatisfaction. Based on the first marketing messages, the new employee now expects a certain experience that employer branding must deliver.

Employer branding comes down to one thing and one thing only – the organizational culture. This culture is created through intangible energy that flows through the office each and every day and is generated by how employees are treated regardless of their position. Cultures that treat employees with respect throughout their entire employee life-cycle (attraction to separation), have the most powerful and loyal employer brands.

When interviewing for a position, we encourage job seekers to ask their own behavioral questions to decipher if what they’ve been told through the recruitment marketing process is a true representation of the company and the overall vibe (a.k.a. employer brand). These questions should go beyond just the tangible benefits and perks and should give the individual the opportunity to peel back layers and learn more about the heart and soul of the company. Individuals can do this by asking how to open the organization and senior leadership is to hear from employees, or if individuals’ voices are welcomed in the first place.

This type of culture allows a candidate to not only land a great new role but also participate in or contribute to an environment where he/she can evolve and grow as an individual. An organization that can offer this benefit and experience, is able to attract and retain top talent, as well as become known for its loyal and trustworthy employer brand.

Richard Williams, Marketing Director at BPS World

An employer brand is a company’s personality and proposition. In its simplest form, it’s how you’re seen and felt by both your potential candidates and your existing employees. Your employer brand comprises your tone, values, benefits, people, and vision.

The scary thing for companies yet to consider their employer brand is that they already have one! The good news is that they can take clear and measured steps to strengthen and craft it into something that works hard for them. They do this through recruitment marketing.

Recruitment marketing is the clearly defined and well-thought-out tactics used to influence and enhance an existing employer’s brand. These tactics consist of job specs, adverts, paid campaigns, videos, career hubs, and more. They’re the vehicle for your employer brand.

To put this into perspective, if your employer brand prides itself on keeping it simple, your job adverts will be short and concise. Likewise, if your organization is known for being brave, your social media will push the boundaries with its opinion and content choice.

Here at BPS, we are always quick to teach our clients that their employer brand exists whether they want one or not. However, it’s their recruitment marketing that quickly becomes the differentiator in their ability to attract, recruit and retain the best people.

Alex Membrillo, CEO of Cardinal Digital Marketing 

While Employer Branding and Recruitment Marketing go hand-in-hand, there are actually some distinct differences.

I think of Employer Branding as the “public relations” of the company. This includes reputation, both with customers and employees. Additionally, within Employer Branding is the company’s mission and values. Brand messaging should be conveying this as a reflection of the organization, its people, and processes. Employer Branding keeps the customer in mind; however, it also keeps the goals of Recruitment Marketing efforts in mind as well.

Recruitment Marketing at its core are efforts around talent acquisition. This may include opportunities for career development, training, recruitment messaging (i.e. why your company is the best place to work), workplace awards, and how the overall company culture is represented.

Sean Si is the CEO and Founder of SEO Hacker, Qeryz, Sigil, and Work plays

Employer branding and recruitment marketing are words that are often heard in the HR and recruitment industry, however, not everyone in the industry knows the difference between the two and they eventually believe that these two mean the same thing.

Employer Branding: This is the term used for how companies create and maintain their reputation as an employer. This often answers the following questions:

  • What are the positions available?
  • Who is the ideal candidate?
  • Why would a candidate want to work for your company?
  • What makes you a great employer?


Recruitment Marketing: This term is closely related to your employer brand because these are the methods and tactics you, as a company, use to market your employer brand.

In summary, the difference between the two is related to how they are created and used. Employer branding is the first step because this is how you’ll create the image you want as an employer and recruitment marketing is the next step wherein you spread or market your employer brand to target the audience that you want as employees.

Ketan Kapoor, CEO, and Co-Founder of Mettl

Employer branding is a long term goal with a vision to ensure that more and more people want to get associated with your brand like a magnetic pull. Recruitment marketing, on the other hand, is a short term approach that offers a vigorous push to your hiring goals wherein results are quite evident and measurable in your hiring funnel. While employer branding takes time to build, not measurable, based on ambition and requires beating a certain messaging over and over; it’s not the case with recruitment marketing.

Once your recruitment marketing starts working, the effects can be prominent and you can notice more and more people applying to any requisition you float and most of the openings get closed in a record time as compared to a time when  recruitment marketing didn’t start working. Last but not the least, employer branding appeals to a larger audience wherein people want to be a part of your organization, irrespective of the role. Whereas in recruitment marketing, you can have a strong appeal to a certain niche or department that employees might think is worth working for.

Ewa Zakrzewska, HR Specialist at Zety

What’s the difference between Employer branding and Recruitment Marketing?


This is actually a really good question as HR professionals often mix up those two terms, which are related but of course mean a completely different thing. Employer Branding is the whole process of creating and maintaining the employer brand so-called the employer’s reputation. It is designed both for the external audience (like potential employees) as well as for internal identification (current employees).

EB consists of various elements from logotypes, brand colors, company values and emotions the employer wants to be linked with and identified by. That’s why it is so important to start building a desired EB already from a start-up position. With the strong Employer Brand, we record less frequent employees rotation, we have employees that recommend working at our company, believe in its vision and identify themselves with the company’s culture. As a company with a strong Employer Brand, we also see 50% more  qualified applicants coming to our door.

We build our EB through benefit systems, employee programs, and sponsored training. And courses but also through the thought-through and effectively working internal communication system.

Recruitment Marketing is in a way a functioning part of EB and a stage of the hiring process.

Hiring for a start-up company might be extremely challenging. We often hire for positions that require very specific skills or are completely new for most job seekers. Our HR team needs to use certain marketing methods. And tactics to reach specific talents, mostly because our search is slightly narrowed. Posting our job openings to the job boards and waiting for the talent to come to us is simply not enough anymore. That’s why we always come up with new ways of marketing our job ads, from writing an outstanding job description, creating job postings in the form of video campaigns, running HR campaigns on all relevant social media platforms, or optimizing our career site for a better search and better user experience.

Nate Masterson, CEO of Maple Holistics 

Recruitment marketing and employer branding, typically, especially when done well, work hand-in-hand. The employee brand is the heart of the ad, while recruitment marketing acts as the vehicle that focuses on where. And when to launch your campaign. Employee branding is best viewed as the narrative that helps classify the kind of environment you’re trying to cultivate, thereby attracting just the right candidates. At which point recruitment marketing tries to figure out how to reach those candidates.


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