6 Points on Why Employer Branding Is Marketing, Not HR

When we want to make working employer branding plans more precise and clear we need metrics set up – and a marketing-like approach helps us with that.

Employer branding is often given to HR or recruitment teams to implement, when, in fact, it should rather be the marketing team’s responsibility. Employer branding (EB) is closer to the marketing family than HR, just like general branding work is marketing, not sales.

Let me clarify.

As an Employer Branding Strategist at Finders Seekers, all I’ve heard at trainings, events, and in social media discussions is that “employer branding is super vague and imprecise”. But it’s not! Most often, this statement comes from HR and recruitment professionals who have been handed the responsibility of improving the company’s EB. I’m definitely not here to criticize their professionalism. They’re the experts when it comes to understanding talent markets, talent strategies, and talent acquisition in general, which are, indeed, very important parts of EB. But what’s often missing, for obvious reasons, is subject-matter knowledge from marketing. When we want to make EB plans more precise and clear we need metrics set up – and a marketing-like approach can help us with that.

I believe marketing should own employer branding activities in organizations and work closely together with HR and recruitment (as well as team leads, leadership teams, and employees). It’s a joint effort.

What makes employer branding a marketing job?

  1. In product sales, marketing has to know the features and benefits of the product to help customers make a buying decision → in employer branding, we are selling – among other things – the organizational culture and employee experience. Marketing has to be on top of this to be able to communicate it externally.
  2. Marketing is used to researching and creating buyer personas and customer journeys → they know the importance and technicalities of it and can bring this knowledge into candidate persona building and the candidate journey – it’s all about those famous 7 touchpoints! But this, of course, requires marketing, HR and recruitment teams to collaborate closely.
  3. Measuring is business as usual in marketing. This is also a game-changer when it comes to employer branding: it needs to be measured. Always. But don’t overdo it! Keep it simple, e.g. career page conversions, inbound recruitment leads (incl. referrals), and Glassdoor reviews.
  4. Marketers are often experts in content marketing and social media. This is crucial in how to get the organization’s message, story and Employee Value Proposition (EVP) communicated to their desired talent target group.
  5. No one builds websites better than a marketer. Remember that career pages are as important as your usual product/services pages, and you need to have enough conversion points, the right optimization, and a well-thought-out journey. 
  6. Employer branding should be executed like growth marketing. Annual plans are great, but they need to be flexible and iterable! Times can change fast, just like the COVID-19 outbreak has shown us. It’s critical to have the growth mindset of experimenting bravely, and pivoting if needed, to retain your current employees and attract new ones.

I could talk about this subject for 8 hours straight, but I’ll let these 6 points sink in for now. What do you think? Do you agree? Is there a flaw in my thinking? I’m always happy to discuss more and we can set up a Hangouts Meet for that if you want. 😊 You can also share this with your manager if you think they need some convincing on the subject. Read also this blog post about what employer branding is not.

Pipsa is Finders Seekers’ CMO and Employer Branding Strategist, with 6 years of B2B marketing experience from Google, IBM and the startup world, and she’s super passionate about all worklife matters – employer branding above all.

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