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Recruitment Marketing, Recruitment Advertising & Employer Branding Aren't Interchangeable

Tracey Parsons
September 2 ․ 6 min read

It’s amazing when we, and our thinking, can evolve quickly.

But a lot of times, things get lost in translation — we take what we know about one concept and apply it broadly. Think about AI (Artificial Intelligence); it’s often confused with IA (Intelligent Automation), as well as machine learning. Can you really explain the differences between all three? These terms are relatively new to many in talent acquisition world — and they’re also complex — so we start using them interchangeably.

The same thing has happened with recruitment marketing. Whenever I attend a conference (remember those?!), I hear so many smart people talk about everything I love: employer branding, recruitment advertising and recruitment marketing. But I realized everyone uses these terms interchangeably when they are, in fact, not interchangeable. Hello, blog post!

I did a little research and found that, low and behold, the consumer space is suffering from the same “interchanging challenge.” And (not surprisingly) I came across a meme to explain it.



I’m an amazing singer.



I’m an amazing singer.

I’m an amazing singer.

I’m an amazing singer.



I hear you’re an amazing singer.


As you can see, they’re similar, but there is nuance. If you translate this to the talent acquisition world, it looks like this:


Recruitment Marketing:

Working for our company is amazing, you should apply!


Recruitment Advertising:

Apply now.

Apply now.

Apply now.


Employer Brand:

I’ve heard your company is amazing, where do I apply?


So what's the difference?

When we look at how all these concepts fit together, it’s comes down to how, and to whom, you’re communicating and differentiating your message. For instance, when you’re developing an employer brand, it’s critical that it is:

  • Fundamentally based on who you really are as an employer
  • True, defensible and authentic
  • Reflected in how your audience perceives you as well.

It’s impossible to build an employer brand without an external narrative. In fact, in our highly digital, social and review-crazed world, that external narrative likely fuels more influence than the internal narrative. Good employer brands marry the two; the best employer brands find and communicate the right story internally so that it becomes the external story. If you don’t, you may end up with something like “Vegas is for families,” which didn’t do anyone any good.

Recruitment marketing brings your employer brand to life. You can express your brand across a variety of channels in a variety of ways and delivery models. Recruitment marketing is every touchpoint or opportunity in which a candidate can interact with your brand: from paid media (job advertising, retargeting ads) to earned media (SEO, third-party reviews) to owned media (career sites, blog, events, social). When these touchpoints all tell the same story and validate that story, you have a sound recruitment marketing strategy. 

Once you have your employer brand thriving, growing and sharing through your people, and you can market that brand, your purpose and how your purpose aligns with their needs across every potential channel, then recruitment advertising does the heavy lifting. Great recruitment advertising takes the brand that has been brought to life and creates the conduit to the transaction: driving that final action to apply.

All of these concepts are connected, but they aren’t interchangeable. People come for the brand, convert for the job and stay for the culture. None of that happens without a strategy for a fully formed employer brand, outstanding recruitment marketing and well-placed recruitment advertising. They each serve a unique purpose in your talent acquisition strategy, and they each have a unique impact on the people you’re trying to attract and hire.


Craving to know more about employer brand? Our partners at the Chad & Cheese Podcast dive deeper into the future of employer branding amid the pandemic.