What is recruitment marketing?

While recruitment marketing sounds like another HR buzzword, it’s actually a business function that aims to attract and engage potential job candidates for future hiring needs.

To better understand this recruitment marketing definition, let’s see how it compares with traditional corporate marketing:

Traditional marketing Recruitment marketing
When Top of the funnel, lead generation before sales Top of the funnel, candidate attraction before the hiring process
Why Build brand awareness, turn prospects into customers Build employer brand, turn job seekers into applicants
Who Marketing team (digital, events, emails, design) HR team (expertise in talent acquisition, employer branding, content creation)
How Website, ads, promotional activities Careers page, recruitment events, social media

In short, recruitment marketing adopts the methodology of traditional marketing for hiring purposes: to attract not customers, but candidates, and to promote not the commercial brand, but the employer brand of the company.

But why do companies need to combine marketing with recruiting? Isn’t the role of HR and recruiting to attract candidates anyway? The main difference is that recruiting is focused on specific current or upcoming hiring needs. On the other hand, recruitment marketing is broader – perhaps more holistic – and aims to promote the company as an appealing employer in order to facilitate future hiring.

This side-by-side comparison explains the different scopes:

Recruiting Recruitment marketing
Approach Reactive: starts once a specific hiring need is identified Proactive: ongoing effort to promote the company, even if there are no current open roles
Relationship One-to-one: evaluate and contact candidates individually One-to-many: target personas instead of specific people
Structure Usually an independent department within the organization Could be a dedicated team (in large organizations) or a practice spread among HR team members
Responsible Recruiter, HR professional, hiring manager Recruitment marketing manager, people manager, recruiter, HR professional, content marketer

What is a recruitment marketing strategy?

Marketing and recruitment are two disciplines that can learn from each other and use similar techniques, each for their own purposes. In traditional marketing, companies craft strategies in order to tell their company story, promote their products or services and reach out to potential customers.

Respectively, in recruitment marketing, companies craft strategies to tell their culture story, promote their workplace and employees and reach top talent.

Those strategies could use various methods and mediums, including:

  • Blog posts
  • Social media
  • Employee interviews
  • Videos
  • Events

For example, you could create a dedicated section on your website where employees talk about their work life and what they enjoy about working at your company and you could share pictures and videos from your offices on social media.

The ultimate goal, when building your own recruitment marketing strategy, is to boost awareness around your employer brand, communicate your values externally and attract like-minded people.

Interested in learning how HubSpot uses it to attract top talent globally? Read our interview with Hannah Fleishman, Inbound Recruiting Manager at HubSpot.

What does a recruitment marketing manager do?

Large companies could build dedicated teams (usually under the HR department) or hire one recruitment marketing specialist. Smaller companies might approach it as a project or practice, i.e. one or more HR professionals could work on recruitment marketing activities among their other tasks.

Whether it’s a full-time job or only one part of the job, the main job duties for someone who’s responsible for recruitment marketing include:

  • Identifying candidate personas, i.e. the profiles and skill sets of ideal candidates per role
  • Shaping the company culture based on feedback from current employees
  • Communicating the work life through blog posts, videos and social media
  • Organizing and participating in events to promote the company’s employer brand

If you’re looking to hire for the role, or if you want to get a better understanding of it, see our recruitment marketing manager job description.

What’s the difference between recruitment marketing and employer branding?

Conceptually, these two terms are close to each other. However, you shouldn’t use them interchangeably.

Employer brand is the company’s reputation as a place to work. Employer branding includes everything a company does to define and improve its reputation among current and future employees.

Recruitment marketing, on the other hand, is more tactical and includes everything a company does to market its employer brand externally to potential future employees and, eventually, to get them to apply to its open roles.

You can use the following table to better understand these two terms:

Employer branding Recruitment marketing
Comes first, as you need to identify who you are as an employer Comes after you’ve defined your employer brand, when you can start communicating it
Has an internal focus, as you try to improve and fix your workplace Has an external focus, as it’s about how you tell your company story to potential candidates
You don’t have the entire control, as the employer brand is also shaped by how employees and candidates talk to their networks about the company You build your own strategies and action plans in order to communicate your company story in a consistent way

Read here our comprehensive definition of employer branding or check our complete HR terms library for more HR-related definitions.

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