The Roles of HR and Marketing in Employer Branding

If you’re working in recruitment or HR, you’ll know the common question - Is employer branding a job for HR or marketing? The answer, obviously, is that both need to be involved. The secret is understanding when and how. Here’s what experience has taught me.

1. Ownership - Recruiters and HR professionals: employer branding strategy and design sits with you!

Employer branding starts with a clear understanding of talent and recruitment, and then flows through to marketing skill and process. What’s more, you care most about the result, so you can't afford to hand this off until it is fully embedded. If you have a strong, connected marketing function, you can possibly be the client later… but you’ll still need to be highly involved.

2. Buy-in and Accountability - The best results come when HR and Marketing both genuinely need this to work.

Too few marketing teams are currently tasked with providing recruitment support. Despite all the goodwill and promises, until marketers have KPIs for the quality of applications and hires, the recruitment team will need to be at your most persuasive and persistent. The best case is a collaborative relationship where both teams are invested. The nightmare scenario is where HR has to do it all, with marketing putting obstacles in your way.

3. External expertise - There’s no substitute for the expertise, experience and objectivity of external employer branding specialists.

Whether or not you have good internal buy-in, investing in the right things with the right partner is always money well spent. It’s particularly valuable from an EVP creation and a strategy development perspective, where you’ll truly valuable the fresh perspectives of people who do this everyday. (A great EB partner will support and empower the collaboration between your internal teams, not try to divide you in order to win more business.)

4. Brand alignment - Employer branding should sit well with, but not be dictated by, wider branding

Employer branding work and outputs should be carefully managed so as not to jar with wider branding. However, this is not an excuse to simply copy the brand marketing directive. Your offer and message to talent is distinct and should be set apart from your messaging to other audiences. Don’t let employer branding be a bolt-on or an afterthought. Oh, and don’t let that (constantly) imminent ’big wider brand project’ lead to inertia and recruitment failure. You can achieve so much without disrupting other strategic projects.

5. The future - Recruitment as a marketing function and In-house employer brand specialists galore?

Only fools write down future predictions (oops) but there’s no doubt that some organisations are starting to understand that recruitment starts with marketing your organisation. It’s yet to be seen whether or not elements of the recruitment function are heading to the marketing area but I’m pretty confident we’ll see more and more trained recruitment marketers, including in-house employer branding specialists. Exciting!

Mark Puncher

About the Author

Mark Puncher is Employer Branding Australia’s Founder and Chief Energy Officer. Having spent much of the last 22 years with one foot in recruitment and the other in marketing, Mark loves helping fantastic, imperfect organisations bring their stories to life to engage their future superstars.

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