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Employer Branding Has a Hiring Problem

Hire a real marketer to run employer branding. Someone with a marketing background, not a recruiting background. Someone without any baggage who can see this through fresh and creative eyes.

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The hiring process for employer branding roles is outdated and in need of a major mindset shift.

The problem stems from a combination of the following factors:

  • The people hiring for employer brand roles have no clue what they are hiring for. They don’t actually know what they want from employer branding—just that they should start doing “it”.
  • Old-school EB traditionalists are hiring people like themselves. This is a clear sign of impending failure because they, like those in the first group, have no clue about the future of this space. They are working off of antiquated (and ineffective) models and assumptions.
  • Companies still see employer branding as separate from marketing and therefore place it under the HR umbrella only to banish it to a lonely island of one. As a result, you have HR people hiring for what is really a marketing role.

The solutions:

Hire a real marketer to run employer branding. Someone with a marketing background, not a recruiting background. Someone without any baggage who can see this through fresh and creative eyes.

Startups with more flexible org structures should also consider:

  • Seeing employer branding as part of marketing but with a sole focus on the candidate side of your market. (This is NOT a cross-functional role. It requires 100% focus.)
  • Put marketing in charge of hiring for the employer branding role.

This requires a shift in mindset, org structure, and recruiting resources. And frankly, a willingness to buck the system.

My reasoning: If employer branding sat in Marketing and was seen as a function of Marketing, this whole industry could modernize and evolve. And smart marketers who are drawn to the People side of the org—looking to apply their knowledge and experience in new and exciting ways—could finally have access to opportunities that they are largely being shut off from.

Note: I realize that there are nuances to this. And many factors come into play regarding individual company org structure, culture, and initiatives.

Take this for what it is — commentary on the massive disconnect between modern marketing strategy, understanding the current + future market behavior, and the industry that we refer to as employer branding.

And IMO, this disconnect has been perpetuated by poor hiring practices.


FTR, my perspective on this has changed a lot over the past couple of years. But based on the a) lack of evolution in the employer branding industry, and b) the shifts in the way candidates think about, search, and find opportunities, I’m pretty convinced that this is the move.

Markets change. Our mindset and strategy need to evolve and adapt accordingly.


If you’re interested in some additional context, you can check out my previous posts on this topic:

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