THE BLURRED LINE BETWEEN EMPLOYER BRANDING AND SOCIAL RECRUITING.

In order to gain some insights on what people think about employer branding strategies and techniques, we decided to look on Quora, one of the most Q&A website used by professionals.

We realized that there is a lot of confusion around the intersection of these two subjects: What is the difference between Employer Branding and Social Recruiting, then? How they can empower each other, in order to take advantage of positive synergies?
Employer branding represents a firm’s efforts to promote, both within and outside the firm, a clear view of what makes it different and desirable as an employer. (Backhaus and Tikoo, 2004) It is, therefore, the sum of all strategies providing information, building employees’ advocacy and communicating values, culture and benefit of the firm. Employer branding is a comprehensive view and a Long Term perspective. It is, as mentioned also in the previous article, comparable to a positioning strategy: finding the right spot in the mind of jobseekers. From the insights gained by the users on Quora, it is outstanding the view of employer branding as deep commitment and powerful tool for talent attraction and retention.

On the other hand, the term Social recruiting usually refers to the ongoing practice of searching and sourcing candidates via social media. At a first glance, therefore, it seems more contingent to the active search of candidates. (Quora, 2015)

The main differences between the two concepts seem to be the time lapse and the strategic impact. On one hand, Employer Branding entails long term, hardly reversible strategic choices in terms of positioning, image and brand in general. On the other, Social Recruiting is focused on gathering the best candidates around a specific job vacancy in the moment the job opportunity opens. After that specific window closes, the company may “suite” other target-candidate with different techniques for another job position.

The cognitive and strategic resources, as well as the degree of commitment, allocated to the two options differ dramatically. Thus, employer branding choices seem much more relevant and binding then social recruiting ones.However, they cannot be fully discerned since there are some grey areas where the two (should) overlap. 

The synergies between employer branding investment and social recruiting activities come up at the moment companies decide to open a new vacancy and reveal a greater value then the sum of the two outcomes: focusing EB investment at the moment of application – exactly when most interested candidates approach the company – provide them with precious insights about the potential fit with the job, preventing companies’ communication either from being filtered (i.e. by common job board/ sterile aggregators’ interface) or missing a strong call to action (i.e. career day or job fairs).


Backhaus, K., & Tikoo, S. (2004). Conceptualizing and researching employer branding. Career development international, 9(5), 501-517.

Quora, 2015. Is there a difference between social recruiting and employer branding? (n.d.). Retrieved March 23, 2015, from https://www.quora.com/Is-there-a-difference-between-social-recruiting-and-employer-branding

Motivation is more important than application

By talking to several HR managers and studying hiring processes for Meritocracy, we are progressively learning how motivation is an overwhelmingly strong driver of hiring decisions. We thought it was important, we didn’t think it was THAT important. We daily observe very motivated “normal” people succeeding in “target companies”, because their strong motivation led them to do anything they could to get hired.

However, candidates’ application behavior, especially among newly graduates, seems to be more like “spray and pray”, that is, apply to anything possible. This is a very counterproductive approach, even in terms of statistics.

Even I started very soon to apply to many jobs, when I looked for a job for the first time and with little motivation to embrace a specific company vision. I didn’t know anything about the companies I was applying to, nor their history, nor their goals, nor their culture; I was just applying. I didn’t have strong motivation for every single one of them, and I was right not having it: so right that when a couple of them interviewed me I didn’t liked them. In a nutshell, I could have done a more profitable use of my time.

In our opinion there are two reasons why motivation matters that much. The first is that “true”motivation is always intimate. It comes from the great effort of listening to yourself and understanding what you are really interested in, without caring anymore about what people/your family/your boyfriend/girlfriend expect from you. This clarifies your view and leads you to choose the right companies to apply for, the ones for which you know you can make the difference. If you listen to your heart, I bet you’ll be surprised by the results, and I bet getting a job will become easier than you think. If I would have only asked myself clearly what I wanted from my job, and listened to my own answer, probably the list of companies I applied to would have been different, and definitely shorter.

The second reason is that when this kind of motivation exists, HR managers will feel it, and they will feel it because you will do anything in your power to let them notice it. Believe me, when you receive a job application from someone deeply and intimately motivated, you feel like you just solved your hiring problem.

Especially if you recently graduated, nobody expects you to exactly know how to do your job in advance. An hiring manager, in order to make a decision, will just forecast your ability to deal with unforeseen situations. In doing that, obviously there is a part of skills that you shall have acquired in the past, but the fuel that will make you commit the 110% of what you have is just motivation. There’s no acquired skill that can substitute to motivation.

Please, be sure to avoid my (and many people’s) mistake: motivation comes much before application.

At Meritocracy we let you free to “spray and pray” if you so wish; you can do your first application with just two clicks, and all the following ones with one more click. However, we created extremely insightful “company pages” exactly to allow people to study companies “at an intimate level” before they send an application. Our goal was to “smooth” the application process: put people inside the company before they even applied to the job, let them understand a company’s vision, encourage them to ask themselves whether that was the place for them to be or not. In essence, help them getting a deep-rooted motivation.

Being choosy, actually, is not just an approach, it is the way to get the job you will not want to leave, and for which you will become so good that it will not want to let you go.

Employer Branding: How firms can enhance their employer brand.

The first step to build a powerful and reliable employer brand is to find and aim at a clear spot in the mind of jobseekers.

As in every positioning strategy, the first question to answer is “What am I? What distinguish my offer from the rest of the market? i.e. What can I promise and deliver to jobseekers?” Having clear the type of firm you are and what jobseekers can gain from an experience in your company, without failing their expectation, is fundamental at this stage of the process. It is not that simple, thou. If you are an IT, highly innovative firm, it is straightforward you mainly need to attract talented developers and programmers. However, your firm still needs capable marketers or sales managers. Therefore, the problem is to find a common spot in the mind of the different profiles your company needs to attract.

How to do so? Be clear and point on the values and the culture (and less on the core business). I know it seems anachronistic. However, if one feels comfortable (virtually) walking your corridors and (virtually) meeting your teams, he/she will be more positive towards your company. Easily and clearly describing the company culture and the values at the base of the business will increase the likelihood and the facileness for a talent to dive into his/her future career, to picture him or her in approaching daily tasks in your company. All of these will construct a clear image of the firm as potential employer.

Since this approach is untied to the core business of a firm, it is replicable in every industry and to any profile of firms, that is to say, regardless the number of current employees or the spectrum of the business focus. The important is to be clear and truthful, since a powerful way to deliver a strong employer brand is through your current or former employees.

Employees’ advocacy is one of the strongest means to deliver and establish a reliable employer brand. Nowadays, social networks and Internet in general, allow personal communication between jobseekers and employees. These latters, in fact, are seen to be impartial sources of opinion and storytelling.

Making promises of high benefit level and not keeping up to them will decrease motivation and increase mistrust towards the company from the inside. This will reflect on the outside reputation of the company as employer.

Including quotes or comments from employees about benefits, culture and values is a good tactic to enhance the reliability of the company statements. And, again, this can work for every company: from the startup with less than 5 employees to the multinational giant with more than 10K employees.

It is straightforward that these pillars, “be clear, be truthful, trust your employees’ advocacy”, should be delivered and communicated in a uniform and coherent way.

This is why we decided to include in our latests companies’ pages a section dedicated to teams. Here jobseekers can see who they might work with and, through social networks such as Linkedin and  Twitter, they can even start to know them, therefore enhancing the power of a good employer branding strategy.