Build a strong talent brand department and create best-in-class content to improve your tech hiring success rates.
Ask virtually any company what’s limiting its growth.
The answer isn’t lack of money—it’s lack of talent.
Technology workers—including software engineers, UX designers, hardware engineers, and database administrators, just to name a few disciplines—are in high demand, and most companies can’t get the attention of the candidates they want to win over. And without a team of skilled tech talent to solve their most complex problems, they simply can’t innovate and scale their organizations the way that they need to.
The numbers are staggering: The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the US job market will have over 1.3 million openings for candidates with skills in computer science—but there will only be 40,000 new computer science grads. That means there’s a huge drive to lure existing STEM employees away from their current positions, and not just in software companies, but in a huge variety of industries: Today, Goldman Sachs hires more engineers than Facebook does.
So what happens if you’re not Facebook or Goldman Sachs, but a startup with an ambitious vision? You may struggle to find the technical talent you need to scale your company, even if you’ve already got VC capital to burn. Companies that can’t offer their employees cushy benefits packages and multiple six-figure salaries off the bat are missing out on the key hires they need to move the needle on their products. And if you’re outside of Silicon Valley, you have an extra disadvantage: As tech talent gravitates towards the high-paying jobs in the Bay Area, companies in the Midwest and other less glamorous regions are getting left out of the loop entirely.
So how can you win back the recruiting advantage without going into a bidding war?
The key is content.
Sure, a good salary package is important—but today’s workers are concerned about more than what’s on their pay stub. Surveys of Millennials have shown that they want to work for an organization that’s driven by strong, authentic values. They want to work in an atmosphere where they’ll be taken seriously, treated with respect, intellectually challenged, and offered flexibility to establish balance between work, leisure, and family time.
In order to show your ideal candidates that you can give them the culture they’re looking for, you’ll want to strut your stuff on your Careers page, spotlighting your office photos and showcasing your generous benefits packages and PTO policies. But to truly captivate your candidates, you’ll need to find creative and authentic ways to share your company’s culture and stories.
Here are a few ways to engage potential employees with your content efforts:
Produce Q&As with a cross-section of your employees, including new grads and mid-career employees. Ask them about how they ended up at your company, what they love about it, and what business challenges they’re able to tackle each day. Glassdoor has a great series spotlighting its own employees that gives a taste of the workplace culture and values. If you have the budget for a well-produced video series, that’s also a fantastic way to introduce your team.
These profiles will help your candidates get a sense of who they’d be collaborating with each day, and “see” themselves in your space. It’s also a great opportunity to spotlight the diversity of voices, cultures, and opinions you’ve been able to attract at your company.
Tech workers don’t want to feel like cogs in the machine. They want to know that they’ll have the opportunity to solve new problems and spearhead ambitious new initiatives. Developing Q&As that spotlight some of your company’s most exciting technical challenges, and the ways in which new hires can get involved in solving them, will pique your prospective employees’ interest. For example, Atlassian featured a Q&A with a product manager for one of their software tools, Bamboo, several years ago. In addition to filling Bamboo users in on the product roadmap, the blog post provided a chance for developers to gain insight into the types of work they could do on the Bamboo team. (Eucalypt works with the Atlassian talent team, but we weren’t involved with this specific project.)
Smart tech talent will gravitate towards opportunities where they know they can make a meaningful difference in the end result. By spotlighting a culture that’s rich with opportunity to solve new challenges, you’ll be able to build a strong and talented team.
It turns out, recruiting has a lot in common with a tourism bureau—but instead of encouraging your prospects to come for a weekend and enjoy some of your best restaurants, you’re encouraging them to actually pack up and move. Especially if you’re in a lower-profile region, you need to put real effort into spotlighting what makes your city so special. A big part of that will involve incorporating some great photography into the careers section of your site: L.L. Bean, for instance, spotlights a lighthouse against an ocean backdrop to showcase its picturesque coastal locale to potential recruits. Video content, including tours around the neighborhood where your office is based, can also tell an important story.
And use your blog to spotlight the technology landscape in your region. If you’re not in a major tech hub like Silicon Valley, candidates may be reluctant to relocate, fearing that they’ll feel isolated, or that if they leave your job, they won’t be able to find a similar role easily without moving again. Content that spotlights innovative people, companies, and events around technology in your region will help to ease their minds and encourage them to pack up and go.
Of course, a winning recruiting program isn’t just about connecting to prospect with content—as with most other major decisions, it takes a great sales team, too. Your company’s recruiting team should be able to deliver that warm, personal touch, and provide all of the information that will encourage new recruits to make the move to your company.
That means providing them with cheat sheets that lay out the company’s messaging in clear detail. Create visual-centric, easy-to-read PDFs that they can glance at and refer to when on a call with a new recruiting prospect. One sheet might refer to your company’s stellar benefits and PTO policies, for instance; while another might showcase the company history. Recruiting sheets can also outline the specific types of skills that your recruiters are looking for when hiring for key tech roles, as Bydrec outlines in this blog post—it’s key that candidates feel like their recruiters understand the work they do and how it would be applicable to a new role.
In addition to producing content, you can raise your company’s profile with prospective candidates by making sure that they come across your brand in the news. A good public relations strategy will help you promote and publicize your workplace—spotlighting your corporate social responsibility initiatives, for instance, such as an employee volunteer program or a company foundation.
It will also be valuable for your prospective employees to hear your CEO’s authentic voice, as she or he shares thoughts on issues around leadership culture, workplace diversity, and the future of technology in blog posts on your website or guest articles and op-eds in other industry media. Katharine Zaleski, CEO of Power to Fly, demonstrated the power of publishing an editorial by telling her own story of how she’d mistreated working mothers in the past—until becoming one herself, and realizing how important it is to build an environment that focuses on workplace flexibility.
When trying to attract the best candidates, you need to tell the most compelling story. So you need to think more holistically about the image that your company is presenting.
Look at your branding, your web copy, and your content marketing initiatives, whether aimed at recruits or customers. All of these factors will shape a potential employee’s perceptions of who your brand is, and whether the culture is the right fit.
A brand that makes a point of communicating honestly and authentically to its followers—warts and all—is a brand that recruits will feel comfortable climbing on board with. So don’t focus on presenting the most glossy, perfect image of your company—candidates can see right through that.
Instead, be open, honest, and transparent. Make your employee culture a key part of your brand communications strategy—and the right people will find you.
Kathryn Hawkins is principal and chief content strategist of Eucalypt Media. She has worked as a freelance journalist for media publications and managed inbound marketing and content strategy for corporate and nonprofit clients for more than a decade.
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