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3 ways to sell your big brand to tech talent

December 7, 2015 | By Katrina Kibben, Director of Marketing—Recruiting Daily

I’m not a betting woman. Why, you ask? Well for one thing, I’ve lost enough to know better. I’ve also realized that the reason I continue to lose is because I have trouble making a bet on the long shot. Having spent the last 7 plus years analyzing data, it doesn’t always make sense to me how the underdog comes out on top when the numbers just don’t add up. I haven’t quite figured out the method to the gambling madness and frankly, I don’t have the stomach to keep trying.

That same betting mentality is playing out in today’s recruiting landscape. Well-known brands have traditionally had the upper hand when it comes to hiring. Which makes sense in what was a tumultuous economy where stock prices, interest rates and unemployment fluctuated in ways that produced a generation craving stability. For those in this risk-averse group, the candidate is attracted to brands that have been around for over 50+ years; they feel safe and enjoy the look of admiration from friends and family as they share where they work. They are comfortable making a bet for less risk (which implies less potential reward to those betting types).

However, there’s a different risk-benefit analysis at play today, particularly in tech talent recruitment. Tech talent is quite comfortable with the look of curiosity they receive when naming the stealth-mode startup they’ve just joined. They’ve made a conscious decision to accept this sort of role over one at a Fortune 1000, in hopes of getting their piece of the next billion-dollar valuation. It seems as if suddenly, the exact perception that inspires some to apply is what’s driving away today’s tech candidate. While working at a big company comes with a universal stamp of approval, the new wave of tech talent doesn’t need that stamp, which plays out as they increasingly chase the “unicorn.” This job seeker hopes that their big risk will result in a big reward.

That has left recruiters with a challenge many are not prepared for rebranding to attract tech talent in order to change those perceptions in to battle the Uber’s, Snapchats and AirBnb’s of the world. With little to no training in marketing or public relations, the average recruiter is operating like I do on a casino floor: cautiously. Unfortunately, that bet is a losing one.

Starting your recruitment branding efforts is simple, really. It all comes down to content that convinces candidates by portraying what your job is really like, beyond the perceptions and perks. Here are 3 ways to get started.

  1. Highlight The Path: Tech candidates want to know how they will be rewarded for choosing your company. Showcase how you promote talented team members by showing how other candidates have excelled. Create a section on your jobs website about career paths like NBCUniversal Provide case studies that show where your tech hires started in the company and what role they currently serve. Include videos and images to give an inside view.
  2. Showcase Challenges: One common misconception about big brands is that unicorn companies have more challenging work. To battle this belief, companies like Indeed.com are working with tech leadership to create blogs and social media channels that feature the day-to-day work of their engineering teams. The Indeed.com Engineering Blog for example, includes code samples, business challenges and the internal corporate vocabulary to educate candidates and prepare them for the big challenges that recruits could help overcome, as well as give them a sense of the corporate culture.
  3. Train Hiring Managers to Recruit: The most powerful hiring tool every recruiter has on hand: current employees. For the hiring manager, who is burdened with a heavy workload, finding ways to maximize the number of staff recommendations can be tough, though. And this sort of “social recruiting” isn’t something that should be left to the HR team alone. At Microsoft, recruiters encourage hiring managers to go to networking events and join tech communities to source and engage top tech talent. Remember, though, that engineering hires are not your traditional networking types so take the time to coach hiring managers on networking best practices and follow up with a little something to say thank you for their time.

Now, these are just the beginning. But they are a great place to start as organizations of all kinds face increased competition for top tech talent. It is important that recruiters also use customized, thoughtful outreach. Remember that your tech candidates are contacted constantly and you need to stand out as a challenging, interesting and ultimately very rewarding place to work.

Katrina Kibben is the Director of Marketing for Recruiting Daily, and has served in marketing leadership roles at companies such as Monster Worldwide and Care.com, where she has helped both established and emerging brands develop and deliver world-class content and social media marketing, lead generation and development, marketing automation and online advertising. An expert in marketing analytics and automation, Kibben is an accomplished writer and speaker whose work has been featured on sites like Monster.com, Brazen Careerist and About.com.

You can connect with Katrina on Twitter (@KatrinaKibben) or on LinkedIn.


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