Tailoring your employer brand for tech…how to get the best talent to want to work for you

Tech talent – often seen as Unicorns of the recruitment game. 

61% of CEOs say a shortage of great dev talent is more of a threat to their business than investment; talent acquisition teams anecdotally tell us that they struggle to compete with ‘cooler’ tech businesses on either brand reputation or perks and pay and often, there’s discord between the consumer brand and employer brand.

For example, a slot machine gaming platform that caters for 50+ females with a talent requirement of bright University graduates who demonstrate high levels of skill.  It’s highly likely those graduates haven’t even heard of the brand as they’re not the right target audience and amongst their peer group there will be ‘cooler’ better known brands to aspire to work for. 

So as a talent acquisition leader under pressure to hire great tech talent for a brand that’s not necessarily got talent throwing themselves at you, what do you do?  You start with marketing.  

For some businesses, their consumer brand feeds their employer brand, for others, you’re targeting two completely different audiences with different messages. 

To add another layer of complication, employer brand can’t be one size fits all.  You need to tailor your messaging according to who you’re trying to attract.  For example, what interests a management accountant in working for your business will probably be different to the motivations of a tech professional.  

In this case we’re focused on hiring tech, so what does your employer brand need to demonstrate to attract the right tech candidates? 

Research from the Stack Overflow Insights Report, 2019 highlights:

  • 51% of developers are self-learners, learning to code by themselves through accessible online resources.
  • Developers working in small companies are more professionally fulfilled than those in large groups 
  • 80% of developers work on code outside of work as a hobby
  • 68% of developers consider that the ability to learn new things is more important than salary when considering a new role

What we can deduce from that, as well as anecdotal evidence we’ve gathered is that there are a handful of areas in your employer brand that can be easily tailored to attract a tech audience. 

For them it’s all about the projects, what they’ll learn, how much autonomy they have to be creative.  If you’ve provided that kind of non linear development with an environment that motivates them, your consumer brand suddenly becomes less of an issue:

  • Attraction messaging 
  • Communication channels 
  • The candidate experience during assessment and on-boarding 
  • Working conditions 
  • Gamification of projects 
  • Learning and development 
  • Benefits 

Based on this research, we’ve developed a check list of ideas that have the potential to change, or promote your employer brand perception in the mind of the tech candidates you’d most love to work with. 

Case Studies
Do you have case studies written for tech talent, by tech talent, showcasing your most interesting recent projects?

Dedicated developer blog
Do you have a blog written by tech professionals for tech professionals? Check out this example from Monzo. They talk in detail about specific projects and problems they’ve solved, providing candidates with detailed insight into what a day in the life might look like in your company.

Tailored job adverts 
Do you tailor your job adverts in a way that inspires tech talent to take action? A simple ‘about us’ won’t cut it for this audience. Lead with the most unique and attractive aspects of the project or tech stack they’ll be working on. In many cases, incorporating a logo of programming language or software will have far more impact than a text-based explanation. checklist how does your employer brand measure up when it comes to tech talent?

Social proof 
Are you leveraging social proof? Using employee testimonials and leveraging employee advocacy from your current tech team will exponentially increase your success. In tech in particular, there’s nothing more powerful than positive insights from their peers.  This is one of the reasons employee referral and advocacy platforms work so well in the tech community – because they’re very well networked; share a common passion and spend a lot of time online they’ve got fantastic access to diverse talent pools. 

Competitor analysis 
Do you conduct regular competitor benchmarking against salaries and benefits to ensure what you’re offering to candidates matches up?

Bespoke benefits
Have you considered redefining your benefits package to attract specific talent? A benefits package for a tech employee may differ from customer service for example – but advertising a bespoke benefits package can really enhance your employer brand.

Promoting your tech stack
Your brand may not be the coolest or most sought after in the tech talent market. But by promoting the virtues of your tech stack, you may just spark the interest of some great talent.

Nonlinear career paths
Tech talent have an appetite for fast moving personal development. They’re often self-taught and motivated by constant learning and development. If this is something you can offer, make it a part of your employer value proposition.

Real time communication 
Tech talent are used to using technology to communicate instantly through platforms like Slack. Is your HR or Talent Acquisition team readily available for real time communication with both new talent and existing employees? It’s a real bonus if you are, as it positions the brand as forward thinking and tech savvy in the mind of the people you want to engage with.

There’s a multitude of actions you can take to make your brand more attractive to a tech audience, improving the volume and quality of applications and hires.  

For more support on hiring tech talent download our whitepaper or book a demo to find out how employee referral could revolutionise hiring for tech. 

Learn more about how you can source tech talent today.

When it comes to hard to fill developer roles – have you thought about this?

the problems companies face when trying to attract great tech talent

If you’re a tech business or hiring manager you’ll know how hard it is to attract great tech talent for developer and engineering roles.  Developers who fit your tech stack and who have the skills and commercial understanding to grow the company and develop the product for the future are Unicorns, very rare and tricky to pin down if you’re lucky enough to find one.

In a report from Digital Ocean, hiring managers ranked the following as the most challenging aspects of hiring for these roles:

  1. Lack of formal software engineering education (39%)
  2. Limited pool of candidates with relevant job/technical skills (18%)
  3. Lack of soft skills/workplace competencies (15%)
  4. Losing top candidates to competing offers (15%)
  5. Salary demands too high (13%)

For a tech business, not being able to hire developers and engineers has a huge impact on revenue.  Not having the right talent in place means missed deadlines, projects being left incomplete and a total inability to scale up.

For hiring managers, developer roles bring an onslaught of frustrations from achieving stretching D&I targets as the talent pool is largely male to huge amounts of wasted time on candidates who are unable to fill even baseline requirements.

Traditional hiring methods aren’t providing the quality or volume of developer candidates required to make a great hire.  Niche job boards, sector focused recruitment agencies and social media go some way to filling the talent pipeline, but there’s a huge database of talent that is currently untapped.

Your employee’s personal networks.

untapped networks at your fingertips

On average, individuals on LinkedIn have 930 connections.  Facebook 338.  Twitter 707.  Let’s take the example of a 20 person organisation.  Potentially you’ve got an untapped audience of 39,500 people.  And that doesn’t take into account the fact that your current tech team are probably active on sites like GitHub, which has a user base of over 40 million tech professionals.

accessing employees networks

It’s no secret that referrals make great hires.  Cost per hire is significantly reduced and retention rates for organisations operating an effective referral scheme average a 46% retention rate in comparison to industry averages of 33%.

Historically employee referral schemes have a high failure rate for one or more of the following reasons:

  1. A lack of ownership internally
  2. Leadership buy in
  3. Manual rather than automated through tech
  4. Lack of employee buy-in
  5. Weak employee advocacy
  6. The wrong incentives

The primary foundation for a great referral scheme is building employee advocacy.

Employee advocacy goes deeper than employees promoting an organisation’s brand.  It’s a culture of believing in the content a firm produces and actively seeking opportunities to share that content and the job roles available.

According to Hinge Research, 80% of businesses do not have a formal employee advocacy program in place.  That’s a huge competitive advantage to those that do.

so what should you consider when using referral to attract great tech talent?

If you’re going to introduce an employee referral scheme where the goal is building a tech talent pipeline, it’s critical you consider the personality traits and motivators of that specific audience.

Your ideal employee referer for development or engineer roles is likely to be your own tech team so you need to carefully consider the following:

  1. They know tech, it’s their passion, so using the best quality employee referral technology is critical to generate engagement.
  2. If you decide to roll out a piece of referral technology, be mindful that the language you use to roll it out to the wider business may be very different to the language you need to use for the tech team.  Stick to the facts and the merits of the tech.  They’ll be interested in benefits, features and the back end development.
  3. Review your content strategy.  Building employee advocacy requires employees to be engaged with your brand, believe in its value and be inspired to share the content you’re posting.  It’s not just about being rewarded for sharing job ads.  Consider the subject matter and the language.  Keep content for a tech audience short, factual and to the point.  Don’t over explain.
  4. Gamification is a great way to create and maintain engagement with your referral scheme.  Putting tech teams in competition against each other to share the most, or increase referrals is likely to appeal to their nature.
  5. When offering rewards for sharing content or referring someone for a role, make sure you get feedback from the tech team on what motivates them.  There’s a tendency to assume monetary rewards work best, but it’s often not the case. You also can’t assume that what motivates someone in the finance team for example will be the same for someone in tech.

Developers and engineers will continue to be a challenging area to recruit for.  There is a war for talent, but if you can become part of the 20% using employee advocacy and referrals effectively, this will position you head and shoulders above the competition, filling your talent pipeline, reducing time and cost to hire and supporting you to scale.

Learn more about how you can source tech talent today.