Monday, July 29, 2013

How to Recruit IT Professionals in a Competitive Environment

As the economy improves, the competition for talent is increasing. That goes double for IT professionals, who are always in demand and who often look to the Googles and Microsofts as their ideal workplace. How can less flashy tech companies hire tech workers in such a competitive environment?
I’ve found the answer in some recent case studies that involve smart employer branding and innovative recruiting. Here are three ways to recruit IT professionals:
High Traffic It was almost ten years ago that Google launched its clever billboard campaign, which directed job-seekers to a website only if they could solve a complex math problem. The billboard was placed on the 101 freeway in the heart of Silicon Valley, guaranteeing that Google’s “secret” message was seen by thousands of tech professionals as they drove to and from work.
That strategy still works today. CodeEval, "a platform used by developers to showcase their skills," is looking for tech workers. But because it’s in San Francisco, not Silicon Valley, CodeEval is often overlooked by the very people it’s trying to hire. So the company recently started a billboard campaign on the same freeway Google used in 2004. The billboard directs coders to an online game that requires them to calculate the shortest distance between startup companies in San Francisco.
The message of both the game and the billboard’s location is clear: A job at CodeEval lets IT professionals work near their San Francisco homes and avoid the daily traffic going into Silicon Valley. It’s a one-two punch that’s very clever and effective.
High Touch Last February, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer ended the ability of most of her employees to work from home. The announcement proved a perfect opportunity for competitors to steal some of Yahoo’s most talented workers.
Sara Rosso, VIP Global Services Manager at Automattic, immediately took to Twitter: "Disappointed in @marissamayer's ban on working remotely. Yahoo peeps, come to @Automattic! :)"  Marc Garrett, CEO of software company Intridea, did the same: "Hey #Yahoos: if you're being forced to quit come work with us @intridea. We all work from home!"  
Whatever you think of Mayer’s decision, these two companies were positioning themselves as more compassionate employers than Yahoo. In essence, they were telling IT professionals, “We care more about you than about numbers or rules.” It's a great employer branding strategy.

This sort of high-touch approach works for fields other than technology, by the way. Houston’s mayor, Annise Parker,
tweeted an invitation to NBA star Dwight Howard to sign with her city’s team -- part of a citywide strategy that eventually convinced Howard to join the Rockets. 

When two top neuroscientists left UCLA for nearby USC, they said how impressed they were that the dean of the USC medical school greeted the janitors during their tour, even referring to employees' personal details. Luring top talent away from brands as strong as the Los Angeles Lakers and UCLA is difficult, but Houston and USC show that it can be done.

Hot Food 
Sometimes the fastest way to a tech worker’s heart is through his stomach. Two years ago, Microsoft needed engineers for its Kinect for Windows team. The company hired a food truck to park between the offices of Adobe and Google in Fremont, Washington. Staffing the truck were Microsoft recruiters, who found a ready audience of competitors' tech workers as they waited for lunch.
BlueCava, which makes anti-fraud software, is expanding and adding hundreds of jobs. It has created a company-branded food truck that parks in front of competitors’ headquarters up and down California. BlueCava trumps Microsoft’s efforts in that the lunches they serve are free.
If that strategy seems too aggressive -- or desperate -- you may prefer the method used by Risk Management Solutions. To increase employer brand awareness, RMS recently rented a food truck and parked it outside a conference on cloud computing.
Image courtesy of
As you can see, tech companies both large and small are using innovative techniques for recruiting IT professionals in an increasingly competitive landscape. From math puzzles to personalized tweets to free lunch, companies are reaching out to passive candidates in exciting ways.
Brandemix specializes in recruiting and employer branding. If you’d like to learn how we’re revolutionizing talent acquisition, visit our website or contact us directly.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: Amtrak Careers

Jason Ginsburg, our Director of Interactive Branding, explains how Amtrak Careers uses Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest to connect with job-seekers in unique ways.

Ready to turn your organization into a superstar? Download our free Social Media Strategy Guide for Talent Acquisition or contact us.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Why Amtrak Careers is a Social Media Superstar

Forbes has named 2013 “The Year of Social HR,” and that includes social recruiting. I’m always searching for brands that are using social media to recruit in innovative ways. Joining recent honorees Taco Bell and Bridgepoint Education is a new Social Media Recruiting Superstar: Amtrak.
It may be hard to believe, but this organization based on 19th-century transportation is cleverly recruiting in 21st-century ways.
Amtrak’s employer branding statement includes some unique, differentiating phrases, like “Amtrak moves America’s workforce toward the future” and “Your success is just a train ride away.” The location listed on their Twitter profile? “Everywhere, USA.”
Here’s how Amtrak steams ahead of the social recruiting pack:
Top-Ranked Twitter
Amtrak Careers on Twitter alternates job listings with lots of interesting content, from travel tips (“the five must-see attractions in Seattle”) to photos and links that emphasize the organization’s commitment to hiring veterans. It’s a simple but effective combination: the Social Recruitment Monitor currently ranks Amtrak Careers as the #1 employer Twitter in the country, based on the account’s popularity, activity, and interaction with followers.
Plenty of Pinterest
Amtrak Careers is one of a growing number of brands that is recruiting on Pinterest, with more than 135 images. The boards range from Amtrak History (which includes great photos from the organization’s start in the 70s), to beautiful pictures of trains traveling through the countryside, to a board aimed at women job-seekers. As all recruiting superstars do, Amtrak Careers offers job-hunting tips on its social channels; there are boards called Interview Advice, Interview Fashion, and Words of Wisdom.
All About “You” on YouTube
Amtrak Careers has seven videos on a YouTube channel with more than 4,000 subscribers. The videos are shrewdly broken down into aspects of employment: Your Health and Wellness at Amtrak, Your Voluntary Benefits at Amtrak, etc., which feature plenty of employee testimonials. The main video, Your Career at Amtrak, is hosted by CEO Joe Boardman himself. He outlines the many benefits of an Amtrak career but doesn’t shy away from honest statements like, “We’ve had to make tough choices recently because of increasingly limited resources. And I understand there are concerns.” He goes on to say that “a strong team will help us expand and build a solid future at Amtrak.” New hires, in other words, will help build that future.
Fitting It Into Facebook
Amtrak Careers has a custom tab on Amtrak’s consumer Facebook Page, which has more than 300,000 likes. Within that tab are five “sub-tabs” that cover benefits, hiring events, and an FAQ that answers questions like “Will I be considered for other positions when applying for a specific position?” There’s also a video, photos, job listings, a Twitter feed, and an app that lets you see which of your Facebook friends is connected to Amtrak. All those features make this little Facebook tab more robust than some company’s entire careers sites.
From its authentic videos to its fun Pinterest boards to its commitment to veterans, Amtrak Careers is making trains cool again. It’s reaching out to a diverse audience on a number of channels. And if those metrics seem too "soft," just look at that #1 ranking on the Social Recruitment Monitor.  
For all these reasons, I declare Amtrak Careers a Social Media Superstar!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: The Importance of Employer Branding

A strong employer brand can lead to more engaged employees, which leads to great productivity, which leads to higher profits. So why do so few organizations have one? Director of Interactive Branding Jason Ginsburg explains how an effective employer brand is created.

If you'd like to learn more about Brandemix's employer branding services, write to

Monday, July 15, 2013

How to Build an Employer Brand

Many organizations pay attention to branding but overlook the importance of an employer brand, which defines who you are as an employer. Just as your consumer brand tells the public what your brand stands for, an employer brand speaks to your employees – from the newest hire to the CEO – and to your potential employees, the job-seekers whose first encounter with your company may be through your employer brand.

Employer brands also help job-seekers self-select, help HR recruit and train to the brand, and help the entire workforce promote the brand through their actions and communications. The effect it has on quality of hire can separate a good company from a truly great one.

A few statistics from Employer Brand International
With that in mind, here is a brief overview on the process to create an effective employer brand.
An employer brand deserves the same study and due diligence as any other major decision your company makes. That means embarking upon a solid research plan that involves employees from every level.  Typical research plans include quantitative, in the form of an objective, anonymous survey; qualitative, in the form of focus groups and one-on-one interviews; and ideation sessions, workshops for collective brainstorming. Participants can include employees, potential employees, executives, customers, and even vendors. Be sure to align the findings with your company’s mission, vision, business objectives, and consumer brand.
Once you’ve discovered how people feel about your brand, you should find your niche, the areas where you deliver a singular employee experience that no one else can match.
These concepts can be illustrated through an “employer brand architecture.” Your organization’s vision is the foundation of the structure. Your differentiators make up the “pillars.” The “roof,” your employer value proposition, is the single-minded expression of the benefits of working for your organization.

All this work isn’t just to have a catchy slogan on An employer brand positively affects a number of talent management concerns, from attraction to retention to employee referrals. A strong employer brand creates more engaged employees, which leads to higher profitability.
In 1994, a group of researchers from Harvard University published a study (and later a book) on the Service Profit Chain, arguing for a direct link between employee satisfaction, customer loyalty, and profit. Some subsequent studies put the difference between the best “chains” and the worst as high as 20% – which could mean billions of dollars. More recently, a study by Aon Hewitt found that companies with engaged employees outperformed the stock market by 22% in 2010.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a non-profit, a local business, a national chain, or a global powerhouse; every organization succeeds with the best talent. Build your employer brand and you’ll enjoy greater profits, happier, more productive employees, and a great culture that attracts and keeps the talent you need to fulfill your business objectives. Ready to create or refresh your employer brand? Contact me.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Video: Vine vs. Instagram Video

Which short-form video platform is best for your organization's branding, marketing, or recruiting efforts? Director of Interactive Branding Jason Ginsburg explains the key differences between Vine and Instagram.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Brandemix Bonus Reel: How to Become an Employer of Choice

Jason Ginsburg, Director of Interactive Branding at Brandemix, shows how any organization can become an employer of choice.

For more information, email us at

Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Become an Employer of Choice

A recent Gallup study found that only 47% of American workers are completely satisfied with their jobs. A MarketTools study found that 21% of employees had applied to another job in the past six months. Clearly, many employees are ready to look elsewhere for the next step in their careers.

How do you make them look at you? More importantly, how do you make your current employees stay with you?

Or, in short, how can your company become an employer of choice?  

Becoming an employer of choice means that applicants are eager to work for you, that people envy your employees, that you receive unsolicited resumes, and that your most talented workers stay with the company throughout their careers.

It's the holy grail for every employers. So do you achieve it?

There's no single answer to that question. In fact, coming up with the answer may require answers to more questions. Here are a few you should tackle:

1. "Employer of choice" to whom? 
Determine who are the people you want to run your business. Shark-like go-getters? Tech wizards? Ideallists who want to change the world? Employees of your competitors? 

Your workers don't have to be people who live nearby or happened to see your job listing. Create a vision for your workforce and strive to bring it to life.

The answer to the first question leads to the second: 

2. What do the people that you want, want?
A recent survey of college seniors by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that, when weighing a job offer, these workers look first for opportunities for personal growth, then job security, and then friendly co-workers. "High starting salary" didn't make the top three. So if you're offering recent grad lots of money up front but little chances of career advancement, you'll need to change your priorities to be successful.

There are plenty of workplace surveys out there, but you'll get the best information from your employees, your candidates (even the ones who turned you down), and your applicants. Ask them what drew them to your organization. What set you apart? What's still lacking? Accept the answers without judgment. You can't improve unless you acknowledge you're not perfect.

Spoiler alert: Answers to the next question may require collaboration with your senior leadership. 

3. What are you prepared to do to attract your ideal employees -- and keep them? 
This may require some changes within your structure or culture. You may have to increase perks, change policies, or even enhance your workplace with, say, a gym or daycare center or coffee bar. And that can't happen without approval of your senior leadership, who may not see the need behind such transitions (and costs). You can tell them that more engaged employees will lead to higher retention, lower hiring costs, higher  productivity, and eventually greater profits -- all true.

Every company wants to have an employer brand that positions them as an employer of choice. Who wouldn't want to have talent competing for you instead of the other way around? 

 So, in addition to the answers to the questions above, here is a short list of attributes of an employer of choice. How does your company stack up?

1. Interesting work
Challenging but not difficult; straightforward but not easy. Most workers want to be stimulated, challenged, or inspired by their work. No matter what your industry, are your positions actually interesting? Or do they ask too much or too little of the employees?

2. Career advancement
If you want workers to stay with you for their entire careers, you have to give them a career. This includes a clear path to promotions, regular and fair evaluations, and training for new skills. And don't forget about a mentoring program, which is lacking at most companies.

3. Social Responsibility
Many people want to feel that they're doing good. If your company isn't in the rainforest-saving industry, you can still recycle, partner with a charity, and engage in fundraising activities. This attribute also includes business ethics.

4. Recognition
Not just fair pay but also rewards for work well done and for time spent with the company. Contests (such as sales goals) also help employees feel valued, as can bonuses, free food,  and other perks. 

In closing, becoming an employer of choice isn't easy. It means taking an honest look at your current workforce and what you want it to become. It means acknowledging some difficult truths and making internal changes.

The rewards, however, are hard to overstate. You'll have the best workers, doing their best work, increasing profits -- and not leaving.

Want to know more about becoming an employer of choice? The door at Brandemix is always open.