The tech startup community is a hot spot right now. We’ve seen this surge in Silicon Valley for quite a while and now it’s spreading to other places around the country, including right here in Charleston. It’s extremely competitive to find and keep talent—Companies are growing at exponential rates, HR buyers are ready to purchase new software, and companies can’t find talent fast enough. According to research performed by Bersin by Deloitte and appearing in an article in The Wall Street Journal, “Nearly two-thirds of HR leaders…surveyed last fall said they plan to replace existing HR software and add new solutions within the next 18 months. They want integrated systems that streamline recruiting and make it more social, allow them to perform workforce and talent analytics, create an easy-to-use learning and collaboration environment, and make managers’ tasks easier.”
Charleston, SC is an interesting community for technology startups. It’s what we like to call Silicon Harbor. Many companies have situated themselves here, large and small, and the competition for talent is fierce. Companies need to stand out and figure out what sets them apart from the rest to attract the right people.
One big thing that companies sometimes forget when recruiting talent is that everyone these days is in marketing—not just businesses, but candidates themselves. Your company probably spends a lot of focus marketing to potential clients, other companies, customers, etc. But how many of you are intentionally marketing to your talent pool? Do you even have a talent pool?
If you’re not treating your talent acquisition strategy as a marketing strategy to attract new candidates and “sell” them on your brand then you are truly missing out. The world evolves around marketing. We love to see our favorite brands doing something different and cool on social media. We tweet them hoping they’ll tweet us back. And we crave human attention on these platforms. Isn’t that why we post things on social media in the first place? We crave that little bit of attention when someone “likes” us.
Brands do the same thing. We’ve known that consumers are spending more and more time on social media, and many of them just need a little human interaction from the companies they love. In other words, we need to know that the brands we love have actual humans working there and we want to feel connected to them. What is your company doing to foster that relationship with potential candidates?
We see buyers still taking recommendations from friends more than ads, despite being the most marketed to generation in earth’s history. It makes sense that how we attract consumers would evolve, and this theory needs to find its way into how we attract great candidates for our brands. You can’t just post job ads anymore. You can’t simply post a cool blog and think you’ll get some attraction. Job candidates need to be courted, nurtured, and then convinced why your company is worth working for.
At the end of the day it’s about creating two fan bases—one for candidates and another for consumers. You want to create moments that people will remember and refer to. Stories that change the way people think about you. The Internet holds a massive amount of information today. It’s overload. We are consumed with articles telling us how we should think, feel, and react to something. People want something they can relate to, something they can believe in and stand behind. They want something real.
What can you do to create a candidate fan base?
Be real. First of all, don’t be something you aren’t on social media. Show your true culture and your team members. Show the hard work that goes into your product, but also show the fun people have when they are relaxing or volunteering for the community. This doesn’t have to be complicated. Think about what you like to see from your favorite brands and incorporate similar ideas.
Be innovative. In a competitive job market such as Charleston, you have to reach passive candidates. The ones that aren’t necessarily looking for a job, but might be ready for a move if the right opportunity came along. Come up with fun ways for people to attend events with your company. Create a talent pool that doesn’t require someone to apply for a job, but just allows them to learn more about you without the commitment. Then interact with them, nurture them, and let them experience a little piece of your company.
Be active. Once you develop a strategy for filling your talent pool, stick with it. Work hard and stay active on all of the networks you are experimenting with. Don’t start with all of the social media channels upfront. Pick one or two that make sense for your brand and see what works. Be consistent with postings, content and exciting information. But also realize if something isn’t working then it’s okay to change it up.
Be a part of the community. People want to be a part of a company that does good. Get out in the community—as leaders, as team members, as a company—and give back. We can all do more to make our world a better place by improving our local communities. Allow your team members to choose things they want to do and go out and represent your brand. This will not only give you exposure but attract talent by showing you care.
Finding talent is hard. It’s even harder in a competitive technology market. People are harder to find and attract. At the end of the day you want someone who is going to be a great fit with your team and is going to enjoy the work they are doing. You want to create fans—raving fans that will in turn help spread the word about your amazing brand.
Follow Cat Carlos @GetHiredByCat