Monthly Archives: July 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.

CodeEval billboard
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.

BlueCava food truck
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.

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Social Media Superstar: 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.

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!

Brandemix Bonus Reel: How to Become an Employer of Choice

Director of Interactive Branding, Jason Ginsburg, explains how an organization can get started on the path to becoming an employer of choice.

To learn more, please email us at employerofchoice@brandemix.com