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In late February, Stack Overflow organized London's first Tech Talent Week, a series of seven events related to hiring developers and technical staff. We hosted the headline event, a panel discussion focusing on employer branding for technical talent, which featured leading experts in the field of recruitment. Our panelists included Bill Boorman, Matt Buckland, Andy Hyatt, Lauri Apple and Mali Mehmood.

There were three key employer branding strategies mentioned during the panel, all of which can be used to successfully attract and retain top talent and help grow an all-star development team. 

Be Authentic

Small and large companies use very different employer branding strategies when they're hiring developers. Start-ups tend to be introspective, striving to be perceived in a positive light. Often, they end up presenting themselves as something they are not - selling a dream rather than a reality. Larger organizations sometimes don’t communicate their cultural values and advertise salary benefits instead.

Although ‘selling the dream’ may attract talent, selling reality will help you attract talent that you can actually retain. So what do you need to do? The answer is simple - be authentic. With authenticity comes honesty, and it is honesty that drives success. What is it that makes you a worthy company to work for? 

 employer brand questions.png

Encourage Your Employees to Generate Content

A recurring theme throughout the panel was that of ‘socially intelligent’ recruiting. Developers like to talk to one another - so what better way to engage candidates than by involving your own software engineering team?

It’s also important to get your message out there. What is your company truly driven by and why? If you want to communicate these messages externally, then building a collaborative relationship with your development team is essential. Encourage them to create content- write a blog post, whitepaper or even speak at an event. Let them see the value of generating this content in a modest way- more often than not they will find it rewarding.

Once you start allowing conversations between your internal development team and candidates, the impact this creates can be invaluable. Andy Hyatt of BMTH said, “When you start allowing free-flowing conversations, what you see is actually the number of applications drop. They drop by about 50%. When people can actually talk to someone they realize they’re not the right fit. But what you also see is conversely, the quality of applicants increase. So conversions increase by about 50%.’’

Stand By Your Values

A question that sparked debate during the panel was, “Can you have one encompassing value proposition for everyone?” Bill Boorman of #tru doesn’t think that having an all empowering value proposition really exists. On the contrary, Mali of AOL said that when you communicate with your audience you should maintain one overarching message.

So what do you think the answer is? At the end of the day it all comes back to the same thing, authenticity. An employer value proposition needs to build upon a relevant and meaningful story. One that will resonate with the audience that you’re trying to recruit. In order to create a brand, you need to find out what it unique to YOU and remain consistent. Articulate this message both internally and externally.

There are a number of ways that employer branding can help you hire technical talent. When creating your strategy, remember it is important to be authentic and sell a reality, not a dream. Be honest and communicate your brand values based upon what’s unique to you and not someone else. Use socially intelligent recruiting methods by actively engaging with existing talent and encouraging them to generate relevant content. Create a consistent, meaningful story and incorporate this into the journey that candidates go on during the recruitment process. Remember, it is better not to hire at all than to hire the wrong person due to a misleading representation of your employer brand.

You can view the footage from our event via our YouTube account here. There are three parts to these videos:

  1. Strategies and Challenges
  2. Utilizing Employee Generated Content
  3. Employer Value Propositions

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