8 Leaders Share Their Insights: How to Leverage Content Marketing In the Battle for Tech Talent
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It’s a unique time for talent acquisition. Just about every company these days is a ‘tech company’ and tech skills are among the most sought after in the recruitment landscape. Tech professionals are spoilt for choice and tend to look for more than just good money and company perks. They want a place to bring their ingenuity and creativity to the fore, and the promise of working with cutting-edge technology that opens the door to growth, new skills and exciting opportunities.
Career choices in tech are also increasingly influenced by a desire to do work that’s meaningful – interesting alone is not enough. That means that when it comes to attracting the people you want to your business, content marketing is possibly the greatest tool you’ve got. Content allows you to tell your brand’s story and show candidates who you are, and that’s your chance to stand out in a field of possibilities.
With this in mind, we’ve asked eight top employer branding and talent acquisition leaders from around the world to give us their insights into how best to leverage the magic of content in the war for tech talent. Here’s what they had to say.
Firstly, make sure you're being honest with yourself as a company. You can’t mean everything to everyone, and you can't be something that you're not. Having said that, you will have quality content or hidden gems that are just waiting to be unearthed and discovered. Don't just look at your TA team – look at all departments across the board.
There's content to be created from the onboarding experience, community impact, company values, company benefits (ones that make sense to share), employee success stories, etc. And you need to add some call-to-actions to get the most out of it.
You can showcase a variety of things. Specific to employer brand, you can do something like a blog and social media series titled ‘Why Join Us?’ that focuses on benefits you provide for employees and why job seekers should join your company. Other ideas could be a ‘What Success Looks Like To Us’ campaign that highlights a successful project or candidate, or a ‘Share Your Philosophy’ campaign that discusses what your values are as a company. If you want to attract people who share those same views and values, share it with them.
Gone are the days when companies could showcase their free beer, foosball tables and parties. Now, instead of showing people how fun your place is, you need to show people why they should join your company, the difference they can make, and the impact that your product has on the community. Job seekers already know that they'll get the free food and drinks, but they want more.
It's evolving, but the place most candidates look is on employer websites. The job board market is so heavily saturated that it’s challenging to find what they're looking for on there.
The best thing is to have amazing content on your website that causes a candidate to keep clicking around to learn more. Amazing EB content is critical. If there’s nothing to keep the candidate engaged on the website after they’ve clicked on a job posting, they may be lost forever.
At Danaher, our EB team does a great job of curating current and relevant content that I use to help tell a story. It conveys the spirit of Danaher Business System and how it's applied in many different ways, as well as the endless opportunities you have if you join our company.
People who know about us have typically read about us in business school but seeing how it is applied to help solve real problems makes it feel more real.
It's good to be aspirational but don't try to be something you're not. So many tech companies try to fit in with other tech companies when they should just be authentic. That said, I do believe some things do apply across the board: be open to remote work and don’t force the hybrid approach. Stop using stock photos! So many employees will take great photos – get photos of real people in their element (even if it means photos when working from home). And finally, be flexible about requirements and open to candidates who don’t tick every box – nobody wants to truly hit the ground running all the time and many want to learn something completely new and actually grow.
What makes you stand out is inviting tech talent to bring their skills to a diverse and high profile client base, where they can carry out impactful work that will get them recognised, and allow them the opportunity to grow and develop. The opportunity to take on serious challenges and get the chance to work with future tech is what mostly appeals nowadays.
I always say that content writing should be no harder than a conversation. Forget the blank page in front of you – just make a brain dump of your thoughts and viewpoints as you would during any normal conversation and sure enough a natural narrative will emerge.
Content that challenges an audience to think differently or offers inspiring viewpoints really seems to resonate and grab interest, people can see through the pieces that only scratch the surface with very little depth and they don't perform as well in terms of likes and shares. A piece of content should always be a worthy piece and to ensure that it is, I always apply the "so what?" rule – if the piece can avoid that question, then it's good for publishing!
Also, getting the right people to participate is key, so make sure you involve those who have a passion for what they do.
A couple of powerful examples I can share from CGI are:
"We have an entrepreneurial energy at CGI where you can bring your own ingenuity and creativity to the table. Your ideas will be heard and taken seriously. In fact, we always want you to feel comfortable in bringing your whole self to work and respect your work/life balance. We will always work with you to ensure you can thrive in both environments".
"We’re also resilient. Financial stability is one of our values and it’s served us well. If you join us you’ll be joining an IT company that is highly driven but also practical, giving you confidence in the way we run our business and your choice to be part of it".
I’d like to share a great example from CGI Canada here, which is our CGI Career Lab – a series of free coaching webinars, where our TA experts provide the resources to support all job seekers. Our teams simply offered their time and expertise to candidates, coaching them on some relevant topics like getting ready for a job interview, successful video interview dos and don’ts, understanding recruiters’ expectations and networking. All webinars with this added-value content were recorded and are now available on a YouTube playlist. We received so many encouraging thank-you messages from the audience.
Tech talent (especially experienced) have become the golden boys and girls on the job market, and the reality is there are several job offers in the air for each person. They can choose employers, benefits and technologies they want to work with, and choose where they relocate to, or if they simply want to work from home.
So I’d recommend starting with an understanding of why your tech talent stays at your company and why they would leave. We ran this exercise at CGI to engage and better understand our current employees, and it was very helpful.
For example, beyond some obvious findings on salaries, professional growth and training, we found out that our developers want to work on dream projects outside the job and are ready to share expertise! The question here for us as employers became, “How can we support that for them and other prospective candidates?”
As Vincent Mazrou said, “Don’t be interested, be interesting!” Copywriting can be very powerful when done properly (and it takes time and training!), but monologues, bare facts and shopping lists don’t cut it anymore. I believe empathy is key. It’s difficult to reach our talent without knowing what they care about and sparking an emotion.
There are many ways to measure the effectiveness of our content, like LinkedIn metrics, for example. Quality content will result in better organic reach, a larger talent pool and more openness from candidates.
Getting employees involved in creating content for your company should be critical to your content strategy. You can't go wrong with testimonials and employee storytelling. Candidates want to know the real people behind your company.
Show who your people are by sharing snapshots of their typical days working at your company. This type of content is easy, repeatable and straightforward and showcases the breadth & depth of your roles/careers. Plus it’s relatable and authentic.
Other ways to provide employee-driven content is highlighting your company culture to help build a lasting impression of your company in the market. Ultimately, when your employees proudly share their culture, accomplishments and accolades externally, people outside of your company can get a true sense of what your company values.
Competition for top tech talent with niche skills is fierce. Providing a competitive salary and benefits helps, but most tech professionals are looking for more – meaningful work, career growth opportunities, the impact they can make on their community, the tech stack, challenge, cutting-edge tools and work flexibility.
But having said all that, it is really about tailoring your ‘Why’. Make sure to listen to the candidate(s) that matter most and build out talent personas. What proof point do you have to validate why your company is a great place to work and matches with what matters to the ideal candidate/s? It is about showing them that people matter with tangible examples.
If possible, arrange informational discussions between the candidate and current A-player employees who share similar needs, wants, and motivators in which they can speak honestly about their experience at the company. In addition, build up a series of employee stories that help share the company’s impact and how the employees find meaning in the work.
You can't be successful without knowing who your target audience is as well as having alignment on success metrics. The ultimate measurement for us is: are we attracting top talent? Are they joining us enthusiastically? Are they thriving here?
Companies need to pull out all the stops to attract and retain the right candidates. My advice is to do your research because data is everything. Do you really know who your target audience is? Where do they exist? What platforms? What are their hopes, dreams, fears and aspirations?
Focus on delivering valuable, meaningful and authentic content which leaves them feeling educated and reassures them that your organisation is a good fit for them (not the other way around!)
Also remember that tech talent doesn't stick around on the market for long – streamline your recruitment processes to avoid missing out. If talent feels at any point of the candidate journey that they are being misinformed, or not being treated like a human, you can expect them to look elsewhere.
Whether it be podcasts, blogs, video, infographics or something else, what is important is defining the story you want to share to your audience. Areas to think about when planning what to showcase are:
Changing jobs can be a difficult and emotive decision. Quality content is invaluable and sharing it helps build trust in your employer brand. Every piece you provide is an avenue you have opened to allow them to find you. Take the time to understand your target audience, what inspires them and helps them grow. Feed them with content that will allow them to picture themselves working for you; if not right now, perhaps one day in the future.
The impact of your content can be measured in a number of ways:
Content marketing provides value through things like depicting a real-life scenario of a project or offering a platform for thought leadership. An example of this could be a ‘Day In The Life’ written by an existing employee, showcasing how said project kicked off, who was involved, the hypothesis and validation testing, the time for ideation, and finally, going live.
Crafted content like this gives potential talent a peek into the type of work you do and your internal operational processes, allowing them to see if they could add value and if it’s a good brand/role fit for them.
To attract highly-skilled tech talent,companies need more than the latest tech stack and adoption of an agile method. The company needs to enable creativity, flexibility, and an operational pace that is connected with both the business and cultural vision.
Being clear on what 'tech' is and how this looks in your company, will help bridge what is written in a job description to how it’s truly adopted and brought to life in practice. A great way for a company to show (not tell) candidates this is through their employer brand content.
If your business decides that content marketing can support your employer brand strategy, make sure you commit to it – but don’t over-commit. Define what this looks like and be realistic. There is nothing worse than researching a company and stumbling across their ‘latest’ article published in 2019.
Also, always define the role of your content marketing strategy within your employer brand strategy. Get clear on what content will be produced for each stage of the employee journey, and where it will be distributed. Using in-channel metrics will give you a pulse check on general performance, but don't underestimate the importance of qualitative feedback from both successful and unsuccessful talent.
Creating quality content is about answering the questions your audience is having. Website data, online analysis, and evaluating your current strategy are great places to start identifying where there are gaps or unanswered questions. By doing this, you’re able to draw candidates through your funnel with confidence.
You also want to ensure you are staying competitive, so regular analysis of the industry is important. The Facebook Ads Library is a great place to see other employment ads companies are running, allowing insight into what they are promoting as their value proposition.
To really “wow” candidates, you have to think outside the box. What types of interesting events or activations can you host? These give people the chance to experience your brand on a physical level, building a stronger bond organically.
To measure the effectiveness, traditional metrics and user behavior flows can be applied to understand the role content pieces play in the application process. If you don’t have the data capabilities to properly track the content your candidates are consuming, surveys are a great way to find what worked (or didn’t). Including a question in your new-hire survey such as “What stories did you see on our website or social media that influenced your decision to join our team?” can provide some insight.
No matter what your message is, there are foundational parts of content marketing that need to be applied to your strategy. Content marketing is identifying audiences, formats and distribution channels that align with your goals, which in talent acquisition typically focus on employer branding and recruitment marketing to drive awareness of opportunities to qualified talent.
You need to know what your message is, the audience receiving it, how and where to reach them, and how to measure your efforts. One incredible example that comes to mind is how Perficient showed its commitment to being a values-driven company that gives back.
Giving back to the communities in which we live and work at Perficient is important, and we used a kindness campaign called “Make a December Difference” to empower each of our almost 5,000 colleagues around the world to create a moment of kindness by giving them the equivalent of $100 to simply do something kind for someone.
The stories our colleagues submitted were more powerful than anyone ever could’ve imagined! They ranged from shining the light on hundreds of different non-profits, to getting creative by challenging each other to match donations, to several of our Indian colleagues even pooling money together and donating a dialysis machine to people in need! This campaign allowed each person to personalize the way they gave back and allowed Perficient to create a ripple of kindness throughout the world. Once we collected these stories, we were able to format them for the channels we were promoting them through, transforming them into content such as video interviews, company blogs, or social media posts.
Standing out is promoting the potential to maximise qualities the candidate sees, or would like to see, in themself. Standing out is subjective to the viewer and with the varying complexities within each of us, there are few chances to create a story that identifies with everyone, nor is that concept realistic. What is realistic is promoting the ways your company can actually improve the candidate’s quality of life and align the candidate with others who share the same values.
By showcasing what is authentic to your company, you allow candidates to identify if they are a good fit – or not. Storytelling helps emotionally convey feelings like trust, curiosity, and comradery, which produces more connection with a candidate than words on a page ever will. Tactically, stories from long-term employees stand out.
There will always be something flashy to grab one’s attention, but it’s how companies leverage those tools for their own employees and not just potential candidates that make you stand out. It’s important to remember that just as much as content can bring people to your company, it can also help repel them – in a good way! Not every company is meant for everybody. There are different flavours of culture and philosophies and, thankfully, enough to go around.
Showing exactly who you are as a company and who you want to be (and how that candidate can help achieve that vision) allows people to self-select in or out, bringing better-qualified talent through your marketing efforts.
Our society is also demanding a shifting of perspective. We are more collective, global, and connected. In my own case, I’m not thinking about how I can make Perficient stand out – I’m thinking of how I can help people see themselves here and thriving. From the candidate’s perspective, it’s about where you can see yourself doing the best work.