Employer branding

Smart companies typically operate in competitive talent markets. This means that the people you’re looking for are likely to be juggling several job offers. Competing for outstanding candidates with the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter might seem like a losing proposition but it’s not.

It can be done but first you have to realise that hiring is marketing. We live in what’s called the “age of transparency”. It has never been easier for employees to be able to tell who you are or what working with you would be like. Digital platforms mean that even the youngest companies can affordably showcase why they’re an exciting place to work. There’s more to this than just Tweeting your jobs. Everything you do or say on social media is building your brand.

PRO TIP: Intercom’s blog is a great example of doing marketing and employer branding at the same time.

You're speaking to two audiences: Customers & talent

In the early days, the way you market your product and the way you think about the problems you’re solving, says a lot about the kind of company that you’re about to build. If you become known for doing interesting things for your customers you will attract talented and ambitious people. Smart people want to solve interesting problems. They’re not looking for a job, they’re looking for a mission. Smart people want to work with smart people. Your presence in communities, your reputation, your contribution and ideas represent you. Use blogging, social media and public conversations to keep speaking to your ideal future hires. Signpost your involvement in events and your own content to make it easy for people to find out what you stand for and why you matter. In the same way you’re checking out prospects on Twitter,

PRO TIP: Buffer’s focus on transparency led to their Open Salaries initiative which has created huge buzz and awareness of them.

Who the hell are you?

In the beginning were the founders. The early hires in startups don’t have a company reputation to buy into so usually they’re taking a punt on the founders. When you’re in the early phase, it’s the personal brand of the founders that’s going to be the strongest component. Simple steps like having an engaging personal blog can project why you’re worth working for and what you’re trying to do. Let prospective candidates get to know you.

PRO TIP: We love Zendesk’s recruiting film for the way it showcases what it’s like to work for them.

Even in the early days of a company your employees become your brand and signal what kind of people work there. Chances are you’ve hired people who reflect your company’s brand and values well. Showcase your employees on your website and empower them to talk confidently about your business. Employees attending meet-ups and events or just going out with friends and speaking with genuine passion about their jobs are a powerful marketing tool.

Hire people who can build teams

Good people know good people. Hire people who are already networked and know much of the talent you’ll be needing. When you can, go for people with a personal brand. This is also a signal to future hires. Remember, some of your best people will be high-potential junior hires who will grow with the startup. So, always look for those who can nurture and grow your young talent.

PRO TIP: FullContact’s paid-paid vacation initiative offers holiday bonuses to staff who go completely off the grid. Everyone needs to from time to time.

Live in the real world

Don’t just be digital. You’re going to be employing people after all and they congregate at events and around offline communities too. Be an active participant in these ecosystems. An event sponsorship or even a few beers can go a long way.