Employer Branding for New Startups
So you have your million dollar idea, you’ve worked tirelessly to secure funding and support, the stars are aligning and you’re ready to put the gears in motion. You have everything you need to push your business, except one thing. You need people. And you need good people with broad skillsets, because startups are startups and you never know where you might need help.
But where can you find these people? How can you compete with the big players in the employment market, when you are a new, small, relatively unknown company?
Fear not. There are a few simple things you can do that will help you increase your visibility and help you build a compelling Employer Value Proposition or job offer, without having to break the budget.
The “Why” – Your Purpose
In order to attract the candidates you want, you need to think like a candidate, and think about what it is that makes a place an attractive to work? Sure, pool tables and free beer are nice perks, but the bigger draw of a company is the purpose, or the “why”. Why does your company exist? Are you building a health app that will improve the lives of hundreds of people? Are you creating a fundamental shift in society by changing how we approach about a service – like Airbnb or Über? Are you building a platform that gives a voice to an underrepresented demographic? Whatever it is, your business is definitely doing something of value. Try to step out of the mind of an investor, and into the mind of a candidate. Don’t think just about money, but think about bigger “why” – what exactly it is that your company is doing to create value in the world. Most people want to make an impact with their work in some way, you just need to identify what that means at your company.
The “What” – Your Vision
Potential candidates will want to know that their job will still exist in 1, 2, 3+ years time. This isn’t usually factored into decision making when dealing with larger, established corporations, but with startups, it’s something that candidates will definitely think about. As a founder, you will need to convince your potential candidates that your idea has what it takes to go the mile. Your messaging should include a section about your plan for the company and show that it has been well thought out, is feasible, and supported.
The “How” – Your Values & Culture
How we do things around here – this is the most abstract element of the EVP and can take some time to define. How do you approach work? And how is that different from other companies? You might think that lots of companies seem like they have the same values and culture. But the culture and values of your company will stem from your values as a founder. And you probably consider yourself different from other founders in many ways, which means your company will be different from others in many ways. You just need to find a way to articulate this and write about it in a compelling way. This is sometimes easier to do in smaller organisations, because there are less stakeholders and influencers, and so you’re in a position to mould this personally. Some questions to ask as you develop your values:
- What is important to us and the business, and will this still be important in 5 years time?
- How do we make decisions/how do we want decisions to be made within the company?
- What makes us proud/would make us proud of the business?
- Would we be willing to hire (or fire) someone based on this value?
- What kind of behaviours do we like to see in the office, and what behaviours are a no no?
These are just a few ideas to help you get started – there’s no one right way to define values, and you may find a better way yourself, but it is important to ensure you do this in order to promote your company as a place of employment.
There are hundreds of places you can promote your employer brand. As a new start up, there are a few basics you should get in check first, before jumping into more elaborate options
You don’t need a big, elaborate career website, but somewhere on your product/service website should be a link to a jobs page, where you outline your EVP and where you post the open positions. This sounds basic, but you would be surprised how many startups don’t have this and then wonder why no one is applying. If there is no information about your company as an employer online, it will be difficult to convince potential candidates to join you.
Most job seekers will have a Linkedin profile, no matter what the demographic. It’s simple to build a profile and you can use the same information here as is on your job website. Just make sure to keep this up to date. This is a prime place to promote your company too – you can share new articles, and anything else about your company that may be of interest to potential candidates
Different job boards are more popular with different demographics. In Ireland, for example, Indeed is one of the most popular job boards. If you are specifically hiring for technical roles, then Stack Overflow would be a job board of choice. Do you homework and figure out where you need to be. Do not sign up to every job board – choose maybe 3 in total that you will have time to manage and leave it there. And ensure you keep them up to date and have consistent information across each platform.
If you would like personalised help with employer branding for your start up, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org