It all happened so fast.
The first week of March, I flew from Chicago to Los Angeles to meet a few clients in person and attend a recruitment event put on by Built In. Before my flight, I had heard whispers about this mysterious coronavirus that was now showing up in the United States. All I knew is that the state of Washington was seeing a rise in cases.
Nothing to worry about, right?
My trip to Los Angeles was business as usual. However, at the event, the virus came up in discussions with several job seekers, and, at LAX, a handful of people were wearing face masks. The next week, on nearly every sales call, I started hearing about the impact the virus would have on business. By the end of the week, it was inescapable. We all began working from home indefinitely on March 13th.
Tech companies invest with Built In to help support their recruitment goals. By building up their brand and highlighting their presence in local markets, we deliver quality inbound applicants at the lowest cost per hire. However, like nearly every company in the tech space, the coronavirus forced us to pivot and adapt to a changing world.
Suddenly, companies that typically had 25 active, open roles now had zero. Companies that were planning on doubling in size were doing layoffs. The question quickly became how do we get our satisfied customers to continue to depend on and value Built In when one of their core reasons for purchasing — recruiting top talent — was no longer a top priority.
Shifting the Value Proposition of Our Product
At Built In, account managers are our customers’ primary point of contact immediately after they purchase our service. We help customers maximize the value of our products, share insights into industry and market trends, and continually support their recruitment and branding needs. Internally, our performance is measured on our ability to retain paying customers, grow our existing customers, and prevent churning clients at any cost.
We went back to the basics and focused on why customers invested in Built In in the first place. Is it for branding purposes? Is it because they need to promote themselves to engineers? To get quality applicants? Is it to help with retention? Does the content make their employees feel appreciated? Is it simply for maintaining relevance among their competitive set? Lead generation?
Built In’s service has many benefits, and our team was leaning too hard on the metric of quantifiable hires to determine whether or not a partnership was successful. In retrospect, I think we were focusing too hard on that data because it was a relatively easy metric to track. Figuring out the impact a service has on your long-term brand, retention, cost per hire, and morale can be complex, and it’s not always easily quantifiable.
While focusing short term on hires, we were neglecting the positive branding benefits that companies were receiving as members of our growing tech community. As we started paddling into shifting seas, it became obvious that employer branding was taking precedence over immediate hiring needs.
With all of the uncertainty, employees and candidates are looking at companies for signs of confidence. They want to see how they are caring for employees, maintaining culture, and innovating solutions. That’s exactly what the Built In community offers.
During this shift, I had a customer that was up for their annual renewal. They were no longer hiring and were keeping their budgets very tight (understandably so). They were also in the middle of raising a round of funding. They suggested we punt on the renewal and revisit in the fall. They had seen great results from being a member of Built In, so rather than defend our product/service, I pointed out the true cost of not renewing with us.
They were doing all the right things in promoting themselves (LinkedIn, Facebook, blogs, etc.) as a strong company that was doing good. Suddenly removing their top performing employer branding tool would hurt their top-of-funnel pipeline, potentially worry current employees about their future, and ultimately damage their visibility among consumers.
The client ended up changing its mind and renewed with us, with the primary goal of keeping its brand relevant during these difficult times. This approach stuck.
Educating Our Customers About Employer Branding
Instead of pitching our product with the end goal of hires, we began positioning Built In for its branding benefits. Your employer brand is what job seekers and employees really think of your company. You have an employer brand, whether or not you actively manage it. Candidates and employees have an opinion about your company, and if you aren’t working to influence it, it’s going to cost you.
A strong employer brand helps attract top talent not only today, but months and years down the road. It’s not a short-term solution, and will remain how we position our product going forward, regardless of the economic circumstances. Using data, we helped educate our customers on the importance of employer branding.
- 95 percent of candidates identify a company’s reputation as a key consideration when exploring new career opportunities.
- 69 percent of candidates would reject an offer from a company with a bad employer brand, even if they were unemployed.
- Companies with a poor employer brand must offer a minimum of a 10 percent pay increase to lure top talent.
- 40 percent of passive candidates would accept a new position without an increase in pay if the company had a good employer brand,
- As much as 23 percent of the 18- to 34-year-old workforce would accept a pay cut for an opportunity to join a company with a good employer brand.
Employer branding is not an on/off switch. It’s an ongoing process that requires months of ramp up. The companies that maintain their brand equity are poised to win when life returns to normal. The companies that pause will be playing catch up.
We ripped up old decks and started from scratch.
By repositioning Built In for its long-term branding benefits, over hires, we’ve been able to get back to the roots of helping tech companies achieve their goals. Because the moment the economy picks back up, Built In’s responsibility is making sure that you are ahead of the curve of competition in having a passive talent pipeline.