What 9 Chicago Tech Companies are Doing to Stand Out From the Crowd
As a tech recruiter, you know the hunt for top talent is on and standing out among your competitors is more important than ever. With the job seeker market 90% candidate-driven, qualified professionals can afford to wait until the perfect job and offer come along. However, catching the eye of exceptional candidates is no longer a matter of just dollars and cents.
In fact, the majority of job seekers are prioritizing the company over role responsibilities in their job search: 77% of adults assess an organization’s culture before applying for a job; 63% wouldn’t consider a job if it offered fewer than 15 days of PTO; 50% wouldn’t accept an offer from an employer with a bad reputation, even for a pay raise.
While every office amenity, employee benefit and professional development opportunity should be carefully tailored to your company, it helps to see what the competition is doing. Take a look at some of the Chicago tech companies we've featured who stand out from the crowd and see how you can employ similar tactics to boost your recruiting success.
Showcase Your Office Space
Considering one-third of the average person’s life is spent at work, it should come as no surprise that employees want to work in an exciting, stimulating office. Standing desks and breakout areas have become common in tech offices but to attract talent, you need to go beyond these must-haves.
There are real benefits to getting creative with your office space. In fact, 81% of job seekers would turn down an offer if they didn’t like the office. Don’t be modest about what makes your office unique — prospective candidates care about where they might be working.
We've helped tons of Chicago tech companies showcase their cool office space. Here are a few of our favorites:
ShopRunner’s Core Values-Inspired Office
For ShopRunner, core values are at the heart of everything it does. The e-commerce giant displays its core values — Boldness, Inclusion, Grit, Candor, Accountability, Spirit and Hustle, or “B.I.G.C.A.S.H.” — at the front of its office in bright neon letters.
“Every company has a list of values in some HR handbook, but here those values — the reason I decided to join ShopRunner — are front and center for every employee, candidate and visitor,” says Adhikari Ateet, Corporate Counsel and Senior Director of Strategic Initiatives at ShopRunner. The signage reminds employees they’re a part of a team working toward a common goal.
Salesforce’s Mindful Office Design
Work-life balance is a leading factor in the candidate’s job search, with 76% of current employees seeking positions with more flexibility for work-life balance.
But what if your organization encouraged this balance within the office? That’s exactly what Salesforce has done with its Chicago office. The SaaS company promotes well-being with a secluded, semi-private mindfulness zone, complete with books and audio recordings on meditation. In a separate reflection room, employees are encouraged to rest and recharge in any way they’d prefer.
The current floor plan just scratches the surface of mental wellness— the upcoming Salesforce Tower will feature a mindfulness area on every floor.
Play Up Your Unique Perks
It’s not enough to offer a standard vacation policy and health insurance — companies today are upping the ante. This is particularly true for tech companies where candidates are in high demand; a robust benefits package could be the difference between a good job offer and a great one, helping you close the deal with a prospective employee.
Office perks also influence your employees’ job satisfaction and engagement. In fact, more than 50% of employees said they have left jobs after hearing siren calls of better benefits elsewhere. Providing employees with perks and benefits that go beyond their expectations not only attracts new talent but reduces turnover as well.
In need of some perk inspiration? Take a look at how these two Chicago tech companies made their employee experience more attractive and enjoyable, and how we helped them show it off.
Focused Labs’s “Focused Hours”
Because they know employees have outside interests, the team at Focused Labs — a software services provider — makes passion projects possible. “As a small team, we are constantly talking about how to best use our benefits because we want team members to use them all — that’s why they’re there,” says Austin Vance, CEO of Focused Labs.
“We offer Focused Hours, which is time designed to help clients and teammates realize their own potential — work on personal projects, hobbies, go to conferences or tackle anything they think will improve their skills and craft.” The freedom of self expression is what makes the perk so desirable. “There are so many options available and everyone can flex those creative muscles that make good engineers and teammates,” adds Vance.
Label Insight’s Flexible Scheduling
Flex schedules and remote work are becoming increasingly popular perks with 32% of employees being offered flex schedule options. Of these individuals, 41% say it’s the most important benefit they receive.
Label Insight powers transparency between Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) brands, retailers and consumers so people know what goes into the products they use. The organization treats its employees with the same level of respect, offering catered team lunches, paid parental leave and a flexible work schedule.
“To me, the most valuable perk is our work-from-home policy and schedule flexibility,” says Brooke Bright, Director of Data Strategy and Solutions at Label Insight. “Outside of this perk being downright convenient, it represents the trust and value Label Insight has in employees. A random work-from-home day or showing up to the office a few hours later than normal helps me to relax and rejuvenate, coming back inspired and ready to hit the ground running.”
PowerReviews’s Employee Feedback Meetings
Employee perks don’t have to cost your organization money by doling out freebies or stipends. The team at PowerReviews — an online rating and reviews software — gives employees the opportunity to directly influence the company’s evolution during biannual one-on-ones with senior leaders.
“Every employee meets with a member of the senior leadership team at least twice a year for a ‘start, stop, continue’ meeting,” explains Kira Meinzer, Chief People Officer at PowerReviews. “Employees are encouraged to bring a list of things they believe we should start doing, stop doing and continue doing as a company, and then our leaders get together to discuss these conversations and figure out ways we can implement ideas.”
Giving employees the opportunity to voice their opinions and the power to enact change is a perk that keeps on giving. Not only does this approach increase transparency between staff and leadership, it also demonstrates how much the company values its employees.
Promote Your Professional Development Program
Professional development opportunities are perhaps some of the most lucrative investments in your employees. Soft skills and core competency training helps employees stay sharp, which is vital to remaining relevant amongst the ever-changing tech landscape.
Furthermore, supporting your employees’ career growth shows that you value them as individuals; if it came down to certifications and licensures, your team would simply hire more experienced individuals. Professional development is an important aspect of a successful employee engagement strategy, which helps retain top performers — 94% of employees would stay in their current role longer if they felt the organization invested in their professional development.
These organizations integrated learning and development into their employee perks, much to their teams' delight.
RXBAR’s Dynamic Job Descriptions
RXBAR — a simple-ingredient protein bar manufacturer — is taking off, and its leadership team developed an employee program to reflect this evolution. “RXBAR is an extremely dynamic environment, and our business continues to grow at an exponential rate,” says Leslie Joseph, Vice President of People and Organization at RXBAR. “Throughout this change, we prioritize constant learning and development.”
One of the ways the company enables its employees to grow professionally is through its dynamic job description program. “Every individual's role is constantly evolving, so we are always re-calibrating,” Joseph explains. “This allows us to openly discuss added responsibilities and new challenges on a quarterly basis, while continuing to promote personal and professional growth.”
The leadership team at Ansarada — a deal-making platform for major financial events — makes an effort to not only offer learning and development opportunities, but to encourage use of them. “Our leadership team cares about the success of the business as a whole and recognizes that, over time, employees’ passions can shift,” says Meg Suchy, Account Executive at Ansarada.
“At Ansarada, you truly have the ability to define your own career path, whether it’s a promotion or a lateral move across business units,” adds Suchy, who started at the company on the customer support team.
“After expressing interest to our leadership team in moving into sales, they helped me play off of my strengths and develop the skills to be successful in the role. With their support, I was able to grow and improve my skills, ending Q1 as the number one sales rep.”
Highlight Your Leadership Team
34% of job seekers want to understand your company’s prevailing management, an aspect of your organization that’s best told by your leaders. Making your C-suite accessible through networking events, industry conferences, even articles on your website helps prospects understand who it is they’ll be working for. Having this information makes it easier for candidates to accept your offer.
Check out how we helped Carminati Consulting and Pareto Intelligence leverage their leadership teams to attract the right applicants:
Carminati Consulting’s “Can-Do” Attitude
Being a female executive in the male-dominated tech industry is a tremendous step for progress, and one that deserves to be celebrated. We helped Carminati Consulting spotlight its fearless leader and President, Brittany Carminati, and her experience overcoming obstacles in her career.
“A can-do, hardworking and persevering attitude helps me battle roadblocks, as does leveraging the great resources that are available to women entrepreneurs,” says Carminati. Her passion and commitment to tackling challenges head on is inspiring and something that will attract like-minded professionals.
“Ultimately, we all gain our strength by enduring challenges and converting them into opportunities,” she adds. “We inform, inspire, and engage our employees to think innovatively, continuously learn and leverage their strengths to create.”
Pareto Intelligence’s Problem-solving Philosophy
Jason Montrie, President of Pareto Intelligence, is most proud of how the team approaches obstacles. “We’ve tethered our technological capabilities to a philosophy rather than a specific framework,” says Montrie.
“We approach problems with the end in mind — that is, how we are going to solve them. Then we look at the available options to do that, as opposed to committing to one or a few technologies to solve all the problems that arise. This philosophy allows us to be much more flexible, nimble and creative in how we get to the right solution.”
Job seekers care about a lot of different aspects of your company, so don’t be shy about promoting them. Giving prospective candidates visibility into your organization and how you treat employees will get them excited about joining your team.