Back to resources

Employer Branding Strategy for Engineering

Company Culture
Hiring

5 April, 2020

Ilya Kozlov
Ilya Kozlov

VP of Engineering at Taxfix

Ilya Kozlov, VP of Engineering at Taxfix, explains the importance of having a brand strategy for engineering and details points to reflect upon when building one from scratch.

Problem

Once you experience the contrast between a company with a poor, or even average, employer brand, versus a very strong one, you will never want to compromise. Great culture attracts great people. But how do they even know you are out there?

Actions taken

At Taxfix, we have an internal Employer Branding Manager who has extensive knowledge on this topic and helped us map out the process for engineering. Luckily, building an employer brand is similar to the process of building a product. It might feel a bit inside-out because you need to rethink fundamental concepts like "who is my customer," "what is my value proposition," and more, but most of the techniques you can reuse.

In our case, we already had a company-wide branding guide which had recently been built. As a result, we simply adopted it for engineering. However, if you need to build one from scratch you should reflect on the following points.

  1. Understand which problem you are trying to solve

    Every company has its own culture and values (they may not always be written-down). Use these as your foundation. You want to attract the most relevant people and not just in terms of technical skills, but culture and attitude as well.

    The result of this exercise should be a one-page description of your high-level objectives and key-results for the next 1-3 years. At this stage, you should validate it with your founders/manager, peers, and a few members of the team (recent joiners and veterans).

  2. Understand the full user journey

    Employer branding is slightly bigger than just a career page, an interview process, and benefits. Think of the entire life of an individual: how did they interact with your customer-facing product, what was their first touchpoint with your brand, what has triggered them to reach out to you, and what did their last day look like before they left their previous company? Design thinking could help you answer these questions. As soon as this part is done, don’t forget to validate your hypotheses.

  3. Understand your value proposition

    What do you bring as a company, as a team, and as a business to an individual. Perhaps you have a great vision but simply need a bunch of enthusiastic people to make it come true!

  4. Focus on relevant topics

    Once we identified our value at every level of the company, and more specifically for engineering, we focused on these three topics:

     a. Domain-specific language (DSL) we developed to digitalise the law,
     b. In-house build reasoning engine written in Elixir,
     c. The culture of internal open-source.  
    

 

These may not sound very interesting to you, but that's okay! We're trying to target very specific people. Validation of this is done via measuring conversion plus user research.  

 

  1. From strategy to action

    If you’ve taken all of the above steps and applied one of the strategy frameworks - for example The Business Model Canvas - you will have completed your strategy and it is now ready to be used.

    The logical next step would be to create an action plan for every objective you have identified. It could be a content plan for your blog or video channel, a new hiring process, attending or organizing meetups and conferences - everything that others do. But you now have a tailored brand for your needs that targets the people you would love to work with in the future.

  2. Learn and iterate

Lessons learned

  • Don’t take action before understanding the problem. I’ve had this backfire on me. I’ve been in a situation where the engineering team was reluctant to write to the company blog because “we used to have it, but it wasn’t working.”
  • Your company activities should not be limited by your employer branding strategy. You should still host meetups just because you have good relations with an organizer or because your team is interested in a specific topic. The same applies to your blog posts and other activities. Just make sure expectations are managed properly first.
  • Employer Branding is not a one-off project. Treat it as if it were a product.

Discover Plato

Scale your coaching effort for your engineering and product teams
Develop yourself to become a stronger engineering / product leader


Related stories

15 Tips to improve profile discovery on LI

20 January

Recently, I have read the book ‘Linked’ from Omar Garriott and Jeremy Schifeling on audible. The audio book is 7 hours long. If you dont’ have time or need a brief summary, read on

Hiring
Changing Company
Career Path
Praveen Cheruvu

Praveen Cheruvu

Senior Software Engineering Manager at Anaplan

A 3 tier approach to more effective recruiting

19 January

Recruiting and retaining good staff is amongst the top challenges for every business. There is a world where it's not always expensive, doesn't take an age, reduces lead times and actively contributes to the in-situ teams growth.

Changing A Company
Hiring
Juniors
Alex Shaw

Alex Shaw

Chief Technology and Product Officer at Hive Learning

Managing remote first organization

4 January

I was hired at HUMAN in 2021 to manage a team that went from hybrid to completely remote working environment because of COVID.

Building A Team
Company Culture
Ahsan Habib

Ahsan Habib

VP Software Engineering at human

Facebook vs. Google: 10 Contrasts for Engineering Careers

7 December

This is a brief comparison and contrast of Google and Facebook, as a place for one’s software engineering career. Both can be amazingly good places for engineering careers. But both places can be misfits for otherwise excellent engineers. This is a short differential guide. [Originally on LinkedIn]

Company Culture
Michael McNally

Michael McNally

Chief Technology Officeer at GraphStax

The Not-So-Easy Guide on How to grow and develop an Amazing A-Team

5 December

Your Org Team may as well be a Sports team. Let's explore how this cohesive, multi-skilled team can be optimized for Great Group Playoff.

Alignment
Building A Team
Company Culture
Sharing The Vision
Embracing Failures
Team Processes
Jaroslav Pantsjoha

Jaroslav Pantsjoha

Google Cloud Practice lead at Contino