Why startups struggle to recruit talent without a strong employer brand

I recently completed a project to communicate the funding cycle of a startup. The company has everything to succeed: great founders, products that benefit society, top investors and venture capitalists. It’s the kind of startup that can overcome any obstacle.

At the end of this project, the founders asked themselves: Should I invest in the employer brand? Should I hire a PR agency? The startup started just three years ago. I thought to myself, the company has a lot of budget needs, so why bother with employer branding so soon?

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Shoham Levy

Shoham Levy.

(Fabien Koldorf)

If I was asked this kind of question in January 2020, my answer would be “it depends”. However, things have changed, the competition has become fiercer. When the situation changes, you need to adjust your strategy. “do not have to manage constant PR campaigns, but must manage their employer branding strategy from the start. Previously, this was not the case. A company could be created by an entrepreneur and later decide on the employer branding. Employer branding is now one of the first steps in the process. Will it be needed in the future? I think so. The recruiting industry has changed, and it is just getting started.

However, trends predicted massive unemployment…

The story of job destruction made headlines in 2019. It was possible to find rational explanations for the future mass layoffs due to the technological revolution. When trend experts mentioned unemployment, companies believed they wouldn’t have to worry about hiring talented employees. Marketing efforts at the end of the last decade focused primarily on selling the company’s products.

The crisis that erupted over Covid-19 in early 2020 seemed like a fulfilled prophecy, allegedly. The government struggled to pay employees, while employers lost money. Combined with the printing of money around the world, these budgets have resulted in a large increase in investment. Tech companies have skyrocketed and received investments they never could have imagined. They have invested and hired talented employees. Meanwhile, the shortage of talented workers, especially in technology, has become an increasingly pressing issue. Talent prices have skyrocketed, as have wages and benefits.

Huge budgets have been poured into tech companies since the Covid-19 outbreak. As budgets were allocated to hire people during development, there is now a talent shortage rather than a funding shortage. It is the result of governments and central banks flooding the world with cheap money.

Therefore, when the rich get richer, they invest in the best to maintain their edge. In the era of the 4th industrial revolution, venture capital funds have been very successful. Startups that have secured their investments will face major challenges in executing great ideas when they don’t have the best team. For startups to hire the best employees, their brand and reputation must be established.

In order to catch the attention of the target audience of potential employees, it is necessary to tell a unique and interesting story.

Startups will face a talent shortage without employer branding

For the foreseeable future, the biggest challenge for all theater companies will be recruiting talented employees. In product development, marketing or sales, it’s the 5% that makes the difference. Is it so important? Absolutely. In the current situation, where money is no advantage for startups, success will likely come from a unique organizational core of teams built on true values.

Branding is not only about attracting talent, but also about attracting employees who share the same values ​​as the organization. We’ve seen large companies that had the funding but haven’t implemented a strategy in the recent past. When communicating huge employee parties, expensive perks, or when money becomes the first priority over organizational values, that’s very bad. Companies are now paying the price for their lack of strategy. Every management book says you have to have a strategy to be successful. The same goes for employees.

Hence the importance of executing a very organized marketing strategy to share these values ​​among potential candidates. Then a brand will be built among the employees. How does the HR team know that a brand has been built? They ask applicants, “What have you heard of us?” Documenting responses and finding the most repeated response is the most understandable mark.

Employer branding efforts and PR communication aren’t the only way to hire talent. They are, however, very important in attracting new employees to keep existing employees informed and engaged with company goals.

If you’ve never seen or heard of a car manufacturer, would you buy a car from them for around $50,000? The answer is probably no. If potential candidates have never heard of your company, they won’t even speak with your HR team. When it comes to startups, communicating achievements is a must, not just a good thing to have. Venture capitalists and angel investors ask the company to market their achievements because building a brand early on is crucial to all of their missions, especially if they want to attract talent.

In view of the new car decision, we all know that when it comes to employment, this issue is ever more important. Senior developers are more likely to be wary of an unknown company. They would doubt joining a company that does not communicate its achievements not only to the media, but also to its LinkedIn page. As our world becomes more and more communicative, messages are constantly conveyed. Businesses need to keep up and create great content for employees, customers, and potential employees.

We can only make meaningful decisions in our lives when we are safe and confident. The company’s success provides external evidence of candidate security as they choose from various offers.

As part of HR branding and marketing efforts, public relations is one of the most influential employer branding tools. Moreover, when we compare the cost of PR with the creation and distribution of content, there is no doubt that PR is the most effective and powerful method.

When the competition is fierce, you have to be a brand. When management struggles to gain market share and customers, it takes time and resources to build a brand. The intuition that we can spend money to develop employer branding outside the organization is incorrect. Management can consult experts in their areas of expertise, but the core values ​​and messages must come from management.

The author is the CEO of Creativity Value Ltd, a PR firm specializing in employer branding