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The following series is inspired by the amazing Apple Think Different campaign from the personal computing revolution. There are a lot of parallels between that era and the” talent revolution” we are experiencing today. If you want to get all the feels, check out the vintage ad here.

There’s something really freeing about managing an employer brand of an emerging company. While we may not have the same resources to invest in mega media campaigns, programmatic ad buys or even paid social or search, we do have scrappiness, creativity and tenacity.

Running the SmashFly employer brand is a sincere exercise in all of those elements. We do more with less. We have to capture the attention of talent who may have never heard of us. And for someone who likes to frequently remind people that our audience “comes for the brand, converts for the job and stays for the culture,” it’s definitely a challenge when the brand they come for is one they’ve never heard of.

I love that we are crazy enough to think we can do this despite the odds stacked against us. Scrappy. Creative. Tenacious. It’s what the crazy ones have in common. We are Rocky. We can’t afford a fancy gym or a team of trainers, but we can use the tools we have right in front of us – tools that others likely overlook – to become contenders against the Apollo Creeds of the world.

The crazy ones decide that the status quo doesn’t work for them – in fact, it simply isn’t good enough. We fight like hell to prove that everything our industry (HCM) believes to be sacred is … sorta dumb. An example of one of those “sacred cows:” Hiring one person to do one job.


The Crazy Ones Hire People to … Do Many Jobs

Small startups have big problems that they’re trying to solve. They don’t have one project to work on; they have an entire company or category or vision (or all three…) to build. Last year, Stripe launched “Hire a Team.” When I read about it, I was like, “Wait? What?!” But it makes sense. Developers are highly effective as a team. Startup companies need a bunch of engineers to get sh!t done. So, why didn’t I think of this?! I didn’t – but they did, and it was insanely creative. I’d love to know their results, but regardless, the initiative garnered a LOT of free press and attention. #Winning. (Quick FYI: SmashFly tested the “Hire a Team,” and it didn’t work well for us initially. BUT, we will continue to test to see if it gains traction, because it’s important for us to consistently look at new ways to hire.)  


The Crazy Ones … Focus on Brand and People First

When I started at SmashFly over a year and a half ago, I fell in love with our team. We have the most engaged workforce I’ve ever had the honor to market. I’m serious: our annual employee engagement survey had a 97% complete rate. And after we launched our social amplification program, more than 70% of the team continues to participate. I found very early what our unfair advantage is: our team. We leverage our own team to take our brand messages and share them with their social channels. They do their own job every day, wear multiple hats and play brand advocates. Talk about hiring for fit and growth and skills!

Because of our employees, social became our top driver of quality candidates. Fun fact: Social posts about our culture drive more applications than social posts about open jobs…


The Crazy Ones … Know the Truth About Resumes

The other big sacred cow so many in talent acquisition still hold dear – the resume. This one makes me more than a little crazy. Why? Because using a resume to scan for quality and fit doesn’t work.

Today, the entire transaction of finding a job is built on two pieces of … _______ (what’s a better for word BS?). Those are:

  • The resume (a laundry list of former companies, titles, skills you may or may not have used in the role and responsibilities you may or may not have actually done)
  • The job description (a laundry list of standards requirements and skills you may or may not need for the role)

There are companies who have decided that these two hiring standards may not be what closes the deal – so they changed it. Buffer (one of my favorite employer brands!) doesn’t require a resume for every role. They would rather know why you’re a great fit for the job. Just tell them in your own words why you rock and what you’ll bring to the company. It sounds scary, and a little crazy, to not have a way to scan every person uniformly. But finding a job isn’t a transaction – it’s a relationship. And a piece of paper scanned by an algorithm or an overworked recruiter doesn’t foster a relationship.

The crazy ones – the Rocky’s – understand that their punching bag might have to be a side of beef .. for now. But in the end, their diligence, boldness and out-of-the-box thinking will have them running triumphantly to the top of the stairs. They’ll be glove-to-glove in the ring with the bigger, more well-funded fighters, competing for the title (or the top talent). They know that they likely have one chance to shine, and they won’t let that go. They fight with the resources they have and put them to work in creative, tenacious ways to win – and keep – the best people out there for their company.

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