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Improving employer brand

Creating an agile, inclusive employer brand

Attract and retain tech talent—no matter which industry you’re in.

As every industry digitizes, the supply and demand of skills are constantly evolving. Currently, the lack of talent supply is a risk for companies that want to accelerate the adoption of new technology. And demand will only continue to increase as more companies grow their cybersecurity, development, and data science functions to stay competitive.

The urgency to attract tech talent is felt by brands outside of your typical competitors. Companies that don’t hire don’t innovate, and companies that don’t innovate struggle. The pressure is on.

So how do you attract talent to the tech roles at your company? With an agile, inclusive brand.

Is your brand agile?

“Agile” is a mindset based on speed, adaptability, and collaboration.

What does agility have to do with brands? An agile brand stays relevant over time by adjusting to fast-moving market conditions. It’s a brand that stays consistent so that the audience knows what to expect, and yet is always innovating. It’s a brand that uses authentic storytelling and moves quickly to adjust based on feedback and data-driven business strategy.

Is this sounding…like your job?

Recruiters are at the forefront of bringing agile, inclusive brands to life. To attract top early talent, you’re essentially a talent brand evangelist (or an influencer, which we’ll get to later).

Agile project management is rooted in software developers evolving how they work to bring products to market faster as the internet took off.

Ready to create an agile, inclusive brand that resonates with early talent and stands out from the crowd? Here are some tips to get you started.

Act like an influencer

Since Gen Z is likely to discover new brands through influencers, put your influencer hat on! Agile brands are where the talent is. Check out primary sources where Gen Z is learning about employers and looking for jobs—like TikTok, Handshake, and YouTube—and build a presence with authentic video storytelling: give an office tour, showcase your WFH setup, ask an intern to share tips about the application process. Hashtag away!

Recruit for a wide range of skill sets

It makes sense to source classically trained tech talent, like computer science majors or recent grads from top engineering schools. But 44% of students on Handshake with technical skills are actually in other majors, like Business or Math. Our data shows a 2.3X increase in technical candidates when taking a skills-based hiring approach. Attract talent from that untapped pool and you won’t be competing for the same students as everyone else!

“When we’re recruiting for IT talent, our brand is FinTech. When we’re recruiting for equity capital markets, our brand is the premiere alternative to Wall St. We have the ability to pivot really quickly and change the brand to fit the student.”

Hear more on how Raymond James recruits early talent with an agile brand

Stand out with speed

A central tenet of agility is speed. Tech talent often receives numerous offers and are used to rapid recruiting processes. If 57% of job seekers are impatient about the waiting period after an interview, be the brand that stands out with a clearly communicated, swiftly moving candidate experience.

Curate branded events

If your industry isn’t one that usually brings “tech” to mind, curate events tailored to specific audiences to expand brand awareness. Host a hackathon, offer a networking event for early talent to meet more experienced tech talent, and gain additional insight into your top candidates through interactive events while improving your brand recognition with Gen Z tech talent.

Although Comerica Bank is among the 25 largest financial holding companies in the US, they needed to boost brand awareness to remain competitive. That meant reassessing how they promoted positions that aren’t usually associated with banking—including technology and cybersecurity opportunities. Find out how they use Handshake to attract candidates

Get intentional about hiring diverse candidates

The tech industry is notorious for its diversity gap, with a workforce that’s 68% white. And Gen Z is steadfast about working for an employer that’s committed to diversity. To be an inclusive brand, build into the candidate experience opportunities for women in tech to network. Highlight testimonials from BIPOC employees so that early talent can see people like themselves at your organization. Better yet, commit to publicly posting your workforce’s demographics.

Partner with bootcamps & training programs

Put recruiting resources into organizations already active on Handshake, like SANS (SysAdmin, Audit, Network, and Security) Technology Institute, Tech Elevator, and Generation USA. Co-sponsor capstone projects, support one of your leaders to become an adjunct instructor, and cultivate mentors within your workforce to help guide tech talent into your company.

Showcase career pathways

Almost 50% of 2024 graduates say they’re more likely to apply to a company that provides employer-sponsored upskilling resources. An agile brand trying to attract talent should highlight growth potential, from opportunities to learn new skills to transparency into pay bands and promotion cycles.

Transparency into career pathways should begin before new hires join. To foster a more inclusive, less intimidating candidate experience, Coding it Forward leveraged Handshake to connect candidates from underrepresented backgrounds to alumni in similar roles. Find out how this approach resulted in a 187% increase from applicants from underrepresented groups

Stay on top of trends in benefits

Do a periodic competitive analysis of brands you admire, and find out where you might be able to beef up your package to attract top talent. For example, Gen Z is looking for benefits that address mental health and wellness. These benefits double as retention strategies to help prevent burnout and quiet quitting.

Offer flexibility and hybrid work

Early talent today has come of age in a fast-paced, digital world with platforms that foster remote relationship-building and collaboration. Since 3 in 5 Gen Zers prefer to work in a hybrid environment—with the flexibility to work remotely, and opportunities to connect in person and learn office norms—be open minded about how jobs are structured and how you’re attracting tech talent with hybrid work.

Infuse values into the job

It’s been well reported that Gen Zers care deeply about sustainability and the environment. An IBM survey found 69% of the potential workforce would take a job at an organization they consider sustainable. If your employer offers early talent an opportunity to commit their skills to supporting a cause, you can compete with the big names in tech.

Encourage experimentation with roles

While 85% of jobs in 2030 don’t exist yet, early career job seekers don’t necessarily know the exact job they want to land today. Whether you’ve always known what you want to do when you grow up, or are still figuring it out, you can probably relate to trying new things to grow in your career. Provide experiences that expose recent grads to different ways to use and grow their skills—and plan for the future of work.

Find out why Comcast’s strategic focus on early talent is an agile strategy that builds long-term competitive advantage, and get inspired by their rotational program.

Assess for skills gaps

Agile brands will continuously assess for skills gaps and set hiring goals based on changing skill needs. Given how rapidly technical skills become outdated these days, identify skills that are transferable across many occupations and roles, then train talent in-house on your specific needs.

Stay agile to prepare for the future of work

Looking ahead, tech occupation employment is expected to grow around 2x the rate of overall employment in the US. Since agile brands aren’t bogged down by the status quo, consistently evolve your tech hiring strategy to fill your funnel.

Remember: early talent today has more career and industry options than any other generation. And the cost to acquire recent grads is as much as 50% lower than more experienced hires, who are difficult to find and lure away from the lucrative jobs they’re already in. Focus on hiring early talent externally and approach retention with agility, too: by offering upskilling, growth, flexibility, exploration, and purpose. Create a culture and brand known for innovation, experimentation, and variety.

No one knows exactly what the future of work is—but you want to be prepared for it. How? Use your agile, inclusive brand to attract the most talented tech workforce.

Leverage Handshake to stand out from the competition. Hear directly from Gen Z about what they’re looking for from their next employer →

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