February 2, 2022

How To Become A Destination Firm


Episode Highlights

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Hiring is easy when everyone already wants to work for you. And the strategy is incredibly simple:

Step 1 – Be good

Step 2 – Let everyone know it

The execution? That’s where the real work comes in. But it’s not some insurmountable problem.

Jeff Smith and James Hornick give away (some) of our secrets in The 10 Minute Talent Rant, “How To Become A Destination Firm”

Episode Transcript

All right. The 10 minute talent rant is live. I’m James Hornick joined by Jeff Smith and we are on the clock. The 10 minute talent rant is our ongoing series, where we break down things that are busted in the talent acquisition, hiring space, maybe even pitch a solution or two. Before we dig in, all of our content can be found on talentinsights.hirewell.com.

This week’s topic: how to become a destination firm. So this will be a little bit less of a rant, more of a branding 101 class, but we’ll kind of rant our way through it anyways. Sometimes you gotta take the trolling down a notch just to be helpful. Just a little bit. So definitions first. Like Jeff, when we say that, what is the destination firm?

So I mean, it’s pretty simply, it’s a place that everybody wants to work and join. And it’s also a place that nobody wants to leave. Simple as that. If your recruiter out there, you know there’s certain firms you just don’t even bother trying to recruit from because no one leaves that place. Right. They’re a destination, anyways.

There’s the short, short version of this is you have to not suck and you have to be good at talking about yourself. Okay but let’s make it a little more helpful and more granular than that. But you do- step 1, you have to be a good place to work. And this is a very deep kind of topic in itself.

You can’t fake it. I think that- I’m going to kind of, we’ll work a little bit under the assumption that you’ve built a great organization. I think there’s a lot of companies out there that have done that, yet they still struggle to hire, still struggle to talk about themselves. One thing, having a vision always helps if you’re doing something cool,

if you’ve got something cool on the horizon. I mean, hopefully your company is doing something cool, but that always helps in recruiting because that’s something that excites people. Yup. I mean your folks, they shouldn’t be jerks. I mean, big, big plus. Not only during the process, but like once they’re on board, it has to be corroborated in reviews.

You have to walk the walk. In our first set of values, like we basically stated work hard, make money, don’t be an asshole. Like it was a very simple, very three-step. I still maintain that anything beyond that is unnecessary, but okay. It’s really important to let folks speak genuinely about how they feel about you, and you being the company, your organization.

I personally feel very like open to be my authentic self. I look borderline homeless all the time, and Matt’s cool with that, which is awesome. But that authenticity attracts people to your brand. And I think it’s a really important, if not the most important part of this. It’s also why I still wear these

collar shirts from these shows. I have to offset your appearance, which I never know when it’s going to be, you know what I mean? You can’t have two guys look like you or else they’re just- anyways, I digress. No, I mean it’s just there’s no value there, obviously. So what are some of the ways James, that folks can get the word out about this?

All right. First off, and a lot of companies get hung up on this. You have to let your employees talk. Yeah. This is the number one biggest thing. Brand ambassador programs, whether they’re in formal or informal- and we can talk about that a little bit when I have some examples too, it’s literally the most effective way

to get people to know about your organization. If you’re a company of five, you’re a company of 5,000, if you’ve got employees that are happy with what they’re doing and you’ve got them in the mindset where they’re allowed to talk about kind of what they’re doing and what they’re happy with the place, it just, it puts everything else you’re trying to do on steroids.

The whole “Let’s make employee generated content” you just have to kind of let them do what they want and turn them loose a little bit. Now you can give them some direction and put some guard rails on it, you know, whatever. Whether it’s email, whether it’s social, it just has so much kind of incredible power.

What’s your take? Yeah, I think the point here is if you can interact with people genuinely, it works to the first comment. And I think the other part that ties into this for us, people don’t trust us- us being recruiters. Probably warranted, right? I mean, they don’t trust us. They frankly, don’t really trust corporate marketing cause everything is targeted.

Everyone knows that the game at this point. Like nobody trusts the best places to work list. You bought your way into it, you figure it out some way to get on that list. It’s okay. I’m not saying you shouldn’t try and get on that stuff, but all of that feels a little hokey. I think it’s important when a lot of genuine individual folks say the same thing over and over and over, like that can generate a ton of positivity.

So anyway. We talk a lot about who does this well. Who do we know that’s killing it in this? So, I mean, Qualtrics, I know some people in that organization. They’re great, astronomical employee satisfaction. They actually have a formal program. They have 700 employees in it.

Like they have 700 people who are willing and excited to talk about themselves, you know, and what they’re doing and what they like about the organization. They do video, heavily involved with LinkedIn and other stuff like that. But when you have that much buy-in, it really drives a lot of their hiring. Tasty Trade is- I’m a huge fan of this company. They’re based here in Chicago. I’ve been following them for probably eight years now. A lot of their staff is on Twitter and whatnot and very kind of sociable. But the biggest thing about them is they have a policy that everyone in the company answers any email, whether it’s from a customer or reviewer,

within 24 hours, including the CEO. You can bug those guys about any question you have about trading the markets and they will respond to you, which not many CEOs will do, right? It was unique to me when you said that. Yeah, I was bugging a guy this weekend about natural gas futures skyrocketing, you know? Like it’s cool.

Yeah. Refined Labs. Like we know these guys really well, too. They have a more informal program. I don’t think they call it this, but they just, they’ve embraced- they have their teams full of talented marketers. They’ve just kind of given them some direction, like encourage them like talk about what you’re passionate about and they do. And it really resonates well with everyone out there.

So your team being bought in on this stuff is more important than literally anything else you could be doing from like a branding or talent attraction standpoint. Anyways. Yep. So outside of human capital, like what’s kind of the second prong here? So online reviews, like it’s so ubiquitous nowadays, no matter what you buy, you’re buying a car, you’re buying a phone, you’re buying groceries,

like everyone checks online reviews for literally everything. And if you’re not paying attention to what your reviews at your company are, you’re completely missing the boat as well too. It works, not just with hiring, but with sales. There’s so many sites out there, whether it’s Glassdoor’s is the big one for hiring, but G2 and everything else, it’s just something you have to stay on top of.

Yeah. I mean, they’re going to look and honestly you cannot fake it. If there’s a repetitive cycle of like, “this place is awesome. This place is terrible. This place is awesome.” it’s obvious you’re gaming the system. It’s obvious, right? Like they’ll know you’re full of it. And I think secondly, if your employees are genuinely happy and you haven’t thought about this, it’s okay to ask

them to write one or develop a program where you’re asking folks to write how they feel. Like if you’re full up on like four to five star stuff, which is, and it actually has like legit critiques, like stuff like “they do this well, but they could do it better here” like that’s genuine. People are going to eat that stuff.

Yeah, two pro tips here: one, don’t gamify it. So I’ve actually, I actually know one company that was paying employees or incentivizing them to do it. And Glassdoor found out about it and they got all their shit all taken down. The full tech banishment. Yeah. If it gets out, like just don’t do it.

You first- you shouldn’t need to. Secondly, ask, don’t tell. Just ask them to write reviews. Don’t tell anyone and just ask once. Don’t make it weird, don’t make it a thing. Keep it at that. If they’re happy, they’ll do it. Exactly. What’s our third point here? Visible leadership- hugely critical. So a year ago, on the Employer Content Show I do with Nate Guggia,

we did four whole shows where we survey people in different skillsets: tech, marketing, sales recruiters, unanimous. Almost every single, almost every single response and every single skill set they wanted to know who they’re working for. Do they know their shit? Are they smart? They have a vision and are they just making sure they’re not a douchebag, you know. It’s as simple as that. People want to work for people who are smart, intelligent, and also just good people in general to work for.

It’s up to you to decide what you think Jeff and I are like- yeah, hopefully we’re not douchebags- but we put ourselves out there. Yeah. I mean, featuring leaders is super important. I’ve become more and more comfortable with it. You obviously were the great trailblazer of the Hirewell’s social, work but, do we have interesting insights?

I don’t know. But again, this is for you to decide. Hopefully we do. Are we going to respond to people? Like, does it just go into this vacuum where we put this content out and then we don’t actually socialize with people who like, think it’s great and who don’t think it’s great. Like it’s important for both prongs too.

And I mean, the overarching theme is if we’re all invisible, the entire company’s invisible. You’re missing the point on the whole thing. Yeah. And I’ll throw it out too. It’s not just about, it’s not just content, but also the interview phase, you know? Like if you have leaders who are just, they’re just not comfortable doing this, they’re not comfortable getting on Twitter.

Can you at least get them involved in the first phase of the interview process? Cause that’s getting further down the pipeline, but that’s a huge contributor in terms of people getting an interest. Yeah. No doubt. Last thing, point number four, like conversations are what humanize. Whether it’s conversations like you and I are having, whether it’s video or whether it’s podcast, homerun.

It’s great. Yeah. Scripted, produced, “professional content” absolute garbage- waste of your time. Don’t spend a single dollar on it. Nobody cares. People, they feel like they get to know you by listening to you, talk with other- even if they’re not talking to you directly, by seeing how you interact, you get people’s vibe, you get how authentic they are.

You just have a different level of connection. That’s why radio hosts and podcasters have massive followings because people would just hear them talk naturally and they get a sense of what they’re really like. So podcasts and video series, like I said, home run. I’m actually excited about- so LinkedIn’s very shortly coming out with like their own clubhouse knockoff.

Twitter has got that too. Not as high on clubhouse cause I’ve been rooting- I claimed it was going to fail. I think it is. I like being right about that. But when you think about, when you think about how people resonate with things on social media, like yeah memes get more views, but conversations are what actually build trust with people and get people actually listening. Memes are fun.

Let’s be real. I mean like anybody out there, if you’ve listened, we’ve gone way over. Hopefully the 10 minute talent rant has turned into just like value for you. Look, anybody out there can get a new job right now. If you’re even decent at what you do, like there’s opportunity. So like why aren’t the people that stay at destination firms leaving? It’s because they enjoy where they work.

I mean full stop. They enjoy leadership. They enjoy their coworkers. They like the challenges and frankly, they just like the vibes. It’s a solid place to work. So when those people are telling their stories out on the market, other people take notice. And we are short on clock. Once again, that’s a wrap.

Thanks for tuning in the 10 minute talent rant, part of the talent insight series, which is always available for replay on talentinsights.hirewell.com as well as YouTube, Apple, Google, Spotify, and Amazon. Everyone out there, see you soon.

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