Employer Branding with a Sales Mentality

WRITTEN BY: Jörgen Sundberg

In an increasingly competitive market for talent, employer brand and talent acquisition need to think differently about how to stand out to candidates and catch their interest.

One of our standard questions on the Employer Branding Podcast is, “What is your biggest challenge?” The response we hear time and again is that businesses large and small have a big need for tech talent even if they’re not a tech brand. The problem, of course, is that you still need to compete with those big, recognizable tech companies for the same pool of candidates.

We caught up with Kellie Buckley, Head of Employer Brand and Employee Experience at ZoomInfo, a B2B database and data analysis business for marketers, recruiters, and salespeople, to find out she advocates for treating your candidates like customers.

A Competitive Landscape for Tech Talent

The talent marketplace for tech workers has never been more competitive. According to Josh Brenner, CEO of Hired, one of the largest staffing and talent agencies in the world, businesses need to think differently about how they attract candidates and where they look.

“To win top engineering talent, companies have to offer increasingly competitive salaries, flexibility and most importantly, extend their talent pipelines outside of traditional technology hubs to other regions globally,” he says.

Hired has seen the demand for tech talent double compared to 2020, with candidates receiving twice the amount of average interview requests compared to two years ago. “We’ve also seen a leveling of the playing field,” Brenner says. “Companies of all sizes, and not just large or notable ones – now offer highly competitive salaries, especially as they compete for remote talent.”

How ZoomInfo Approaches Hiring Differently

In our conversation, Buckley makes the case that more businesses need to treat their talent acquisition the same way they would approach marketing to consumers. With such stiff competition for tech talent, you need to realize that you’re being evaluated as much as you’re doing the evaluating. It’s a different landscape than even a few years ago and there’s no guarantee that once decided to go with someone the feeling will be mutual.

Instead, it’s important to assume that any candidate you’re considering, especially if they’re tech talent, is fielding multiple offers from all sorts of businesses. For Buckley, the key insight they came to at ZoomInfo was saying to themselves, “We have to make sure that we treat all of our candidates like consumers knowing that they have a choice, just like we do when we go to the supermarket or anywhere else.”

With a sales mentality, Buckley emphasizes how critical it is that your messaging is succinct and targeted. You never want to talk to someone who’s coming in for a sales role the same way you would someone who’s coming in for an engineering role. You want tailored and personalized messaging based on who you’re talking to and what you’re hiring for.

What Can Set Your Employer Brand Apart?

So, how do you stand out? It comes back to your EVP, and some critical thinking around what your business has to offer candidates that they can’t get elsewhere. Every business is going to have a different answer to the question. On the Employer Branding Podcast, we’ve talked to businesses that emphasize purposeful work, internal mobility, or social impact. Compensation of course needs to be competitive, but note that it’s not usually the first thing to come up when you ask top employer branding folks about their hiring and talent acquisition strategies.

“I believe that what we do as employer brand professionals is the most impactful type of marketing,” Buckley says. Bringing new talent into the business and the culture that you cultivate and represent can have a big effect on the bottom line, and we’ve seen time and again how much revamping an EVP can do for an organization. Work in employer branding has never been more critical but, conversely, the results of a successful EVP launch are more impactful than ever.

To follow Kellie Buckley’s work in employer brand, connect with her on LinkedIn. To get started on your EVP, get in touch with us. We’ll help you identify the values and culture you want to create in your company.


Our newsletter is exclusively curated by our CEO, Jörgen Sundberg, for leaders who make decisions about talent. Subscribe for updates on The Employer Branding Podcast, new articles, eBooks, research and events we’re working on.


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