Building Employment Brand through your Recruiting Messages

At Gray Scalable, we consult on all things hiring for different tech companies - early to late stage, B2C, B2B, FinTech, SportsTech, FarmTech - you name it. As part of our work we’re almost always asked to help with building or improving the employment brand for the company, especially as it relates to hiring for technical roles.  

Often, companies have difficulty getting started with the overall strategy, most notably with the content part of it, and get stuck trying to figure out who has the time to edit and maintain career sites, photos, videos, etc.... All of this critically important, and things we like to help our clients with. One critical part of branding we often see left out of the conversation, are the  recruiting messages.

Recruiting messages (emails, InMails… etc) are often viewed as only a “just in time” strategy deployed to hire a specific person for a specific role immediately. While this is an important tactic to help make hires, we view it differently at Gray Scalable. Investing budget in branding and creating content is challenging to begin with because it’s hard to predict what’s going to work. A great employment brand starts and ends with the quality of your recruiting messages.

Being that my team is comprised of tech recruiters - not marketers, we tend to stick to our guns and leverage messaging to figure out what works and what doesn’t with a client’s brand. We’ve learned that by combining a direct and consistent approach to recruitment messaging with a little patience, we can more clearly figure out what is resonating with candidates and helping to shape the view of our client’s organizations.   


First, there are technical things great recruiters do, like make sure to select and target the right candidates to reach out to. Sr. Back-End Engineers who have Java experience aren’t thrilled hearing about Junior Javascript Front-End Developer roles. Second, we try not to treat each message as a magic bullet, but rather an opportunity to start, continue or finish telling a story over a short series of messages that increases the chances of conversion in the short term and builds brand equity for the long term.

A lot of recruitment messaging out there presents an insecure, jumbled message bragging about things like funding, celebrity investors or perks and have nothing to do with what a candidate may care about or experience on the job. In tech now more than ever, candidates see right through this. How they think about their jobs, careers, and work is also becoming diverse - candidates are looking for personalized opportunities they can feel good about that will drive their ambitions forward. We find that the best employment branding simplifies and prioritizes what is uniquely valuable about what your company can offer a candidate. Mixing the right combination of what you can offer in your messaging helps candidates connect the personalized journey they want to take, with what you have to offer.


Across all of our technical hiring engagements there is interplay between employment branding, sourcing candidates and making hires (especially hiring engineers). While we work closely with the hiring manager on outreach strategy and measure messaging conversion performance to hit short term goals (hires!), we also stress the importance of building your brand through messaging for long term impact.

It can be challenging for us, and frustrating for them to try to work through why candidates are not responding to really great messaging that has proven to work in the past at other companies for similar job requirements. The important thing is, everyone is working on conversion, but not on compromising the opportunity to build a brand through messaging. What we have found works best for both short and long term goals, is to create a consistent messaging structure and stick to it. Apply this thinking to 3-5 messages over 6-8 weeks and you’ve set a good first impression for each candidate as to what your company has to offer, whether you convert them or not. You are now building brand equity!


When we start with a new client, we try to help prioritize and simplify their brand story. We typically try to narrow it down to five key pillars of opportunity that their company has to offer:

With some agreement internally about what to focus on and prioritize, companies can really start to unlock the magic of using employment branding to attract great engineering talent while laying the foundation to educate candidates in the marketplace for long term brand building. Whether you use all or just one of the pillars is up to you, but we generally recommend focusing on your top two for shorter term conversion impact, and pairing a top pillar with others to start to build a complete brand story over time.


I often tell clients to think of each recruiting message as just one part of the story you are telling candidates. If you prioritize and sequence how you talk about your tech team and company opportunities over several messages to the same candidates on a reasonable cadence, you automatically start to tell your story. You’ll get a few short term conversions along the way and will start to see the impact of building your brand over time and learn what works and what doesn’t. We see messaging as the fire starter for all the other work your recruiting team and/or hiring managers should be doing to build your brand.  

When you are known as THE company that is unique because of it’s People, Stage, Stack, Product or Mission... you can thank your messaging strategy for planting the roots of your overall employment brand. Build out a plan, prioritize and stick to it and in due time, you’ll start integrating your messaging pillars into other branding content and notice your hiring teams leveraging it out at meetups, in video interviews, social posts, etc…  A consistent brand message becomes memorable and is the key to unlocking better quality candidates and producing stronger technical hiring results on a faster timeline.

Are you ready to get started with an Employment Branding strategy at your company? Check out our contact us page and stay tuned for Building your Employment Branding Part 2, with messaging examples!


Written by Drew Koloski, Head of Technical Recruiting