Employer Branding Talent Acquisition

How Shazam Harnesses the Power of Employee Advocacy

A basic rule that all businesses should apply liberally is that their people are their biggest asset. They only exist because of those people, and will only grow as long as they harness the energy of those humans in the right way.

I’m happy to say that the business world seems to be realizing this fact in growing numbers. People are everything. At Shazam, this is absolutely how we view things. Our people are at the epicenter of everything that makes us good and great. My job coming in was simply to find a way to keep hiring more of those great people. Easy right?

Figuring out our true employee value proposition

To share the essence of what makes your organization truly brilliant with the rest of the world, you really have to take the time to work out what that is first. My first task, therefore, was to really crystallize what it meant to be a Shazamer and do some work to figure out what our value proposition truly was.

We did that with the help of an agency around four years ago, whom we invited in as external partners to conduct discovery sessions with our teams around the world. From that data, they were able to tell us what we did really well, but also what we didn’t do so well.

That’s the thing with self-discovery, sometimes you might discover things about yourselves that you don’t like. We decided to use this whole project as a learning exercise and saw it as an opportunity to try to improve the things that we weren’t so great at.

Employee experience has to be at the heart of the way an organization runs. Without crafting a great experience for the humans that help to make you the amazing company that you are, your war for talent will be lost.

Create a business of happy thriving humans and your war for talent will be almost won.

Now to the business of actual attraction!

There is little to be gained from pretending to be something that you are not; in life and in business. You need to let your ‘vibe attract your tribe’ across the whole gambit.

So once you have your vibe, and you’ve figured out who you really are as a business, it’s important that you take that honest messaging out into the world. Your people are far and away the best messengers for this.

My mission at Shazam, therefore, was to not just to hire the very best people, but to hire the very best people who also resonated with our mission and values. Similar brief; way better end result.

Given that our people are our biggest asset, and by far the most honest and effective talent attraction tool we have, we needed to start to build a culture of advocacy.

In some of the teams, we had people who were already comfortable speaking on their respective conference circuit, but we had a gap in terms of what we were telling the world from a technical standpoint, which is arguably one of the key areas.

I started out by running a workshop on personal branding around 18 months ago. Working at a business like Shazam we are in incredibly fortunate as our business garners a huge degree of interest. What that means for our people, is that they each have a real opportunity to build their own brands based on that interest, give there is no shortage of invitations for speaking engagements or requests to work with us or feature us.

I asked the team to consider doing an audit of their online presence and really framed the opportunity that they were presented with. I encouraged them to look at things like:

  • Their online profiles, how evolved and detailed they were.
  • What they share online, and to consider being more mindful of what that is.
  • To consider growing their online presence, whether in the form of a blog or just general usefulness.
  • To think about whether they are curious about public speaking, and whether they might like some support to help them get there.

We then looked at a few top tips on blogging and starting to get involved in public speaking. I happily was able to draw upon my own experiences to do this.

It wasn’t an immediate success, but what it did plant some very important seeds

Within the following months, we’d seen one person start to blog and a number starting to say yes to speaking engagements.

Last year we decided to step this up a gear by finally developing our ‘Inside Shazam’ blog. The key to success here came in the form of influential internal sponsors; finding people who could help corral a team of blog founders, led by me. The Blog Squad was born.

I ran weekly meet-ups with the team, where we encouraged one another to write blogs, whilst also plotting for who could write the next ones and how that might happen.

By getting the right kind of investment from the team, we managed to get our blog off the ground.

When it comes to getting people invested in speaking at events, we’re learning we are most successful when my team acts as the conduit between the events organizers and the business, therefore we are constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to pitch to the wider team.

We’ve already seen some real results in terms of the feedback we get from the candidates we are meeting with. Many cite either our blog or an event they attended that we took part in as things that made them feel compelled to speak with us.

So whilst I’m all for bigger branding campaigns when you have the opportunity and budget to do them, it’s super important not to overlook the brilliant marketing team you already have within your business: YOUR PEOPLE.

About the author: Ruth Penfold is the Director of Talent Acquisition at Shazam. She believes passionately in the emerging role of HR within businesses, helping create the right environments for the people of tomorrow, whilst retaining the people for today.

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