First in the Tech Employers Leading the Way Series
Editor’s Note: This blog kicks off a new series, Tech Employers Leading the Way, which recognizes companies that innovate and work to improve the hiring experience for both their hiring managers and the tech candidates they seek. In this series, we’ll dive into what works for them, and what they’ve learned, and share it with our readers. Sharing these stories and learnings supports our company vision to make hiring more equitable, efficient, and transparent.
Hired’s list of 2023 Top Employers Winning Tech Talent highlighted companies across a variety of segments and industries creating tech hiring processes and experiences embracing principles such as equity, efficiency, and transparency.
Among those leading the way is Firstup, an organization transforming the digital employee experience. Sabra Sciolaro, Chief People Officer, shares how Firstup creates an impactful tech recruiting strategy and nurtures exceptional candidate experiences.
From the beginning, Firstup founders and employees understood that the problem of disengaged workers and disconnected tech was a huge opportunity for positive change. We built a platform that could reach and engage employees not just anytime and anywhere, but at the optimal time — inside the software they were already using. That’s how we became the world’s first intelligent communications platform, serving 40 percent of the Fortune 100.
Today, we are the communication pipeline for the world’s workforce, connecting tens of millions of employees globally. We’re using that unique position to help employers better understand and support their people at every moment of the employee journey. That vision and mission, provide a positive vision for the future that we are all working together to achieve.
Our vision is to make work better for every worker and our mission is to improve the employee experience at every moment that matters, large and small.
This mission and vision translate internally too. We want to make the employee experience exceptional at Firstup for our employees. Empowered by the belief that each team member holds a stake in the company, Firstup cultivates an environment of creativity, accountability, and connection.
As a virtual workforce, we exemplify how distributed teams can harmoniously unite, achieving remarkable outcomes through unwavering collaboration and a shared sense of ownership. A core value at Firstup is we win as a team.
Tell us about a process you implemented to improve candidate experience and the hiring process
We are very proud of the recruiting and onboarding process we created. A positive experience for the candidate starts from the moment they interact with our company. First, we worked to improve our LinkedIn Belonging pages, Firstup careers page, and Comparably pages. That way, candidates could find cultural and benefits information on the company, including authentic employee testimonials.
Next, the People Ops, Talent Acquisition, and Communications Teams worked together to outline the recruiting process at Firstup through a program we created called Firstup Select. This program outlines the step-by-step process to align the TA, People Ops, and hiring manager.
This ensures the job descriptions are well-written and accurate, the interviews are organized with measurable interview questions, and the experience is cohesive and seamless for the candidate.
Spending the time to outline the process, create templates (job description, rating scales, interview questions, etc.), and train employees on Firstup Select truly up-leveled our recruiting process – and it shows through the top-notch employees we have hired.
Once the employee signs the contract, our best-in-class preboarding and onboarding experience kicks off!
What are some of Firstup’s strategies for maintaining a strong employer brand?
We believe in authentic employee voices. At the heart of powerful talent marketing are employees That is why our talent marketing strategy focuses on our talented employees through the following initiatives:
Featuring employee videos, testimonials, employee gathering pictures, and Comparably data on our social media so people get an inside look at our company culture.
Honoring and celebrating our current employees with anniversaries or those who have won awards on our social pages. It is important to showcase the talent of our current employees.
Conducting a monthly brand advocacy program. This program provides employees with a variety of company content that they can choose to share externally to their professional networks. This includes hot jobs, employee thought leadership, Firstup events, awesome customer examples, and more. Our advocacy program is also contest-based to get people excited to share and extend their own thought leadership.
Encouraging employees via an automatic journey on their anniversaries and QR codes on their welcome box to share to LinkedIn that they started at Firstup or it is their anniversary.
Our talent marketing social content outperforms the other content because it is fun and authentic. It gives top tech talent a true insight into our company and employees.
How has collaboration between hiring managers and TA teams improved efficiency?
At Firstup, the Talent Acquisition Team partners closely with hiring managers to find top tech candidates for our open positions. To help guide them through the process, we created the Firstup Select program which outlines the hiring process and resources and provides hiring and interview best practices.
This five-step process is available on our Firstup intelligent communications platform to offer People Leaders easy access to the guides and other manager resources, including rating scales, job description templates, intake meeting discussion guide, intake meeting form, interview tips, and a brand guide to help hiring managers confidently talk about Firstup.
Managers can access this content at any time and meet with their recruiter regularly throughout the process to ask questions and align.
As businesses evolve, talent strategies do too. How have your strategies shifted in the last 12 months? How do you plan to shift your strategies in 2024?
In 2022, we were using a lot of agencies for recruiting. However, insourcing our TA function has been a key priority, and as such, we have invested heavily in our own talent function. This has included additional training for both recruiters and hiring managers, investing in best-in-class TA technology and resources (like Hired.com), and streamlining processes.
This shift supported our awesome and capable recruiting team to better leverage their company and brand knowledge to recruit talent. In 2023, we reduced spending with agencies where necessary and utilized our recruiters to hire those top tech candidates.
This has proven worthwhile because they have first-hand company experience, can speak to the brand well, and provide examples.
We still utilize agencies where necessary for specific skill sets. One area we are looking to expand (started in 2023 but more in 2024) is partnering with an agency(ies) to specifically help us recruit diverse tech candidates and improve our DEIB analytics we are tracking for a diverse and inclusive workforce. All data shows that a more inclusive workforce equals more innovation and diversity of thought.
In 2023 we also focused on increasing talent marketing. We developed a plan to better highlight open jobs through social media, enhanced our employee referral program, and created a Hot Jobs channel in our Firstup communications platform where the recruiters posted job openings internally to help with referrals and internal mobility. We also created a talent marketing plan that highlighted our employee voices so that our amazing Firstup culture speaks for itself.
As an intelligent communication platform, we must utilize technology, specifically our platform, to improve the hiring process.
When we created the Firstup Select recruiting process, we posted it on our internal communication platform. We created an HR Hub for People Leaders with a recruiting page specifically targeted to hiring managers with the Firstup Select recruiting process, links to templates, and other technologies/tools used in the recruiting process.
When an individual contributor is promoted to a manager, or a new manager begins at Firstup, they join a “new manager onboarding journey.” This journey sends a series of communications about what to do in your first 90 days as a new manager.
As part of that journey, one of the communications focuses specifically on the recruiting/Firstup Select process. It provides a high-level overview of our strategy and process and educates new hiring managers on where to find materials when they are ready to hire.
What’s cool about this journey is it automatically kicks off when there is a new manager, so the HR team “sets it and forgets it” and it automatically sends it. It is a great way to educate the new leaders on our hiring process.
Within our communication platform/modern intranet, employees also will see hot jobs to share and with the click of a button, can easily post the job to their social networks.
We also have a robust Comparably page and have integrated our recruiting platform, Lever, into Comparably so that when prospective candidates are perusing Comparably data, they can also see our job openings.
Finally, we created a profile on Hired to connect directly with growing tech teams. Hired has helped us market to and recruit top tech talent since they are the go-to company for sourcing the best tech talent. More