Did you watch our recent webinar, Employer Branding That Speaks Uniquely to Women in Technology? We talked with VMware Carbon Black’s Ashley Perez, Senior Talent Brand Ambassador, and Maritza Gamboa, Diversity & Inclusion Program Manager, about creating messages that resonate on a personal and professional level with female talent.
The team provided invaluable insights into how they developed a Recruitment Marketing campaign that attracts women in technology. We ended up running out of time on the webinar to answer everyone’s thoughtful questions and explore areas like their recent marketing partnership with The Muse. Fortunately, Ashley and Maritza were gracious enough to answer them here on the Rally blog. Read more to see if the team answered your questions from the webinar.
Ashley and Maritza answer your questions about employer branding for women in technology, including:
- Partnership budgets
- Innovative content deliverables
- VMware Carbon Black’s editorial calendar
- Their sponsorship with the Grace Hopper Celebration
- How their Recruitment Marketing initiatives tie into the VMware Carbon Black vision
- How to leverage free resources to expand your recruiting content reach
- Recruitment Marketing tips and more
Question #1: Can you share more about your partnership with The Muse?
Ashley: We did a two-year contract with The Muse. Their package included a profile on The Muse and job postings, access to the BrandBuilder tool that lets us survey our employees each year, plus employee videos and editorial content.
The Muse also worked on four employee testimonial videos for VMware Carbon Black. Here’s one example featuring team member Wendy:
Ashley: We haven’t used our package to its full potential yet due to the acquisition by VMware. We do have our profile up with the photos and videos The Muse did for us and a few roundups. This was about a three-day on-site production. I’m really eager to see how the sponsored content drives people to our sites.
We’ve done a few sponsored editorials via Built in Colorado and Built in Boston as part of our 2020 recruitment content strategy and saw a great boost in website traffic, awareness, and applications. I believe we’ll see the same results from The Muse once we get clear on our post-acquisition messaging and can leverage them.
As of right now, it’s a great way to get content produced if you don’t have the bandwidth or skill to hire and manage vendors. I was very impressed by their project management spreadsheets and creative briefs. They were extremely organized and made my job much easier, despite the level of organization that went into setting up the video and photo shoots. Probably one of the better vendors I’ve worked with in this regard.
Question #2: What was your budget for this?
Ashley: My budget is mostly fluid. Aside from allocating money for our specific vendors such as LinkedIn and Glassdoor, I basically have a lump of money every year that I can use however I want. For this particular campaign, this is what we spent:
Facebook and Instagram Ads: $1,400
This broke down to $700 for a campaign to get more female followers and $700 to promote being at Grace Hopper Celebration.
Twitter ads: $1k
Twitter isn’t our best source for engagement, so we don’t normally invest a ton in ads on here. However, we knew the #GHC19 hashtag would be trending, so we wanted to piggyback off of that.
LinkedIn Ads: $1k
Graphic Design + Website Page Design: $5k
Because our design team was low on bandwidth and couldn’t deliver all the assets we needed in time for Grace Hopper, we had to contract out work – our design team split the cost of $10k and managed the contractor. However, normally, we don’t have this added cost. If you plan it right or have a flexible deadline for assets, your in-house design team should be able to help you without the added cost.
We used this to help simplify our message into the tagline and hashtag. She also copy edited our collateral. Other than that, we didn’t use her for any of our other writing needs. You can easily skip this step.
Ashley: This campaign was also tied to our sponsorship at Grace Hopper. If you’re curious about what we spent there:
Gold Sponsorship, extra booth space, ten general tickets, and two extra booth tickets: $47,100
We split the cost between R&D and sales since we were sending women from their teams.
Booth build-out and labor/extras, shipping, and furniture: ~$28k
Swag, collateral, T-shirts: ~$13.5k
Although we did this campaign tied to the fact that we were sponsoring Grace Hopper, you absolutely do not need something like a big event to have a successful campaign. We just knew we were spending a lot of money on this, so we wanted to amplify our employer brand to get more traction at the event.
Question #3: Can you give us a general idea of what your social content calendar looked like during that time? Did you post content on other topics as well, or did it feature #SecureWomen content exclusively?
Ashley: I would say we leaned heavily towards Recruitment Marketing to women. Our goal was to post a blog a week, with 90% of them being specific to the #SecureWomen campaign. For social media, we posted quotes from women, re-shared videos, shared our blogs, and shared curated content from other sources relevant to women, such as career advice, professional development, tips from women leaders, and more.
However, we weren’t exclusive to #SecureWomen because we do have a number of men who follow us too. If you’re not counting our daily job posting social posts (which the captions were more gender-neutral), I would say 75% of our content was #SecureWomen focused and the rest were more gender-neutral. This included info about our culture, spotlights on charity events, news about the acquisition, etc.
Question #4: Is this a global campaign?
Ashley: We focused primarily on the United States since we were trying to drive more awareness and applications to our US-based offices in areas like Waltham, Boston, Boulder, and Portland/Hillsboro. This was especially true of our new offices in Colorado and Oregon.
The other reason we focused on the US is because we don’t hire as much technical talent overseas. Those roles are sparser in comparison to our US-based roles. Additionally, we had a push to build out four new scrum teams in our Boulder office, which influenced this. Lastly, we knew the Grace Hopper Celebration was leaning more toward entry-level talent, and most of those roles require the person to be in the office.
However, we’ve done global campaigns in the past, especially to help our EMEA team when they were growing. For this particular campaign, we stuck to the US due to hiring goals and needs.
Question #5: How have you tied these initiatives into your mission and vision as a company?
Ashley: A company goal for 2019 was to improve diversity throughout Carbon Black. This goal came from the top, so it was pretty easy to tie it into our corporate goals.
Our corporate mission is to keep the world safe from cyberattacks, so I tried to think of drivers that are relevant to women in sharing that message. Sometimes it was as simple as sharing the low percentage of women in cybersecurity and how our company helps women learn security to get into these roles.
Sometimes it’s featuring women specifically on our Threat team showcasing how she’s supported in her career and how she goes out to colleges to teach women how they also can get a career in cybersecurity and how they can make a huge impact.
Question #6: Is there anything you incorporate into your recruiting process to find candidates that fit within this mindset?
Maritza: This is a big area for us. To name a few internal actions, we reviewed all of our job descriptions to remove any unnecessary requirements and make the language more gender-neutral. Check out Job Grader for this.
We implemented our own version of the Rooney Rule; we introduced unconscious bias training to all employees, and trained our recruiters to have a diverse interview panel. Externally we partner with organizations like Hack Diversity and Apprenti, Career Contessa, NSBE, and more to diversify our pipeline.
Question #7: Were you a sponsor at Grace Hopper 19 (GHC19)?
Maritza: Yes, we were a Gold Level sponsor, and this was our second year sponsoring.
Rally: Was this employer branding campaign developed in-house or externally? How about content in addition to the videos by The Muse and your other vendor, Mondo Media Works?
Maritza and Ashley: Mostly in-house. We partnered with our design team to help us build out the aesthetics. I (Ashley) built out all the content, collateral, blogs, social media posts, advertisements, and organized the Grace Hopper Campaign event details with Maritza.
We used outside vendors such as The Muse and Mondo Media Works for things like videography and photography. We also leveraged a copywriter to help us land the tagline for the campaign, but you can easily tap someone from your marketing team to help you finesse it.
However, we’ve definitely done low-budget videos and photos in-house too, if you need to save money. Employee generated content is a great way to have authentic employee stories, or simply taking photos with your phone can work. You can tap your marketing team/instructional training team for help with better quality videos, or you can just use your phone to take more authentic on-the-fly videos. I’ve used a tool called Camtasia to edit low-budget videos.
Question #8: Really impressive work, ladies. Can you share some lessons learned? Any words of caution or anything you would have done differently?
Maritza and Ashley: If you plan on sponsoring at Grace Hopper, be prepared to dish out a decent amount of money to make your booth flashy and/or offer something to entice women to your booth. Some companies were making job offers at the actual event, for example. There are a ton of big players there, and their booths are impressive and techie.
1) Be clear on the flexibility of your roles.
We’ve had a lot of women say they’ve decided not to apply to our jobs in the past because they didn’t have cybersecurity experience. In reality, most of our jobs don’t require cybersecurity experience despite our being in security.
We made sure to call that out in our messaging in collateral. We were very specific in saying you don’t need security experience, and we’ll teach you what you need to know. That seemed to spark a lot of interest once we called that out.
2) Give yourself time when building out content and expect gaps in your editorial calendar.
I’ve had people go through the process of doing a 30 minute Q&A to help me build out a blog; then they dragged their feet about approving the write up only to tell me later that they didn’t feel comfortable putting themselves out there like that. For some, the idea of being featured is very exciting, but the reality of it makes people clam up. Know that this will happen and make sure you have backup content you can promote in its place.
3) A little content goes a long way, so don’t burn yourself out trying to make brand new stuff.
The world of content creation is changing. You no longer need to produce, produce, produce. If you’re thoughtful about your content, you can get a lot of mileage out of it. For example, you can repurpose Recruitment Marketing content like video into a blog post or for social media. And if you have an email list, it can be great for email marketing. All of that from one piece of content!
As a one-woman show, it was so important for me to realize this because constantly creating can feel overwhelming. Also, re-sharing things you’ve already shared on social media is fine. With the algorithm changes, a teeny tiny percentage of your audience will organically see it. Rather than trying to constantly produce new social media posts, tweak the caption and re-share the same content strategically. It will save you a lot of time and effort.
Question #9: Are you focusing on attracting women in more experienced roles versus entry-level?
Maritza: Both. I would say it’s easier to focus at the entry-level but to help at the experienced level we implemented our own version of the Rooney Rule which states for manager and senior roles, the hiring manager must interview at least two under-represented minority candidates before making an offer.
Question #10: It’s great that Carbon Black is hiring more women, I am all for that… but where are the women of color? Do you have D&I initiatives in place to attract more WOC (in particular black women)?
Maritza: We don’t have a focus on WOC specifically. We’re keeping it more broad, so women, black, Latinx to start, but it’s a growing list. This isn’t to say that WOC isn’t an important category to focus on, but our D&I consultants recommended we don’t stretch the small team too thin by tackling too much in our first year. This was just our 2019 plan; we’re still planning 2020 but looking to expand.
Question #11: Do you have any suggestions for larger organizations with little to no budget for employer branding?
Ashley: Absolutely. A ton of the stuff you can produce don’t cost a thing! Here are some free ways (or low budget) ways to build employer brand awareness.
1) Level up your career page and 3rd party sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, etc.
Make sure you have relevant, robust information that can give candidates a good sense of who you are and what you have to offer. Even if your career page is only one page, you can break it up into modules that talk about things like culture, EVP, perks, D&I, employee testimonials, etc.
2) Start a blog on your career site or a category on your corporate blog.
Blogs are a HUGE, if not the biggest, traffic referral source to our career site. For employee spotlights, I typically set up a 30 minute Q&A call with employees, write down their notes, and then organize/edit the blog and get it approved by them. Your employees’ voices are very important, and I’ve found there are so many interesting stories that have sprung new Recruitment Marketing ideas from talking to them.
3) Get a presence on social media.
You don’t need to be EVERYWHERE, but figure out where most of your candidates are and lean into that to start. You don’t need to be a designer to make visually appealing social images. I use Canva and Pexels. Just remember, people are typically scrolling through social media, so using your employer brand colors, imagery, and more needs to be recognizable. Maybe they won’t stop to read what you’ve written, but consistently seeing your employer branding colors, logo, and images will make an impression.
4) Look for opportunities to promote your workplace through 3rd parties.
For example, I’ll sometimes reach out to Glassdoor to see if there’s an opportunity to write a blog for job seekers or employers. It’s not fully self-promotional, but I’ll weave examples from Carbon Black in there. Because I’m offering, they’ll also include us in their “top companies hiring now” posts. Didn’t cost a thing! I do this with other sites, too, such as VentureFizz. The good thing about this is that it extends your reach further. You’re able to get in front of new candidates through a source they trust.
5) Photos and videos don’t need to be magazine quality.
In fact, a lot of the photos we post on sites like Instagram are provided to me by employees using their camera phones. They’re not always the BEST quality, but photos like this are approachable and trustworthy. They still have a place in your employer branding. Just like candidates trust the reviews from employees via Glassdoor, these more raw and real photos can seem more trustworthy to them than the staged ones.
6) Get your employees involved!
Let them know what content you’re sharing on social media, videos, or the blog.
7) Make it easy for them to share.
Even if it means writing up a social media caption, they can easily copy and paste on LinkedIn or wherever, make everything easy to share. We started doing this through a tool called GaggleAMP. You can easily do this via email or Slack or a weekly newsletter if you don’t have this type of tool. We saw a nice increase in traffic because our employees were sharing.
Tapping a partnership or vendor for your Recruitment Marketing content campaign should focus on more than just done-for-you deliverables. Aligning your editorial calendar, sponsorship events, and social media presence are also a crucial part of your success.
However, you don’t necessarily need a robust budget for your Recruitment Marketing campaign. Ashley and Maritza walked us through several in-house, DIY strategies like corporate blogging, promoting your company through third parties, and elevating your employer brand’s social media presence. In an ideal world, your company can integrate a combination of paid and free promotions to create a winning strategy.
Rally note: Want to hear more from the original webinar with VMware Carbon Black? Watch the webinar on demand, Employer Branding That Speaks Uniquely to Women in Technology, and get more tips from Ashley and Maritza. You’ll hear how they boldly put what’s most important to female technical talent front and center through an innovative recruitment marketing campaign called #SecureWomen and programs like their employee resource group, The Cigar Room. You’ll walk away with fresh ideas to bring to your leadership and hiring managers for increasing the representation of women at all levels of your company.