Establishing yourself at the cutting edge of the business technology curve is hard enough without having to go head-to-head with big industry names to recruit from a small pool of talent. For enterprise application software firm SAP, which uses live data to predict trends for about 345,000 customers worldwide, top tech companies such as Apple and Google were causing a recruitment headache.
“Big names such as Microsoft and Facebook are very consumer-focused – people more readily have them in their subconscious as a place to work,” says Matthew Jeffery, vice president and global head of employment brand and sourcing at SAP. “As a B2B brand, we have to work much harder because people may not know about us as readily as they do the consumer brands, and we’re fighting in the same talent pool.”
Boosting SAP’s employer profile involved reassessing its company brand, better informing jobseekers and promising a first-class candidate experience, Jeffery explains: “We were determined not to create marketing-led spin that talked about what a great place it is to work – we wanted to reshape the brand as an authentic representation of our employees.”
The employment branding team ran surveys to gather experiences of working at SAP, and developed photo montages of employees that represented different aspects of their working and personal lives. They also created a digital cartoon series called ‘Life at SAP’ that was shared across the company’s social channels and enjoyed high levels of engagement.
Another priority was to shift SAP’s recruitment strategy away from the ‘elitist’ graduate milkround to an assessment-based hiring process that drew from a wider group of candidates. Digital marketing was used to attract applicants with a wide range of backgrounds, and there was strong emphasis on recruitment platforms such as LinkedIn, which Jeffery describes as “an essential driver of quality talent”.
Candidates were then put through a two-phase assessment process: their company ‘fit’ was assessed by exploring their values, while their role fit was determined by asking a series of situational judgement questions. Each candidate was given a detailed feedback report, which, for successful applicants, was transferred into a training and development plan when they joined the business.
Less than two years down the line, SAP’s employer rebrand is having a significant impact. The firm’s Glassdoor rating improved from a 3.7 in August 2015 to 4.2 a year later, with SAP holding the site’s top position for ‘great places to work’ in Germany, and shortlisted in the UK, Canada and the US. The company achieved its global hiring goal of 19,000 people in 2016, and scooped up 148 employer and recruiting awards throughout the year.
Continuing to improve candidate experience remains central as the brand moves into its next stage of development and marketing. “There are so many ways we can make working at SAP a fun and beneficial experience for employees,” Jeffery says. “We want to keep attracting the very best.”