If every company is now a technology company, how should they hire tech talent?

“We flip the model, so rather than a candidate applying to the job, the company applies to the engineer.”

That’s Mark Chaffey, co-founder and CEO of Hackajob, a London-based platform, active in the U.S. as well as the U.K., that allows employers to seek out candidates for positions in technology organizations, including in marketing technology and operations.

“The central thesis of our business is that effectively every company is now a technology business,” he told us. “There was a recent report that Walmart is the largest advertiser of tech jobs in the U.S. right now and that marries up with what we see in the U.K.; Sainsbury’s [a major supermarket chain] is our largest customer here. These are very non-traditional technology businesses that realize they have to invest in tech to future-proof themselves.”

A Very important partner

Very is an online retailer dealing in a wide range of products, from clothing to home and garden to games. Sean Allen, head of talent acquisition at The Very Group, told us that they are always searching for tech talent. “We recruit a broad range of roles across our tech teams,” he said. “Everything from software engineers, QA engineers, platform engineers, data engineers and architects, right through to cyber security experts, data scientists, UX designers, and much more.”

Very is now entering its third year of partnership with Hackajob. “We have a very close relationship with our Hackajob counterparts,” he said, “and they are very much viewed as an extension to our talent acquisition team.”

One concern Very expressed when building and staffing a new tech hub in the north of England, Chaffey said, is that they felt the brand wasn’t well known in the technology and operations space. As Allen explained, “Hackajob has a vast talent pool of actively engaged candidates. Whilst there is a good chance we already have some connections with some of the talent, or some may be aware of our brand, others won’t and it enables us to expand our reach to engaged and active tech talent.”

“What we first worked on with them was a six month activation campaign,” said Chaffey. “The challenge that we’re trying to solve for these organizations is how we show our audience that these are technology businesses with really interesting technical problems.”

This is what Hackajob calls “employer branding.”

Dig deeper: A new way to find the tech talent you need 

The value of employer branding

Hackajob’s first product is the marketplace. “We onboard engineers, they go through our screening process, and if they pass that they then get matched to employers,” said Chaffey.

The second product is employer branding. Said Chaffey: “If I get reached out to by Walmart, CarMax or Sainsbury’s” — all Hackajob clients — “and I’m a senior software engineer, I might think ‘What on earth does Sainsbury’s do in technology?’ And if I go to their careers site, it has to speak to retail staff, head office staff, as well as tech people, etc. The tech employee value proposition gets completely watered down.”

What Hackajob recommends is creating “rich, dynamic landing pages” that just focused on the company’s tech organizations and challenges. These are usually built out by the client in compliance with their branding guidelines.

What Hackajob brings to the party is a range of content designed, not to pitch jobs, but to engage witha tech and operations audience.

“Hackathons, online events, contact marketing, newsletters, podcasts,” listed Chaffey. For example, users can learn that Sainsbury’s has data on 80% of the adult U.K. population and what they’re doing with that data in terms of machine learning and analytics. “We may get 150 people tune into that online event and then Sainsbury’s get all of that contact data and can then nurture that talent.”

“We do use the employer branding part of hackajob in our partnership agreement,” said Allen. “It’s actually the first part of their offering we engaged with. As I joined The Very Group in June 2021, we were just at the beginning of a large tech transformation programme. As the world was coming out of COVID, I felt it was imperative to leverage the hackajob employer branding offering to help us tell our tech story to a broader market by tapping into their large and diverse talent pool.”

The scale of opportunity

For engineers and technologists on the Hackajob platform, “they’re often very surprised by the scale of opportunity, the modern tech stacks they’ll be working with,” said Chaffey. “These propositions, especially in this economy, are becoming a lot more attractive to technical individuals where an organization like Sainsbury’s, candidly, is going to be a lot more resistant to a downturn or headwinds than one of the latest venture-backed businesses.”

Allen agrees that the model needed to be flipped. “In other models, where you as the employer are doing the outreach, your conversion rate may be lower on specific roles and technologies,” he said. “Through Hackajob flipping the model, it ensures we have a high conversion rate in getting that first call with a candidate that enables us to learn more about each other.”

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