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How Branding Can Help Southeast Asian Start-ups Attract the Right People

More than salary and benefits, this Singaporean start-up focuses on company culture

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BY Ezra Ferraz - 16 Mar 2017

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images

In planning for growth, most small businesses or start-ups may expect problems to revolve around product or business development, but often it comes down to a seemingly simpler problem: How do you hire the right people?

Some feel that the advent of Web 2.0 has provided an answer in social recruiting.

“Social recruiting, in the purest form, is simply asking someone you know (from your social environment) to recommend somebody they know for any job that you have to offer,” says Weiting Tan, the country manager of Wantedly Singapore.

Tan explains that the biggest benefit for people recruiting from among their own social network is that they can do it in a manner and extent that they please.

“You can do it completely for free or spend a lot of budget, you can personally reach out to individual people or tweet out to everyone at the same time, you can even influence your audience and directly measure your success by clicks and page views,” he says.

Wantedly’s own take on social recruiting draws attention away from salary and benefits, as with traditional job boards, and focuses more on a company’s culture and vision in order to draw employees who are a culture fit.

According to Tan, Wantedly has redesigned its interface. Companies can create individual user accounts and post a job instantaneously, while individuals can fill out their profile, search for a company that matches their desired culture, and even reach out to them for a casual office visit.

The value proposition for companies is that they get to leverage their existing networks to connect with candidates who are already relevant to what they are looking for. They also get a stronger platform from which to project their employer branding toward these prospective employees.

“Wantedly helps you to tell the story of your brand online and share it through social media, making it effective in reaching out to the millennial workforce,” Tan says.

 

Doing things that don’t scale in social recruiting

Of course, not every employer knows how to develop their employer branding, as Wantedly discovered during their earliest days in Singapore. Many employers did not know how to position themselves as employers to attract the right type of talent.

Encouraged by the advice of venture capitalist Paul Graham to “do things that don’t scale,” Tan says Wantedly decided to offer consulting services. Wantedly would help other companies position themselves in the market—tell their story, why they exist, and how they approach challenges.

To date, Wantedly has more than 100 active clients, has offices in Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia, and is available in 15 countries. Even as it plans its expansion into Hong Kong, Wantedly remains keenly supportive of the tech ecosystem, which may not only need social recruiting owing to high growth, but may be more receptive to it as well.

“As Singapore heads towards its Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plans to support innovation-led growth for homegrown enterprises, Wantedly Singapore shares the vision to provide 1-to-1 employer branding especially for local start-ups to find talents around the region,” Tan says.

Of course, even with the advent of social recruiting platforms like Wantedly, Tan emphasizes the importance of also looking for great candidates offline.

“Always be on the lookout for great people at all opportunities. Could be a networking event or a casual chat over coffee with a proactive candidate. Be open minded to interacting with different people and try not to lock yourself into hiring from small niches,” he says.

While recruiting is important, Tan points out that employers shouldn’t neglect the ways they can improve retention.

“Also do take time to find out what fundamentally motivates your prospective new hires. Once you have that understanding, those hires tend be a better fit and be more motivated and engaged employees,” he concludes.

To date, Wantedly has more than 100 active clients, has offices in Japan, Singapore, and Indonesia, and is available in 15 countries. Even as it plans its expansion into Hong Kong, Wantedly remains keenly supportive of the tech ecosystem, which may not only need social recruiting owing to high growth, but may be more receptive to it as well.

“As Singapore heads towards its Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2020 plans to support innovation-led growth for homegrown enterprises, Wantedly Singapore shares the vision to provide 1-to-1 employer branding especially for local start-ups to find talents around the region,” Tan says.

Of course, even with the advent of social recruiting platforms like Wantedly, Tan emphasizes the importance of also looking for great candidates offline.

“Always be on the lookout for great people at all opportunities. Could be a networking event or a casual chat over coffee with a proactive candidate. Be open minded to interacting with different people and try not to lock yourself into hiring from small niches,” he says.

While recruiting is important, Tan points out that employers shouldn’t neglect the ways they can improve retention.

“Also do take time to find out what fundamentally motivates your prospective new hires. Once you have that understanding, those hires tend be a better fit and be more motivated and engaged employees,” he concludes.