#105: Adithya Venkatesan on the employer branding playbook he used to attract top engineering talent at GO-JEK

Abhash Kumar
September 3, 2021
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"A fun metric tracked for employer branding at GO-JEK is the number of people wearing GO-JEK's t-shirt and sharing pictures on social media! "

Adithya Venkatesan is one of the original superstars of the craft of Employer Branding. Through his team and his own branding strategies, he’s built a world-class employer brand for GO-JEK - a super app for ordering food, commuting, digital payments, shopping, hyper-local delivery, and a dozen other products.

His previous stints include working with Gutenberg LLC and Thomson Reuters. He currently brings his branding expertise to Meesho - an Indian social e-commerce unicorn as the Head of Employer Branding.

In our conversation with him on this episode of The Shape of Work podcast, we discuss with Adithya:

  • How GO-JEK went from being an obscure, unknown org to a popular brand among their primary target audience - Engineers, Product Managers, Designers
  • How GO-JEK got buy-in from their engineers to rally around their Employer Branding objectives
  • How they scaled their employer brand through content and public relations
  • What not to do when it comes to employer branding
  • Is employer branding enough for a tech talent market where salaries have shot up?
  • The context of ‘pair programming’ in retention
  • First few things to kick-off your employer branding exercise
  • Tools of his trade for employer branding - automation & documentation

Different ways to scale employer branding

In addition to blog content, GO-JEK relies on events & conferences to build employer branding. Their strategy lies in attending those conferences where they are projected prominently. Also, they picked events with low competition. For example, many companies rarely attend an event on closures. By attending these obscure events, GO-JEK got a unique platform to pitch its products. Also, instead of marketers, expert engineers pitched the company products during events.

What not to do for employer branding?

Strategies like offering a recruitment incentive are bad employer branding tactics that may not pay any dividends eventually. For example, recently, a unicorn company offered BMW bikes worth 2-3 lakhs to recruits. This strategy may not help you attract the best engineers who value your brand values and work culture more than temporary incentives.

What is the concept of ‘pair programming’ in retention?

Pair programming is an engineering principle where two people work closely to get a job done. One acts as a replacement for the other. If one of them cannot work (or is hit by a truck), the other can take their place and complete work on time.

As a budding startup, what should be your employer branding strategy?

The employer branding exercise for a budding startup should be narrow and focused. In the starting stages, a startup must have a top-notch website to have a primary brand identity. Second, you need to pitch about what you do through a blog platform. Third, the job description is an excellent way to project your brand positively. Lastly, founders must get more social and build long-term connections.

Follow Adithya on Twitter, LinkedIn and Medium

Produced by: Priya Bhatt
Podcast host: Abhash Kumar

Episode Transcript

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