I Have a Talentcrush on Hung Lee: “Tech Companies who are Best at Employer Branding Allow the Business to the Front of the House”

Hung Lee is Co-founder & CEO of workshape.io — a matching service for Tech talents. He worked in the recruiting industry for more than 15 years and knows how to attract, hire, and retain the best Developers & Engineers. Hung is famous for his weekly newsletter (find the link below for signing up) and the right partner in crime when it comes to tech employer branding.

What do you think — how important is employer branding nowadays?

Critically important, especially if you aspire to hire the highly skilled, in-demand. Employers can no longer presume that candidates are desperate to work for them and must cultivate the sort of culture which attracts talented people who have the privilege to choose.

Do you think employer branding is a game changer in Talent Acquisition/Recruiting or it’s just an additional field?

Employer Branding is not a game changer because the game remains the same — make sure the best people come to you rather than to your competition! It’s an essential element for making this happen though, and I think can often be decisive when all other things are in balance.

Hiring tech talents is tough — do you think employer branding can make a difference?

It makes a difference, but only if it is authentic. Intelligent people tend to be skeptical of superficial ‘employer branding’ if it does not also genuinely reflect deeply held values of the company. I think many companies underestimate or even entirely misunderstand what Employer Branding really is — it’s not more marketing, it’s the transparent communication of how your company actually operates.

How would you create an employer brand for tech talents?

I think you have to start from the ‘inside out’. Nothing is communication really works unless is it authentic. Telling the truth is just easier for strategy, execution, and maintenance.

“The tech companies who are best at employer branding are those who get marketing out of the way and allow the business — sometimes folks that might seem in-obvious candidates for telling the message — to the front of the house.”

What matters?

It’s worth repeating that authenticity matters more than anything — even values. Just tell the story of who you are — you will attract people who like that, and repel those that don’t. That should just about work for everybody. This should mean that Employer Branding approaches will be various — no set template, as every company will have a unique culture, a unique operating model. This is why companies have to do the brave thing and look inward first, before developing their own EVP rather than copy-paste-from-another-famous-brand

What is different doing employer branding for business talents vs. employer branding for tech talents?

The important to realise here is that there is a difference between the corporate and employer brand. The corporate brand sells product or service to potential future customers. The employer brand sells working life to potential future colleagues.

“As such, EVP might well have to have different flavours according to what roles you are hiring for. Developers are going to care about stuff that is different from what Salespeople care about.”

You kind of need to develop different flavours of your brand story for each group. This is why it is important for the business units themselves to have a central role in the storytelling.

How would you measure ROI of employer branding?

I wouldn’t. If you believe it’s important, it is important. If you need proof, you don’t really think it is that important, and that’s ok. But compete then on price or speed or something else.

Which advice would you give to companies starting with employer branding?

Trust in yourself. It’s not about techniques or gimmicks but about whether you are building a company you are proud to belong to. Focus on building a great company and great employer branding will be a secondary outcome.


I met Hung Lee recently at Hiring Success Europe. Read here about the conference and sign up for Hung’s recruiting brainfood.

Connect with me on Linkedin and like TalentCrush on Facebook.