What is the best use of $250,000 in media spend, for Dropbox to attract top Senior Engineer talent to fulfill 25 hires in Seattle?

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What is the best use of $250,000 in media spend, for Dropbox to attract top Senior Engineer talent to fulfill 25 hires in Seattle?

It is well-known that senior engineers are highly sought after among the high tech community. LinkedIn found that software engineers receive 2.5 times more InMail than other members, showing what a competitive market it can be. Fortunately, it seems that through marketing efforts and ensuring appropriate packages, technology companies can use a variety of strategies to attract top talent to Seattle. Below you will find a deep dive of my findings.

general ways to attract top talent

A lot of the information is focused on how to create a positive company that prospective employees are naturally attracted to. For example, Entrepreneur magazine suggests letting employees work from the place where their productivity is highest (work or home or mixed). Harvard Business Review says that companies need to make sure they're seen as a "winner" so talent perceives job opportunities as a competition for bragging rights.

Engage for Success takes a similar angle, in that improving a company will naturally attract good candidates through a few strategies. For one, a thriving culture naturally encourages people to be the best they can. This in turn creates happy employees who can turn into a company's number one fan, which then translates into these people naturally attracting their network to the company.

While this may seem almost irrelevant to the question, actually these points are pertinent to determining media spend for recruitment, as money can go towards ensuring these values are communicated both internally and to the candidate pool. Spending money on brand awareness and communicating a winning, top-end brand message would key to a natural attraction of top tech talent.

Forbes has a case study from CreditLoan.com's journey, especially with the struggle of attracting top recruits from outside Silicon Valley. Similar to that discussed above, a key strategy for the company was to clearly communicate its strengths. For example, the lower cost of living compared to Silicon Valley, perhaps a better location or neighborhood, smaller employee numbers mean contributions are better-valued, and so on. Coupling this with a robust relocation package can help find high quality candidates.

However, there is caution needed with this approach. Too much hard selling of the unremunerated 'perks' with a position might raise red flags with quality candidates. They might think that these are being offered these in lieu of great, tangible benefits.

Another concrete example is IBM, who uses recruitment money to produce videos of people talking about their (meaningful) work with the company. This is designed to inspire the millennial generation and show how their values align with IBM's. In another example, a conglomeration of SAP, Microsoft, EY, DXC Technology, and JPMorgan Chase combined to develop practices to hire people with autism, creating a new pipeline for top talent (one study has found that "software testers on the autism spectrum regularly worked faster than their peers.")

Barclaycard, in Delaware, similarly recently used campaigns of brand awareness, by "elevating [the] brand as an employer of choice, focusing on culture, mission and purpose and leveraging unconventional screening practices like blind coding challenges."

Seattle-based Qumolo takes a different angle of brand awareness. They actually fly out large batches of candidates to a day-long event, combining the interview process with product demos, tours of the city and finishing with a social event at a local pub. They want to ensure nothing is "lost in translation over the phone".

recruiting in seattle

As you may well know, Seattle has a shortage of experienced tech workers, so most of them need to be recruited from out-of-state. Workers often move to Seattle for lower real estate prices, lack of state sales tax, and a longer "career" mindset. You may already have a jump-start on recruiting experience engineers away from Silicon Valley, as Redfin found that 20% of those browsing its website from that area were looking for out-of-state properties.

Recruiterbox has some useful tips for attracting top talent in competitive areas. It recommends investing money in social events to highlight the brand (workshops, Meetups, hackathons) or even just putting all the cards on the table and hosting a recruitment event. Even if the event doesn't find the exact candidates, it helps build a positive word-of-mouth network.

Additionally, a recruiting company can stand out from a competitive marketplace by using creative advertising. Some companies hide QR codes in their digital and print ads, while others use humor or movie references to catch the eye. A company named Alkemy ran an unusual print campaign titled "We're Looking for Someone Who Doesn't Exist" with a long text block of interesting requirements to inspire candidates to apply.

spending allocation

Unfortunately, despite thorough deep dive research, I was unable to source any case studies detailing exact media spending for technology recruitment. The only details I could find were for job boards' advertising campaigns to drive general traffic, rather than those of a specific tech company.

However, I was able to source a case study on how UPS dramatically improved their recruitment by turning to social media. While this is not the tech industry, I think this case study has some useful takeaways in that the first thing UPS did was identify their target demographic for recruitment, and then use mobile and interactive elements ("day-in-the-life-of" videos) on the right channels (in this case, through social media) to pull in candidates.

Using this information, we also have data from ERE that your type of recruitment needs to reach passive candidates, as this is where most senior tech jobs are filled from. A Novo Group survey found that as many as 70% of passive candidates stay on top of job postings in their industry using LinkedIn, whereas only 35% use job boards. 58% use referrals, tying into the points above about using the existing employee pool to pull in quality candidates (numbers are more than 100% as some passive candidates use multiple methods).

Additionally, tracking metrics is key to quality candidates. While time-to-hire is most often used, a better measurement is quality of candidate. This will result in better spending allocation in getting the best hires possible.


To wrap it up, allocating recruitment spending on brand awareness and communication is key to attracting top talent in a competitive landscape. Where there is a shortage of senior talent in the Seattle area, showing a company's positive qualities on the right channels is paramount to finding good candidates. Additionally, some efforts should be allocated to internal communication, as current employees are a top source for pulling in passive candidates in a crowded marketplace.