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Think about tech startups and certain visuals – funky open-concept offices, a casual dress code and a relaxed corporate culture – come to mind.

At a time when many tech firms find themselves competing for talent, managers may be tempted to latch onto these appealing attributes to help their firms stand out among prospective employees.

But Rob Lee, the managing partner at digital recruitment firm Pivot and Edge, recently advised a group of Kanata North business leaders to take a slightly different – and more authentic approach.

Don’t try to be all things to all people, Lee said. Instead, businesses looking to attract talent should consider telling a meaningful story about who they are as a company.

“A real sense of belonging doesn’t come from knowing your office is really colourful or open concept or all that,” he said at Tech Tuesday, a monthly networking event hosted by local tech titan Terry Matthews and the Wesley Clover Group. “It comes from really believing in what you’re doing.”

While many entrepreneurs, engineers and business managers are passionate about their work, turning that into a corporate brand involves crafting a narrative that describes the firm’s meaningful projects and accomplishments.

Lee argued that companies that do this successfully have an advantage at recruiting talented staff.

Specifically, he said prospective candidates want to join companies that are changing things or working on projects to which they want to contribute. Or perhaps the firm is filled with employees and managers with whom the candidate feels a connection, Lee added.

“The important thing is to create a work atmosphere that is charged with meaning,” he said.

How do you convey this to prospective employees?

An article in Fast Company magazine offered the following tips:

  • Offer job-seekers as much information as possible: Go beyond the position title and high-level responsibilities when publishing career opportunities. Create transparency by including the salary range, details about benefits, a description of the team as well as other pertinent information such as leadership development programs.
  • Show your impact: Highlight the products you’ve developed, tell stories about the projects you’ve worked on and describe how you’ve made a positive impact for your customers. Don’t forget to showcase your community involvement and any corporate social responsibility initiatives.
  • Let your employees tell their stories: Past and present staff members can be powerful brand ambassadors. Let them tell prospective candidates what they do on a daily basis, their career progression and why it’s great to work for your company. Consider including testimonials or videos in your job posting.

In between job openings, consider maintaining a blog with regular updates about what’s happening with your team, what they’re working on and details about company events such as product launches and social events. Experts say this can help to humanize yourself and your firm to potential future employees.

As serial entrepreneur Deep Patel recently wrote in Forbes, it’s important to create a work environment that’s “charged with meaning.”

He argues that many young workers want to feel like they’re working for a purpose larger than themselves. Achieving this can help build employee engagement, which in turn improves staff retention and attract new talent.

Many companies in Kanata North have created spectacular workplaces, staffed with employees tackling meaningful projects. Telling stories about your achievements can help build a corporate brand that will assist in attracting talent, ultimately helping to grow your business.

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