Today is an exciting day for us, as we celebrate our four-year anniversary of launching Change State.
When Marty and I ventured out in 2019, the economy looked quite a bit different than it did today. But in truth, we haven’t strayed too far from our initial hypothesis when we set out to build Change State in 2019.
We heard that companies wanted ‘more’ from their recruitment marketing agencies – better insight into marketing performance, new advertising recommendations, and recommendations driven by a deep understanding of an evolving talent acquisition landscape. More than anything, it really feels like clients are looking for a partner who just has their best interests in mind — an agency that isn’t just looking to spend money to make money. And we’ve been lucky enough to be the right match for some phenomenal companies.
We did make some early decisions that have impacted the trajectory of our business.
For example, we learned pretty early on that neither Marty nor I like the act of ‘selling’ to clients. Growing a business when you don’t like to sell presents a real challenge – so when the pandemic hit, we had to figure out a way to generate new business when neither of us was too keen to start cold calling for clients. How could we differentiate ourselves from recruitment advertising agencies who have been around for a hundred years?
One of the better decisions we made at that time was to lean into creating content. commitment to continuous learning presented opportunities to keep a pulse on the newest trends in talent acquisition beyond what we could read online. In 2020 we launched The Changing State of Talent Acquisition Podcast, which has proven to be an incredible channel for us to learn from other leaders in and related to the world of talent acquisition.
We’re now well into season three of our podcast, which has given us the pleasure of hosting a continual stream of smart, interesting guests – from founders of HR tech companies to talent acquisition practitioners at the top of their game. We don’t have sponsors. We look at topics through the lens of curiosity. And we don’t spend episodes ranting about other vendors. We’ve found this approach has helped put our voice in the ears of HR executives and decision-makers – as a founding duo.
More recently, content creation has started to take on new forms. Our Economic Updates – written monthly by our first full-time hire, Nicole, have become a great opportunity to challenge ourselves to stay on top of the latest employment trends – providing a consistent place for clients and partners to turn toward when looking to make sense of an evolving economic landscape.
We’ve also made a deliberate effort to ensure the Change State team is spending time on areas of the business where they feel most energized. For Marty, this means living in our talent insights and employer brand projects. Pushing buttons on our advertising outlets is not what gives him energy. For me, this means I lead our HR technology consulting projects, helping companies better identify and solve gaps in their recruitment processes. In recent months, we’ve created newly defined lanes to better serve our clients – separating our Talent Advisor tasks from Client Success.
In a similar fashion, we’ve made a conscious effort to grow the Change State team with a focus on identifying experts in areas where our clients have unmet needs. So while all teammates at Change State can ‘do the work’ where necessary, everyone who contributes to our success has a unique zone of genius where they take the lead.
Taking this approach has created opportunities for us to hire experts across a number of disciplines to ensure we’re delivering at the highest level across all aspects of our business. In the last few years, we’ve onboarded an incredibly large number of functions outside of our core client-serving team: an SEM Specialist, Finance Manager, Marketing Project Manager, Data Analyst, UI/UX Designer, Programmatic Advertising Analyst, and Productivity Assistant.
Zooming out, I’m incredibly excited about our next phase of our growth. As a bootstrapped business, we’re lucky to be able to make decisions that are not influenced by growth goals set by private equity or venture capital firms. Personally, I think this makes it a lot easier for us to ‘do the right thing’ for the groups we aim to serve.
As we continue to scale, our commitments to our four key stakeholder groups serve as a kind of collective ‘north star.’:
- Our clients: This one is simple: How can we best serve the companies that partner with us to help build and execute an effective recruitment marketing strategy? We’ve never lost a client, and I’m confident no other recruitment marketing agency can make that claim since 2019. I think a big part of our success is due to our willingness to always ‘do the right thing’ for our clients – a simple concept, but often a challenge in practice. Sometimes that can be as simple as editing a microsite without charging a fee. Sometimes it means drastically cutting an advertising budget when we know we can deliver quality traffic for less.
- Our employees: Four years ago, there were just two of us. Today, we have a team of fifteen employees contributing to Change State’s success every month. Much like we’ve never lost a client, we’ve never lost an employee. I think we’ve hired the most talented team in our space, but that also means our employees would have twenty job offers if they were entertaining a new role. We have a responsibility to our employees to make sure they feel they’re always being challenged, always always learning at Change State.
- Job Seekers: I’m not sure agencies typically consider job seekers in their list of stakeholders. But if agencies are playing fast and loose with a company’s advertising budget, this opens up an incredibly frustrating candidate experience for job seekers. At a time when layoffs are continuing to increase, we have a responsibility to job seekers to make sure we’re taking a responsible approach to advertising open roles. This can be as simple as ensuring that our clients’ jobs are removed when they are no longer hiring or as complex as continually exposing job aggregators who are using a company’s brand name to steal candidate contact information.
- Change State Partners: We recognize we would not be able to function without our partners. We’re reliant on our job board partners to deliver good, quality traffic to our companies’ open roles. We need our HR tech partners to build solutions that improve the candidate experience and make it easier for candidates to find the right opportunities. So we need to be good stewards for our partners – making sure our team is properly trained to understand where a particular solution may fit within our clients’ strategies.
By focusing on these key stakeholder groups, it makes it easy for others to feel invested in our success.
Now that we’re four years in, I’m still asked about our ideal customer profile and my answer has remained the same. We want to work with companies that recognize they need to do something different. Or… change the current state of their recruiting strategy. The last four years have shown we’re doing something right, and we’re looking forward to the next four years!