These days, every company wants to be seen as a tech company, but should they? On a surface level, it makes sense when hiring. Competition for talent is steep and the Googles and Amazons of the marketplace are getting the lions’ share. So of course companies want to be viewed as categorically the same – but they’re not.

Harsh reality or fortunate truth? Lines have blurred, and it has become harder to differentiate between tech companies and tech-enabled companies.

Today, every U.S. company uses technology. It doesn’t matter what product or service is being provided, or even the sector they fall into. What may come as a disappointment is that this doesn’t make them all tech companies. But it shouldn’t. Instead, this disclosure should evoke a sense of wonder – and an opportunity to change the narrative.

We analyzed the Big Four tech companies (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) to better understand why candidates are drawn to them. What we found is that candidates admire these companies for their opportunities to solve problems that are not broached elsewhere, agility and speed to market, and going beyond CSR while striving to create purposeful work.

Tech-enabled companies that are currently offering a start-up mentality and interesting (even socially-driven work) may not realize that they are already playing in the space their target recruits want to occupy! For these solution-oriented companies, trying to be a “tech company” may actually be a detriment. Instead, working to demonstrate the role that technology actually plays in the organization – and the innovation that they are steering in other vibrant sectors – could actually land these question-probers ahead in the hiring space.

The first step in communicating this message of tech-enabled innovation, or problem solving, is to understand what your company is doing, who you want to tell, and how the competition is working to attract that same audience. It may be problematic to have a shared target audience with these top contenders – more grounds for falling short when it comes to the short list. This is where informing your audience comes into play.

Goldman Sachs employs thousands of engineers in its efforts to stay on the cutting edge of financial technology.1 According to David Solomon, CEO at the firm, keeping up in modern finance “requires a lot of investment.” Companies such as Goldman need to answer questions like “how to hold on to your legacy businesses but create an environment that’s conducive” to innovation.” They even have a whole blog devoted to it, “Technology Driving Innovation,” which has a broader audience focus and may be used to create leverage in the talent market.

Identifying the story best told for tech-enabled and innovation-driven companies like Goldman starts by identifying one of these messages (but checking all 4 boxes is ideal):
 Do we deliver on these principals?
 Are we Builders/Creators?
 World Changers?
 Empowering Platform?

From there, shaping a communications plan for the candidate audiences will bring the company’s tech identity to life.

The message here? Technology-enabled companies are just as worthy of top talent, so long as they continue to innovate, share their stories, and own them. Just be sure to embrace and elevate these stories based on the principals above. No one wants to find a wolf in sheep’s clothing in the meta data.


Engagement strategist, storytelling enthusiast, and a human Subreddit, Amanda uses her powers for good as Associate Director Strategy & Planning at INSIDE. When she is OOO, you can find her hiking for days or sipping champagne at the opera.