How Uncubed Is the Startup Recruiter of the New Generation

Here’s an important question about the startup industry: Does a job at BarkBox actually involve petting cute dogs?

With Uncubed‘s new video classes, BarkBox is able to answer that question (it’s a yes) while also offering useful information to recruits who might want to apply to work at the company. In one class, for instance, editors Stacie Grissom and Laura Hartle talk about how they built the company’s social media presence while, naturally, cuddling some adorable pups.

Since 2012, Uncubed has been organizing hiring events across the U.S. to help tech companies teach in-person classes and reach potential job candidates. After selling out every class for almost two years—and building an audience of over 500,000 subscribers for its online magazine, Wakefield—Uncubed took its classes online.

(Full disclosure: Contently has classes on Uncubed.)

On, the company’s new video platform, job candidates can sign up for free classes taught and filmed right from the desks of employees working at some of today’s biggest startups. Uncubed works with each company to produce the clips, which have already generated thousands of hours of engagement.

Here’s how they’re doing it.

Classes as content

When people talk about content marketing, they usually refer to blog posts. But Uncubed’s classes, which are both educational and promotional, still serve the same function, just through a different medium. In fact, according to Uncubed co-founder and CEO Chris Johnson, these types of classes may usher in the second wave of content marketing.

“In the first wave, brands realized they needed a newsroom,” he said. “In this wave, they’re realizing they need a schoolroom.”

During a time when publishers like the Financial Times and The Economist are selling ads based on time spent, the potential of a one-on-one session with a viewer can be an attractive marketing strategy. The viewer gains access to information and insight about how top startups succeed while the startups have an opportunity to grab the undivided attention of clients and potential job candidates for roughly 30 minutes (most classes consist of three 10-minute videos).

The user experience agency Motivate Design, which was founded in 2009, even used Uncubed to produce some of its first-ever marketing content

“While we were exploring some different ways to start that and get our name out there while still providing value to other people, we came across Uncubed,” said Leigh Altshuler, the marketing content manager at Motivate Design. “We wanted to highlight the different things that we do: research, staffing, design.”

They just finished filming, and Altshuler hopes that Uncubed will provide that opportunity and help establish Motivate Design’s employees as thought leaders within those three key areas.

“We consider ourselves experts. It’s easier to define that to others by sharing these videos and make it a learning opportunity for them,” said Sean Paul Echevarria, business partnerships lead at Motivate Design. “We want to be able to reference these videos for our clients and their internal teams—anything that will give them a better understanding of our process.”

Bringing the audience

You might be asking yourself: If brands want to create online classes, why don’t they just upload their own videos to YouTube or Vimeo? For three years, Uncubed has been building an audience of over 300,000 active members through in-person events, online content, and university relationships. Instead of posting a clip that could get lost in the ocean of YouTube, brands on Uncubed may have a better chance of targeting the right viewers.

According to Johnson, Uncubed’s audience includes three main groups: college students looking to work for startups, career-changers trying to brush up on their skills, and lifelong learners hoping to experience something new.

“People come to Uncubed because they know they’re going to get quality content from a well-curated group of companies,” said Jeremy Foreshew, Grindr’s people and culture lead. “For us, having that warm handshake really goes a long way to introduce our brand to people.”

Grindr, the gay social network app, filmed two product classes with Uncubed in July 2015. In “Building New Features for 1M+ Users,” product manger Matt Norris shares the eight steps his team takes to get from idea to feature, and the tools Grindr uses to create prototypes. In “How to Choose a Product’s Next Feature,” product manager Quan Duong explains how he uses the Kano Model to narrow down the list of potential product features to work on.

Grindr is also set to film four more classes this spring that will dive into the different components of Grindr Labs, the company’s engineering and development department.

“We started working with Uncubed with their event products,” Foreshew said. “When we found out that they had a digital product … we thought it would be a perfect fit to find people who could potentially join our team and have the same relaxed attitude that we have.”

High-quality help

Uncubed sets itself apart from other online learning platforms like Skillshare and General Assembly by providing the resources to create, edit, and post these video classes. While Skillshare has more of a DIY approach that lets anyone upload and run their own classes, Uncubed works closely with its roster of top-notch brands.

“Uncubed was very involved along the way,” said Altshuler. “Olivia [Asiala, product lead] and her team came to the office to work with us not only as the organizers but also with the people who were going to be in the videos.”

Uncubed helped create a template for how the videos should look, provided a videographer to record, and edited the projects after filming. The template even included helpful talking points for structuring the clips. From beginning to end, the whole process took only a month.

Recruiting new talent

Once users view a class and wants to know more about job opportunities, they can click on a button that takes them to the company’s jobs page. Uncubed is then able to track how many people click through.

For example, after three weeks, BuzzFeed’s job postings had received 400 clicks from Uncubed viewers after the company debuted five classes—including How to Get a Job at BuzzFeed and What Recruiters Look for When They Google You. While those numbers might not sound amazing relative to YouTube videos with millions of views, the benefits for brands are different. And they’re not just measured by clicks.

“We have seen a small rise coming from passive LinkedIn candidates,” said Charlie Keinath, lead tech recruiter at BuzzFeed, “as well as a few mentions in cover letters from direct applicants.”

Beyond clicks and mentions, Johnson hopes to eventually be able to track new hires as well.

“We don’t have clear visibility into hires at the moment because it’s such a manual, long-term process,” he said. “But companies have gotten back to us and said, ‘Hey, we’ve had so many people come up to us and say they’ve watched the videos, and it really helped them learn about the company.'”

Similarly, Foreshew can’t point to any new hires as a direct result of Grindr’s classes, but he does believe they help people decide whether or not to work with the company. “It definitely goes a long way so when people are meeting with our recruiters and going through offers,” he said. “They can get a better sense of how we service our user and how we work internally.”

Building the schoolroom

After a year, Uncubed has hosted classes for approximately 20 companies.

“We didn’t know it would generate this kind of interest,” Johnson said. “We’re basically repositioning our whole business to support the video product.”

Why? Because brands already have the stories to create that content—stories about how their own companies grew, made tough decisions, and innovated. Uncubed is just giving them the tools to tell those stories to the people interested in hearing them.

Going forward, Johnson hopes larger companies will use Uncubed as well. He currently has a few Fortune 500 companies in the pipeline.

“We can ultimately see the biggest brands out there creating videos with us for the same reasons that the startups do—just trying to engage their audiences and recruit.”

Image by Shutterstock

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