Startups are transforming the way companies connect with talent, and Donja van Laarhoven, the founder of Fanployer, is leading the way. In this edition of the Recruitment Technology Founders Stories (RTFounders) podcast, we delve into the story behind Fanployer and the woman aiming to reshape the recruitment landscape.
‘I didn’t love the hardcore targets’
Donja van Laarhoven’s journey to becoming the founder of a revolutionary HR tech startup began in an unexpected place. Hailing from the Netherlands, she initially pursued hotel management. But her career took an exciting turn when she landed a role at a Laurens Simonse Groep in the Netherlands.
“There I actually fell in love with the recruitment world. And whilst I did actually love recruitment, talking to people, knowing and really analysing which individuals would be perfect for your organisation, I didn’t really love the die-hard, hardcore targets and ways of working.”
Who are you really looking for?
After her stint at Laurens Simonse Groep, she transitioned to Hunkemöller, where her professional journey took a crucial turn. It was there where Van Laarhoven embarked on her path toward HR and recruitment innovation. She joined the company in a global project management role within the HR team, working on a myriad of innovative projects related to recruitment and employer branding.
“I now started to really understand that to be really successful in recruitment and employer branding, you need to start focusing on the online and the outside world.”
While traditional HR primarily concentrated on internal processes, Van Laarhoven recognised the critical need to shift focus toward the online realm. “I now started to really understand that to be really successful in recruitment and employer branding, you need to start focusing on the online and the outside world. Because that’s where you can influence and engage job seekers with your brand. We were really good at social media, but as an HR department we were really struggling. What is it actually that we need to know? And specifically for recruitment, who is our persona? Who are we actually looking for?”
The birth of Fanployer
Donja’s journey led her to the realisation that there was a gap in the market. HR and recruitment professionals lacked the tools to gain the insights they needed to build strong employer brands. They also struggled to understand their target personas, their online behaviour, and the performance of their career sites.
However, their quest for the ideal tool to measure and enhance employer branding remained unfulfilled. So, Van Laarhoven and Anne Jaakke, her business partner, took matters into their own hands. Together they founded Fanployer with a singular mission: to provide HR and recruitment teams with the insights and tools they needed to measure, monitor, and improve their employer brands.
Changing the paradigm
The company has made significant strides since then. The company offers a dashboard that empowers recruitment teams to take control of their employer branding and reputation. “We no longer need to rely on costly external consultants for data and strategies; we can do it ourselves. Fanployer’s dashboard focuses on fixing quick wins and then progressing to more extensive branding efforts, streamlining the process for companies and making it a practical approach.”
“Now we’re progressing and we can actually also monitor all the data and actually also measure the progress of the quick wins and the big wins and the things that people are working on.”
“So we provide a starting points and where we see that HR and recruitment teams are the ones managing the employer brands. We also have a lot of traction currently with CEOs of business leaders that are really passionate about our creative of creating an employer brand to be proud of. Now we’re progressing and we can actually also monitor all the data and actually also measure the progress of the quick wins and the big wins and the things that people are working on.”
Fanployer’s client base is as diverse as it is wide-reaching. It started with larger companies looking to refresh their employer branding. “These were enterprises with established but somewhat outdated employer reputations, and they sought to understand how to shift job seeker sentiment. Over time, our clientele expanded to include startups and scale-ups, healthcare organisations, and technical companies. The common thread among all these companies was their recruitment questions and the need to transform their employer branding.”
Fast expansions on the horizon
Fanployer’s future holds the promise of international expansion. “We already have customers now currently in Australia and Germany, so we’re really broadening our horizon there. We know that our tool is the only tool out there and there’s no other parties who do what we do. We are now actually working towards being a fully scalable product, and when we’re there, we are able to scale internationally quite fast.”
Changing the mindset within HR
Donja’s mission extends beyond Fanployer. “I actually kind of have a love-hate relationship with HR and recruitment. I truly hate the reputation and the reality because I talk with a lot of companies currently. And I still see the reputation that HR departments generally have. You have to move beyond that and if you really understand how to put your people first, instead of hiding behind policies and processes.”
“Once you become a fanployer, you will actually start to shine online and you will engage with your target group.”
“Once you become a fanployer, you will actually start to shine online and you will engage with your target group. That’s my mission in life: to change the sentiment and the mindset of people in HR. And if you can change this mindset not only for yourself, but especially in your business and the people working for you, you will change the success of your business tremendously.
Listen to the episode
Listen to the full episode of RTFounders with Donja van Laarhoven (Fanployer) via the link below or via Spotify, Apple Podcasts or any other podcast platform.