Discovering Adaptive’s Story with Shay Miller, Sr. Manager, Talent Acquisition at Adaptive Biotechnologies

Shay Miller is an experienced contributor to the employer brand space and is constantly doing research on “what's next?”. Here at exaqueo, we had the good fortune to partner with her last year to build the new employer brand for AdaptiveBiotechnologies. Looking back on the work, Shay describes herself as a “proud mom” having been there since the birth of "Discover Your Story.

Recently, we took some time to reflect on Shay’s experience building and launching the Adaptive Biotechnologies employer brand and what it means for her personally.


1.    Why was employer brand important to Adaptive? What led you to start this journey?

Adaptive has been growing non-stop since the moment I joined. That pace continued to steadily accelerate, and we finally reached a critical point where establishing a robust EVP was crucial for us to take the next step in our growth. While we have a ton of creatives on our team, we knew we needed specific expertise in the EVP development space.


2.   How did it feel when you began your employer brand journey with exaqueo?

To be honest, it was a bit overwhelming at first. EVP strategy goes way beyond marketing. You think, “we might get a snazzy tagline,” but you end up discussing so much more.

Working with exaqueo put us all at ease - the process was well defined, the framework for building what we needed was already established. exaqueo helped us operate within that plan and kept us on-track to complete the tasks required throughout the engagement.

It was very stressful because I had never done a project like this before. But at one point I exhaled and thought, “Ok, everything is going to be fine.”


3.   Research is important to our process and a key element to what makes working with exaqueo so unique and the work product so connected to your business. Can you share how the research helped?

As a recruiter, we are the “people sales department,” or the “sales team of HR.” We have to sell a job. Going into this work, we had our own perception, but one thing that was surprising to me was hearing how Adapters described Adaptive as a place to work. It gave us a deeper sense of what it's like to be an Adapter. It gave us the opportunity to answer, “How does Adaptive continue to communicate with employees once we’ve sold the opportunity?” Adapters get to truly live and breathe this environment that we sold to them. 


4.   Bring us up to speed to today: what were your key activation priorities? What did you choose to focus on internally and externally?

Discover Your Story” has been picked up by other departments and is now embedded in a variety of communications and throughout our social media and on our website. This gives my team talking points when speaking with candidates because they don't want any fluff. We give them more reasons to leave a job where they may not be unhappy. The desire to connect to patients, the mission-driven focus, we make this tangible.


5.   What results are you starting to see?

When we started this work, we had just hit 400 Adapters. We are over 800 today. Covid shifted us a bit, but we were able to pivot. This also garnered new interest, so we were happy to have the branding work done prior to Covid.

We are on the verge of hitting our 400th hire this year.


6.   Your current employer brand campaign is centered around the headline, “Discover Your Story” What does this mean to you personally?

I was there at its birth. I’m a proud mom.

I like seeing it connect on a deeper level. We were able to do career pathing because of our growth. We were able to tie this to “Discover Your Story” and put some meat on it. It makes it more than just a tagline.

7.   If you could provide one piece of advice to another practitioner looking to build or refresh their employer brand, what would it be?

If I were to do this over again, I would have begged for more budget so I could work with exaqueo on activation. This is a solid return on investment.


8.   What or who inspires you the most when it comes to your work?

I am constantly inspired by my team. Some of the talent market challenges we face today are new to all of us. By coming together and working collectively and innovatively, we’ve been able to keep our hiring on track. The ideas that come from this team are very inspiring and invigorating.


9.   Anything else you’d like to share?

I always point back to exaqueo as the gold standard, especially coming into something that we knew nothing about. We ended on time, maybe even early. It’s a testament to everyone committing to the project, our team as well as exaqueo. We relied on exaqueo for the structure and the methodology behind it. This was the key to our success and the fact that we did it early on.

A piece of advice would be to stay on top of it. Make sure you’re motivating your team and make sure they are resourced. One of the best things we did was to involve our corporate marketing team right away.

Some of the feedback from the campaign went all the way up to our CPO. This gave us visibility and made it spread as quickly as it did. “Discover Your Story” clicked with everyone.

The exaqueo team wants to give a big ‘thank you’ to Shay for sharing her time and story with all of us. We encourage you to check out and connect with her on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in learning more from other employer brand professionals, check out these posts with Jennifer Beyer, Anthony Chidoro, and this one with Kerry Noone.

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