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How Forbes finds the best talent for their 30 Under 30 list

A simple typeform collects nominations to select 600 of the best and brightest young leaders.

In a nutshell

  • ChallengeHow do Forbes make sure they get enough nominations every year for their 30 Under 30 list?
  • SolutionA typeform with custom branding and logic jumps that makes the long nomination form more fun to fill out.
  • Result15k nominations in a year—and a higher completion rate than Forbes' previous form builder.

In her mid-twenties, Clara Sieg helped AOL billionaire Steve Case set up his first growth-stage investment fund. Now she helps manage $650 million for startups. Heben Nigatu is the senior editor at BuzzFeed and co-hosts the Another Round podcast for hundreds of thousands of listeners. She’s 24 years old.

After her company Blendspace was acquired by TES Global, 29-year-old Amy Lin now oversees the learning platform for over 7 million teachers worldwide.

What do these talented and ambitious minds have in common? They’re all part of last year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list.

Every year, Forbes identifies 30 of the brightest and most promising game-changers under the age of 30, in 20 different industries. That’s 30 leaders x 20 industries = 600 superstars. Wow.

Finding all those people is a tall order. But the past couple years it’s been a little easier thanks to a suggestion from Salah Zalatimo, Chief Digital Officer at Forbes. His idea? Let’s take a look.

Finding 600 future leaders

For any selection process, the quality of the winner will only be as good as the people who enter the contest. And to find 600 brilliant people, you need a big pool of nominees to wade through. Here’s Salah on the challenge:

We try to get the most remarkable and impressive young talent. So we need an elegant survey that works seamlessly across all platforms and devices.
Salah Zalatimo , Chief Digital Officer at Forbes

This isn’t as simple as “give me your name and an email address, and we’ll throw you in a raffle box.” Nope. Forbes needs enough info to know who their nominees really are. Education and work history. The industry or sector they’re impacting. Links to press, projects, and posts…

And most importantly—why? Why does this nominee belong on the 30 Under 30 list? What inspires them to be successful, to change the world?

Put another way, completing a 30U nomination is a bit like populating your entire LinkedIn profile through a fancy form. Okay, maybe it’s more like populating Bill Gates’ LinkedIn profile. But you get the picture: to avoid putting people to sleep, you need the right tool.

That’s where Salah’s idea comes in.

How do you find a genius?

As head of product at Forbes, Salah’s no stranger to data collection. Whether it’s market researchevent registration, or internal questionnaires, Salah always has these essentials in mind:

  1. Keep people engaged until they hit submit—because a partially completed nomination is as useful as a sentence without an

  2. Make it easy to distribute through various channels—email, social, webpage embed

  3. Look good and be painless to fill in on all devices—from desktop to mobile

His tool of choice? Typeform.

So when a couple years back he saw the 30 Under 30 nomination designed on a different platform, he suggested that Forbes give Typeform a whirl.

They could’ve just assumed that the Forbes name and the prestigious 30 Under 30 brand would be enough to get the nominations they needed, but they didn’t. Last year, Salah ran the test:

We’d done this survey several times on other platforms. So we knew what we wanted. We built it, tested it with users against our old platform, and Typeform won hands down.
Salah Zalatimo , Chief Digital Officer at Forbes

But it wasn’t just an easy-to-make, fun-to-take form. It also had to reflect their brand. Important, because Forbes is, well, Forbes.

So Salah removed the Typeform branding and added their own logos and colors. People don’t even know it’s a typeform. Now, it’s a forbesform.

What’s it take to make a forbesform?

Our survey has some complex logic, so it took us about an hour to initially set up. But we deployed it in waves over a week and kept refining it as we got feedback
Salah Zalatimo, Chief Digital Officer at Forbes

Logic? Call it skip logic or logic jump or conditional branching. Whatever. It shows people different questions based on their answers, keeping the form relevant to the person doing it.

For example, the 30 Under 30 form lets people nominate themselves or someone else. So people first say who they want to nominate, and then they’re guided to the appropriate set of follow-up questions. Check it out 2017’s typeform for yourself:

What kind of army did it take to build a personally-branded survey using complex logic? An army of one: Salah. Plus two more people to review it. Nice.

Next step: find some leaders.

Roll out the red carpet

Forbes gets the word out in every way they can. They share the nomination typeform through their email lists, embed it on the 30 Under 30 web page, and blast it through social media.

What happens after that?

We get thousands of nominations. We identify 600 of the most amazing candidates to the 30 Under 30 community every year. We love getting as many nominations as possible.
Salah Zalatimo, Chief Digital Officer at Forbes

Last year they raked in over 15,000 nominations! Some names you may know, like plus-sized supermodel Ashley Graham and John Boyega from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. And no doubt this year will bring some new talents into the limelight.

Finn from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a 30 Under 30 winner

Salah’s advice for someone putting together a nomination form like his?

We’ve done our research. Typeform is the best option. Advanced features like Logic Jump and custom Thank You screens make it easy to get the answers you need with a personalized touch. And the ease of use for our whole team made it a no-brainer.
Salah Zalatimo, Chief Digital Officer at Forbes

So, selecting the tool to find the biggest brains on the planet is a no-brainer. A pleasant irony.

Need to set up your own nomination typeform? Get started right away with these application form templates.

How did Forbes do it?

You don’t have to be Forbes to find the best and brightest for your award, event, contest, or job position. Here’s a few things Forbes did to help them stand out.

1. Use Logic Jumps to customize the screens people see

Do you need to send respondents to different questions, depending on the responses they give? Then you need to use Logic Jump.

2. Let users upload files

Save time, use photos. And videos. People like those. Find out how to let users upload media to your typeform.

3. Customize the Thank You screen

Add text, links, an image, video, or even an animated GIF to show your appreciation. Want to say something extra special after someone submits their responses? Then consider customizing the Thank You screen.

4. Remove Typeform branding to make it your own

Need your nomination typeform to reflect your brand? No problem. Here’s how you can remove Typeform branding.

If you haven’t already got an account, you can sign up for Typeform for free.

Got a cool typeform of your own to tell us about? Tell us about it here and we might feature you in a story like this one.

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