Talent mapping for digital & tech hiring with Zalando

July 1, 2019


Talent mapping for digital & tech hiring with Zalando


  1. Intro to Amanda & Zalando
  2. Intro to talent mapping
  3. Taking responsibility
  4. Methods
  5. Tracking with Beamery
  6. Q & A

Adrie Smith: Hi everyone, welcome to the Recruitee webinar. Really nice to see you all. I see some familiar people, actually, who are joining us today.

Adrie Smith: And so today, we’re going to be talking about talent mapping for digital and tech hiring. And we actually are joined today by Amanda Lamont from Zalando. So welcome, Amanda.

Amanda Lamont: Hello.

Adrie Smith: And my name is Adrie Smith. I am the Head of Content at Recruitee. So I’m responsible for the podcast, the blog, the webinar, also. So you guys, I’ll give you a couple links at the end, so you can check those out later.

Adrie Smith: And yeah, so I think we’ll just get to it. But just a couple things before we get started. So you might have gotten a link to the Talent Acquisition Innovators community, our Facebook group. That’s where the recording of this webinar will actually sit. So if you have a colleague who might be interested, or you want to revisit it later, then you can see it there, probably uploaded tomorrow or on Friday, seeing as tomorrow is a holiday for most of us here in Europe.

Adrie Smith: And questions, so I’ll be fielding some questions to Amanda throughout the process. But if it’s not answered during the session, we’ll also have a quick Q&A at the end and Amanda will get to all of those questions.

Adrie Smith: And yeah, the podcast (the last thing, hopefully): maybe we’ll have Amanda later on the podcast as well. But the podcast is a new thing, it’s also branded with the Talent Acquisition Innovators, and it has different people from the recruitment space joining us online, so definitely check it out at recruit.ee/podcast.

Adrie Smith: So I think we’ll get started already. So Amanda, I guess you can get started.

Amanda Lamont: Yeah. Okay, I’m just checking, can you see my whole screen?

Adrie Smith: Yup.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, great. Cool. So hey, everybody, thanks so much, Adrie, for the introduction. This is my title slide. So I’m going to just move on to the next one. As Adrie said, thanks for joining and please feel free to type any questions into the chat box and I’ll have a look at them and try and answer them as I go along.

Intro to Amanda & Zalando

Amanda Lamont: So just quick insight to who I am, so I’m working for Zalando, been here just over a year, and I’m basically the lead recruiter for all tech hiring, specifically within our customer fulfillment business unit. And that’s basically spanning all tech hiring. So any tech role you can think of, I’m responsible for that in this business unit.

Amanda Lamont: So yeah, for any of you who don’t know Zalando, please look us up. And yeah, you can get insight into who we are and what we do. And so yeah, that’s me. And those are my contact details if anyone wants to connect, and just share, learn from each other. Please, please let me know. I’m happy to have a chat sometime. Especially if you’re in Berlin, let’s meet up for a coffee or something.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, so let’s get started. So our agenda today is the what, where, who, how, and some examples. So I’m not going to read through all of this stuff. Let’s just get on to the next slide.

Talent mapping

Amanda Lamont: So what is talent mapping? It sounds really fancy, but basically, it’s really just researching the market: where are the talents that you’re looking for, where are they situated? And using this information to present applicable candidates or relevant candidates for not just your immediate hiring needs, but also when it comes to pipelining for your business. So I’ll also be going into some of the tools that typically we’re using at Zalando to do this.

Amanda Lamont: So where do you start? How do you do this thing? So usually on the left, that’s your expectation; you’ve got all these stickies everywhere, you know what you’re doing. But really, it’s mostly something to the right, where I think where you are right now, just kind of ‘Bird Box’ing it; you don’t know what you’re doing, and you feel like you’re kind of drowning. So let’s look at how we can go about this.

Amanda Lamont: So what kind of resources are you going to use to inform yourself? So on the one side, we are looking at our internal environment. So from the business, your hiring managers, on a broader level, you want to know… and this is applicable to any hiring area, but since I’m a tech recruiter, I’m kind of going to go into that.

Amanda Lamont: So internally, you want to know, what are the skills required across your business? So in our example, we’re looking for Java, Scala, Go, Kotlin, etc. So you’re mapping out where the skills are needed in the business and what are you looking for?

Amanda Lamont: And especially, you want to keep refreshing this knowledge. If the business can foresee any technical changes, perhaps you want to develop new systems, which would be built more efficiency in another language. So we need a development language. So we need an overview on what they’re looking for up to the minute.

Amanda Lamont: What levels of seniority are we looking at, how is leadership going to evolve? Are we looking more for juniors, mid-level, senior leadership? So that we can target pools specifically for these levels.

Amanda Lamont: Also, within our tech recruiting team, if we find that a profile is not relevant for one of our teams, depending on who’s recruiting for it, we always share these profiles. So just because a candidate is not suitable for you, they could be suitable for someone else. So we want to really salvage that opportunity and see where they can fit in the business.

Amanda Lamont: Because even if you want to meet your deliverables as a recruiter, you should also think about the business as a whole. Because we’re all one team and we’re here to support the efforts of recruiting as a whole.

Amanda Lamont: Then, depending on who’s working on this, let’s look at succession planning, and who are the high performers in our teams? Really strong employees that we have. Look at where they’ve come from. Typically, you would, later we’ve identified that someone who has gone to Vrije Universiteit, I don’t know how people in Amsterdam say it, or the Technische Universität in Berlin, a lot of people are coming from that school that are really strong, or people who are working at a certain company that we’ve hired have been performing really, really well.

Amanda Lamont: So let’s see how we can zero in on that and target these companies, and see how many candidates from there, or profiles we can get them there, that would be suitable for our teams. Obviously, subject to what your hiring manager’s requirements are.

Amanda Lamont: And then employee insights. Speak to your team members, your employees, the engineers that are in your team. And really educate yourself on the industry that is applicable to them. Maybe they have some inside knowledge of which companies are restructuring. Of course, that is our role as well as recruiters to know what’s happening in the industry, new developments with competitors who are really strong companies, that suit our market, that we can also target.

Amanda Lamont: So speak to your peers, the engineers in your team, wherever they may be and see, perhaps they also have referral connections, which is typically one of the strongest sources of hiring. Because there’s someone in the company who can vouch for them. So that’s why I’ve got this lovely Game of Thrones meme, because you’ve got your little birds all over the company that can tell you everything you need to know.

Amanda Lamont: Then we’re going to look externally. So again, like I mentioned with the industry knowledge, for example, I’m working in customer fulfillment, so our environment is very similar to Amazon, for example. They’re selling a huge assortment of things, but have their own logistics and warehousing setup.

Amanda Lamont: So I want to know what’s happening at that company. What are they doing that is so innovative, that is attracting potential candidates? And what employee value proposition can we then focus on to attract potential profiles to our company instead? What advantages do we have, what challenges make us particularly interesting?

Amanda Lamont: Again, this relates to reorganization, restructures, redundancies at other companies, so that if you know this knowledge to the letter, at the minute, you can move in and start approaching people who are potentially leaving the company. And, yeah, I think the important thing here is to educate yourself. The business is your best friend, you are their strategic partner, they are looking to you to have this knowledge, right? Because they expect that you’ve recruited for this kind of role, or at least you are making the effort to become invested in their teams, as much as they are.

Amanda Lamont: So for example, when I started recruiting for these teams, I sat down with every single team, found out what they were doing, how are their systems working, what are the challenges they are experiencing, and what are the unique selling points for the product they are working on?

Amanda Lamont: It’s also been really useful for me not to just sit in my high tower in recruiting in some building somewhere, but also to sit with the engineering teams. You kind of pick up things around you while you’re sitting next to them and they develop over time, this trusting relationship with you, where they feel comfortable enough to strike up a conversation with you and tell you more about why they moved to the Zalando or why they moved to your company. And also, feel confident or comfortable enough to recommend their friends.

Amanda Lamont: So all of these sources are really good. And like I mentioned, looking at competitors as well, what makes them so competitive from a hiring perspective? And the developments in the industry, when you’re looking at these similar environments.

Amanda Lamont: And this kind of relates to media as well, keeping up to date with articles, be it TechCrunch, HackerNow, etc. It’s not just about finding the right candidates, but also knowing what’s happening in that industry.

Amanda Lamont: I mean, looking for these skills, you need to know the area, the domain that your candidates would be working in, so that you don’t sound like a complete newb when you’re speaking to them. I think sometimes there’s this perception that recruiters are just there to inquire about salary information and pass you on to the technical team.

Amanda Lamont: It really gives you so much credibility when you know the area you’re working in and your hiring manager on the team are really impressed by this. They have so much more respect for you when you can speak, perhaps not on the highest technical level that they’re working with, but you can really relate to what they’re doing.

Amanda Lamont: And then of course, events. So again, from a media and news perspective, what meetups are happening? Attend these meetups, look at events or conferences where you are continuously learning from other people, like SourceCon, for example, which just happened in Amsterdam. What are other people doing to accomplish this?

Amanda Lamont: So that’s why I have this Catch Me If You Can meme, sorry I’m explaining everything I’ve posted in my slide. But this guy assumes so many personalities. I think this is very applicable to assuming a role for different kinds of profiles across your business. And the FBI officer basically asked him, how did he do it? How did he pose as a lawyer and manage to pass the bar exam, even though he never studied the degree? And he said, I didn’t cheat. I studied for two weeks, and I passed.

Amanda Lamont: So this is kind of applicable to our role, where we really study our environment. We study what our teams are doing and we educate ourselves and we gain more validation and credibility with the business when we do this.

Taking responsibility

Amanda Lamont: Okay, let’s move on. So who does this, who is responsible for this? So that would be you. You could be the only person in your company in charge of recruiting, you’re not lucky enough to have a sourcing team. I’m lucky here, because we do have a sourcing team.

Amanda Lamont: And there’s always this conundrum where we don’t have capacity, we’re all overworked, the business won’t grant us more headcount for recruiting. So sometimes we have to wear all the hats, we have to schedule, we need to source, all of that. So you need to be proactive and see how we can prioritize this.

Amanda Lamont: Okay. So like I mentioned, empower and educate yourself. Again, the more initiative you show, the more credibility you gain with the business.

Amanda Lamont: Then, of course, there are recruiting agencies who do this, perhaps there are agency recruiters on the line here, or in-house. Again, as a recruiter, to inform yourself would also be your responsibility. And then if you’re really feeling lost, there are market research agencies, depending on your budget, if once a year you want them to do some research in the market to see what are your best sources, the companies you should be looking at.

Amanda Lamont: And perhaps even there’s a different industry that also fits the needs of your teams and the skills needed in your teams. So if you want to outsource that as well, you can.


Amanda Lamont: How do you do it? So you’re the person in charge of this. Where do you start? How do you not die? And so yes, old school spreadsheets, don’t knock it if you’re still starting out. Sorry, I missed a bracket there. And this is something even, believe it or not, I’m working with spreadsheets. Yay, we can never have too many of them. So don’t feel ashamed or unequipped if you’re using this, everyone’s been there. And it’s not bad at all, even if it’s a bit manual and frustrating.

Amanda Lamont: Social media platform searches. So looking at your Twitter, Instagram, we have @insidezalando, Inside Amazon has also got their own thing. You’re joining groups on LinkedIn, or whichever tools or platforms that are applicable to your industry. Following competitors, making use of those market analyzes, and then I’ll all cover the tools in the next slide, I think, which you can use as well to do this in a more automated manner.

Amanda Lamont: And then there’s something we like to do called a sourcing party. So basically, I sent out an invite, ask my hiring manager, hey, I want to get a bunch of people from your teams, all the engineers, all the product managers, whoever’s looking, we’re going to get them all in one room or wherever. Please ensure this invite is mandatory, because we need people to attend. Without the resources, this won’t be successful.

Amanda Lamont: But basically, all they need to do is bring their laptops. Engineers, techies, they don’t really want to engage with people, I think. Not always the case, but mostly. So we asked them to search their network, you don’t have to contact anyone, that’s what we tell them. They don’t need to contact anyone, they just need to give us the name and let’s say the public link to the profile on LinkedIn or Zing or whichever platform you’re using. And we will proactively reach out to them.

Amanda Lamont: So people they know, but perhaps they see someone they don’t know that they randomly connected with, but they think would suit what they’re doing in the team and the technologies they’re using. Then, we typically have some music playing in the background, you order pizza and beer, you could do this in lunchtime at work. So then probably no beers, more sodas. Or towards the evening, when you got a lot of people with families that they need to get home to. So you don’t want to do it too late, because people will be not inclined to attend. So whatever works best for the team.

Amanda Lamont: Also, give them enough lead time when you’re scheduling this, because let’s say they’re working on a critical project, there’s a hectic deadline. So it’s not really feasible for them to attend, because they’re losing on productive time.

Amanda Lamont: So then you get this lovely database of names and you get on it, you start doing those reach outs. And then of course, in God we trust, but all others bring data, so very helpful to the business. They want to know, they’ve taken their engineers to put this effort in and search LinkedIn or Zing or whatever, what is the return on this time investment?

Tracking with Beamery

Amanda Lamont: So keep track of your reach outs, your responses and the interest rates, the declines, and then you can report on the progress on this and be able to let them know. Typically, when we have one of these events, this is the kind of success rate you’re looking at, perhaps we can schedule it quarterly, to kind of boost our pipeline.

Amanda Lamont: And then a searchathon. So we’ve done this with our teams in recruiting specifically, where even if it’s just for an hour, hopefully two, because an hour goes by quickly. All the recruiters that together, we split, we basically split the recruiters or assign different companies. So, hey, today where focusing on Berlin, specifically.

Amanda Lamont: We then have a combined list of the companies we’d like to map. Even just on a spreadsheet, have a different tab per company, and then define the target skills for the roles we’re looking for.

Amanda Lamont: So for one event, we said we’re looking for backend only. So we scheduled the event, we invited the recruiting team, you can decide on whichever tool you want to use. Spreadsheets, LinkedIn projects, whatever, some kind of CRM to add these to.

Amanda Lamont: And then, the sourcing team, whoever is kind of an expert or subject matter expert on this, they’ll be around for Q&A during that time. So if you have any questions on how we want to manage this, they are on standby to help you with that. And also monitor the process and general data accuracy on how people are entering these profiles into the spreadsheet.

Amanda Lamont: So after, I’m going to show you this tool, as I’ve said a million times, where we’re currently using Beamery. I’ll show you how it works just now, which is a CRM tool we’ve invested a lot of money in, and have really boosted or tried to make use of where we take these names and reach outs, loaded up into our system. And of course, trying to be GDPR compliant.

Amanda Lamont: We send them links to sign up to our platform, where if any new roles pop up, etc., they can get a little bit of an email blast every now and then. And we record their status to see, are they available? Even if they went through interviews for us.

Amanda Lamont: So we don’t throw away talent, let’s say you preferred another candidate in an interview process, but you had some people who… they were good, maybe at that point in time, they weren’t the best fit. So we would, for example, call this silver medalist or bronze medalist candidates. So we can see, hey, perhaps we can use this candidate down the line. You don’t want to lose that connection with them, because today’s rejection could be tomorrow’s hire.

Amanda Lamont: So let me see if I’ve missed anything. I think that slide is done.

Q & A

Amanda Lamont: Okay. Let me focus on some questions that have come through. I’ve got a question here saying what do you think about offering a financial compensation during sourcing parties, where someone giving a contact, which leads to something, gets financial compensation for it?

Amanda Lamont: That is a very good question, which I have not actually included. Yes, we do. Okay, so typically, you want someone to officially refer, but to increase attendance, obviously, make it worth their while, we do record on our ATS, our application tracking system to say who the contact came from. And then they will get the same referral bonus if that person is hired, as they would have if they just uploaded the candidate to the ATS.

Amanda Lamont: So, yes, very important, because the teams want to know that this time they’re investing is actually worth their while. So I think that that should definitely be considered as a referral. Even if let’s say, the person doesn’t know them personally, let’s say.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, and then as for GDPR, how long do you keep this data? So to keep in line with GDPR, we have interview feedback, of course, on your ATS. We’re currently using Greenhouse. And this is automatically anonymized every three months.

Amanda Lamont: So kind of annoying. Because if someone reapplies, you can’t see the feedback from previous rounds. But unfortunately, that’s what it is at that time. Or the situation we’re in now. So yes, we have to ensure it’s anonymized every three months. So then all the feedback gets wiped.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, which is the platform or tool that is more successful for you in attracting new applications? Interesting one. So we’ve had Beamery as I mentioned. Perhaps I will move on to the next slide, and just show you what this looks like. So Beamery here, wow, you guys are really rolling with the questions, I’ll try to keep up.

Amanda Lamont: So for Beamery there is the GDPR option. So if they want to subscribe to this platform, they obviously need to sign the agreement. And this helps us to simultaneously also track these applications, segment the candidates. As I mentioned, like your bronze, your silver medalists and such.

Amanda Lamont: Applications are imported as per those who opted in, and we have engagement campaigns every once in a while to keep prospects informed of what opportunities we have. And we maintain this historical database for as long as the prospects’ consent to the opt in, of course. So if they say, hey, I no longer want to be part of this platform, we will then wipe them from the system as per GDPR.

Amanda Lamont: So this has been a really cool tool, because you can, you don’t even have to search externally, you could look into this tool for your database of opt ins to see, in addition, is there someone that perhaps didn’t enter the process last time, but we can reach out again? Then you already have their contacts there to reach out to them.

Amanda Lamont: And then in terms of attracting new applications. So this is, I mean, this is always interesting. You have your career website and then we have an employer branding team, which is pretty cool. Thank you, business, for giving us budget for that.

Amanda Lamont: They look at… I actually have to think of the tool. It’s basically, it’s something we developed internally, which is Google Analytics and search engine optimization based, looking at our sources of applications. Is it the LinkedIn ad we used, is it Google? Is it our organic career site?

Amanda Lamont: And they look at the rate of clicks, so we determined kind of a general success rate where you should be having an application per every six views, and then you measure kind of point three, etc., how much… if we can achieve like 30%, that’s really good.

Amanda Lamont: And then we can also track via IP address, that we get via the browser. Looking also what language their browser is in, we can go that far to see where are the clicks and visits coming from. So you can get an idea of who’s interested, who’s looking.

Amanda Lamont: I mean, that’s pretty much as far as the data goes right now. But you can see, where are your views mostly coming from? And in a way that has also kind of informed us on, maybe us being based in Germany, should we be translating our job ads into German? Or should we just keep it English? Because of course in tech, you only really need English. Of course, it’s up to your company, but obviously, that’s pretty much universal language. And so then you have to look at these factors on how you can modify your strategy.

Adrie Smith: That’s really funny that you mentioned that, Amanda, because we actually just launched this feature called multi-language, which means that you can automatically translate your careers page and your job descriptions into German, French, English, depending on the IP address of the candidate.

Amanda Lamont: Oh, wow. And how accurate is that? I mean, I don’t want terrible grammar and spelling.

Adrie Smith: We already have like the loaded German, French, and I think also Spanish and Dutch. And then you can add… and those are quite accurate, but you can add your own. If you, let’s just say you speak Polish, you can add your own Polish translations, and that’s up to you.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, cool. And where do they get this kind of information from, to maintain their accuracy? Is it like consultants within the company? Or are they using some kind of algorithm link to DeepL or Google Translate?

Adrie Smith: No, it’s in-house. We have translators who have done it, but then you add your own translation. So whether or not you decide to outsource that, translate it yourself, connect it to DeepL, it’s up to you.

Amanda Lamont: That’s really cool. I think when it comes to tech jobs, that is also a challenge, because when you’re dealing with technical terms, I’d like to see the accuracy of those translations, which is why often I collaborate with, or most of the time, unless it’s a tech recruiter, I collaborate with the engineering teams to kind of make it a bit more specific to their technologies, in a way that is relevant to the language.

Amanda Lamont: So being based in Germany, I mean, that’s kind of the go-to here, otherwise, we keep it in English. But yeah, good point. And nice product placement there. Maybe you could [crosstalk 00:32:13]-

Adrie Smith: Always.

Amanda Lamont: With that tool later on.

Adrie Smith: Yeah.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, so I skipped a slide. Just to cover another tool that we use. So LinkedIn Talent Insights, I don’t know how many of you know about this. But the license is a little bit pricey, but so far we found it quite useful.

Amanda Lamont: So this could give you a nice kind of automated view of the market. So you can search with filters. Let’s say you have a job description from the hiring manager, you want to search, if you typically search on LinkedIn or Zing or wherever, using the terms, for example, Java, microservices, lead, manager, you kind of include that these keywords into your search.

Amanda Lamont: The locations of where you might look for people or what area you want to hire in. So if I want to hire in Dortmund, I’m saying, okay, I’m looking for people in Dortmund, what skills, how many years of experience, perhaps schools or qualifications we’re looking for.

Amanda Lamont: And the tool also provides information in its report on the movement of talent across industry and geographies. So it will tell you this industry, a specific industry is hiring a lot of these people, or specific countries, this is where the talent is sitting with the list of skills you’re looking for.

Amanda Lamont: And then also identifying the volume of hires per company. So for example, in the last 12 months, so many profiles have indicated that they were hired at here or SAP. So you’re looking at where the attraction is, who’s moving where, and also data on the fastest growing skills and the demand.

Amanda Lamont: So if there is a lot of Java hiring going on or whatever you’re looking for, then you can also see this is the next best thing. It’s really sexy to the applicants and you can see what the popularity is of the skill you’re looking for. Because you want to stay attractive, in terms of the projects your teams are working on.

Amanda Lamont: And then also, they will give you information on common job titles being used when looking for those kinds of positions. So this is also useful to refresh perhaps your job titles on your job ads.

Amanda Lamont: So often, I’ve had to perhaps just tweak a few titles that maybe when people are searching, it sounds more attractive or it’s more relevant to them. Because sometimes a title is important to some people if… For example, we have, if you’re looking for a scrum master or something in Zalando, we call it a producer. Don’t ask me why they came up with that term. But how many people are going to apply when they see the word producer? They’re quite confused.

Amanda Lamont: So maybe I should have changed that title to agile coach or scrum master, that’s more relatable. So I’m just going to change it and see what happens.

Amanda Lamont: And then also at the end, it provides sample profiles of what we say we’re looking for. So it’s not foolproof, but it’s a good guideline if you’re short on time and still feel a little bit lost. So I know, for now, we have one account, just testing it out and then I’ll request from the sourcing team, hey, these are the keywords, can you pull a report for me?

Amanda Lamont: Right, more question time. Could you share one of your key learnings, biggest takeaway in tech recruitment for Zalando? Wow. I think sometimes you wonder, is it a learning from my career? Where did I learn this? And if it’s Zalando specific. So perhaps I’ll touch on both.

Amanda Lamont: So key learnings for recruitment in general, I think when ramping up from being someone who is new in the industry, to someone who’s a lot more experienced, I would say communication is a big one. I know it sounds pretty simple. But really, we kind of underestimate the way we communicate with stakeholders. There is a… goodness, sorry. Update. There we go.

Amanda Lamont: There was a time when I was asked to hire for a really crazy role. And I was trying to communicate that the time to hire this person is going to be significant. And the hiring manager wanted it done in a month, go figure, this happens all the time. And my communications with this hiring manager made him feel that I was overly negative, and really wasn’t trying to meet him halfway and really put my best foot forward and be positive about what I can do.

Amanda Lamont: And this is very common even for customer service jobs where you’re trying to show the customer that you’re really trying to give them a good experience, and that’s applicable here. So I would say biggest learning there is how you position things. So we’ve just kind of added this principle to our ways of working that says start with yes. Don’t call it problems, you call it challenges. I mean, it sounds really cheesy. But sometimes the language you use is really important.

Amanda Lamont: And showing that you’re going the extra mile is really important for stakeholders and really trying to over communicate instead of under communicate. Yeah.

Amanda Lamont: Another thing, if you have such a good relationship with your hiring manager, it’s going to be so much easier for you. Very tough, I know, how do you achieve this? Again, over communicating.

Amanda Lamont: Those vacancy briefs you’re doing, when you’re quizzing them about what they need, don’t be afraid to use a lot of their time, within reason, obviously. Use their time to really dig in deeper, because if you mess up the first time, there’s a domino effect across your hiring process, you end up hiring the wrong candidates, or you’re not assessing them properly. And the candidate is really frustrated because we couldn’t actually communicate what we want. And they’ve just wasted seven hours with us or something. And yeah, they’re not impressed.

Amanda Lamont: And then tech recruitment as well, we are in a saturated market. It’s very difficult to hire for these roles. The business says six months and we end up taking 10 months. So data, data, data, record what you’re doing. You’re speaking to people in meetings, always follow up with an email, record your communications, deliver what you promise. You are only as good as the effort you can present to the business. They don’t care about your excuses. Okay? Be humble, be vocally self-critical. That was one of our principles back in Amazon in the day. Own your mistakes, because that also earns your trust with the business.

Amanda Lamont: So if people can see what you’re doing and how well you’re doing it, and that you’re open to learning, you gain more credibility with them, and they want to see on paper what you’re doing to assist them. So really, don’t be all talk, kind of practice what you preach, walk the talk, and over-communicate this. Because this is stuff that goes way up to senior leadership. This really shows how thorough you are. I mean, there’s so many different learnings, but we got 15 minutes left, so I’m going to move on.

Amanda Lamont: So one more question. And this, was provided Zalando has cultural behaviors, which the recruitment team has to meet as well, such as for e.g. meeting diversity needs in hiring, how do you stay on top of that, especially when you have less diverse people applying or less diverse people meeting the criteria?

Amanda Lamont: Super good question. I think there are very few people who have solved this. So you got to start small. We host a lot of meetups on this and sometimes I question the progress and the effectivity. Like it’s cool to discuss it, but how are we actually performing there?

Amanda Lamont: So this is one of our OKRs or KPIs for the business and we’re constantly recording this. So not just in terms of how many internal people we’re promoting, but also the diversity of our hires. I think first and foremost, your objective is always to hire for skill. So again, in terms of the industry, it’s very male-dominated. So that’s kind of expected, but what we’re also trying to do, unfortunately, LinkedIn doesn’t have a gender filter. So that really sucks.

Amanda Lamont: So one of my colleagues has kind of taken on this work stream, and we try and meet for an hour every week where we focus on sourcing female, or you can’t really tell if someone’s transgender all the time on LinkedIn or whatever, but sourcing female profiles in different countries. So last week, we focused on Estonia, mainly we focused on another country, the next week, and kind of really making an effort there. And you got to start small.

Amanda Lamont: And also, trying to promote more females in the industry from grassroots up. So we’ve been hosting like Girls Who Code workshops, so people even from like school, doing workshops with them to kind of increase or pique their interest in tech. And then also doing campus recruiting as well.

Amanda Lamont: So yes, it’s an ongoing struggle. I’m not going to say we’ve perfected it, but we’re hoping to record the efforts of, record the effectivity of these efforts and see how we can evaluate. And based on this feedback, also tracking over time each year, how we’re improving, or how it’s going down, and coming up with new ideas to counteract that.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, same guy, but diversity is not just standard. Or sorry, Adrie, I don’t know if that was your comment. So diversity is not just gender. Of course. I think, funnily enough, this is partially tied to the visa policy or relocation policy of your company. For tech, we’re usually more open to doing this and also subject to the laws of your country. Do you have KPIs? I don’t think this is probably a big deal in Europe. But when I was back in South Africa, we did have to meet a quota of prioritizing local hires, as opposed to bringing them in across border.

Amanda Lamont: So there is, in terms of cultural diversity, there’s this aspect to it. We’re very lucky at Zalando, we relocate over 40% of our employees. Which is really helpful, because even having that notification that you provide visa sponsorship is amazing. Like when I applied here, I fully expected them not to respond to me. But they did, and now I’m here.

Amanda Lamont: And we have, I kid you not, 135 nationalities in our company. And I think being able to relocate people is really part of that. So we’re really lucky there and I think the business needs to prioritize, especially in the tech area, how they’re willing to tackle this and how much they want to invest in it.

Amanda Lamont: So let’s see if I can move on. Okay, we’re looking at him. So story time, I want to give practical examples, because how do you relate if you don’t know how this works in practice? So we opened a Lisbon office, which unfortunately is actually closing now, but I won’t go into that. Let me rather look back at when we hired the head of engineering for Lisbon.

Amanda Lamont: So we started this office, it’s got new leadership. So someone needed to start it up from scratch and, hey, let’s just get ahead of engineering in Lisbon. So that’s why I said, yeah, totally easy, I’ll just pull these candidates out of my back pocket, it’s fine. So we need them to lead tech teams of 40 plus members, they need to know all these JVM technologies. They also need to have a strong product mindset.

Amanda Lamont: So just not someone who’s been coding, they’ve worked extensively with product. And then eventually, they decided to add this extra requirement of experience setting up offices. So experience in the startup mentality. Okay, great, you’ve now really narrowed it down to language, you’ve narrowed it down to years of experience or scope and you’ve narrowed it down to setting up offices. Great, no problem.

Amanda Lamont: So how do we do this? So in line with the kind of steps I’ve put together before this, define the role. Clarify the requirements, like really as I said, get this down on paper in close cooperation with the recruiter, and at the time, the managing director of the office.

Amanda Lamont: So we clarified each detail, including the background, the qualities, the deliverables. And yeah, what are we expecting from them during their first quarter once they come on board? Because again, senior role, you’re probably relocating someone, they want to know that this is the right decision for them. And we also want to know, what are we looking for as recruiters?

Amanda Lamont: So then in a joint search session with the dedicated recruiter in Berlin, and talent sourcer from Helsinki, so really, we’re collaborating across locations here. We identified the first profiles, just to initially calibrate with the hiring manager and other stakeholders. So we found these profiles, what do you think? Are we hitting the mark or is it a total miss? So that’s always a good strategy to ensure that everyone involved is aligned and evaluates candidates with the same expectations.

Amanda Lamont: So going into the interview process says, everyone has to be clear on what we’re looking for and what they need to assess. Because again, you get down the line to getting this negative feedback, we don’t want to hire, etc. And then it turns out, the interviewer didn’t even know what they were assessing. And then what happens, they say, well, let’s do a follow-up interview to kind of correct this mistake. And that adds further steps, the candidate gets frustrated, and they’re like what are you guys doing?

Amanda Lamont: So with learnings from the first phase, we removed the global tech giants from the target companies list. Because these people are kind of in big corporates or verticals, and perhaps they’re not looking so much at hyper-growth. So this is where they added the experience with setting up offices as a fourth requirement.

Amanda Lamont: So we mapped 110 profiles in the second phase and leveraged our active sourcing techniques, like I mentioned before, to identify new talent via social media, and reengage contacts in the talent pipeline we already had. And then also doing the searchathon dedicated to identifying needs for the specific vacancy.

Amanda Lamont: And then in the third phase, we obviously supported our candidates in the interview process. Especially when it’s a senior role, you really want to… we’re used to schmoozing them, as I say, and ensuring that we’re pushing for feedback on time from stakeholders to ensure a seamless hiring process. Because especially if they have a super long notice period, if they’re going to start, this adds to the time we’re waiting for someone to contribute to the business. And then in the last phase, we make the hiring decision and would negotiate the offer.

Amanda Lamont: So, summary of what happened, from these 110 profiles, we contacted 47 of them that really matched the profile we were looking at. Eight people or prospects were successfully engaged. So they were like, we’re interested. This sounds good. Okay, so there’s a 17% interest rate there. Is that correct? I don’t know.

Amanda Lamont: So five candidates, fairly interested people who are like, cool, I’ll have a chat, five candidates officially into the recruitment process. And you have your pre-screen preliminaries with the hiring manager, etc. Two candidates got to final on sites. This whole process took us around four months. That is insane and this was shared across the team, we were like, guys, that was amazing. How did you manage to do this?

Amanda Lamont: And interestingly, the most successful candidates we had were presented to the hiring managers within a month after kickoff. And so you really have to get things moving quickly to maintain that momentum.

Amanda Lamont: Cool. One more question. Do you have defined interview processes depending on the position level? So defined steps for interns, juniors, senior level, etc. So this is a good question, because it’s hard to evaluate like a VP in three interviews. So yes, this is a factor to consider. We do have different processes.

Amanda Lamont: And keeping in line, kind of how we assess, it depends on the proficiency level we’re looking for from the position. So if you’ve got a good HR team, sorry to any generalists who are on the call, you would have done some mapping in terms of development paths and career paths in your company.

Amanda Lamont: So we would have different job grades or levels, level one, two, three, etc. And within those levels, we have levels of proficiency. So if you’re on this job grade, we’re going to expect this quality or value to be illustrated in the following ways and examples of their performance.

Amanda Lamont: If they move up, this has to change to let’s say more strategic examples, or in greater scope, where you’re also required to mentor people or have experience in more complicated skills that we expect from more of a senior engineer and so forth. I think you get the idea.

Amanda Lamont: So then, in terms of this, we would define our interview process this way. So perhaps a junior member would only have to do an assessment and then meeting with the team. So it might not be so extensive, because you can’t really test them on a lot of stuff, because they probably don’t know that much at this level of proficiency.

Amanda Lamont: When you’re speaking about let’s say a VP, there are various stakeholders to take into account. They’re meeting with product, they’re meeting with business development, perhaps one of the management board, also with HR or people in organization, as we call it. So it’s not as easy peasy as just meeting with their superior.

Amanda Lamont: So this is going to be more complicated and I think there is… people are willing to accept this when it’s a senior role, because there are a lot of people who need to have buy-in to this candidate. So yes, we do structure it in a certain way, depending on the position level. And that, of course, would be discussed in terms of the proficiencies of the job and the hiring manager’s expectations. We try to minimize the number of steps as far as possible. But if something is absolutely necessary, we try to factor that into the interview process, in line with the business guidelines.

Amanda Lamont: Adrie, where are these questions coming from? I’m not seeing them.

Adrie Smith: I’m putting them through now. Just because when I end the answer, they also beep.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, cool. I’m waiting for those. When you hire someone, do you already know which specific project you can staff the new employee? Yes. Otherwise, why have we dedicated money to hiring them?

Amanda Lamont: But as I said, we do like to repurpose candidates. So if we have hired someone, or we’ve gotten to offer stage with someone and suddenly the hiring manager tells us, oh, we kind of don’t have this vacancy anymore. We’ve removed it from the budget. So you don’t want to tell that person, hey, sorry, you’ve gone through all this effort and now we don’t have a position to hire you in.

Amanda Lamont: So again, we’re showing the candidate, look, we think you’re great, we still want to invest in you. Do you mind having like a meet and greet with another team? Here’s the brief, I’m going to intro you to my colleague, they will expect to you what the team is doing and give you all these various options and you can decide whether you want to proceed or not.

Amanda Lamont: And then if there is another team, very likely, because we have so many teams that wants to meet with that candidate, we proceed. And this also shows and is in line with our objective of not losing talent, but retaining it no matter where in the business. And of course, this comes from already having positions budgeted for certain business units. But if we lose that vacancy, we will find another place to hire them.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, what KPIs do you use to measure the effectiveness of the recruitment team? Good question. So I think being a customer facing function, we use something called NPS. I don’t know if some of you use it as well, but Net Promoter Score. So we have this for pretty much every area in the business. We do quarterly surveys with the company on job satisfaction and development, salary or compensation, etc., we cover all these areas and track the response, in terms of NPS.

Amanda Lamont: We also have, so that’s from an internal perspective, the happiness of your recruitment team. And then we look at and also, whether they’re being developed sufficiently. Then, also we have, CNPS, candidate NPS. So within five days of the conclusion of a candidate’s process, whether they were successful or not, they would receive a survey, which they can choose to answer or not. Can’t force them, which will cover a number of areas like speed of the process, the quality, courtesy, etc., of the recruitment process. Did they feel like the assessments were good, that their interviews were prepared, and that they were prepared for the process?

Amanda Lamont: And also that they knew what the process would beforehand, instead of being bounced around randomly. And then we would evaluate this in a robot fashion… well, traffic light fashion where, in a scale of one to 10, those who were like agree, strongly agree. So what is it? Between eight and 10 are green. Four to seven are neutral, so yellow. And then one to three is red.

Amanda Lamont: So you can kind of see this calibrated and we compare it across quarters to see, how did we do quarterly? So in a certain job family, engineering versus business development, etc. And then compare that quarterly score to the overall Zalando average, and also how we’ve progressed since the previous quarters. Are we going up? Are we going down? And we do the same CNPS for internal candidates as well, because we want to make sure we’re maintaining a good standard, the best standard we can for our fellow employees.

Amanda Lamont: So in the interest of time, that’s one point. And this is one point we can evaluate our effectiveness as a team. We’re not breaking it down by recruiter, because we’re one team. If the whole team is failing, we’re all accountable for it. And yeah, I would say if I can focus on one thing, definitely that’s really important.

Amanda Lamont: I’m hearing beeps, Adrie.

Adrie Smith: So Amanda, we have a couple more questions. But I think we’re quickly running out of time.

Amanda Lamont: Yup.

Adrie Smith: So maybe what I would recommend is I’ll put them on the Talent Acquisition Innovators Facebook group, and I can forward them to you, and then maybe you can answer them there. Is that okay?

Amanda Lamont: Perfect.

Adrie Smith: Cool.

Amanda Lamont: Also, I mean, if whoever’s on the call wants to drop off, you’ve kind of had your fill now for the hour, but if you have questions and you want to stay on the line, I’m happy to do that. I’ve still got some time to kill. Is that all right, Adrie?

Adrie Smith: Yeah. You can also type answers as well. That’s also totally fine as well.

Amanda Lamont: I’m happy to continue speaking. So to all of you who need to run, thank you so much for attending. Thanks to Adrie for hosting me. Yeah, please connect with me if you have any further questions or want to meet up, just let me know. It’s been an absolute pleasure speaking with you.

Adrie Smith: Cool. Yeah again, also, thanks from us from Recruitee for joining us today. Yeah, this is something I really am passionate about doing. I think it’s a really great opportunity to learn from people who are in the field. Actually, in Amanda’s case, doing talent mapping, hiring a bunch of tech and digital talent using this method.

Adrie Smith: But a couple of resources just for you, also to help you get in touch with other recruiters is the Talent Acquisition Innovators Facebook group. Again, that’s where the recording will be. Now, the Recruitee podcast, which we’re releasing every other week, and I think we’re even releasing one today. So definitely stay tuned for that.

Adrie Smith: And, of course, blog.recruitee.com, that’s where we put all of our resources. Eventually, also, the webinar recordings after I think a month. So you can always go back for those.

Adrie Smith: So yeah, thank you so much.

Amanda Lamont: Cool. Thanks, everyone.

Adrie Smith: Yeah, so I guess I’ll leave you on the line to answer those questions if you’d like, Amanda. Otherwise, we can put them on the Talent Acquisition Innovators.

Amanda Lamont: Okay, so what’s everyone’s feelings? Is anyone available to just speak up and say, whether they’d like to continue? Otherwise, yeah, we can take it to the Facebook platform.

Adrie Smith: I think maybe we’ll take it TA Innovators. And everybody will get a link in their inbox with a link to this. So you can reach Amanda there.

Amanda Lamont: Yeah. Please excuse me if I take some time to respond. Let’s focus on Friday, because I think we all have a holiday tomorrow.

Adrie Smith: Yes.

Amanda Lamont: So yeah, I will answer it, if you can just give me until Friday, that would be great.

Adrie Smith: Cool. All right, thanks again so much, Amanda.

Amanda Lamont: [crosstalk 01:03:28].

Adrie Smith: And we’ll talk soon.

Amanda Lamont: Have a good holiday, cheers.

Adrie Smith: Yeah, you too. Bye.

Amanda Lamont: Bye.

Beth is the former HR Community Manager at Recruitee. Based in Pittsburgh, Beth enjoys spreading the word about recruitment innovation.
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