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From Zeros to Heroes - How we’re slaying in recruitment at SilverStripe

When you’ve been at a company for six years, you are bound to see a...

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When you’ve been at a company for six years, you are bound to see a few changes. There have been a lot of changes at SilverStripe— new (more!) people, new offices, and of course, new processes. Of those processes, the most change in which I’ve seen is how we recruit staff.

When I first started in HR, I would always hear how important it was to get your recruitment processes right. I don't think that really hit home until I had to undertake my first performance management meeting. I have seen first-hand that the cost of poor hiring is extremely high e.g. in productivity, team morale and client relationships. 

The most important thing that we do as a company (and our biggest challenge) is to find great people. Anecdotally, we hear that there is a global shortage of people in the IT industry. Our own experience with recruiting reflects that, particularly when we need to hire developers. It often takes 2-3 months to fill a developer role.

staff photoHere’s what we’re doing, as the HR team, to meet these challenges:

We’re continuously hiring
Previously, we started the recruitment process as vacancies arose: We were reactive. We now plan in advance by understanding SilverStripe’s financial targets and hiring roadmap. Given the shortage of developers and the time it takes to fill roles, we need to be continuously hiring. We’ve adopted this mindset by starting the recruitment process well in advance.

We’re continuously improving the recruitment process
We’re proud of our recruitment process and have received good feedback about it from candidates, recruiters and SilverStripers involved in hiring. Although it takes some effort, it gives both parties ample opportunity to make sure we’d be a good fit for each other. A candidate will typically go through five separate interviews, each one with the HR team, Line Manager, CEO, two senior SilverStripers and the team that they’ll be working with. These interviews help us understand people’s potential, whether we share the same values and whether, by them joining SilverStripe, they will make another piece of our company jigsaw more complete and better in some way.

There’s always room for improvement and we’re constantly tweaking our process. Some of the other things we’ve added to this are staff referral bonuses, forming relationships with key recruitment agencies (no more than three) and understanding that when we haven’t been able to “close the deal” with a candidate, why this is so that we might improve.

We’re looking further afield
It’s especially hard to find good senior developers in New Zealand— they’re either in a job they already love or are running their own company. Even if you have an excellent candidate from overseas, the thought of moving to a foreign country can be terrifying. We offer relocation packages for our overseas hires, which is an investment in the future for both SilverStripe and for them. In the 4+ months that it takes for the visa process, we keep in pretty regular contact to keep them reassured they've made the right decision — even if that means late night or early morning Skype calls.

Active presence in developer communities and events
We want to identify and form relationships with future SilverStripers early on. This means we’re actively looking for them in developer communities and events, particularly conferences and meetups (so if you see me, I may be looking to hire you). 

Communicating our culture
Remuneration is more that just pay — it  includes things like professional development opportunities and our culture. The HR team and Development Managers are not only champions and caretakers of our “Stripeology” (facilitating our internal community of practice); we need to be able to tell the stories about our culture — like this blog post! 

Growing the next generation
We’re open to hiring junior developers, but we know we can only do this if we have strong teams with the ability to mentor. This means creating balanced teams comprised of intermediate and senior developers, new and old guard.

We’re always upskilling
We reckon we’re pretty choice at developer recruitment in New Zealand. We’ve built up our knowledge by talking to development managers in other companies; meeting with agencies such as Enspiral Dev Academy, Grow Wellington and MBIE; as well as undertaking many hours of job interviews. The HR team and Development Managers need to embrace recruitment as a critical part of their roles and continue to hone our skills and be seen as leaders in this area. 

So, going back to my first point, recruitment is one of the MOST important things we do at SilverStripe. Our biggest selling point is our culture. Our staff are what make our culture awesome. And that is why I’ll probably be at SilverStripe for another six (and more) years. 

About the author
Courtney Gibbs

Courtney is HR Manager at SilverStripe. She is the go-to person for all things HR-related and is also involved in the coordination of the company's various projects.

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