In the US and Western Europe, it’s no secret that the quest for top talent remains fiercely competitive. Today, lifetime loyalty to one company is almost unthinkable, and the best candidates often consider several opportunities at once. Thousands of miles away in Poland, the job market is evolving in exactly the same way. Widespread workforce mobility may be a more recent development, but many companies are scrambling just as quickly to revamp their recruiting strategies.
The team at Tooploox, a digital software development company in Wroclaw, Poland, is among those taking a more deliberate approach to talent attraction. We talked to Magda Tula, who plays the role of recruiter, marketer, and employer branding specialist all at once. Since she joined Tooploox in April, Magda has worked with her team to craft a more structured interview process and powerful employer brand. Armed with these strategies, the Tooploox team believes they can stand out in a crowded job market.
Can you tell me more about Tooploox?
Our team creates high quality software, ranging from mobile through full stack to data science. When other companies don’t have the resources to hire many developers, they come to us and we work as a part of their team. In December, we had 25 employees, but now we are 55. As the number of customers we work with grows, we grow with them.
How many recruiters do you have on your team?
I’m the main person who focuses on recruiting, but there are over 10 people at Tooploox who help hire candidates. These people schedule their own interviews, prepare their own questions, and create their own programming tasks. I’m not a programmer myself so I don’t always know the best questions to ask.
What’s it like to be a recruiter in Poland?
Before, companies like us didn’t usually have people who were responsible for just recruitment. Now, they see that it’s an advantage to have an internal recruiter. Companies want to hire the best people in the market, and so they need someone to focus on the candidate experience, on showing candidates that their company is the best place to work.
I was actually hired to create a structured recruiting process here. Before, we worked with many hiring agencies and we had a lot of candidates come in who weren’t the right fit for us. Also, there was a group of people involved in hiring, but there were no fixed rules and systems. We had an Asana database, CVs in another place, and candidate communication through email. Everything was scattered. When the company was really small, that wasn’t an issue. Now, the company has grown and we have to be organized. We need to make sure our interactions with candidates don’t get lost.
So when I joined, I did research to see which recruiting tools were available on the market. We wanted to be able to schedule interviews, see applications in our system rather than mailbox, and we needed clear visibility of the pipeline. I chose Lever over other softwares because of the beautiful design and how easy it is to navigate. Also, we can involve other people on the team who aren’t responsible for recruiting. Our programmers can perform interviews without having to write their feedback in different places like Google Docs and Slack. In general, it’s just very easy.
Have you noticed changes in Poland’s job market?
Yes. In Poland, there’s a recent trend where people are changing jobs more. But it has only been happening for a couple years. Our parents lived in an entirely different world with communism. There was almost no private sector; all of the companies were owned by the state and so people weren’t changing jobs. When communism collapsed in 1990, we became more mobile.
Now, we have caught up with the US and the rest of Europe. Young people aren’t just looking for a job; they are looking to improve their skills, work with great people, and work on interesting projects. They aren’t as concerned with stability, and people are realizing they can do something they actually like. They don’t have to spend their whole lives in one job.
This means that companies are doing different things to get candidates now. I try to attend HR meetups, and recently I see more companies sending their HR departments to learn about what other companies are doing for candidates. A month ago, I went to a meetup that covered employer branding videos, and a lot of other companies went to get new ideas too. A couple years ago, companies weren’t thinking about it.
How do you stand out amongst those other companies?
First off, we’ve created this flat company structure which allows every employee to organize their work in the way they want. People want to manage their own priorities. Through giving our employees freedom and flexibility, we show candidates that they can become better at their career with us.
We also host tech talks in our office and attend conferences and meetups. Recently, we started doing hackathons where our employees can work together across teams. They can leverage the knowledge of other teammates and cooperate with people they don’t work with normally. We got feedback that people learned a lot in just 24 hours during the hackathon, and we like to tell our candidates about this.
We know that every company offers similar benefits these days. We try to talk about what’s different at Tooploox, and we’re planning more events so we can show candidates what’s different too. We know that we can always do more.
What is the structure of your interview process?
We make sure all candidates have the same interview process. We think it’s the fair thing to do. We know the process works well, and so we think everyone should go through it. The first interview is to get to know basic information about the person, and we’ll ask a few questions about their resume and listen to how they describe their work. We make our interviews more of a conversation. We don’t ask tricky or hard questions about their plans for the next 5 years, for example. People are stressed in interviews; we want to make them feel comfortable.
Then, we create test tasks for them in the second stage, and the tasks differ depending on the position. We invite our developers to a pair programming session, for example, and office managers show us how they would plan a company retreat within a given budget. This way, we get insight into how the person works. Do they ask questions or not? Is it easy to work with this person or not?
In our last step, we either give the offer to the candidate or we give them feedback if we decide not to move forward with them. Often, we will reach back out a few months later to see if they have mastered the skills we talk about.
How do you continually make sure your team creates a great experience for candidates?
One rule I made was a 48 hour deadline for feedback in Lever. We don’t want candidates to wait too long to hear from us. They are probably in recruiting processes with other companies, and if we take too long, they might go somewhere else. Usually my team gives feedback quickly because they know this. But if they don’t do it in time, I ping them to remind them.
Also, I will look at the stages in Lever to see where candidates are in our process, and I make sure that all our candidates are being contacted in the right way. Did we reach out to all people that applied? Are we keeping candidates updated? Do they know they’re close to getting an offer? Then, when they finally reach the offer stage, the office managers and I can begin to prepare the onboarding process.
The talent market in Poland is changing, and the team at Tooploox is changing right along with it. We loved hearing about the various steps they take to attract top talent. If you enjoyed hearing their story, you can learn more about them here (p.s. they’re hiring)!
Looking to tell your team’s story? We’re all ears. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!