Diving into a deep pool: the benefits and challenges of global recruiting
In a previous article, solutions architect Jonas Kröger shared insights into his life working for Platform.sh, a 100 % remote and globally-distributed company. During his hiring process at Platform.sh, Jonas interviewed with the company in Spain, signed the job offer in Germany, and began his onboarding while residing in Thailand.
Platform.sh was willing to track Jonas across the globe because he offered a compelling skillset as a developer with top qualities in his field, as well as good communication and collaboration skills.
The biggest benefit of remote recruiting is the world-wide pool of applicants that it allows you to hire from. Limited applicant pools can be a steep obstacle for companies seeking to hire the top talent in their field. This is especially true in major economic hubs such as New York, San Francisco in the US and Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam, or Vienna in Europe, where a concentrated number of businesses are all competing to hire local talent. Remote recruiting allows a company to reach outside local borders and hire from the talent pools of cities with more supply.
Remote recruiting can seem incredibly challenging for some companies. But companies like Platform.sh have discovered that traditional face-to-face recruiting techniques can be adapted to use with Zoom, Hangouts, or Skype.
But how does a remote company like Platform.sh actually manage to recruit people from all around the globe?
Bringing the world together one hire at a time
Since January 2019, Platform.sh has received 14,000 applications, out of which the company has hired 80 people from more than 40 different nations. Céline Mechain is the VP of People Ops for Platform.sh, overseeing all recruitment processes and HR systems. She is based in Paris, France, and joined Platform.sh in 2017 because she was intrigued by the challenge of working for a remote company.
“Working in a fully-distributed organization makes my role even more interesting,” she says. “I get to work with people from all kinds of different cultures, and I enjoy creating one big common work culture that integrates all of them.”
Virna Tritschler, Platform.sh’s People Ops manager, is based on the other side of the world in Austin, Texas. Her mission is to help build a diverse and engaged team through talent acquisition and the evaluation of employee experiences. As a passionate traveler herself, having lived in five different countries, Virna has acquired a keen sense of how cultures interconnect and uses that sense to identify the best fits for the ever-growing Platform.sh team.
“Joining a company that was diverse, open-minded, and humble with a global mindset was important to me,” she says. “The most enjoyable part of my position is working with and learning about the world’s incredible cultural diversity and experiences through my colleagues.”
Capturing a candidate's best side
Platform.sh equips its People Ops team with a wealth of remote recruiting tools such as video conferencing, an applicant tracking system, a scheduling platform, an instant messaging system, and an asynchronous communication tool. The company posts positions on remote job boards and also on regional ones, as some positions require a presence in a certain time zone.
According to Céline, interviewing over video is less stressful and constraining for some applicants. “Applicants tend to be more relaxed as they are sitting in their own quiet environment. They also don’t have to rush to an office in traffic or feel stressed out by delayed public transport,” Céline says.
Video interviewing can reveal other interesting aspects of an applicant’s personality. “Sometimes, you can learn a lot about an applicant depending on the room they’re in,” Virna explains. “I’ve had candidates in their living rooms where you can see artwork, items that show their interests, or pets that pop up on the computer screen unexpectedly. That’s a great icebreaker for the interview and a little window into their personal life.”
Focusing hard on soft skills
While interviews tend to focus on the core skills of applicants, Céline and Virna also look for the soft skills that demonstrate the autonomy and maturity needed to work effectively in a remote setting. Many candidates are attracted by the idea of working remotely, but sometimes don’t understand the amount of focus and schedule that it requires. Virna and Céline always try to identify an applicant’s work ethic and communication skills before proceeding with the application.
“Remote work is not for everyone. Talent is not enough to make a candidate successful if they don’t have the passion, drive, and desire to work remotely,” Virna says. “We are looking for collaborators who are used to or are capable of working remotely. That means they should be autonomous, disciplined, passionate, curious-minded, and great communicators,” Céline adds.
Early hours, early careers
Céline describes two major challenges of remote recruiting for Platform.sh. First, time zone differences can make it difficult for the interviewee and interviewer to meet at a reasonable time for both sides. Secondly, as Platform.sh relies heavily on autonomous decision-making, hiring junior profiles that may not have much experience in either their field or in remote working requires particularly careful consideration. However, Platform.sh has found ways to combat both issues efficiently.
“For the time difference, I ended up training some volunteers around the world that act as ambassadors of the company,” Céline explains. “They can conduct interviews at a time convenient to our applicants, and I don’t have to get up at 3 AM in the morning.”
To provide a landing pad for junior profiles who might need some seasoning, Platform.sh owns a small office in the heart of Paris. Junior hires and new Platformers located in Europe are invited to spend their first few weeks there for additional guidance and training.
Virna adds that remote recruiting also involves a lot of research on local employment laws, compliance restrictions, compensation, and benefits. At the end of the day, however, Virna and Céline both agree that the benefits are worth the effort.
Breaking the barriers to benefit from diversity and inclusivity
Virna said she previously witnessed discrimination of women and people of foreign cultural backgrounds. Now she’s driven to strengthen diversity and inclusivity in the Platform.sh hiring process.
"I got into human resources wanting to help solve problems and break down barriers,” she says. "Diversity teaches us empathy, respect, and how to learn from other’s experiences. It opens doors to out-of-the-box creative solutions and increases our ability to be more open-minded."
This is a guest article by Cati Mayer from Platform.sh, the PaaS with continuous deployment built-in that combines a robust cloud hosting solution with modern tools to enable developers to build, evolve, and scale applications faster and more efficiently. As 100 % remote and globally distributed company, Platform.sh currently employs people from more than 30 counties, across 13 time zones.
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