How We Hire and Why We Hire
2018 has been a record year in Touch Support’s growth so far – the company has quadrupled its size in just 3 years. Growing a number of customers from different industries, expansion into various areas of expertise, demand more focused on effective recruitment cycles, and onboarding experience in parallel with expanding each of Touch Support’s departments.
Our Head of Talent Acquisition, Marta Ana Cesar, is our leader when it comes to providing insights into smart hiring. Marta has been our lead recruitment manager during the past three years of staggering growth.
How would you describe your start with Touch Support?
I started working at Touch Support as an HR Assistant, back in 2014. I was a student at the time, studying political science at the University of Zagreb. Touch Support was a team of 20 people when I joined, and I was the second member to the HR team. I joined to assist our Finance and HR manager, with whatever there was to assist with: administration, legal stuff, office management, and of course recruitment. Even though starting in a new workplace is always a challenge, and can be a very stressful experience, I must say this wasn’t the case with me. First thing I noticed at Touch Support are the people – everyone was really friendly and I felt incredibly welcomed during my first several days. My position was specific – I worked with both the management team and the employees – I really felt encouraged and appreciated from both sides.
Why did you choose Touch Support, and why HR?
I didn’t really know what to expect from this position at that time – I was just excited to learn a lot of new things and thought it will eventually get me somewhere. And it did! As the organization grew, it’s not just the volume of work that grew, but new fields of action arose as well. In my case, I was more and more exposed to overall HR processes and activities, and with time I found myself in recruitment. In time we hired two additional recruitment team members, and I am now running the department as the Head of Talent Acquisition.
I am really happy that I started in HR, and exactly at the point of the company growth because I managed to experience most of its challenges (i.e. finding the right talent in a short time span, optimizing recruiting cycle duration, opening new offices, coordinating with our U.S. team etc.). This unique experience enabled me to fully understand the dynamics of processes taking place in a rapidly scaling environment and adapt HR mindset overall to growing business needs.
How do you feel about your experience working in a fast-paced, dynamic and rapidly scaling company?
The organization has definitely changed since I started working at Touch Support – it was a small community at the time, and organization-wise it really was a lot more simple. The most evident change was in building a structure to allow for more efficient evaluation, planning and execution, and it took time and effort for employees to adjust to this change. From my perspective, this was also a change management challenge for me. I have witnessed the need for developing extensive policies and procedures – without it, we really wouldn’t be able to function and get the things done, let alone making constant improvements in our company. With newly opened offices, we are constantly working on improving our policies and as we don’t want anyone feeling left out, so we rely heavily on our colleagues for feedback. But on the other hand, even though there are more of us, our core values and principles remain the same. The same goes for hiring – despite the technical skills requirements in candidates, it’s the personality and motivation what we really pay attention to during the hiring process.
How would you describe your hiring approach?
The vast majority of our filled positions are the entry-level ones, and therefore we hire candidates of a quite diverse profile. We are proud to say that our team is diverse – not many IT companies can say that some of their most experienced employees are dentists or veterinarians by vocation – and we are perfectly fine with that! I often see situations with younger candidates who finished school and gained some appropriate experience, but that isn’t really their dream career, and they see us as their chance to make that shift. For me personally, that is one of the biggest professional satisfactions, when, on behalf of my company, I can call a candidate for whom I know has been learning at home and been wanting to get into this sphere and say “We’d like to offer you the position”!
Where do you find top industry talent?
We are finding talent in lots of different places. Some of the recipes for success I will keep a secret!
We are trying to be creative and think outside of the box. Finding talent has become a challenge on the global scale, so we all need to find our ways to adjust. Passive recruitment using only job ads will always remain as part of our recruitment strategy but only as one of the tools for finding talent. I need to point out our employee referrals as an important talent pool for our company. We encourage our employees to suggest an individual they think might be suitable for any of our open positions. This practice was particularly beneficial for growing our Croatian team. Candidates are usually reluctant to apply for IT positions and it is hard to imagine an employer giving a chance to someone with less experience, because IT job posts mostly require experience or certificates or a certain formal education in the industry.
New hires that come through the internal referral system already know basic information about Touch Support – they have talked to someone working in the company and discussed the possibilities of career development here. As a recruiter, I love referrals because that talent is already familiar with our company culture, understands the requirements for a position, and the determination through selection process is really strong. But referrals aren’t beneficial only to the company, they also fuel our company culture overall. Referrals enable our employees to empower the team with people they would personally like to work with, which strengthens the overall climate in the office. In a way, it allows the very employees to become part of the recruitment decisions. And in addition to that, we are actively incorporating our senior tech staff in the selection process, enabling them to participate in the decision that would impact on their team productivity and relationship dynamics.
How would you describe the cultural mindset in Touch Support – what can a candidate expect?
Sometimes, in the Interviews, candidates ask me a really intriguing question – “Why do I love working here?” I proudly say the number one culture feature here is the people I work with. Mutual respect, open communication, and friendly approach are the number one principles we insist on, and that’s what builds a great team. We believe that if the work atmosphere and the team environment is friendly, then it is also productive and encouraging. The job can sometimes get demanding and stressful, but a positive atmosphere and helpful colleagues turn it into a challenge, not a problem. And that basically leads to the second important feature I would highlight – the culture of learning and constant improvement. We are rapidly growing which opens a lot of career opportunities for our employees. But, in order to fill a senior position one does need to learn a lot and gain some new skill set. Touch Support is putting significant effort into constant improvement, and our training system is our biggest current project. We have added some new tools and resources for our training, and we are trying to cater to the needs of our employees in the best possible way.
What would be your message to the future candidates that apply for a position with Touch Support?
Hire for character, and train for skill, is not just a phrase we like to use to emphasize our open mindset. We are trying to stress the importance of features such as personality or motivation in our job ads and throughout our selection process. And there are a lot of ways one can present his or her character – take the time to write an application, and also in accordance with the vacancy requirements. We take genuine interest in your application – it says who you are, why you want to work in Touch Support and how we fit in your career plans. At the Interview stage, good preparation is a job half done – inform yourself about the company and the position, and prepare questions for us if you have them! We like open communication, it is important for us that we are the right fit for the candidate as well, not just the other way around!
And once I am able to follow up with good news – be curious, learn from others and help others learn from you. We will provide the tools, mentoring and help in every step of the way but it is up to you to roll up your sleeves and engage in your everyday tasks and challenges. Be ready to work hard and to take advantage of the resources at hand.
Let’s end the interview with a typical HR question – where do you see yourself and your team in the future?
When I take a look back and review the last 4 years, it has been an incredible journey through change management. The recruitment has evolved, we’ve embraced new approaches, technologies, but we’ve also learned a lot along the way and used it to improve our work. With the given experience, the future really looks bright. Personally, I am really excited to see our new offices grow, as well as diving into new verticals that will require more effort on HR side to detect new talents with new skills that would find us a fit for their next career step, but also who would be able to embrace our culture and fit our growing environment.