We recently spoke with Angela Alesci, Talent Receruiter at trivago as part of our #TalentQA series where we interview leaders in talent management and recruitment from a range of businesses from tech startups to well-known fashion brands.
Angela talks about the strategies she and the team at trivago use to attract top technical talent, how businesses should best react to the developments in candidate behaviours and discusses the emerging trends that she is seeing in the talent industry.
Third Republic (TR): Could you explain a bit about your time working in Talent Acquisition and the changes you have seen throughout the years?
Angela Alesci (AA): I started my career in Prague where I was working for a multinational company in the field of HR outsourced services. My focus was on multilingual profiles with almost no experience in payroll (the required field). It sounds easy, yet it was very difficult. Prague is a highly competitive market with the lowest unemployment rate in Europe and every single shared service centre looks exactly for the same type of profile.
That experience taught me to be fast and to treasure candidates’ experience, engage with them and keep them updated in every single step in the process. I also learned that money is not the only reason why someone chooses a company and I had cases where they picked our offer though it had a lower salary or benefits package just because they had a wonderful recruitment experience.
Back in the day, the market was company driven meaning that companies could choose among huge list of candidates that would do anything to be recruited in your staff. With the uprising of social media, the opportunities multiplied and nowadays candidates can choose among thousands of opportunities not only locally but also worldwide. Talents started moving around quicker and recruiters needs to speed up their game, as the competition is worldwide. The ones that win are the ones who not only guarantee attractive opportunities and benefits packages, but also a great candidate experience.
TR: What challenges, if any, have you experienced when recruiting technical talent at trivago?
AA: At trivago we don’t have issues in attracting talents, partially because of the great work of our employer branding team and partially because of the relevance of our product. However, in order to be always on the edge in our business we need to recruit talents with expertise in the latest technologies and that is not easy. Also at trivago we value an open mindset, curiosity, humbleness and adaptability. We have many great candidates applying who were experts in their field, but sadly they failed to prove their ability to work in team or any of the above characteristics and they ended up not being hired. The biggest challenge yet is to find the right combination of expertise with the right mind-set.
TR: What sort of strategies do you adopt in terms of attracting, engaging and securing technical talent at trivago?
AA: We have a dedicated team of 3 people focusing on employer branding activities. Their duties vary from ensuring visibility of our jobs on the relevant platforms and organizing events and meet-ups, to conducting targeted marketing campaigns on various social media platforms. Their approach is very people oriented and pretty much focused on story telling. Lately we reached 10,000+ followers on our “Life at trivago” Instagram profile, and our LinkedIn and Facebook pages have 60000+ and 30000+ followers, respectively. That was made possible not only by the constant dedication of the team, but also by engaging with our talents. Once the right candidate lands in our system after being successfully attracted, I do my best to make sure that this candidate is reviewed as soon as possible and has a fair and quick process.
TR: Have you recognised a skills gap, specifically in technical talent during your time in the industry?
AA: I always say that the tech industry is like the fashion industry – every season you have a new programming language, a new framework or a new server or database that is trendy to use or to know. Much like the launch of new clothing lines or trends. Unfortunately, not all those trends survive and become successful, and I can understand that for talents it is difficult to pick the right ones to focus on. Companies are constantly looking for talents who are skilled in the latest technologies and because of the nature of this very fast and agile industry, it is not easy to spot them. I don’t think talents hold a gap in knowledge; I rather like to think that they focus on something different than what companies need or look for.
TR: Do you think that this shortage of skills is driving a change in candidate behaviours?
AA: Change is something that we value at trivago, therefore a positive attitude towards change and the eagerness to learn are key to succeed for us. It happened several times already that hiring managers compromised their expectations on the tech stack or experience of candidates because the talent demonstrated curiosity and an open mindset towards a different technology. In trivago every team has the opportunity to choose the tech stack that best fits the purpose of their project, so it is essential for us that every team member is open to new technologies and eager to learn them.
TR: How should businesses react to the changes in candidate behaviours?
AA: I believe absolutely positively! The tech industry changes fast, so the only way to be prepared is to embrace it and even better to be the promoter of it. I’ve heard many times about candidates who leave their current employer because they are bored or not motivated. Often their projects or tasks become repetitive and they feel they aren’t developing in a field where constant learning and development is key: As said before, this industry is constantly changing and candidates know that they need to gain experience in the new technologies in order to be relevant in the market.
TR: What other emerging trends are you seeing in the talent acquisition industry?
AA: In the last year I perceived an increase of open positions, particularly in tech, partially because businesses struggle to retain their talents and partially because their needs increase and therefore the required workforce. This makes it literally a “war for talents” where talents are clearly the ones who benefit from it. Funny enough, in the era of social media where online contacts are increasing faster than human contacts, the relationship you build with the candidates is the key to success. It’s a mix of personal touch, cool projects, great benefits and a bit of luck. I’m curious to see how the new technologies will be able to support recruiters in this.
TR: Looking forward, do you think the rise in digital and technology will continue to influence and alter the industry?
AA: Yes, I think so. One of the latest trends is Artificial intelligence: A chatbox that identify candidates’ skills and matches them with the openings in the company. It would speed up the screening phase tremendously, but what about those aspects that a robot cannot pick up? What about candidates’ engagement that, as said, is key to winning the “war of talents”? Of course, the threat for us is that new technologies will make the recruiters obsolete, but I guess it’s part of game. As for today, there are plenty of new professions that didn’t exist 20 years ago and some that existed are no longer relevant. However, I do believe that despite the rise of new technologies, the emotions that candidates develop towards their new employer will always play part in the game ─ we are human after all.
TR: Finally, what advice would you offer to talent professionals in order to keep up to date with the ever-evolving world of recruitment?
AA: Be ready to learn and challenge yourself! I had absolutely no clue about software engineering before I joined trivago and since my first day in the office I have constantly been learning and pushing myself. My eagerness to learn with my persistency in finding the best talent and focus on the candidate experience helped me a lot along the way.
If you’d like to take part in our #TalentQA series or you’re looking to source technical talent, get in touch today!