We recently spoke with Isabel Manrique, Recruitment Manager at ToolTime 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.
Isabel talks about her interesting career working in recruitment all over the world from China to Berlin, the benefits and challenges of working for a startup and how both candidate experience and the importance of people management skills today’s increasingly digital (and less-human) age.
Third Republic (TR): You’ve had an interesting career in recruitment having worked all over the world from Berlin to Shenyang in China. Could you tell us a bit about your career and the differences you have recognised in recruiting across different cultures?
IM: I started my career in Spain in 2008, I worked for 4 years in mixed positions between HR and Recruitment. Then I moved to China and while I was there, although I was studying, I started freelancing for a British company, where we were hiring people all around the world. I was partnering with people in the US, as well as Spain, and a number of other companies. Then I moved to Germany, here in Berlin, where I decided focus more on hiring technical talent – which is more my passion. The main difference I have noticed is giving feedback in different cultures and learning what is important. For example, are the candidates more interested in flexibility or career progression?
TR: You currently work as HR and Recruiting Manager for German startup ToolTime. Could you describe some of the benefits and challenges of working in recruitment for a startup business?
IM: This is my first time working for a small startup. The main thing I would say is that it’s really exciting because you have the opportunity to build things from scratch and make real impact. Every person you hire is a big deal and will help to make big changes. You also have a lot of flexibility, ownership and freedom with processes which makes the recruitment process a lot easier. A challenge of working for a small startup is that we are small and not too well known in larger cities such as Berlin. This means it can be more difficult to get candidates attention. There’s a lot of importance on employer branding and communicating the brand in order to attract attention. At ToolTime we try to write catchy messages and sell based on our USPs, this way we’ll attract the right kind of candidate for our culture.
TR: In your opinion, how important is employer branding when it comes to sourcing and engaging technical talent?
IM: It’s a key activity for recruiters now. Due to the rise in digital and technology businesses are much more on show. Before even applying or attending interviews candidates are first looking at social media pages. They’re doing a lot more research into potential future employers to be sure that it’s the right fit for them. As part of employer branding it’s important to get your business out there in the community. Attend meetup events and conferences that will help to raise awareness of your brand and what you’re like as an employer. For us, events are key to attracting new talent.
TR: What sort of strategies do you adopt in terms of attracting new talent and maintaining the engagement of current employees at ToolTime?
IM: In order to combine everything – attract new talent and maintain the engagement of current employees – we launched our first referral program. We offer a generous monetary reward when employees refer their peers from within their networks. We also always try to involve our employees throughout the hiring process. We want everyone to understand and be involved in the process, so that we are recruiting the right employees who are not only technically able but also the right cultural fit. We have also been revisiting our core values and we want employees to be part of this too. It’s important to us that our employees have similar values to those of the company. In terms of searching it’s also important to be really proactive. Candidates are always changing how they’re looking for work so it’s important to remain up to date with what’s happening in your market.
TR: Throughout your time in the industry, have you recognised a change in candidate behaviours?
IM: The biggest change I have noticed is the fact that candidates (specifically tech candidates) are now in a much more advantageous/power position. They are much more aware of how in demand they are, and I actually think that this is a great thing. It helps us to be better at our jobs. We need to be able to deliver what these candidates asking for, whether that’s more flexible processes or more in-depth feedback. Candidates in today’s digital age have the right to be much more demanding in what they want, helping us to improve and focus our efforts. Candidate experience is absolutely vital, if you don’t have this down then you risk losing top candidates to your competitors.
TR: In your opinion, how can businesses best react to the changes in candidate behaviours?
IM: We have to adapt and be flexible. Show candidates that we are flexible to their needs. Become a chameleon. Ensuring you’re adaptable will almost certainly ensure that you are creating a great candidate experience.
TR: Would you say that being a recruiter in today’s day and age requires more advanced relationship and people management skills?
IM: We certainly don’t need any superpowers but as I said before we do need to adapt and keep learning about our markets and the new technologies that are out there. Be tech savvy. Keep on adapting. If your hiring globally it’s also important to ensure you have cultural awareness of the different markets you’re working. For example, candidates in Germany will have different preferences to candidates in the US. In order to build up strong relationships we have to understand who it is that we’re interviewing and adapt processes based on individuals. Individualised processes will ensure that the candidate experience is on point.
If you’d like to take part in our #TalentQA series or you’re looking to source technical talent, get in touch today!