#TalentQA | 6 min read

#TalentQA: Kristian Bright, Senior Recruiter @ Deliveroo

Francesca Greane
Written by Francesca Greane

The latest in our Talent Leaders Q&A series, we were thrilled to speak with Kristian Bright – Senior Recruiter at Deliveroo, and co-founder of DBR.

Kristian discussed the changes he has seen when it comes to recruiting technical talent for the likes of Deliveroo, Sky and Stack Overflow, and how the recent changes in candidate behaviour have led to an increased need for recruiters to focus on what they are doing, and how they are attracting talent.   


Third Republic (TR): How have you seen talent acquisition change in your time in the industry?

Kristian Bright (KB): I feel like talent acquisition has evolved. During the early days of my career the industry seemed more transactional. However, the role of a recruiter feels like it has now developed with greater variation and responsibility.

Recruiters are not only working to build companies through hiring but also having a huge impact on that’s company’s identity. Alongside that, we’ve seen an influx of new tools and vendors in the market that are trying to either disrupt or complement the work of a recruiter, so that brings another dimension to it.


TR: How have you seen candidate behaviour change during this time?

 KB: Candidate’s have a much greater choice, and with choices comes greater scrutiny. It’s no longer just about the role; it’s about the business, it’s growth prospects, the people and culture. That has led to candidates taking more ownership of their decision, and asking the employer some tough questions, which is good!


TR: So, would you say we are now working in a candidate-driven market?

 KB: Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the whole ‘war for talent’ slogan. Great talent is there, but yes, it is candidate-driven in the sense that they have more choice. I think this is a positive change because employers have to step up their game.

Candidate experience and employer brand weren’t as much of a priority but the demand for talent has put a spotlight on this and has led to a good behavioural change in our industry.


TR: Do you believe that technical candidates are harder to source and engage now, as a result of these shifts?

KB: To source; no, anybody who has an online presence has a digital footprint which means they can easily be found. The key is engagement, which has become more difficult. Recruiters benefit from being a lot more thoughtful because the template approach commonly used isn't as effective.


TR: Why do you believe this engagement piece has gotten harder?

KB: There is now so much noise on platforms like LinkedIn that candidates are tuning out to these approaches. Everyone is receiving the same emails about the ‘greatest opportunities’.

Recruiters have to focus on what will really interest a candidate and tailor their approach to open up the conversation. That also means utilising the time and effort of your colleagues to engage directly with talent.


TR: How do you overcome this challenge at Deliveroo?

KB: Collaboration and ownership between recruitment and hiring teams. Recruitment leads on building the strategy and understanding what talent is available, but the hiring managers are heavily involved throughout the process, including talent attraction. It’s important at the rate we’re growing that hiring teams have a full picture when it comes to identifying and assessing available talent in the market.

We also want the candidate to feel fully confident about the decision they’re making. If that means taking extra time after interviews to answer questions and address any concerns, the hiring managers I work with are prepared to put in that time.


TR: You mention recruiters needing to know what makes them special; do you think that marketing and employer branding is therefore key?

KB: When you are trying to engage with a wider audience you have to be clear about what you are offering, and why someone would want to work with you. For instance, I recently had an engineer tell me that they never knew food could be so complicated! [in the context of Deliveroo].

We as a company need to address that statement with the message we are sharing about our employer brand. On a one to one basis, it’s key that you engage with that individual and understand them, and their motivations, rather than bombarding them with the stuff you’re doing.


TR: We’ve heard more and more that the candidate experience is now key to talent acquisition. Have you found this to be the case, even when working for household names like Deliveroo?

KB: In my opinion because we have such a recognised brand name, we have even more of a responsibility to get this right. If a candidate has had a bad experience, they will share that experience. So, when you have such a strong consumer brand then the focus on candidate experience has to increase.  The best way I’ve heard it described is: seamless and respectful.

Seamless by defining processes beforehand and ensuring everyone involved knows their role. Respectful because every candidate is giving up their time and putting in the effort and yet we will only make an offer to a small percentage of them. It’s the small things like being transparent, managing expectations and giving feedback. We don’t always get this right at the pace we’re moving but the intention to learn and improve is there.


TR: Do you think the rise in digital and technology will continue to influence and alter the industry?

KB: It will definitely have an influence, but you can’t substitute the human element and have a fully automated experience. I believe technology can be harnessed to complement the role of a recruiter by automating some of those tasks that are time-consuming. This frees up the recruiter’s time to focus on working with the candidate and hiring teams.


TR: What other emerging trends are you seeing in the talent acquisition industry?

KB: There is too much noise in the industry; so much talk about artificial intelligence and various other new technologies that are going to change the industry forever.  

It’s difficult to identify what things are actually having an impact and what is a fad. TA is an industry that is there to ‘disrupt’ but very few are doing this effectively.


TR: You wrote a few years ago on the rise of recruitment tools, and whether it was turning recruiters into robots. It’d be great to hear what your views are on this now, in light of the changes you have discussed.

KB: I wrote this purely because I was frustrated with recruiters blaming tools for not doing their jobs for them. I questioned whether it was the tool or their expectations. There was an over reliance on tools doing the job for a recruiter.

As the recruitment tech market has matured, I’ve noticed a shift away from this mindset. We have a better understanding of what tools are capable of now and where the gaps are.


TR: You have experience recruiting technical talent for the likes of Sky, Wonderbly and now Deliveroo. What unique challenges have you experienced, and how have you overcome them? 

KB: I’ve seen both extremes during my careers; from very set ways of recruiting to companies hiring for the first time. For instance, Sky had more than 20,000 employees and a more structured process. On the other hand, Wonderbly was an extremely creative and entrepreneurial environment that didn’t require the same level of rigour at that stage.

The biggest thing I’ve learnt is that hiring is a shared responsibility across a company and not just down to Recruitment. To be effective, you have to get people involved and bring them on a journey with you.

I used to measure my performance solely on number of hires where as now it’s also about the experience you’re providing and how you’re helping those around you become more effective at hiring. I call it the ‘DEV’ model. Delivery, Experience and Value.


TR: As a co-founder of DBR it would be great to understand more about why the group was set up, and what purpose you believe it serves in the industry today. 

KB: The group has been running for four years, but it started because we were all stand-along recruiters in start-ups. Hung Lee knew us all as individuals and brought us together to share and talk about our challenges. It’s quite an unnatural thing for recruiters to do but we all saw something in it.  

The industry doesn’t always have the best rep, so we have to think about how we can help change the view of recruiting in the world of work, and that’s by helping each other to learn and get better, and people have really embraced the concept.

Now, at over 2000 members, it still blows my mind when I think about how far we’ve come.