A quick public service announcement, I’m going to be taking a short podcasting break, and the next episode won’t be live until the end of August. I’m in the final stages of finishing my latest book Digital Talent which I’m writing once again in collaboration with Mervyn Dinnen, and I need a couple of weeks to entirely focus on getting the final draft finished and over to the publisher. Obviously, this is an excellent chance for you to catch up with any recent episodes you might have missed, available as ever wherever you get your podcasts and also fully searchable on www.recruitingfuture.com.
The podcast will return before August is out, and I have some really inspiring content lined up for the next few months and beyond.
So on with the show. Talent markets are a challenge globally, and talent markets for high-quality digital talent are particularly challenging at the moment. At times like these, recruitment marketing becomes mission-critical, and content that genuinely engages with the target audience brings a competitive advantage.
My guest this week is Keren Halperin, VP of People at Tel Aviv based startup Swimm. Keren has considerable experience scaling digital teams in the most challenging talent markets and some brilliant insights to share on using high-quality content to turbocharge recruitment marketing.
In the interview, we discuss:
• Dealing with a challenging talent market
• What motivates developers to move jobs
• Extending channels of connection
• Types of content
• Messaging that resonates
• Respect and transparency
• What makes a high-quality candidate experience
• Advice to TA leaders
• Predictions for the next 12-18 months
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Hi everyone this is Matt Alder, welcome to episode 369 of the Recruiting Future podcast. Before we start the show this week, a quick public service announcement, I’m going to be taking a short podcasting break and the next episode won’t be live until the end of August. I’m in the final stages of finishing my latest book, Digital Talent, which I’m writing once again in collaboration with Mervyn Dinnen. And I need a couple of weeks to entirely focus on getting the final draft finished and over to the publisher. Obviously this is an excellent chance for you to catch up with any recent episodes you might have missed available as ever wherever you get your podcasts, and also fully searchable on RecruitingFuture.Com.
The podcast will return before August is out, and I have some really inspiring content lined up for the next few months and beyond. So on with the show. Talent markets are a challenge globally and talent markets for high quality digital talent are particularly challenging at the moment. At times like these recruitment marketing becomes mission critical and content that genuinely engages with target audiences brings a competitive advantage. My guest this week is Keren Halperin, VP of People at Tel Aviv based startup Swimm. Keren has considerable experience scaling digital teams in the most challenging talent markets and some brilliant insights to share on using high quality content to turbocharge recruitment marketing.
Hi Keren and welcome to the podcast.
Hello, Matt, happy to be here.
An absolute pleasure to have you on the show. Could you just introduce yourself and tell us what you do?
Yeah, so I’m Keren Halperin. I live in Tel Aviv. I’m an HR leader for the last few years. Basically I’m coming from a fast growing companies and a rapid growth stages where you need to, you know, help the company with the growing pains and you know, build teams from the ground, and really helped them to become a successful teams moving towards, you know, the mission and growing to become like a mid-size companies.
Usually from, you know, sometimes from zero to 150, 200 and so on. That’s basically my passion. And recently I’m very much busy with employee experience, candidate experience, anything related to something that really makes a difference to how people feel about being
Fantastic stuff and I’m very keen to dive in and find out a lot more about that. Before we do that tell us a little bit about the company that you’re working for at the moment.
Okay. So currently I’m working for a company called Swimm and a little bit about Swimm. So Swimm’s in the early stage, well established, you know, and we are in a product market fit stage already in the market for one year and a half, and we are growing significantly to help the product to become, you know, something that developers can can use. So Swimm is actually creating, it’s a platform for developers that help them get into the code quickly, whatever they are, you know, new hires, switching teams, or someone left the company and someone needs to deep dive into the code.
So it’s a product that, you know, help engineers and also managers and companies not to stop projects because of, you know, because of code because of, you know,
Talk us through the talent market. What’s the market for talent, like in your sector at the moment and geography, what’s the market like, and what, you know, what challenges are you facing in scaling up companies?
I think it’s not a secret, like the talent shortage is a real issue for a few years already. And specifically in Israel where we are currently hiring specifically engineers and developers, it’s a very hectic market. We already have like 60 unicorns in a very small market. So a lot of money is in the market and everyone are looking for strong talent. So the competition is very, very, it’s a high competition.
And so, yeah, that’s the situation right now and we need to win the challenge.
I know you’ve had sort of significant success getting up and in particularly hiring developers over the last few year. How do you find developers and people with desirable technical skills in such a competitive market?
I can tell like first from, you know, from the experience with Swimm, that I’m happy to share that we doubled the team during the last two months. We did a lot of work around this and we have a strong network, but I think, you know, it’s not just about money. I just interviewed a very strong talent right now. We are looking to higher and we do a lot of, you know, and we actually do a lot of meetings with strong relationships and the founders network is very rich and this strong, so they know they need to look after those people, you know, build them like a career path, understand what they are looking for and building the package and coming with, you know, with a real career and not only the money.
And in addition, I’m very happy that we have a strong developers, we have a great network. And also we are doing, you know, we did a lot of work around the extending channels, creating a very, very strong and candidate experience a so we can really be competitive. And those talents, there are not looking only for money, they are looking to make an impact. They’re looking for growth opportunities, they’re looking for a leader they can look up to, and they are looking for a real product that can make a difference and can be strong contribution to the world and these are the things that I’m happy to say we are offering.
So I think we’re in a good, you know, situation comparing to other start-ups.
How do you identify those talents in the first place? I mean, what sort of role does intelligence and data play and in terms of knowing where to go to find developers and have those conversations with them?
Yeah. So, yeah, I think it goes for like a few directions. So one I talked about just now it’s the network. The other thing is extending that because if we want to scale and we need a lot of people and we, our, you know, we are going to be a big company with a lot of developers we need to look into other channels. So we are doing, we are using content. Right now we are doing a lot of things around, you know, posting, even like, you know, some small posts, but also thought leader leadership articles and things like this.
We were arranging meetups where we can share knowledge and invite people to our offices or, and other places. So these are the main things. And also we connect, you know, with the usual channels, like good agencies, LinkedIn, and, you know, social network and others, and of course using our employee’s network.
You mentioned content there. I mean, tell us a little bit more about how you use content to engage. I mean, what type of content, and also how’d you do that? How’d you do that at scale?
So it’s a good question. And I think content is really, it’s not a secret, it works from a marketing and, you know, it’s all about people. So it works also for candidates. These are also people, so it’s not a secret. And I can tell you from my personal experience, when I, you know, looked into the data, and I tried to understand along the years, what, you know, what was the best way to bring strong people? And I mean, like, not just people in general, but when I looked into the distribution of channels, I realized that content was the best channel for qualified, best quality people and really qualified people.
And I think it’s the same in marketing, you need to identify, like, what is the audience is curious about. What kind of content they are consuming and how it’s related to you, what we are doing and how we can find the sweet spot of our product, what we’re doing and what they are curious about and build like a plan. So it starts with, again, like, you know, it’s post talk leadership articles, you know, meetups, like hosting other talk leaders.
We are still working on this, it is part of the plan and we’re on our way to build like a really strong community. We are not there yet, but that’s the direction. Eventually we want to see ourself with a big, you know, developers community, especially when we are a company that is like a dev tool product. So it’s a major thing for us to be there.
You mentioned that you’re a technology company. Well, what role does technology play in your sort of pipelining and your recruitment process?
Yeah. I can tell you when I joined the company, and again, we are in early stage, so there was no ATS and it was not connected even to like the career page, and I realized that the first thing I need to do is to have an ATS, to integrate it into the career page so I can manage the funnel. Without this I couldn’t do it. We have a lot of openings and you can be like, you can get lost. So it plays a big role when you want to run the funnel, to know where candidates are coming from, to communicate with the candidates, to communicate to with the resources and agencies and, you know, whatever, managers and so on.
We are also using the ATS for communication, in a sense of, you know, even campaign and how we communicate with the candidates, and how we communicate with agencies and anyone, you know, that is part of the hiring process. So we did a lot of work around the emails and you know, the buying within this email. So it’s very much, you know, something that engineers and developers will be excited about this, not just about, you know, a message, it’s about an interaction. So I hope I’m answering your question, but it plays a big role.
Yeah. And I think that’s it, there’s a really interesting point there, because I know that engineers in particular are often very critical of the messages they get from recruiting, this sort of targeted spammy messages. What is it you do to sort of make your sort of tone and your content really, really resonate with them.
Yeah. And if they’re very cynical and if you’re, you know, using like buzz words and things like this, you can lose them, you know, going like against you. So you need to be very direct, very, you need to use like sense of humor. They appreciate this sense of humor. You need to be, you know, to the point, to talk about the product, to show the team and I think being direct, using sense of humor and respectful can do the job, like can do the work. And we also, you know, we consult with our developers, we ask them, what they think about this, what we think about this.
We ask them, what kind of messages you find, like, you know, interesting and exciting. So we work together as a team and we have the people here so we use also their feedback. So I agree with you. We need to be very careful about using, like, it’s not the same as the go-to market people. It’s very different.
You mentioned earlier in the conversation and that you sort of worked very hard to have a very high quality candidate experience. Talk to us about the candidate experience. What is it that you that ensures that you’re giving people that great experience?
So I, you know, I will surprise you. I think maybe I don’t know, but it’s the small things. It’s like really, I think what we went for in our processes, a lot of respect and you know, how people feel like we really see them. So it starts with you know, how we design the end with our people and then it goes to like the email that we use. And then it goes like before they come to our, you know, technical interview, we created like an email and explain to them what they should expect and about the product and showing them like the people and say something about the people they are going to meet.
And then afterwards, and then before that, we send them like a small message through WhatsApp saying like, Hey, we are waiting for you, this is how you can find the us and so on. And then after the interview, and of course during the interview, and after that, we welcome them when they come to the office and then after. So we stay really connected to them the whole way. And I can tell you from, I realized that startups sometimes they are missing like the small things, like in between stages, the
And so I think we went for, you know, respect and being transparent. And since this fewer, again, we have engineers. It’s working.
Lots of employers who are trying to recruit developers and engineers in very, very difficult markets. You kind of outlined some sort of fantastic thing you’re doing here. But if you were to give advice to those other employers, what are the sort of, so the top two or three things do you think they should be focusing on and doing to really get at the talent we need in these and these very difficult times.
I’m hoping I’m not going to be boring, but I think there are three, three KPIs that I will really look into is like, the story, how you tell about the company, like the job descriptions and how you communicate. And of course like using, you know, all the channels you can use are relevant of course, this is one. The candidate experience and moving fast, like velocity, the time to hire. Not moving fast, if you do everything perfect, but you’re slow and your processes is not efficient you will lose great candidates because the market is really crazy.
So being fast is important. So you need to tell this story very well, you need to use good channels. You need to have a great experience and move fast. I think those four or three are going to give like a competitive edge.
As a final question. What do you think the future’s gonna look like? What are you sort of hoping is going to happen in talent acquisition for the next 18 months to two years?
So it’s a good question. I think it’s going to be the same. It’s, you know, the talent shortage and the competition is going to be even higher. There is a lot of money. Companies, eh, fight for the talent. The talent is not, you know, changing as much as the money, the company. And so I think it’s going to be the same and the same time and you’re, you know, generation Z and Y are capturing more and more of the market, like let’s say, in like three, four years, and I are going to be 75% of the market.
So they are very much getting used to, you know, the, how the brand looks like, who are like, what kind of, you know, benefits and, you know, the well-being that the company’s offering benefits and the ecosystem and how the company is connecting with the ecosystem and the community. So I think all those things are going to increase and to be more significant. That’s my intuition.
Keren, thank you very much for talking to me.
Thank you Matt.
My thanks to Keren and the Recruiting Future podcast will return in three weeks time. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple podcasts, on Spotify or via your podcasting app of choice. Please also follow the show on Instagram. You can find us by searching for Recruiting Future. You can search all the past episodes at RecruitingFuture.com. On that site you can also subscribe to the mailing list to get the inside track about everything that’s coming up on the show.
Thanks very much for listening. I’ll be back next time and I hope you’ll join me.