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Ep 395: The Challenges Of Recruiting Recruiters


We’ve been talking continuously about challenging talent markets on this podcast since March. However, we’ve not so far mentioned the one specific skill shortage which is affecting everyone. The pressure on many employers to scale up their talent acquisition functions is immense, but hiring experienced recruiters has arguably never been tougher.

So what can companies do to attract and retain experienced recruiter talent while also building capacity and capability?

My guest this week is Amy Schultz, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Canva. Canva has been scaling up at speed over the last few years, and Amy has some very valuable perspectives and experiences to share.

In the interview, we discuss:

• The recruiting landscape at Canva

• The current challenges recruiting recruiters when talent supply is even tighter than it is for software engineers

• Perceptions of talent acquisition within organisations

• Attracting and retaining experienced recruiters

• Investing in developing skills to build rather than just buy-in

• New sources of recruiting talent

• Raising up and celebrating the profession.

• Work, craft and impact

• Building peeks rather than fixing potholes

• Humans and technology

• The broadening scope of talent acquisition teams

• What should TA leaders be focusing on in 2022

Listen to this podcast on Apple Podcasts.

Interview transcript:

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Matt Alder (1m 7s):
Hi there. This is Matt Alder. Welcome to Episode 395 of the Recruiting Future Podcast. We’ve been talking continuously about challenging talent markets on this podcast since March. However, we’ve not so far mentioned the one specific skill shortage, which is affecting everyone. The pressure on many employers to scale up their talent acquisition functions is immense, but hiring experienced recruiters has arguably never been tougher. So, what can companies do to attract and retain experienced recruiter talent while also building capacity and capability? My guest this week is Amy Schultz, Global Head of Talent Acquisition at Canva.

Matt Alder (1m 54s):
Canva has been scaling up at speed over the last few years, and Amy has some very valuable perspectives and experiences to share. Hi, Amy, and welcome back to the podcast.

Amy Schultz (2m 5s):
Thanks, Matt. I was thinking the last time I spoke to you, I was still in San Francisco. And I think we were talking about, you know, talent trends for 2020. And I don’t think either of us in you what was ahead then when we spoke.

Matt Alder (2m 22s):
Absolutely. It’s been somewhat unexpected times since then, but it’s brilliant to have you back on the show, and, yeah, you’re no longer in San Francisco either. So for people who may not have heard you the last time you were on the show, just introduce yourself and tell us what you do.

Amy Schultz (2m 37s):
I will. Well, hi, Matt. Thanks for having me back. So I am Amy Schultz and I lead recruiting for Canva and for folks that haven’t heard of Canva before, we are a visual communications platform. And we were launched back in 2013 to really make it simple and enjoyable for anyone to create designs and fast forward to today, we’re now used by millions of users all over the world in I think about 190 countries, which is amazing, and Canva is available in over 100 languages. So the growth and the success of Canva has been nothing short of extraordinary and it’s a wonderful product.

Amy Schultz (3m 19s):
And, you know, I’m just grateful to be a part of the journey.

Matt Alder (3m 23s):
You know, I’ve been an enthusiastic user of Canva for quite some time now, very familiar with the product, but not really that familiar with the company. I mean, tell us a little bit about how you’re structured, where your teams are based, and also the recruiting challenges that you face.

Amy Schultz (3m 40s):
Sure. So we have three co-founders, Mel Cliff and Cam, and we’re were headquartered in Australia in Sydney. And now, you know, we have, I think over 2,400 Canva notes dotted around the globe, whether it be in Australia, in the Philippines, in China, in the US and also in and in 2022, you know, we’re expanding into a lot more global markets. And, you know, the recruiting team when I joined Matt almost one year ago, the recruiting team was a mighty crew of 30.

Amy Schultz (4m 21s):
And, you know, that past two years, they had managed to double headcount and hiring volumes year on year. And we’re on track to do that again this year, probably around 1700 hires, both permanent contingent and our recruiting team this year has grown as Canva has grown. And we’re now over 60 and dotted around the globe. And, you know, I think it’s a really interesting time to obviously be in recruiting. And we’re super fortunate at Canva that, you know, more and more folks now know us. And I think our consumer brand is really recognizable.

Amy Schultz (5m 2s):
And we have been working hard this year to make our talent brand recognizable as well. And we’ve had over 200,000 job applications in the past 12 months, which, you know, I don’t think I’ve worked anywhere where I’ve received so much inbound interest and now we’re sort of at a point where over 60 percent of our jobs we’re actually filling with direct applicants, which is extraordinary.

Matt Alder (5m 29s):
Yeah, absolutely. And I suppose even more extraordinary considering the problems that our employers are having at the moment finding talent, persuading people, you know, to move all those kinds of things. You talk there about expanding your recruitment team and a few weeks ago, you wrote a really interesting piece on LinkedIn about The Challenges Of Recruiting Recruiters, and over the last sort of few weeks, we’ve covered a lot of different aspects of the challenging talent markets all over the world. But the one thing we haven’t talked about is how difficult it is to recruit recruiters. Tell us about the challenges that you’re seeing.

Amy Schultz (6m 11s):
Yeah, no, and thanks so much for asking about it, Matt. You know, I had been speaking to, you know, a number of peers in other, you know, TA positions and they were all sort of talking about, you know, the increased volume of hiring and now, you know, interfaced with having to very quickly grow and scale their TA teams. And let’s be honest, you know, for anyone that has worked in a recruiting-related role or talent or HR this past year has been like whiplash for us. And, you know, I think that there were a number of companies that unfortunately had to reduce the size of their recruitment teams last year, but far quicker than probably anyone expected.

Amy Schultz (6m 51s):
You know, we’re back hiring again and hiring more than ever. And I was just curious to see whether, you know, the demand for recruiters was equally, if not more than software engineers. You know, if anyone works in tech, you know, that recruiting software engineers is, you know, seem to be the trickiest thing out there. And so, you know, while I think now there are more software engineering roles open on LinkedIn than there are recruitment roles, Matt. When you look at the amount of folks on LinkedIn that have a job of a recruiter compared to software engineers like I think it’s about, you know, 1 million folks with recruiter profiles versus, you know, 9 million with software engineering profiles on LinkedIn.

Amy Schultz (7m 44s):
And so the supply and demand for recruiters is far tighter than software engineering. But I just don’t think, you know, companies think of it like that, right? Like any tech company spends a hell of a lot of time focusing on how they recruit, retain, look after software engineers. Imagine if companies are spending the same amount of time thinking about how they attract, retain, and invest in recruiters because let’s be honest, you’re not able to hire software engineers without recruiters. And, you know, for companies that are all out there competing for recruiting talent, you know, if that company hasn’t invested in their recruitment team before, whether that’s in resources, you know, in tech, in skill development, I think that they are really going to struggle at the moment.

Matt Alder (8m 36s):
Amy, I completely agree with you and I sense that the vast majority of the audience will agree with you as well. It’s obviously a very big challenge. Every company seems to be recruiting at the moment either if they’re trying to get back to where they were pre-pandemic or they’re scaling because business is booming for various reasons. But, yeah, absolutely, there is a sort of huge demand for recruiters. Just kind of wanna break this down into sort of a couple of areas. So, first of all, you were talking about attracting and retaining people who are already recruiters, great, great recruiters. How do you think companies should be thinking about that and what should they be doing to make themselves a more attractive place for recruiters to work and keep the great recruiters that they have?

Amy Schultz (9m 23s):
Great question. And, you know, it’s funny, I put a post on LinkedIn recently just with some advice for, you know, any recruiters that are out there that are getting hit up and interviewing. You know, to ask these questions, when they’re speaking to prospective companies, you know, what has been the investment in a company’s recruiting function to date and what are their future investment plans? You know, I think it’s really important for companies to be able to attract recruiting talent. You need to be able to demonstrate that you value the function that you’re giving folks the tools to do their job efficiently, to create great experiences.

Amy Schultz (10m 7s):
And there’s also, you know, a focus on skill development. You know, the other question I think is really helpful to ask is what is the view of TA of recruiting within your company? You know, is it respected? Is it seen as a cost center cause I think that will really talk to, you know, the culture and the recruiter’s ability to be able to do work that is valued and then they can find meaning in and I think, you know, more than ever in the great reshuffle folks are really seeking more meaning and purpose in the work that they do? And lastly, you know, how are companies developing their recruiters so they can continue to hone their craft because if for anyone, you know, listening, Matt, that is a recruiter, probably like me, you never intended to be a recruiter.

Amy Schultz (10m 54s):
You just kind of fall into it. But just because we fall into something, you know, doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be really invested in our, you know, ongoing learning and development. And I think, you know, recruitment is art and science. You know, it’s the instincts and the insights and how I– You know, my team recruit now is different to 12 months ago and will be different again in 12 months time. So it’s really important that we are developing our recruiters. And I think that that development and skill-building then creates opportunities for other folks to find a career in recruiting.

Amy Schultz (11m 40s):
And I think that helps then companies to identify, you know, new sources of talent, whether that’s recruiting apprenticeships, you know, for example, and I think we all need to build rather than just purely rely on buying talent right now.

Matt Alder (11m 56s):
I think that’s really interesting. And what you said about apprenticeships is definitely, really, really interesting. To pick up on something else that you said, you said you never planned to be a recruiter and it’s something that I hear very, very often from lots of people in and around this industry that it was never an industry they planned to get into. And it was certainly the case with me as well. If we are looking for new sources of talent to come into the industry, do you think that there is work to do in terms of the brand of being a recruiter working in talent acquisition as a career? What can we do as an industry to kind of really sort of raise up the profession of recruiting and make it people’s first choice rather than something that they just fall into?

Amy Schultz (12m 43s):
I love that question. You know, I think it is about, you know, to your point raising the profile and then also celebrating. You know, I think celebrating the role of recruiters and I’d love kind of saying now, you know, more and more industry awards for recruiters and recruitment teams because I think it’s so important to celebrate and recognize, you know, the work, the craft and the impact that recruiters have. So, you know, I would encourage, you know, more, more industry awards and more companies to, you know, sponsor, you know, awards or even have kind of their own internal recognition for recruiters like that celebration point can’t be underestimated.

Amy Schultz (13m 27s):
And then coming back, you know, to your point around raising the profile, you know, I certainly, this year, I have spent more time partnering with our marketing and communications teams than I ever have before, Matt, around, you know, talent brand. And I think, you know, companies have really now recognized or a lot of companies have recognized the value of linking consumer brand and talent brand and really, you know, they do go hand in hand. And so for the opportunity for TA to start working with other teams on projects that are outside of sort of operational hiring, I think is a great way of demonstrating our value and perhaps, you know, shifting the profile or the perception of hiring is just, you know, this kind of operational recruiting, but actually, you know, there’s so much more strategy and creativeness that we apply day to day in what we do.

Amy Schultz (14m 30s):
Likewise, as you know, folks are returning to the office and companies are starting to think about, you know, hybrid work and flexible work. I’m also, you know, involved in more conversations than I ever before around, you know, where should we hire, you know, what are the right patients, you know, what are the skills that we’re going to need in the future? And so all of a sudden, you know, you’re in these conversations with perhaps L and D, perhaps real estate, perhaps employee experience, you know, perhaps even, you know, business development or corp dev if companies are looking at M&Ns, and I’m finding more and more that TA are at the seat in a lot of different tables.

Amy Schultz (15m 13s):
And we have really valuable insight to contribute, I think, to business strategy as it relates to talent. And I think, you know, right now talent has never been more important to any company’s ability to grow, be successful and scale. And I think that’s also starting to up level our profession and the value of it. And I think that’s just, you know, great for our industry as a whole.

Matt Alder (15m 46s):
One of the interesting things is for several years now, we’ve been talking about the role of the recruiter changing and technology and enabling that, or forcing that. And really in the last few months, I think we’ve really seen that accelerating and become much more obvious. And I think it’s a key part of what you’re talking about in terms of that role of TA evolving. So we’ve got technology, you’ve also got all of the fallout coming out of the continuing pandemic. What are you seeing in terms of the way that the recruiting is changing and the way that the TA is structured and how that’s changing?

Amy Schultz (16m 25s):
And, you know, I think you touched on technology, Matt, and, you know, I see technology is being kind of a bit of a leveler in a lot of ways, you know. For a while, I think we were worried that, you know, robots were gonna replace recruiters and that hasn’t happened and I don’t think it will happen. And I think technology can enable us all, you know, to work smarter. And, you know, if you’re a candidate, you know, I think technology sort of creates a bit of a leveling experience. So then what’s the point of difference? And I think the point of difference is the human connection that, you know, recruiters can create for candidates as they go through a process.

Amy Schultz (17m 6s):
And, you know, something that we have been focused on this year at Canberra is creating peak moments throughout our candidate life cycle. And, you know, there’s a great YouTube video by a guy called Dan Heath, where he talks about building peeks rather than fixing potholes and that, you know, to be memorable, it’s really about sort of creating those moments of surprise and delight rather than sort of, you know, fixing, making those incremental changes to process. And I think, you know, technology can kind of help with that, but then how are we really thinking about building those moments of connection? And I think, you know, recruiters that’s like where I think the value that we can continue to unlock comes in the future, and that creates then more roles around talent brand, around candidate experience.

Amy Schultz (17m 58s):
I think, you know, the role of a sourcer is evolving and even, you know, the role of a recruitment coordinator while there are so many tools that can help us with scheduling like that recruitment coordinator is still, you know, often the first real point of contact that a candidate has in the process. And I think that can’t be, you know, underestimated just the human connection that we can create. So I think it’s so interesting to see how we can continue to leverage technology but also, you know, the different roles that are evolving in recruiting and, you know, thinking outside of necessarily sort of those experience-related roles, like in order for us to leverage technology and work smarter and more and more recruiting operations roles, more recruiting analytics-related roles as well.

Amy Schultz (18m 47s):
So, you know, I certainly haven’t seen the role of recruiter diminishing at all. I think technology continues to enable and perhaps level, you know, be the leveler and there are so many more opportunities coming out and, you know, as well as like inclusion recruiting type roles. So it’s actually super exciting. And I think that recruiting will continue to change and evolve, you know, with the business. And I think, you know, that’s sort of a great opportunity for us as an industry to think about how we can innovate, how we can continue to add value, but also create new career pathways for all folks, you know, whether they’re within recruiting or whether, you know, these have roles that can help attract folks in different industries into recruiting with, you know, with transferable skills.

Matt Alder (19m 40s):
And are you seeing recruiting sort of extending its influence within the organization and looking at things like internal talent markets and internal mobility, you know, and really having a much more sort of day-to-day role in the overall success of the organization?

Amy Schultz (19m 56s):
Definitely, Matt and, you know, it’s interesting to sort of see how different companies are approaching that. You know, I know that some companies are sort of carving out, you know, teams within their recruiting team to focus purely on internal hiring. And in some cases, you know, those teams aren’t actually sitting within the main recruiting team. They might be sitting in an employee experience team. And I find that really interesting as well. And, you know, when we think about the great reshuffle, Matt, so much of, you know, a company’s ability to retain their staff really will come back to their ability to continue to develop.

Amy Schultz (20m 36s):
So those internal mobility programs, you know, internal talent marketplaces, are going to be so critical to, you know, a company’s overall success and, you know, for folks to continue to see, you know, a career path for them and, you know, millennials now make up such a large percentage of employees and also job seekers. And we know that they, you know, have been searching for meaning and purpose in what they do. And I think Gen Z, you know, more so, and I, you know, read some interesting research this week that was talking about the persona of Gen Z, really kind of having main character energy which I find fascinating.

Amy Schultz (21m 23s):
And I think that’s gonna create then, you know, sort of these new kinds of challenges and new ways of sort of thinking through career paths for folks and, you know, at Canva, we talk about sort of it’s a career rock climbing wall rather than a career ladder. And I think those companies that can really nail down the skills that their employees have and can figure out how they can mobilize those skills to be working on the biggest opportunities and challenges with the company has at that time like those companies are going to be truly successful in the future.

Amy Schultz (22m 7s):
As you said at the beginning, the last time we spoke was at the end of 2019, and we were confidently predicting the trends that were going to affect 2020. I really can’t miss the opportunity to do that again and see if we can be a bit more, maybe a bit more accurate at this time. Obviously, it’s impossible to say what’s gonna happen at the moment, but what should TA leaders be looking out for in 2022? What should they be thinking about? I mean, recruiter development and skill development, first and foremost. And I think you’re investing in their TA function from a capability point of view, a technology point of view.

Amy Schultz (22m 49s):
And also, you know, for TA leaders out there to really champion their team and make sure that the business are recognizing and rewarding them in the right way because, you know, it’s been definitely a ruffled 18 months for folks in recruiting. And I think, you know, there’s a lot of burnout out there. And so I think, you know, on the top of that, Matt, your mental health and just I think prioritizing team well-being will be very important for all TA leaders to think about. And then your skills, like how are recruiting leaders working with their people partner colleagues, with their L and D colleagues, with their employee experience colleagues, to think about the ongoing skill development of employees and then the skill mobility, and then, you know, the increasing correlation of consumer brand and talent brand.

Amy Schultz (23m 45s):
I think that your TA leaders’ ability to have great working relationships with their marketing leads in their comms leads will unlock a huge amount of value, and also just fun. You know, I think the more you sort of you work with different people, the more like me as a recruiting leader, I learn as well. And I think that, you know, continuing to kind of learn and continuing to deepen relationships with folks that you work with in a hybrid world can also only be good.

Matt Alder (24m 20s):
Amy, thank you very much for talking to me.

Amy Schultz (24m 22s):
Thank you for having me back, Matt, as always a pleasure.

Matt Alder (24m 28s):
My thanks to Amy. You can subscribe to this podcast in Apple Podcast, 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 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.

Recruiting Future (25m 29s):
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