Sourcing Talent for NZ Start-Ups

At #it18nz tech talent conference we will explore in-depth the people side of the tech sector in NZ. Some of the things you can learn at #it18nz:

  •  What makes high-growth tech companies tick – Palantir
  •  Building a tech company from scratch – Gameloft
  •  Finding talent the Open Source way – Red Hat
  •  How to find tech talent using unconventional means – AIRS
  •  Hacking tech culture – HRShop
  •  How to engage hard to find tech talent – Vend
  •  Emerging technologies and the future of work – 3 Clouds

Also featuring talks from Vend, BNZ, ADP, Prominence, Summer of Tech, AUT Tech etc. Don’t miss #it18nz, an event dedicated to the management of the most precious asset tech companies have – talent. Get a special start-up rate here.

(p.s: Tweet why you want to attend #it18nz and go into the draw to win a ticket. Three to win.)






IT Talent Conference IT18NZ to be held in Auckland and Wellington


IT18 Talent Conference is back! We are delighted to announce that #IT18NZ will be held in two cities – Auckland (21 April) and Wellington (24 April).

IT18 exclusively focuses on talent management in the tech sector and will explore issues surrounding the attraction, recruitment and management of IT professionals in New Zealand. This year’s line up of speakers includes – Red Hat, BNZ, Gameloft, Vend, Xero, eRoad, 3 Months, FNZ, ADP, Enspiral and more. We will also bring back our free Career Day event for IT professionals.

IT18 is a must-attend for those who manage or hire IT professionals, and anyone who wants to learn how the vibrant and volatile tech sector manages their talent. Early bird pricing ends on 20 Feb. We look forward to seeing you again. Register now

NZ Inc Vs. The World

James Bergin delivered one of the most popular presentation at the 2014 IT18 Conference. He asked – Is the grass actually greener overseas for IT professionals? See the presentation below:

Q&A with Kalman Bekesi, CTO Movio

Kalman Bekesi will be speaking at IT18 conference on 29-30 April in Auckland.

Tech start-up triples headcount using social media referrals



Social media has played a critical role in helping tech start-up Vend triple its headcount over the last year, and head of talent Kirsti Grant advises recruiters that when it comes to social media there’s “no one tool to rule them all”.

Vend made approximately 60% of its hires last year through social media, and a large chunk of those came about by encouraging employees to share jobs via their networks and make referrals, Grant told Shortlist. “We’re a really, really social company… so we’ve created this really awesome community and ecosystem where everyone’s really, really proud to put in their bio that they work at Vend, and they’re proud to use their Vend photo as their avatar,” she said.

“They represent us really, really well, and they’re always engaging and talking with other people in the community so when they post a job up, people take notice.” Grant said one of the reasons Vend has prioritised social media over more traditional recruitment channels is a desire to maintain its brand.

“We don’t really post on job boards so much anymore because if I list a job up onto SEEK I’m going to get 100 applicants, and I’m going to have to reject 99 of them, and that’s not good. I don’t want people to think of Vend and go ‘Oh yeah. I got rejected from them’ so [we’re] really protecting the brand in that regard,” she said.

The company is planning to hire an additional 80 people this calendar year, and Grant said the challenge for Vend now is maintaining the current level of social media sharing and employee referrals. “You know how you sometimes go through a little phase of feeling like perhaps you might be milking everything dry and that there might not be any more internal referrals?

“We’ve got to work on some creative ways that aren’t always monetary focused. We don’t always want to have a referral fee. We actually want to have something nice, engaging, and fun and cool so we’re throwing around some ideas of what we can do there.”  Working in a one-person recruitment team makes it hard to find time for sourcing, but when it comes to social media having the right tools is critical, said Grant, who is speaking at next month’s IT18 conference in Auckland.

“It’s not a ‘one tool to rule them all’ situation. As soon as you start going down the track of finding one tool that does all of the things it’s an impossible piece of software to use, and it’s generally quite ‘old school’ and enterprise level,” she said.  “There are amazing solutions out there that fall into that software-as-a-service category, where they’re much more cost effective and you just pay a monthly subscription and it’s always being updated, so choosing technology like that is a really wise decision.”

Vend triples headcount following fundraising

When Grant joined the company last April, Vend had no recruiting systems in place, and hiring was mainly managed by founder Vaughan Rowsell through a mix of agency recruiters, job boards, and personal networks.

“Growth was sort of slow and steady. So [Vend hired] 30 people over two and a half years… In those days everyone in the entire company was involved in recruitment so as a candidate you could expect to sit in the boardroom with the whole company and interview,” she told Shortlist.  “The reason it was like that was because right in the early days it was identified that the culture was a key component of how we were going to be successful, so we wanted to hire really, really smart people who were totally enthusiastic and loved their craft, but also understood the size of the opportunity at Vend, and understood how they could contribute to our success.”

The NZ-headquartered company raised $8 million in funds last April, and a “good chunk” of the money went towards growing the company’s headcount from 30 to just under 100, said Grant. “We’ve tripled the company size now and have offices in four different countries, and across the board the culture in all of those satellite offices is an exact replication of head office. It doesn’t matter what country we’ve put it in, it’s like this beautiful little baby Vend HQ. So for me that’s my biggest success – an efficient process that hires these amazing people that incorporates this culture,” she said.

Technology had to be scalable

While social media has been key to delivering a pipeline of candidates to fill these vacancies, the company’s recruiting system, Workable, was equally important in supporting this growth, said Grant. “It’s a beautiful piece of software if you’re small, and you’re only hiring one or two people, but I’ve got like 20-plus roles [that I’m working on] and it’s still great, and will continue to be great,” she said.

Because hiring shifted from a decentralised process handled by individual managers to a centralised system, it was also important that the technology allowed hiring managers to remain involved in the hiring process, said Grant. “[I] needed to make sure that the hiring managers trusted me, and so to get their trust I needed to give them that transparency so I needed some way of showing them exactly what was going on at any given time,” she said.

“Hiring decisions are still a team effort now, so in many ways I’m kind of the funnel [or] facilitator, and look after people to a really high standard, but [for example] one of the QA roles that we’re placing today – he has had the tick of approval from…. six other Venders.”

 More about IT18

Who is Will Staney?

We are delighted to announce that Will Staney, Recruitment Director SAP USA will  be in Auckland for the #IT18NZ conference. More about Will here

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A rating system would sort the good recruiters from the bad: Atlassian

Joris Luijke, VP of talent at software firm Atlassian, has called for a recruitment agency rating system for employers.

Speaking on a panel at the IT18 conference yesterday, Luijke said he wanted to see the introduction of a quality control mechanism of some kind, to help companies like Atlassian sort through the constant flow of recruitment agencies that called up with a sales pitch.

“Some of them are legitimate, high-quality recruitment agencies that we’ve worked well with in the past, but some of them are not, and it is just the sheer volume of them that is problematic,” he said.

“If there’s a top recruitment agency, they get the same attention from us as an employer, as a person that delivers absolutely poor quality.”

Luijke said he was not advocating for industry licensing, but rather a rating system that allowed employers to identify which companies delivered the quality they were after.

“We can rate an iPad app with a number of stars [but] there’s so little visibility for us in-house recruiters in terms of which agency is good, and which is not good.”

Luijke also said he thought the recruitment industry should target start-up companies, because the bigger organisations grew, the less they needed external recruiters.

Five or six years ago Atlassian’s recruitment function consisted of “one or two people” and the company was heavily reliant on recruitment agencies to survive and grow, he said.

“As our organisation evolved, you start to see that we hired more [of our own] recruiters and therefore we depended less on agencies,” said Luijke.

“It’s just [about the] maturity of the business and that’s why I actually think recruiters have a really important function to play.”

Recruiters aren’t headed the way of the dinosaurs: OBS MD

Also on the panel, IT services company OBS managing director Andy Neumann said recruiters who continued to emphasise value and specialist expertise, rather than price, would survive in the long run.

“As a business owner, I don’t see that agencies will disappear off the face of the Earth, dinosaur-style. There will always be a need and there will be great business for those who can demonstrate their value,” he said.

“You’re either the cheapest or the best. I don’t think you want to be the cheapest recruitment agency – you’re not going to survive that way.”

Neumann said he only wanted to work with recruiters that understood the OBS culture, and this was what the company had looked for when choosing its preferred suppliers a few years ago.

“One agency had a guy rock up in a suit of armour… and deliver their proposal. [I thought] ‘That’s cool. We want to do something different for our customers – they’re doing something different for us. They get the idea of it’,” he said.

“We’ve done a pretty good job of trashing 457-visas for IT”: Peoplebank boss

Source: Shortlist

The Federal Government’s recent “attack” on 457-visas in the IT sector is another setback for an industry already facing critical hurdles in meeting its current and future skills needs, says Peoplebank CEO Peter Acheson.

“We’ve done a pretty good job of trashing 457-visas for IT as a country in the last six weeks, driven by our Prime Minister,” he said at last week’s IT18 Conference, of Prime Minister Gillard’s recent comments that the industry was overly reliant on the visa subclass.

Acheson conceded that the IT labour market was broadly flat at present, and, according to DEEWR statistics, employment in the sector had actually declined 27% in the year to October 2012.

“Despite that, there are still shortages of categories of people. Try to find that business analyst with deep financial services understanding in the Australian market today. There’s not many of them. Try and find .Net programmers. Try and find Java programmers.”

These shortages were compounded, he said, by a 55% decline in ICT course enrolments over the past decade, record low completion rates, and a “dramatic” drop in women in the IT workforce, from 131,009 in February 2011, to 91,400 a year later.

“On balance, the ability for this country to meet the [skills] demands of IT and our digital economy… is limited.”

Licensing could drive consolidation, and that’s a good thing

Acheson also told the conference he believed the recruitment industry would benefit from a mandatory licensing system.While compliance might be an issue for smaller recruitment companies, he said as the CEO of a big player, he would welcome the move to a Federal scheme.

“It would be one way of… accelerating industry consolidation, and I think that would actually be a very good thing for clients, and contractors and candidates.”

Contract failures provide warning on RPO

Meanwhile, Acheson said history had shown the RPO model didn’t always work, and some deals were doomed from the beginning when the provider secured the business by offering an unrealistic price.Acheson said he was aware of a handful of “major contracts” in recent years that had failed after the RPO provider overpromised and under-delivered.

“In those cases – and there’s a number of them – I think the vendor has gone in aggressively on price to win the business and then subsequently it’s worked out that it was far more expensive to provide the service than they thought,” he said.

“They end up having to hire low-cost resources, or low-skilled people, to service the low price they’ve bid at to win the business and… don’t deliver.”

Acheson said another issue for employers to consider before switching to an RPO was whether their current recruitment process was working, or if there were existing issues that needed addressing – because passing the problems on to an RPO company wouldn’t solve them.

“You never outsource a broken process. It’s always going to fail.”

Recruitment companies delivering solid performers: Microsoft Services

Source: Shortlist

Microsoft’s local professional services and consulting arm has been drilling into its recruitment data, and the results show that agency recruiters are sourcing some of its best candidates, says Asia-Pacific staffing director Fiona Hathaway.

Speaking at the IT18 Conference in Sydney today, Hathaway said Microsoft Services was starting to use big data analysis techniques to inform its hiring decisions, and had determined that employees sourced through recruitment agencies were performing better in the medium term than some of their peers.

Hathaway said Microsoft Services used third party recruiters only for executive or specialised roles.

This made up about 6% of annual hires, she said, with the vast majority handled by the company’s in-house recruitment team.

“When we use external providers… we are using them usually at really senior, executive search levels, or for deeply technical positions where we need an extra reach out into the market.”

Hathaway said when Microsoft ran an analysis of the source of new candidates and their performance after two years, recruiters were at the high end of the scale, as were referred applicants. (She did not give exact rankings.)

“We saw – probably not surprisingly – that the candidates that came in through an employee referral program, over a period of two years, had performed higher than the individuals who had applied through the job boards,” she said.

The performance of candidates from recruitment agencies was also typically strong, she said, as they had generally been passive candidates.

“If it’s an agency that’s actually headhunted the individual, [they’re] more likely to be someone that wasn’t… on the job market,” she said.

No “Chinese whispers”

Allowing external recruiters to genuinely engage with the business was important to getting the most out of the relationship, said Hathaway.”I’m a big believer that if you’re using an external provider you have to [give them access to] the business leaders, as well as via HR, or via staffing.

“It’s no good me [passing on] the Chinese whisper of what we need, to you, and then saying ‘Good luck with that’. We want all external suppliers to have a relationship with the business themselves,” she said.

Hathaway added that if recruiters wanted to prove their value to clients like Microsoft Services, sharing useful data was one of best ways to go about it.

“I would want to see trends, movements and facts – that’s the sort of thing that’s really important if you’re managing [recruitment] in a strategic way.”