“Hiring Talks” Podcast by Axterior is happy to announce the written extracts of our podcast.
Here you can find insightful thoughts from the podcast with the representatives of Jooble. Jooble is a global job search website and remote-first IT company that operates in 69 countries.
We have invited Jooble’s Outreach Team Lead (Lena Shostak) and Recruiter (Tetiana Pasevych) to discuss the hiring process from different perspectives: remote recruitment and team leadership.
International recruitment for a remote-first company. The Jooble experience
Tell us more about your company
Lena: Jooble is a product-based IT company from Ukraine that started out as a small start-up founded by two students 16 years ago. In 2006, Roman Prokofiev and Eugene Sobakarev created a job aggregator to search for employees for their projects, and the first version of Jooble was developed in just six months. They chose the name Jooble to be associated with job search, and the brand name was derived from the word "Job". Their first 3,000 users were obtained through advertising in the Ukrainian subway, and they never imagined that after 10 years, Jooble would be visited by 90 million people daily. However, the global crisis in 2008 prompted them to look for new markets, and they took the risk of entering international markets. Today, Jooble operates in 69 countries and was ranked among the top 10 in the Jobs and Employment category in the world by SimilarWeb in 2018.
Tetiana: Jooble has three business models, each with its unique focus. We use innovative ideas and approaches to improve our products every day. Firstly, we have Jooble Job Aggregator, which aggregates job vacancies from 140,000 sources, including corporate websites and social networks. This product is available in 69 countries. Secondly, we have the Jooble Job Board, a platform for direct job postings that's available in Ukraine, Hungary, and Romania. This product's mission is to find the perfect match between employers and candidates as soon as possible. Finally, we have Jooble Venture Lab, our innovation team that creates an ecosystem of products that help people find work and fulfill themselves professionally. For example, we're currently working on a platform for blue-collar migrant workers in the Polish market.
You have such an extensive network of employees. How and why did the company switch to remote?
Lena: Well, even before the pandemic, our company had the idea to look for people who could work remotely. We operate in more than 69 countries, and some of our departments require people who speak more than 25 languages, which was challenging to find in Kyiv. So, we decided to look for talent outside of Kyiv and Lutsk, and we ended up hiring more than 350 people that way. But at that time, this approach was only used in one department.
However, during the first lockdown, we realized that people can work remotely and still achieve great results, regardless of their department. So, since January 2021, our company has switched to a remote-first format, which allows us to hire talented people from all over the world, and it also gives Jooblers the freedom to choose where they want to work and live. Our offices now function more like coworking spaces, where you can come and see your teammates, but it's not mandatory to work from the office only.
Is it effective to work remotely in your case?
Lena: I used to think working remotely was a bad idea, but now I love it. It's all about being able to focus and having the freedom to choose where you work. I even used to dream about working from a sunny place like a digital nomad. Some days I don't feel like leaving my apartment and working in total silence helps me stay productive. I think the remote-first format has made me more efficient overall. Before joining Jooble, I worked at a company where I had to come to the office daily at 8:30 am. It was a nightmare, especially in the winter, when I had to wake up extra early and trudge through the cold and dark to get to work. When I arrived, it took me and the whole office about 30 minutes to wake up and start working. But now, I can get ready in just 40 minutes and work from my room. It's amazing. Of course, there are days when I want to see my colleagues, and I'll head into the office.
Tetiana: I agree with Lena. I can work from home or the office, and I'm more productive when working remotely. It really depends on the nature of your work. As a recruiter, I have a lot of meetings, and I find it easier to focus without distractions while working from home. But you do have to be more self-disciplined when working and recruiting remotely. I make sure to take regular breaks throughout the day, just like I would in the office. It's a bit more planned out, though, since I can't just grab a quick coffee with a colleague. I have to make sure I plan my breaks to stay refreshed and productive throughout the day.
How to attract talent from around the world to ensure efficient remote recruitment?
Tetiana: When it comes to international recruitment, companies face fierce competition for talent. With so many organizations now hiring remotely, it's important to stand out and grab candidates' attention. At Jooble, we use various tactics to attract talent from around the world.
For instance, we don't just rely on regular job boards. We also work with influencers on YouTube to promote our opportunities. We've found that creating videos about our job openings is an effective way to catch the attention of our target audience, which tends to be young professionals who are just starting their careers.
In addition to posting vacancies on platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn, we also create landing pages for different positions that showcase our corporate culture and values. This gives candidates a better understanding of what it's like to work at Jooble and helps us attract those who share our company's values.
Before launching our recruitment process in a new country, we conduct research to analyze the average employee value proposition (EVP) on the market and adjust our offer to suit local candidates' needs and preferences.
Worth noting, flexibility is a crucial factor in attracting and retaining top talent. That's why we provide our employees with flexible working hours, even if they work in different time zones. We also offer various benefits and perks, such as covering 50% of any courses or training that employees are interested in. We strongly prioritize employee development and work-life balance because nowadays, people don't just look for a good job role, they also pay attention to the overall working environment and what the company can offer beyond just a salary.
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What do you pay attention to when meeting candidates? How do you make decisions?
Tetiana: When it comes to meeting candidates, at Jooble, we follow a well-defined procedure of recruiting remotely that only varies a bit depending on the position being filled. The same procedure we have for candidates in Brazil.
Typically, we have four stages of interviews: an initial call with a recruiter, an HR values interview, an interview with the team leader, and a final interview with top management. At each stage, we focus on different aspects of the candidate's profile and experience.
During the first stage, we try to understand the candidate's expectations regarding the role, as well as organizational factors such as schedule and salary, and see if we can meet them. The second stage is the values interview, where we discuss different cases from the candidate's experience and observe if their behavior aligns with our corporate values. Our five core values include openness to people, dedication to work, locus of control, owner mindset, and development orientation. Also, deep product involvement is significant for the company. To hire remotely with maximum efficiency, we have a values matrix that we use during the interview, where each value can be expressed at an A, B, C, or D level, and we analyze how many A's or C's the candidate has to make a decision.
During the interview with the team leader, we pay attention to other factors, and each manager might have their own preferences or criteria, depending on the role.
Lena: I am very picky when it comes to a new team member. Don’t get me wrong, I am pretty friendly, but the atmosphere we created in our team means so much to me, so I need to be sure a newcomer will respect that atmosphere. It won’t be some pessimistic or toxic person who will be super prejudiced, who will criticize all the ideas we bring to the table or bring us down. On the other hand, during the interview, I always try to test how curious a candidate is, how open-minded he or she is, is the candidate brave enough to follow his/her dreams, is this person afraid to make mistakes, does he or she tend to avoid conflicts etc. I never try to look for a copy of me or of anyone who is already working in my team as a new candidate - it’s a no-go for me. It’s awesome when I see a candidate is smarter than me in some field - may it be a foreign language, new time management tactic, or recycling trends. As Tetiana mentioned, in Jooble, we have core values that are important to us - I always try to discover whether the candidate shares these values as well - because every core value is, in one way or another, connected to what my future teammate will do in Jooble. I don’t do “where do you see yourself in 5 years” kind of things during the interview, but I always try to use the time with the candidate to get to know the person I am talking to. All in all, it’s primarily the soft skills I am looking for. Hard skills will be gained during the training and work in Jooble.
Tetiana: In the Philippines, we have a slightly different approach because we hire part-time freelancers who work for a few hours a day. These candidates fill out a form and take a foreign language test, which is automatically graded. In the remote hiring process, we also used video platforms for on-demand interviews, where candidates recorded their responses at a convenient time, and recruiters provided feedback later. It was a very interesting experience.
How did you determine your employer’s brand values? How to highlight values and communicate them to the candidates in a proper way?
Tetiana: Building a strong company culture with shared values has been a crucial focus for us at Jooble, especially as we've started rapidly growing in size. When we had about 70 -100 employees and big hiring plans, we recognized the importance of hiring individuals who share our values and can contribute to a positive work environment. As we spend so much time at work, being among people who share the same values is important.
To determine our company values, our top management conducted interviews with top performers and long-term employees to identify what they had in common. From there, we established five core values representing our company culture: openness to people, dedication to work, locus of control, owner mindset, and development orientation.
We’ve integrated them into our recruitment process to ensure we hire individuals who align with our values. We've even created a system to evaluate candidates' values, which range from level A (demonstrating 100% of the value) to level D (not possessing the value). Our values aren't tied to performance but are instead meant to create a company culture and a supportive work environment. I think It's been rewarding to see how these values have helped shape our company and team at Jooble.
When I joined Jooble, I was impressed by the company's focus on values in the hiring process. As I've been working here, I've come to appreciate how valuable it is to be surrounded by people who share a similar mindset and approach to work. It's created a supportive environment where we can collaborate and learn from each other."
What do Jooble’s candidates need from the vacancy? How can remote work recruiters “sell” their vacancies, and do they need to “sell” vacancies?
Tetiana: Okay, so when it comes to getting candidates interested in our vacancies, we really have to put ourselves in their shoes and figure out what they're looking for. As recruiters, it's our job to show them why our job is the one they want and what we can offer them that other jobs can't. Of course, this can differ depending on the job type we're hiring for. For example, with junior specialists, we highlight things like training, supportive teams, mentoring, and growth opportunities. We want to show them that we're invested in their career development and that we can help them get where they want to go. With senior specialists, it's more about giving them the freedom to make their own decisions and really take ownership of their work. They want to know that we trust them and that we're not going to micromanage them all the time.
Since Jooble is an international company, it definitely has some policies regarding job requirements, etc. From your background, what is more critical - soft or hard skills?
Tetiana: Well, you know, the importance of soft and hard skills can vary depending on the industry and the specific role you're hiring for. Like in highly technical fields such as medical research, hard skills, and knowledge are likely to be prioritized. But in the fast-paced world of modern IT, soft skills can be just as critical for success as hard skills.
At our company, we put a lot of emphasis on assessing candidates' soft skills during the interview process. Because while hard skills can be taught through training, it can be quite challenging to cultivate qualities like empathy and openness in a person. Even when we work remotely with employees in other countries, we can still observe whether they are able to provide constructive feedback or acknowledge their mistakes during interactions with colleagues.
Lena: Yeah, I agree. In my opinion, it's better to find a person with great soft skills and then help him or her obtain the hard skills they need, rather than the other way around.
Where does the responsibility of team leads begin in people management, and the areas of responsibility of the HR end?
Lena: As a team lead, my responsibility begins when I approve a candidate for further interviews with our C-Level. After that, I patiently wait for the final decision and carefully choose a buddy for the new member, and approve the offer we send as a company. From the first working day, I am fully responsible for their experience at Jooble.
Are there any specifics of onboarding and adaptation for people from different countries?
Tetiana: Onboarding and adaptation are critical for retaining top talent. At Jooble, we operate as a remote-first company, so we've already adapted our onboarding policies for remote workers. When we started hiring globally, we didn't need to make many changes.
We have a recruitment coordinator who keeps in touch with new hires after the recruiter offers them a job. This person handles everything from shipping welcome boxes to resolving any organizational issues and arranging laptops.
Our onboarding process has two components: general onboarding and professional onboarding. The HR team is responsible for general onboarding, which covers everything from explaining who to contact if there are issues with laptops to compensation for training and sick leave.
The team leader's primary responsibility is to help new employees adapt to their roles and the team.
We have a buddy program for every new team member, where we assign a team member to work with the new hire. This program helps them feel less alone and adapt more quickly. It's an excellent way to break the ice because, when you start working, you may have questions that you're hesitant to ask your manager. In those cases, you can turn to your buddy for support.
Lena: As someone who's been through it herself, I know what it's like to be a newcomer. So many questions, so many things to learn, and so many thoughts like "I'll never learn that." That's why I always try to help newcomers adapt as soon as possible. My primary goal in the first week with a new team member is to show them that Jooble is a safe place to ask any questions, create, generate ideas, learn, and grow. I always tell new members of my team, "You have a carte blanche for questions for life. Please don't think your questions are silly. I am always here to help." And this attitude always pays off.
When I first became a team lead, 80% of my team worked with me in our Kyiv office. Then two new members joined us and worked remotely from other cities. I panicked inside, thinking, "How will they learn? How will they adapt? What about team spirit? I won't be able to explain anything without pointing at their screen with my pen." Looking back, it's funny to recall, but at the time, I thought I'd go crazy. Very soon, more team members started working remotely, and we were separated by hundreds of kilometers. That's how we learned to work together as a team, even when we're apart. I can't say it was easy, but I'm proud of the outcome.
Now, whenever a new team member joins us, I always make sure to find them a supportive buddy who not only tells them more about Jooble but also says things like "Oh, I've been there" at the right time, in moments of struggle. It's important sometimes to hear that you're not the only one whose email nobody responded to in the world. It happened to all of us.
Each new team member always has a structured plan for the next two months and a weekly 1-2-1 meeting with me where they can ask any questions.
How to manage a team that works from different countries? Can you share some tips on how you manage to keep everyone aligned and on the same page?
Lena: For me, it's all about setting clear expectations and agreements within the team. We make sure that everyone is working towards the same goal and understands what is expected of them. We use tools like Notion to create a comprehensive list of tasks for every team member, including their individual KPIs to achieve. We also have weekly meetings every Friday to discuss the past week's accomplishments, challenges, and strategies, which we keep track of in our team Notion.
And when it comes to communication, how do you ensure that everyone is staying connected and collaborating effectively?
Lena: Communication is crucial when working remotely, so we make sure that everyone knows how to get in touch with each other. We use Slack for work-related questions and Telegram for emergency or non-work-related issues. I also post something on our Slack channel daily to keep everyone engaged and informed. I try to make it fun by tagging team members, cracking jokes, or asking for reactions to certain messages.
Can you give us some examples of ice-breakers during your weekly meetings to keep things fresh and exciting?
Lena: Sure! We try to mix it up each time, but we've done things like showing off our pets at the beginning of the meeting or sharing memes and TikToks in our Slack channel. I want to make sure that everyone knows that while Slack is primarily for work-related messages, it's okay to share other things too. When new members join our team, I encourage them to share their thoughts, ideas, and challenging cases. I want everyone to feel comfortable and engaged.
How to maintain team spirit and engagement when working from different countries? Have you ever organized any online team-building activities? How did those go?
Lena: Yes, we've tried a few online team-building activities, but they can be hit or miss. We've done quizzes, quests, and other games, and sometimes they're really enjoyable, but other times they fall flat. I always try to read reviews and do my research before committing the team to an activity. But there's always a level of unpredictability with online activities. One thing that worked really well for us was an online version of the game Mafia. It was a lot of fun!
So, this is the end of the main part of the Hiring Talks podcast. If you want to know more, listen to our full podcast here. And don’t forget to like this podcast and set the notification to be the first to listen to the next episodes!