How Companies Identify Talent with Andrew Hunter of Adzuna & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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Adzuna Human Resources Hiring Strategies

The people around you matter. I’ve always been a fan of surrounding myself with people who are better and smarter than me. It’s astonishing how much you can grow if you surround yourself with amazing individuals.

As a part of my HR Strategy Series, I’m talking to top experts in the field to teach prospects what hiring managers are actually looking for, while also supporting business leaders in their hiring and retention strategies. Today I had the pleasure of talking with Andrew Hunter.

Andrew Hunter is co-founder of Adzuna, the world’s most comprehensive and up-to-date job search engine, with more than 4M US jobs and reaching more than 10M US job seekers each month. From launch in the UK in 2011, he’s expanded the business across 16 markets and is now busy conquering the world from offices in West London, Indianapolis, and Sydney, helping millions of people find better, more fulfilling jobs. Hunter is a seasoned digital leader with over 20 years’ experience growing online businesses and web brands. He has worked as a board-level executive director, CEO, marketing director, government advisor, mentor, and entrepreneur — but deep down, he’s just a computer nerd. In previous roles, he was on the founding team of Gumtree, head of internet marketing at eBay UK, and general manager EMEA for Yelp.

Thank you for doing this! Let’s start with what brought you to this specific career path.

I’ve always been passionate about getting people into work and the role that technology can play to match job seekers to jobs. As a younger man, I worked at some of the largest technology companies in the world including eBay and Yelp. My experience in these businesses aroused my entrepreneurial spirit and made me launch something myself. In 2011, I launched Adzuna, a next-generation search engine for jobs. Our aim as a business is to be the biggest and best job search site on the web.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career and what lesson you learned from that?

After launching the business, we had a bunch of early successes — VC funding, millions of users, great customers, a growing team, and culture. But everything changed in 2015, just as the company was expanding internationally and turning into a truly global business when I was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. This was an incredibly difficult time for me, my family, and the business. I had to take a back seat while I embarked on the road to recovery and after waves of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant, I was declared cancer-free and was able to return to work in 2017.

This experience taught me that I picked the right co-founder! Doug was amazing throughout and shouldered a huge amount while I was off sick. In addition, my cancer experience made me even more positive and ambitious in my business life. I’m more hungry for success and more determined to make a difference now than I ever have been.

Hiring can be very time-consuming and difficult. Can you share 5 techniques that you use to identify the talent that would be best suited for the job you want to fill?

  1. Write a job description you’re proud of: A job description should accurately describe the role you’re hiring for, but keep in mind this is also a window into your company for candidates. Try to get across your company culture and mission (without being too cheesy), spend time thinking about the key messages you want to get across to candidates at this early stage, and don’t be afraid to have a little fun with it. Jobseekers read a huge number of job ads, so referencing something quirky, interesting or unique about the role or company will help you stand out.
  2. Involve the team as much as possible: Too often, I’ve seen recruitment processes managed by external recruiters without involving the members of the team who will actually be working with the successful candidate. I’m a strong believer in involving a small number of relevant people in the interview process, irrespective of how senior they are. Some of the best hires I’ve made have come off the back of careful consultation with existing, junior team members.
  3. Use an applicant tracking system: Many positions advertized on Adzuna receive well over 100 applications. Without a solid piece of software in place, this can be overwhelming. We use Workable which I recommend, but other ATSs are available.
  4. Fish in the right ponds: Take the time to think about where your ‘dream candidate’ may hang out online. It could be a niche job board, a particular social networking site, or a forum of experts. Either way, targeted recruitment advertising is the way forward. I would much rather have five relevant, high-quality applicants that have come through targeted tactics than 50 mixed quality candidates from a generic job site.
  5. Bar raiser: At the end of every interview process, we use a ‘bar raiser’ interviewer. A bar raiser is an interviewer (often from a different department to the hiring role) who is brought into the hiring process to be an objective third party. We find this is a great way of getting a new opinion, as well as testing whether the candidate aligns with our culture, mission, and values.

With so much noise and competition out there, what are your top 3 ways to attract and engage the best talent in an industry when they haven’t already reached out to you?

  1. Employer branding: Ensuring that your employer brand expresses your culture, environment, values and strategic vision is hugely important. Having a strong, differentiated, and prominent employer brand will help you attract and retain top-tier talent around the globe.
  2. Become an industry authority: Adzuna is widely regarded as one of the leading authorities on job market data, globally. This is at the core of our product strategy and mission, but it also helps us with hiring. The top talent out there will often want to work with credible businesses, who are thought leaders and able to make a real difference.
  3. Networking, Networking, Networking: Personal introductions remain hugely valuable when recruiting in 2021. Leveraging your network to educate potential candidates about your product or brand remains as important now as it ever has been.

What are the 3 most effective strategies you use to retain employees?

  1. Transparency and Openness: We believe in being truthful, open, and transparent with all of our employees. From business performance to future strategy and crisis management, I’m a firm believer in being upfront, honest and approachable. I believe we did a solid job of this during the worst points of the pandemic in 2020 and the feedback from our staff was great!
  2. Skin in the game: Full-time employees at Adzuna have stock options in the company and as ‘owners’ will share in the upside if the company continues to grow and be successful. We’ve found this to be a great motivator, retention tool, and ‘ownership’ is fundamental to our culture.
  3. Work on hard, impactful, and audacious problems: We’re lucky. Every month, we help millions of Americans find work. This is a huge motivator for our team and helps keep people focused and happy in their jobs.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Bringing more transparency to job search would help us reduce gender and racial inequality and move towards a more equal world of work. For example, a move towards disclosing salary bands over ‘negotiable’ salaries would help remove gender bias as women are often less comfortable negotiating on pay. Similarly, the salary you offer a successful candidate should be based on their worth, rather than their existing salary level, as the latter could be perpetuating a pre-existing gender or ethnicity pay gap. Our ValueMyResume tool aims to address this by telling candidates their market worth, empowering them to negotiate a fair salary, regardless of their background.

Thank you so much for sharing your insights with us today!

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