How Companies Identify Talent with Julia Zavileyskaya of DataArt & Kage Spatz

HR Strategy Series, Real Human Resources

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DataArt Human Resources Hiring Strategies

Be patient, be consistent, and make every effort, and then you’re poised to succeed when luck favors you.

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 Julia Zavileyskaya.

Julia joined DataArt back in 2000 and is now a Senior VP of Global HRM. Julia manages and leads DataArt’s Human Capital strategy, communications and branding efforts on the global labor markets, and participates in the launch and development of the company’s R&D production centers. Julia holds an MS in Social Sciences from St. Petersburg University of Humanities and Social Sciences, and an MBA from the Vlerick Management School. Julia is currently based in London, UK.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! First, please tell us what brought you to this specific career path?

I’ve been leading DataArt’s efforts in the labor market for engineers in more than 20 cities in 6 countries. DataArt is a global software engineering firm that takes a uniquely human approach to solve problems. We are absolutely consistent with customer and labor markets, which helps me do my work. I’ve been with DataArt almost since the beginning. I’m not afraid to take risks or try new things, and this career offered a lot of professional opportunities, supported by my education. I did an International MBA as well as a lot of specialized courses. Originally I’m from the IT field. I started as a project manager, and this helps me talk to colleagues, engineers and IT managers in the same language. Later on, I branched out into marketing and got a lot of experience as I discovered new territories and launched development centers in different countries. I set up HR and communication processes and, even more importantly, I was permanently looking for team members and partners who could strengthen our company and serve our clients in the best way possible.

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

I had just started my project management role at DataArt, and we had a very difficult project, with shifting requirements and a lot of time pressure. I worked really hard to find the best options and maintain good communication between the client and the team. At the final stage of the project, even before release, I got my first bonus for “demonstrating the will to win.” That showed me that in the long run, people recognize not just the final result, but attitude as well.

Wonderful. Now let’s jump into the main focus of our series. 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?

We are a software engineering company, and we operate with a mature market for IT candidates. Any talented professional gets tons of job offers. We have implemented the standard processes for screening, interviewing and verifying technical competency, otherwise we wouldn’t be able to provide the level of quality that has allowed us to grow for more than 20 years. I highlight two approaches that we’ve discovered that may not be obvious.

The first approach deals with expectations regarding the nature of work. We conducted research, which revealed that projects and professional development opportunities are the most attractive elements to candidates. Consequently, we pay a lot of attention to descriptions of our projects, and we appreciate that Nasdaq, Ocado, Meetup, Skyscanner and other clients allow us to share their names, technical details in some cases, and their positive experiences partnering with us. Variety in technologies, projects and clients doesn’t appeal to every professional. Some value working with one technology or the same product for years. People for whom our flexibility and variety are a competitive advantage are particularly motivated to work for us.

The second approach is communications. We strive for direct communications between engineers and managers, both our own and those in client companies. Quite often, companies proxy their experts from clients. Our engineers work from Eastern Europe, Argentina and Armenia, and for all of them English is a second language. Most of us have spent a lot of effort in becoming proficient in English. It’s another differentiation for our experts — the challenge of working in English is very attractive in terms of professional development. Assessing communication skills in English is the second step after the initial recruiter interview. We implemented English standards for both external candidates and employees. Fluency in English is absolutely essential.

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?

First of all, we trust branding and marketing — the ability to articulate a competitive advantage. There are tons of great companies out there, so we have to emphasize our strengths and expectations. We rely on the combination of brand recognition, advertising campaigns, and the professionalism of our recruiters. I call it the “Coca-Cola logistics approach.” I’m not sure if it is real or not, it’s just my observation — you can buy a Coke whenever you are. We need to be like Coke — our targets need to see us at every event and in the media. We don’t need to be everywhere, but we have to be close to our target audience.

Secondly, we have a referral program for colleagues and freelance recruiters. We are really proud that 28% of new employees have been recommended by existing employees. Additionally, we work with freelance recruiters — we’ve created a stable workflow, provide prompt feedback, and treat our recruitment partners with respect. We organize onboarding for them, offer to mentor, and provide materials and support to the community, which is why our network is growing.

Thirdly, our HRM marketing team always tries new channels and explores niche techniques. It’s impossible to compete solely on budget; we have to compete through creativity and invention. We have to be the first mover and not a follower. For example, we try to be bold and promote the company through channels neglected by our competitors.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” and how that was relevant to you in your life

“Chance favors the prepared mind,“ by Louis Pasteur a French biologist renowned for his discoveries relating to vaccination. I love this lesson. Be patient, be consistent, and make every effort, and then you’re poised to succeed when luck favors you.

We are very blessed to have some of the biggest names in Business, VC, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have a private lunch with, and why?

I’d love to meet Pep Guardiola. I love Jürgen Klopp for his incredible human features, Jose Mourinho for both his professional excellence and controversial nature. I think Guardiola is a great example of balancing the personal and the professional. I would definitely invite my husband and son to this lunch too since we watch so much football and talk a lot about the manager’s influence. I have no experience in the football business, but I’m fascinated by the manager’s role.

Thank you so much for these fantastic insights!

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