Recently, software company Atlassian snatched up several Recruitment Awards for it’s “Europe, We’re Coming to Steal Your Geeks” campaign, a recruiting initiative they launched earlier this year to hire 15 developers in 15 days with a bus tour through four European cities.
Last week, I caught up with Joris Luijke – Atlassian’s Global Talent & Culture Chief to get some insights. Joris has been with Atlassian for 5 years and has grown the company from 140 staff to 700 as the company’s first VP of HR and Talent. Joris explained the campaign had been “a smashing success,” attracting more than a thousand qualified applicants in just five weeks – more than five times the volume they’d get normally! They even made the Spanish TV news!
Motivated by the limited supply of software developers available in Australia – something familiar to most tech companies, they decided to direct their recruiting focus elsewhere and draw programming talent from all over Europe. They decked out a bus, conducted interviews and hosted informational meetups at local coffee shops and pubs – all with the purpose of luring highly skilled developers back to Australia’s ‘Silicon Beach’ with a job at Atlassian and an all-expenses-paid relocation package to Sydney (more details can be found here). I’d be convinced.
Joris explained that they had a unique opportunity with the European economy not going as well. Atlassian’s day-to-day job creation progress was publicized on Twitter, Instagram or people could follow the bus’ progress on their landing page. Atlassian was creating jobs for people all over Europe, a noble task indeed.
A couple of crucial takeaways: Atlassian realized that recruiting is, as Joris puts it, “a numbers game” and made efforts to generate enough buzz about its hunt to attract a large pool of talent. Using their own in-house developed coding test they were able to pinpoint the strongest candidates quickly and once it found amazing people, Atlassian didn’t waste time. It offered them a job on the spot. Or they “cherry picked the best of the best,” as Joris puts it.
I had heard about the “Europe, We’re Coming to Steal your Geeks” campaign at SmartRecruiters’ 2013 Scale Meeting. I reached out to Joris asking to learn about one cool campaign, I was incredibly impressed when I learned it wasn’t Atlassian’s first time using innovative recruiting strategies.
Over the past several years, Atlassian has made a name for themselves not only based on their product but their creative and effective recruiting strategies. In 2011, they launched an unconventional method to attract the best and brightest University students with the Atlassian Hack House.
In 2010, they won a stack of recruitment awards for their 32 campaign, another recruiting campaign in which we set out to hire 32 engineers using social media and ended up attracting thousands of great applicants. The company attracted massive interest by offering new hires a holiday before they even started, so they “would start their new job feeling happy and refreshed.”
At the same time, they also put an interesting proposition to all recruiters. Joris explains that they allowed all recruiters to submit candidates, but according to their terms. Most importantly, they couldn’t just empty their database of candidates into Atlassian’s mailbox, they could only refer three. If none of those candidates was hired, Atlassian would never do business with them again. Ever! It cause a bit of a stir in the recruitment industry, but ultimately it raised the bar and it raised a lot a media interest.
Words of wisdom…
Joris says he and his team try to approach recruitment differently; “I’ve seen companies building massive recruiting teams with marginal and increasingly diminishing success. Most recruiters use the same search tools (LinkedIn, Ads, etc.) and look in the same places (Bitbucket, Github, etc).”
Joris’ trick is to combine excellent search with a great recruitment branding strategy that makes Atlassian’s hiring messages spread as far and wide as possible. This way you’ll reach those developers that would not have otherwise taken note. For Atlassian, it’s about the bigger picture.
Marketing guru – Seth Godin – explains there are tons of great idea. If you get your great idea to spread wider, you will win (even if your or idea is similar to your competitors). Joris re-defines their hiring goals. Instead of asking where and how to find 25 engineers, he asks, “How do we get every software engineer in Australia to find out about our jobs?”
They realized early on that they couldn’t rely on direct search alone, nor did they have budget for large scale advertising. Or, as Joris puts it, “Obviously, merely promoting the number of job opportunities isn’t going to make our hiring-message spread very far. We need a vehicle for our message to spread.”
I also asked Joris what’s driving him.
“My key objective is to make Atlassian the world’s best workplace. Talent and culture are the key drivers of our future success. It’s crazy to think about the fact that 70% of all the people here weren’t here two years ago. I love my job, as I get to find incredible people who feel passionate about software development, and create a culture where people feel they can deliver the best work of their careers.”
To learn about Joris Luijke’s other HR initiatives, check out his blog!