REMOTE by GitLab 2021: The Evolution of Global Talent Acquisition

Jun 29, 2021 19:26 · 3117 words · 15 minute read

Now, I am very excited to introduce Richard Cho, Head of Recruiting at Robinhood in a conversation with Betsy Bula, an expert in remote work and talent branding here at GitLab.

00:15 - Distributed work completely transforms the talent game, but in wonderful ways.

00:20 - In the future of work we’re now entering, the best people can get the jobs that are right for them, regardless of where they happen to live.

00:26 - Now, that’s a huge boon for organizations and teams that can get it right.

00:31 - But to really take advantage of this opportunity, most companies will have to redesign their talent acquisition and people management systems.

00:40 - Richard sat down with Betsy for a fireside chat on Robinhood’s processes and what they’ve learned.

00:46 - As leaders in a still evolving space, these two have plenty of insights to share.

01:00 - Hi, everyone, I’m Betsy Bula and welcome to our session, “The evolution of global talent acquisition. ” I’m an All-remote Evangelist at GitLab and I’m honored to be sharing the stage with our speaker for this session.

01:12 - Richard Cho is the Head of Recruiting at Robinhood.

01:15 - So throughout the conversation, be sure to ask any questions you have for Richard or leave comments in this session chat.

01:22 - So we have lots of topics that we want to ask you about today, Richard, but before we get started, I’d love for you to introduce yourself.

01:29 - Thanks, Betsy. So glad to be here. And especially talking about a topic that’s so top of mind for so many leaders in talent acquisition.

01:38 - As you mentioned, I’m the Head of Recruiting currently at Robinhood.

01:42 - I’ve been doing recruiting for probably over 22 years.

01:46 - 14 of those 22 years have been focused on hypergrowth, companies such as Facebook and Dropbox and the Chan Zuckerberg initiative.

01:53 - And here I am doing it all over again at Robinhood.

01:58 - Currently leading an organization, about three hundred spread geographically and across the entire United States in very different geos.

02:08 - So this topic is something that I’m super interested in, both contributing and learning from.

02:14 - Awesome and such exciting growth to experience, too.

02:18 - So tell me a little bit, I’m taking a step back.

02:20 - Prior to the pandemic, was your team remote in any way at that point? It was not.

02:26 - Our team was 100 percent co-located in two different offices, one in Lake Mary, Florida, and the other in Menlo Park, California.

02:36 - Awesome. So talk to us a little bit about Robinhood is now considering remote.

02:42 - Yeah, I think, you know, this all started when we first moved into the pandemic.

02:49 - The company – Robinhood – wanted to research.

02:53 - Is this something that we want to sustain coming out of the pandemic? And then all the the massive announcements started to roll out from Google and Facebook announcing their strategies.

03:06 - And then all the companies that we compete with, they started talking about their work from home strategies.

03:13 - And we thought, wow, if we don’t actually take this very seriously, it’s very possible that we would miss out on some top talent.

03:22 - So in earnest, we probably started this research over over a year ago.

03:29 - And this is when I also reached out to GitLab’s very own Darren Murph to hear how GitLab is doing this.

03:36 - And it started to really lay the foundation for the direction that we’re going today.

03:42 - That’s awesome, yeah, it’s exciting to kind of see history being written throughout this transition.

03:47 - So let’s lean into a little bit more about the recruiting side of this.

03:51 - So from your experience, what have you really seen change in recruiting with this move to embracing remote work and remote first practices? Yeah, one is just from a from a general change in landscape standpoint.

04:09 - What we’re finding is that recruiting organizations now realize that it’ll be really hard to go back to the traditional sense of on site interviews where people are taking half days off of work, if not full days off of work, based on commute to arrive into an office with very little guarantee that they would have an opportunity to get an offer at that particular company.

04:36 - So now it hasn’t been an issue in the past.

04:39 - But given that both that the industry is moving to a work from home format, it is so much easier just to do interviews over VC now.

04:55 - So that transition to creating the format that allows people to interview really on demand from their homes requires you to really up-level your toolset, requires you to rethink how you think about the candidate experience.

05:17 - You want to differentiate yourselves in that virtual environment.

05:24 - And then it also creates a ton of opportunity going away from just sort of the core things that you need to be successful.

05:30 - It creates a ton of opportunity for innovation, which that’s the area that I’m most excited about, given that the virtual world starts to provide a little more access to things that we didn’t have access to before when we did physical on-sites.

05:46 - Absolutely, and there’s some exciting things happening in that innovation with the tools and some of the things that you mentioned, so I’d love to hear more about that.

05:54 - How are you all innovating in recruiting while sort of navigating this new world in a hybrid model, for example? Yeah, there there there are things that we’re excited about even just going into this virtual environment.

06:11 - But now that we are more reliant on them, we’re starting to see that these technologies offer a lot more utility and use case than than the intended or marketed feature.

06:30 - So here’s what I mean by that. We use a company called Karat.

06:34 - Karat was always a company that allowed us to supplement our technical screen in ensuring that we can reserve our own engineers time for onsite interviews.

06:48 - And we relied heavily on them to conduct interviews on behalf of Robinhood.

06:59 - And they’ve done a great job calibrating to our bar.

07:04 - But what they really offer is exactly they’re on demand.

07:08 - Any time during the day, it could even be evenings or mornings, depending on where they are, where they live.

07:16 - And it’s really convenient for them to have a tech screen at the at their most convenient time.

07:26 - What we’ve seen is it’s it’s created a faster time to that first screen.

07:33 - So that’s just one element. When you start to offer Karat at a higher volume, you start to open up more doors for folks that maybe they’re not in particular regions, that we all know that tech resides or, you know, so because of that, because of their flexibility, we can interview literally anybody around around the world at any time zone.

08:03 - The second is we’re now using these, you know, virtual tools to conduct these interviews.

08:09 - In the first time ever, we have the ability to be able to be in the interview room with individuals under the premise of we would like to help to teach them to be better interviewers, provide them a tool that transcribes the interview.

08:28 - And we never had that before because there was no one sitting inside the physical interview room unless you were doing an interview shadow, or reverse shadow part as part of the training process.

08:41 - We never had that opportunity. But now we could do this at scale.

08:45 - And we were using a company called Metaview to help with that without with that premise.

08:52 - The innovation there also goes into as they apply their own machine learning to flag opportunities where we can teach the interviewer to be more effective and compare their interviews against other interviews and actually opens up the door for how these interviewers may or may not be able to proactively detect where bias occurs.

09:16 - We will have some sort of bias. So we’re really excited about the next steps that Metaview is taking in order to provide better insights into the interview process.

09:27 - Now that we have a way to be in the interview room with them in the background, kind of like how we’re recording this interview session.

09:38 - There’s no one sitting there with a notepad looking at you saying, oh, you know, Rich said this wrong thing, it’s all done in the background using machines, and that makes it so much more seamless.

09:50 - So we’re really excited about Metaview. And then ultimately the whiteboarding tools are getting so much better that allows engineers to interview from anywhere around the world.

09:59 - So those are three that come to mind. But there’s a whole plethora of things that are coming down the pipe that I’m super excited about.

10:07 - That’s awesome. It’s really cool to hear about all these new tools, and I know our audience is going to appreciate this kind of actionable, tangible things they can look into.

10:16 - So and what about you know, we’ve talked a bit about culture and how you’re sharing culture virtually.

10:22 - How are you all approaching that? So there are a lot of hacky ways that we try to recreate the environment, which was our best exemplar of our culture, which was our office.

10:38 - So we did videos. We did all of the things.

10:41 - But moving forward, I think candidates, especially as we start to navigate this new virtual world, can its will want to have access to what it’s going to feel like to be in that office as an absorbing all of that culture while in the convenience of their homes.

11:06 - So what we’ve done is we put in a lot of effort into investing into our various Medium blog posts.

11:15 - We’ve invested a ton in other virtual ways in which we can share the environment by using videos and photos.

11:28 - And and then finally during the interview process, we’ll try to create a bespoke experience for that particular individual.

11:39 - Whether it’s some sort of fancy virtual background to, you know, giving them a glimpse or an opportunity to speak to somebody that is within the organization to give them a day in the life of what it’s like to be a Robinhoodie.

11:57 - So those are things that we’re working on. What I believe will be incredibly innovative is, you know, I still think it’s a blank slate.

12:10 - But if you can give the individual an experience like they were in the office, that’s really going to be where that company starts to differentiate against their competitors.

12:22 - That’s so true. It’s going to be so important to be able to give those authentic experiences.

12:26 - And I love that you all offer the opportunity to speak with someone who’s already part of the team to to kind of bring that to life.

12:34 - So kind of taking a higher level view as far as like a system to create and get access to the best talent pools.

12:43 - How do you sort of approach that, given the remote environment? Does that change at all? Yeah, the cool thing is we’re now seeing that more and more organizations going through this analysis are realizing that they can manage either a full time remote workforce or some partial remote workforce.

13:06 - So in technology, you had three major hubs and then we can talk about tier two hubs through tier three or tier four hubs.

13:16 - So it’s no longer required that you’re within drivable or commutable driving distance to someplace in the Bay Area or someplace in New York City or someplace in Seattle.

13:28 - So what you’re seeing is that because of some of that flexibility, people are living further and further away from the people are living further and further away from the those particular areas where the companies reside.

13:46 - The other is now that teams are realizing that companies can support full time remote workforces.

13:57 - Now we’re starting to recruit in regions that we never thought that we would.

14:02 - And this is, in my mind, absolutely opens the doors to candidates that are in regions that you don’t really associate tech with.

14:14 - But they have really bright, bright candidates that we should we should engage in.

14:19 - Now, it gives them the opportunity to have access to companies like, you know, Robinhood, Facebook, Apple, Google, whether they live in Arkansas or Illinois.

14:32 - You don’t have to necessarily be concentrated in those hubs.

14:37 - So from a recruiting strategy standpoint, it’s now putting a lot more focus on where where are these talent pools.

14:46 - Using LinkedIn Insights tool allows us to see where this talent is going and residing, what companies that they’re that they’re going towards.

14:56 - And that really changes the game. It opens up the market, increases the pipeline also puts a lot of strain on companies that need to focus on de-biasing their interview process.

15:11 - And so as a result, I think all of those things are starting to really coalesce into something pretty amazing.

15:19 - That’s it’s very cool to see how we’re able to be more inclusive by opening up that talent pool.

15:24 - So as far as when your team is working with candidates and having discussions with them, what ways do you kind of help them along with the decision-making process? And how might other remote managers better sort of understand candidates across geographies, time zones, languages, all those differences? Really, if you do this well, you actually create an unbiased, objective way to evaluate candidates.

15:51 - Now, it still doesn’t prevent companies where we when you start to adjudicate ties.

15:59 - And so this is actually something I say a lot.

16:02 - Having done this analysis so many times, the vast majority of interview outcomes are in this category of maybe yes, maybe no people.

16:12 - People are just uncertain. They think this person could be a great hire or not a great hire.

16:18 - It’s hard for them to adjudicate just based on feedback alone.

16:22 - So then you lean heavily on, where do they work? Where do they go to school? In a borderless recruiting environment, you no longer have those things to be able to lean on to adjudicate, yes or no.

16:37 - So it’s going to force companies to be better at creating those objective interview questions that give you the signal that allow you to have that confidence in that in that particular candidate.

16:50 - I think it’s a good thing. It’s going to put it’s going to put a lot of pressure and pressure tests, you know, decades old interview practices that have resulted, unfortunately, in highly biased and, you know, low diversity environments.

17:08 - So both of those things where we have borderless recruiting and forcing companies into thinking about more objective ways to evaluate talent is really going to start to change the game in helping companies become more representative of the talent pools that are available out there.

17:29 - It’s going to be great to see that continue to improve as we move through this transition as well.

17:36 - So I know we’re sort of getting close to the end of our session and I want to be able to allow time for continued questions.

17:42 - So before we get to that, though, I’d love to hear from you.

17:45 - What are your closing predictions and things that you’re looking forward to seeing in the coming years? Yeah, so I said this earlier.

17:53 - I truly believe that remote or hybrid remote is really the standard way of working moving forward, which also what I said earlier is going to really put a lot more pressure on companies to to figure out virtual interviewing environments.

18:11 - So how can you virtually share the culture of your company? How can you ensure that you have a high level of objectivity in the interview process? How can you differentiate the experience for the candidates so memorable so that you’re the company that they think about when they think about the offer? Technology obviously is allowing people to work anywhere in the world.

18:35 - And so what candidates are going to want to know definitively is that this company is capable of managing a remote workforce in a fair, unbiased way.

18:47 - In an environment where if I lived in some state that doesn’t have a concentration of technology or is close to the home office, that I’m not looked over for promotions.

19:02 - That I have a thriving career. But additionally, even if companies can prove that, candidates will want to know that you know how to communicate with me.

19:14 - So I don’t feel like I’m in a silo somewhere in parts of the U. S.

19:19 - that no offices reside. So those three things are going to be things that now our candidates will expect you to be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

19:31 - And companies that focus on on tooling and creating those environments are going to be the companies that really have the advantage in this in this ability to bring in the best talent in the world.

19:45 - Absolutely. And like we’ve said, it’s exciting to see this history being written.

19:50 - And Richard, thank you so much. We’re thrilled to have you part of remote by GitLab today.

19:55 - And it was just a pleasure to have you share all these insights.

19:58 - And we’re looking forward to continuing the conversation with everyone in the chat afterwards.

20:02 - Thank you, everyone. Thanks, Betsy.

20:05 - Thank you, everyone. .