Carerix is a producer of recruitment and staffing software based in the Netherlands. The company has worked together with Daxx since 2012.
A short while ago, we had a chance to chat with Jurgen Delfos, the CTO at Carerix. We asked Jurgen to give us an insight into how Carerix software works, and picked his brain on the tech recruitment trends he noticed as the year drew to an end.
Q: Jurgen, could you start by explaining what Carerix does and what services you offer?
Jurgen: Carerix was founded in 2004. Our software combines an application tracking system with customer relations management, which allows our users to keep the entire recruitment process — from finding jobs, to identifying candidates, to filling vacancies, and sending invoices — within one platform.
Q: We know that Carerix offers a few different solutions. Could you explain what each of them does?
Jurgen: Our CRM software enables recruiters to manage various aspects of customer interaction.
CxClientPortal allows recruiters to give their clients an insight into their services. Clients can be granted access to the system, allowing them to create vacancies (that are implemented directly in Carerix), see potential candidates for their vacancies, and search for candidates based on a number of criteria.
We also offer CxProfessionalPortal, which is used by candidates to personally update their profiles, specify availability, apply for jobs, and fill out timesheets.
Another tool Carerix offers is called CxSupplierPortal. It allows companies to give suppliers of candidates access to their vacancies. Suppliers can then personally enter candidates and match them with job openings.
Q: How exactly does Carerix help recruiters find candidates with the right skills and filter out everyone else?
Jurgen: Looking for a candidate for a job is very similar to looking for a partner using a dating app — you’re looking for certain keywords. What distinguishes our system from its competitors is that you can find people using a range of different terms and approaches.
For instance, a sales manager can also be called a sales director, or a salesperson with managerial skills. Developers will often have the words “programmer” or “engineer” in their job titles.
With Carerix, you’re able to build a profile categorizing certain skills as “must have,” and others as “nice to have” or “inessential.” You can then search for candidates that match this profile to the letter.
Q: What professional networks or job boards is Carerix connected to?
Jurgen: The main platforms we work with are Monster, LinkedIn, and Xing. Our software can also be connected to a smaller local platform.
We’re looking into Facebook as well, but for the time being, the data we can get from there is very limited because people don’t tend to share their professional information on Facebook.
The most useful thing a recruiter has is still their database. You can add all the professional and personal details necessary for filling a certain position to your candidates’ profiles, so when you need to sell a candidate to your customer, you become a unique source of information.
Q: 2017 is over, which means now is the perfect time to discuss hiring trends. Which trends have you noticed recently in tech recruitment?
Jurgen: “Social recruitment” is definitely gaining momentum. Developers are really hard to find, and many of them stay away from LinkedIn and similar platforms to avoid being pestered by recruiters. That is why companies often organize industry events to attract the people that they need.
These events should never be too commercial. If making money is your main goal, I doubt the event will be successful. Instead, arrange something that is genuinely interesting for the community. Say, you know someone who knows everything about Amazon — invite them to share their knowledge and expertise. An event like this will give you an opportunity to gather invaluable data about the attendees, but also help you to catch them in the wild and off guard. This is a great way to broaden your network with new tech professionals.
This is a relatively new, yet very effective approach. Searching for profiles on LinkedIn doesn’t really work anymore. Recruiters are forced to invent new ways of finding the people that they need, and pay more attention to employer branding. For this purpose, meeting developers during a social occasion is a different ball game, and it’s usually more successful than database hunting.
I believe the whole approach to tech hiring will change in the future. At the moment, companies still hire individuals. But I think the way candidates with rare skills find jobs will be very different. I think it’s most likely that a profession similar to a sports or talent agent will arise for the tech industry. This way, professionals with unique qualifications will be able to find just the right spot and achieve their personal and professional goals.
Q: What about tech interviewing trends?
Jurgen: Despite all the new tech, an interview still means talking to a candidate for an hour or so. What’s interesting here is that recruiters usually make up their mind within the first two minutes of an interview, which is a bad thing, because this way they inevitably miss talent. These first impressions are mostly based on how a person looks, whether they have a firm handshake, and other interpersonal factors.
You actually start making judgements even before the interview starts, when you’re scanning a resume. For example, when I see an error in writing, I immediately get distracted, which lowers a candidate’s chances of getting the job.
However, to hire the right candidate, you have to be as objective as possible. Together with addons like Equalture, application tracking systems can help with that by maximizing the efficiency and objectivity of the resume screening process.
Another trend that can help companies make more reasonable hiring decisions is the growing popularity of elevator pitches. When an applicant records a video with an elevator pitch, they’re much more likely to make a positive first impression. What’s more, a recruiter sees a professional, not someone who’s having a rough morning or has spent two hours stuck in traffic on their way to the interview.
It’s a well-known fact that nonverbal communication is far more important than verbal. If we compare elevator pitches to resumes, the latter don’t send you any nonverbal signals that could tell you about what kind of person is in front of you.
What I think isn’t done often enough is looking for team players instead of individuals. You can find the best-skilled people, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work well as a team. It makes sense to look for skills that complement each other rather than the brightest-shining gems.
Q: Do you take part in the interviewing process when Carerix is hiring remote developers?
Jurgen: I prefer meeting people in an environment where they don’t feel intimidated or pressured by the concept of an “interview.” Meeting for a coffee is a good example of how to break that barrier.
The quality I really appreciate in candidates is their ability to argue. It often reveals how fast they think and how they react to unexpected changes. The latter is especially important for developers. For instance, if we make a pause to order another coffee, will the candidate remember the original subject of our conversation?
However, when it comes to interviewing offshore staff, I prefer to stay away from the recruitment process. What if there’s a brilliant engineer, but their level of English is low? I’d probably leave the interview with a pretty negative impression.
I want my outsourcing partner to find out whether the candidate has the skills we need. After all, they understand the local market much better than I ever could, and know what tools work best when hiring local developers.
I also think that the interviewing should be done by the team members themselves. I don’t have to work with our remote developers on a daily basis. The new hire will directly affect our external development team, but not our headquarters.
We do actually have a product owner who is part of the Scrum team and takes part in the development process — their opinion is also important when it comes to hiring new developers.
Q: We recently published an article on the talent shortage in the Nordic countries and found out that many Scandinavians aren’t very welcoming to employees from abroad. What about the Netherlands? Are Dutch companies overall open to hiring people from other countries?
Jurgen: Very. Internationalism is rooted in our DNA. Holland has always traded with other countries and communicated with foreigners. That gives us the necessary international background and I see this as an advantage in comparison to other countries. Moreover, we also speak English really well.
What I’ve just said is definitely true for tech companies, but I’m not really sure about what the situation is like in other industries. I suspect you could bump into the “they’re taking our jobs” attitude in some places.
In the tech industry, there are far more jobs than people, so hiring from abroad is very common. Even though more and more people choose IT-related education, there simply isn’t enough local tech talent coming from universities to meet companies’ needs. That’s why we outsource to Ukraine, Poland, and Romania.
The labour market is becoming more pressured, and I don’t think the situation will change for the better in the next five years. In fact, I think it’ll only get worse. The good thing about that is that not only the capitals of popular outsourcing countries will develop, but smaller cities too.
A few years ago, if you were considering outsourcing to India, you were looking only at Bangalore. However, now you’re looking all over India. The same thing has happened in Ukraine — you no longer only think of Kyiv.
Q: What remote cooperation models are popular at the moment?
Jurgen: The first step in outsourcing is always outstaffing. Let’s say you have a big department in your company and you need extra resources.
At first, you don’t require innovation from your remote cooperation, you’re just looking for the “do this, do that” approach.
However, if you continue working with an outsourcing vendor, it’s likely that at a certain point you’ll realize that your external development team has gotten bigger than the internal one. At this point, you’ll need to decide how much autonomy you want to give to the remote developers.
It can be a difficult decision to make, mainly because you don’t see your external team every day and don’t get the opportunity to establish the bond of trust that is necessary to allow them to take charge of your product. The further your outsourcing partner is, the scarier giving them autonomy feels.
Despite this, I believe that when your external development department does grow bigger than your internal engineering team, you should embrace it. It shouldn’t be a spare part of your company, but a centric element of your development. I know it takes guts, but it’s surely worth it at the end of the day.
I’m curious to see whether the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) is going to make outsourcing outside of the EU harder. The GDPR makes transferring data outside of the EU more complicated, and sending privacy-sensitive data outside of the EU is forbidden. If these actions are enforced, I expect the outsourcing focus to shift back to the EU. This would help Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and probably Montenegro, but might have a negative impact on Ukraine, Russia, and Georgia — the former Soviet republics.
If the GDPR isn’t too harsh, then the focus will remain in the East — in countries like Ukraine or Georgia, where the time difference with the EU countries is negligible, and the cultures are similar. Another bonus is that visiting these countries is cheaper than a trip to China, for example, although the outsourcing rates are lower there.
Q: Are you an active social media user? What sources of information do you use to stay in the loop?
Jurgen: I’m most active on Twitter, both in terms of following people (mostly tech leaders) and keeping track of the news. I think Twitter is a great platform if you want to stay in the know.
Apart from that, I often visit tech conferences and talk to other people there. I’m not aiming to be a technical innovator, but there’s a huge benefit to be early in terms of understanding what’s hot in the tech world.
Q: Recruitment is an actively-evolving field. How does the team at Carerix keep up-to-date with customer needs and identify what new features to add?
Jurgen: Our product owners are actively involved in stakeholder communication. They analyze user data and regularly attend HR events to keep up with latest developments in our market.
Our Chief Product Owner is very interested in startups. He knows which features are doomed and which are likely to be successful, so he makes for a great source of information.
Q: Let’s imagine that an executive of a company that is having trouble finding tech specialists reads this interview. What one piece of advice would you give them?
Jurgen: Be the best in your field. And if you can’t, find a partner who is the best at finding the right people. You won’t win being in the middle.
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