At j-labs, we focused on recruitment based on relationships, reliable and substantive communication with the Candidates, which is in line with our values that we have been guided by from the beginning of the company’s existence. We have one guiding principle that applies to relationships with candidates, employees, but also clients – treat someone the way you would like to be treated.
Read more about our approach to recruitment.
Outsourcing&More: To start, tell us a few words about j-labs software specialists. You are a Polish programming
company founded by engineers and for engineers in 2008. What areas do you operate in?
Marta Konopka, Communication & PR Expert: We provide outsourcing services of IT specialists in the field of software development.
We provide complete development teams, individual engineers and outsourcing of entire projects in agile models. We support companies from various sectors, such as loyalty, finance, and banking, telecommunications, tourism, energy, as well as gaming and e-commerce.
During these 12 years, you have built a 300-person company and you started basically with a business idea. In January this year, j-labs once again became a Business Gazelle. You joined the group of the most dynamic Polish enterprises from the SME sector. Congratulations! Give us some golden tips!
Katarzyna Bucka, Head of HR & Recruitment: That’s a difficult question. If I had to choose the key to our success, I would focus on three aspects: a clear strategy and vision of the company, a narrow specialization and focus on what we do best, and above all, reliability and honesty in relations with clients, candidates, and employees. Of course, I have to mention that in order to do that you have to put in the work. The huge amount of work put in by the founders of j-labs and the team that has been built for many years contributing to the company’s growth with commitment, all add up to its success. Well-qualified and committed people are the basis of every business. I fully agree with this statement.
Operating in the IT industry is a challenge today – for several years IT specialists have been in high demand
in the labor market. How do you manage to recruit them effectively?
Where do you source them? And how?
KB: Everyone who has experience in the IT industry knows that this is a very demanding market in terms of finding and retaining employees in the organization for more than two years. In j-labs we focused on recruitment based on relationships, reliable and substantive communication with the Candidates, which is in line with our values that we have been guided by from the beginning of the company’s existence. We have one guiding principle that applies to relationships with candidates, employees, but also clients – treat someone the way
you would like to be treated. This is a simple rule, and it organizes things while difficult decisions are made easier. I think that a modern programmer appreciates a sincere and substantive approach, and being credible throughout the entire recruitment process helps build trust and makes it easier to make a decision about accepting our offer. The success ratio for accepted offers that we submit to our candidates is at a very high level – up to 80% of candidates decide to work with us. We hope to maintain this ratio in the future.
Substantive communication with the Candidate is possible thanks to, among others technical training which we regularly organize for our Recruitment Specialists. Technical knowledge allows you to understand IT projects, profiles of candidates sought, and above all speaking the candidate’s language and being a conversation partner for him/her. Understanding the profile of the candidate and project that he/she would join is the key to success in recruitment. Over the past few years we have developed so-called “Good practices in contact with the candidate”, which we follow in our daily work. The partnership-based relationship between the Recruiter and the Candidate is built even before he/ she submits the CV, including during telephone conversations, meetups in our office or a flagship event such as Talk4Devs. Participation in internal and external events has become an inseparable element of our recruiters’ work.
During such events, we make new friends, but we also meet Candidates who are well-known to us, Recruiters learn about market news and technological trends, which also greatly facilitates interviews with candidates. In addition to actively reaching the Candidate directly at events or on social networks, a large percentage of employment is recorded from the internal employee referral program – it is a valuable and important source for us. This year we also launched the Hire4jlabs external referral program, which provides increasingly better results, thanks to cyclical promotion in social media and active promotion by our recruiters. To say it briefly: our recruitment team of 12 does not wait for Candidates to come by themselves, but actively reaches potential specialists to be able to present what j-labs can offer them, then leads the candidate through the entire recruitment process, from the first contact to signing the contract and onboarding – we are guided
by the “Single point of contact” principle here that our Candidates value – they always know who to contact and direct questions to.
To sum up our recruitment successes are based on good knowledge of the industry, narrow technological specialization, technical knowledge of our recruiters and relationships built by them with potential and current candidates.
The Talk4Devs project, which you have been implementing since 2014 as a space to share knowledge in the IT industry, attracts attention. Where did that idea come from?
MK: TheTalk4Devs meetings (previously known as “IT Akademia j-labs”) were initially addressed to students as our desire to show support for young programmers who are just entering their professional path. In time, however, specialists came to the event wanting to broaden
their knowledge and share it. Currently, after over 50 editions, Talk4Devs is a unique meeting on the event map of the IT industry. It is associated with qualified speakers, inspirational talks and knowledge-hungry engineers.
The meetings related to trends in the main areas of programming, functional languages, micro-services, machine learning, databases, and many others, while the leaders are always professionals and practitioners in a given field. Often, they are speakers at national and international conferences.
Talk4Devs takes place in two cities – Krakow and Warsaw and is a free event which you are more than welcome to join. For people outside these cities there is a live stream from each meeting. We reach several hundred people from all over Poland in real-time. The total number of video views reaches even several thousand!
Who is the project addressed to? How can you use it?
MK: Talk4Devs is addressed to all people interested in development within the selected IT area. To participate in the event, all you need to do is follow our social media (Facebook, LinkedIn), where we keep users informed about organized events. In addition, I encourage you
to visit Talk4Devs.
We guess that Talk4Devs are part of your Employer Branding activities. What other actions do you take to care for the company’s image on the labor market?
MK: In addition to Talk4Devs, we also organize meetups and workshops. We participate in the largest IT conferences in the country and run a technical blog where our engineers share their knowledge and passion through prepared articles.
In addition, we run a series of internal training courses conducted by our engineers. It is also worth noting Lunch & Learn, which is a weekly meeting initiated by one of our Delivery Managers, during which participants have dinner and watch a recording of some interesting presentation.
An important element is also engaging our employees in projects that go beyond their professional competences, such as arranging a new office.
What can your employees get? What development opportunities do you offer? What benefits can they count on?
MK: Our mission is – “We do good IT, or not at all”, that’s why at j-labs we focus the best talents, giving them the opportunity to use and develop their skills, thus providing the highest level of software development to our clients.
In addition to the standard benefits, such as medical package, multisport, training budget, etc., we offer our employees something more. What distinguishes us from other employers is primarily:
- The implemented projects – valuable in terms of technology or field.
- Efficient and reliable recruitment process – the recruitment team consists of well-prepared people with an individual approach to the candidate. A person undergoing the recruitment process receives support from us at every stage of recruitment.
- Long-term relationships – we care about building long-term relationships based on trust, reliability, and integrity. We treat others as we would like to be treated ourselves.
- We are building an IT community – we share our knowledge inside and outside the organization.
- We are transparent – we maintain a flat structure with high transparency and an open work environment.
- We are a responsible employer – we create an organizational culture based on our unchanging values – technology, content, and reliability. We are what we say about ourselves. No lies!
- We provide space for the personal development of our employees in non-technological areas through participation in projects and initiatives that go beyond software development.
Our office in Zabłocie, a district of Krakow, also deserves recognition. The new space has given us not only the opportunity to organize meetups, which has a positive effect on our Employer Branding, but also less formal events, such as Children’s Day, which builds commitment among our employees. We managed to create a place where professional life intertwines with private life.
It is said that we currently have a market for employees who need to be strived for strongly and then, the employer has to be active to keep them in the company for longer. Is this a big challenge for the HR Department? How do you find yourself in this situation?
KB: Keeping good IT specialists in the company for longer is a huge challenge, also for us. As part of the HR team, which we are currently expanding, we are working on a number of projects that are aimed at strengthening employees’ commitment to our organizational culture
and the values we have, and thus retaining them at the organization for longer. We are constantly working on improving internal communication, which is a challenge in such a rapidly growing organization. We offer our employees space for development through individual training budgets (each employee has their own annual budget for independent spending), engaging them in internal undertakings
not only related to project work, meetups, or finally by changing the projects in which they work. Our portfolio of projects gives them the opportunity of working for various industries (banking, aviation, logistics, e-commerce, and many others), which means that there are great development chances. We also monitor employee satisfaction through regular interviews and surveys, and if someone decides to leave, we conduct an exit interview with them to learn more about the reasons, but also to hear what we could do better as an employer. Our HR Department is the voice of employees in contact with management and the Management Board.
Source: Outsourcing&More Magazine No. 2/2020.