Q&A with Zapier’s Chief People Officer About Talent Acquisition Strategies

Posted on July 20, 2022

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Kerry WangTalent Acquisition

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Talent acquisition (TA) is a hot topic and with the increasing shift to remote work, it’s also a big challenge for many organizations. To get some unique insights on a strategic approach to TA from one of the first remote-first companies in the world, we spoke with Brandon Sammut, Chief People Officer at Zapier. 

What attracted you to Zapier?

“I got a call from Wade Foster, Co-founder and CEO of Zapier at a time when I could not have been further from looking for another job. But I did know about Zapier products and for someone who loves doing talent and culture work, I really affiliated with Zapier’s 100% remote operating model and the opportunity to team up with folks from all over the world. It was just this boundaryless team formation strategy that really stuck out to me, and I started to get excited about the prospect of actually coming onto the team and helping Zapier in their next chapter.”

Zapier has seen remarkable growth over the last two years in HR and people. Can you talk about your strategy?

“I believe that if you want to build an enduring organization, then you ideally want to invest in the people organization, or those people and talent capabilities, at least at pace with your overall team’s growth, if not  slightly ahead of it. As goes the talent acquisition engine of the organization, and the learning and development organization of that engine, so goes the rest of the company. In talking with our CEO and the leadership team at Zapier, we have such clear alignment on that approach. That is reflected in how we’re not just growing, but growing in a healthy way.” 

What are you doing to ensure you’re identifying and keeping the right people?

“This is a truly big challenge and opportunity. Companies of all sizes are thinking about this. It actually starts with transparency, which is one of Zapier’s five values. If Zapier, or any organization, is in the market talking about what they’re all about and what it’s like to work at that organization – where there’s opportunity or not opportunity to grow in a role – candidates and job seekers are interested in learning about that. But the organization should be incredibly transparent and honest about answering those questions. That’s at least half of it right there. Even the fastest growing organizations do not need to be posturing that they’re the best place to work for everybody.”

Can you tell us a bit more about Zapier’s diversity initiative?

“Our program is called DIBE. It stands for diversity, inclusion, belonging, and equity. And there’s a very specific approach that we’ve chosen for our DIBE work here at Zapier. The simplest way to put it is DIBE as DNA. It’s infused throughout our customers, workforce, and other stakeholder’s experiences with the company? It’s infused with the experience of using the product and how accessible it is. It’s infused in the language we use, the examples we share, and how opportunities are surfaced. What we mean by DIBE as DNA is we want to  design elements of equity and inclusion throughout almost every conceivable part of how Zapier operates. The actual work itself around this is meant to be driven  throughout the company by the people who wake up every day and actually work on these core products, systems, and workflows.”

What is your opinion about exit interviews and understanding data?

“Exit interviews are useful to a degree, but for that particular individual, it’s already too late. Like other organizations, we’re encouraging managers to do stay interviews, which is really something I would encourage leaders to do in good and hard times. What is a stay interview? It’s really just an open, predictably frequent conversation about how things are going. It’s a chance to check whether the manager is still aware of where that person is hoping their role will take them in their career and life. And it gives both people the opportunity to talk about points of friction and points of opportunity. It seems so simple, but it does get back to the notion of doing common things uncommonly well and figuring out how to pull some of that insight out in a more structured way. How you structure that data and find themes is really interesting. The work that we’re doing with Searchlight in that area across talent is so meaningful for us.”

There are a lot of things to consider when you’re a fully remote company. Is it difficult on a recruiting team?

“Last year, the only role that most tech companies were having a harder time recruiting for than engineers was technical recruiters. We were having that challenge too. We knew we needed to do something different than other organizations if we wanted a different outcome. So, we started a technical recruiter accelerator program. We understood that there were certain knowledge sets required to be a really great technical recruiter that are built on top of the core competencies of  a good recruiter of any type,but we felt we could teach that once they came to Zapier. We opened our funnel to amazing recruiters who are aligned with our values, our commitment to diversifying our workforce, and understand how to create a bar of excellence. We’re helping them bridge into their first technical recruiting role.”

What does the future hold for Zapier?

“Our mission is to make automation work for everyone. What we make possible is aimed at helping people be more human, taking away the most tedious parts of the work we do so we can spend more time doing the things that humans do best. We talked about the investment Zapier is making in people, and all of that is in service of making investments in our product for our customers. It’s all about our product, customers, and our people that make it possible.”

Kerry Wang

Co-Founder & CEO Kerry is the co-founder and CEO of Searchlight. After studying both Org Psychology and Computer Science at Stanford, she loves nerding out on all things people, psychology, and tech. On the weekend, you’ll find her reading a book or watching reality TV.

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