Automation Logic is the 3rd best small employer in the UK in 2018. In the last 12 months, we’ve scaled up substantially, which brings a new and exciting set of challenges such as how to retain our fantastic culture of high trust and autonomy as we grow.
One of the reasons our people like working here is because we hire really great colleagues for them. It’s the same reason why our clients enjoy working with us.
When the kind of talent we want to hire is hard to find due to scarcity in the market, hiring well becomes tougher and there is the temptation to lower our standards to fill seats. So how does AL continue to grow and compete for the best brains and nicest people in the business?
To do this, we have a fantastic Talent Acquisition team which has recently expanded in order to match our current demand and growth plans.
So, we’re speaking with our Talent Acquisition Manager, Fazan and new Talent Acquisition Specialist, Shannon to find out what’s in the magic, AL recruiting sauce.
How is recruiting talent at AL different from where you have worked in the past?
Shannon: For me, it seems to be much more about the candidate here. Rather than working backwards based on needing specific qualities, we hire for potential in the future based on where a person might fit into the wider business. We look for where they can develop skills, adding value for us but also where we can add value for them.
Fazan: It’s all about finding the right person. At AL, we take every candidate through an experience whether they’re successful or not. Showcasing to all candidates that we’re a great place to work, with a great culture and we treat everyone with the same respect.
How important is cultural fit when we are hiring?
Shannon: Very. If you hire one person that isn’t a good culture fit, it can affect the wider team and become detrimental to the business. This can be hard to identify straight away though, so you really have to look for the best cultural fit through the recruitment process to ensure the culture stays strong across the company. It’s something we feel really strongly about.
Fazan: The most important thing. We’re continuously learning and adapting, aiming to be as open and transparent as we can be about our culture to candidates. I think this enables them to make an informed decision on whether we’re the right fit, because we are different to other consultancies.
What makes someone right for AL?
Fazan: For me, it’s if they can relate to our core values. The biggest traits I look for are humility and curiosity. I think when you’re having a conversation with a candidate, through general discussion you can pick up on qualities that make them a strong fit for AL. Our shared values are what connects us.
Shannon: I look for what they already know about AL and the questions that they ask, it shows curiosity if they’re asking intelligent questions. It shows that they’re always willing to learn which is really key for personal development and to help AL continue to grow.
How important is the candidate experience?
Shannon: Very important, in my view it’s about protecting the role but also making it a positive experience. If you’re keen to hire someone, but they have an offer elsewhere as well, the experience is going to put a lot of sway in them accepting the offer. We have to show them what it’s really like to be part of AL.
Fazan: When you’re a candidate looking for a job, it can be a really daunting task. You have to fill out multiple applications and rewrite your CV. The worst part of the whole process though is the not knowing where you stand. As we’ve grown in numbers over the last 18 months especially, we’ve tried to implement a process that means we’re giving the best experience every time. Our aim is to always be genuine.
How do we measure the candidate experience and why do we care what the people who we don’t hire think of us?
Fazan: At the moment, we use email feedback. Our founding partners Kris and Norm also make a conscious effort when someone new joins to ask them about their experience. We also actively ask for honest feedback on Glassdoor, it’s important for us to know what we’re doing well and what could be better. Other than that, we just focus on being informative and genuine from a very early stage, if someone isn’t right we don’t want to string them along.
Shannon: It’s really hard to measure candidate experience really, especially for people who aren’t successful. It’s not their first priority to get back to us, but we are putting surveys together. We offer to talk through peoples interview experiences to make sure they’re happy and have everything they need, but it’s much easier to measure how efficient all of this is with people that we do hire. In some cases, the people we don’t hire now might go away and do something else for 6 months or a year, and come back with the exact skills or cultural understanding that we need at that time. So, you always want to leave a positive perception of AL.
How do we hire awesome engineers?
Talk me through the tech test we ask people to take as part of the hiring process?
Shannon: So they have an initial screening call, and an in-person interview with one of our founding partners and sometimes a senior engineer as well. We think the in-person interview helps to show our investment in them so they are keen to give their time to take the tech test.
Fazan: We have high standards here, so candidates need to be able to prove their technical skills as well as seeming a good cultural fit. We introduced the test to filter out anyone who may not be suitable for the organisation.
We ask them to create a solution based on a detailed brief. This allows them to be creative and innovative in their response. The feedback we generally get is that the test is pretty fun and challenging. As well as the technical aspects of the test, it allows us to measure them against the cultural values as well. If a candidate hasn’t used the tech that is required to complete the test previously, but it curious enough to play around with it, pick it up and still submit a successful solution – that says a lot about them as a person.
We give specific feedback on the test whether it’s successful or not, I think if someone takes the time to complete it they deserve that level of response.
What is the Importance of engaging existing engineers as part of the process?
Fazan: It’s important from a career progression aspect. If engineers aspire to manage teams they need to be equipped with the skills and experience of interviewing and selecting individuals for their team. For the candidate, it gives them an idea of the day-to-day life as they engage with our engineers, plus they get to evaluate just how technically competent they are.
Shannon: I feel that when they meet the engineers during the interview it makes people more comfortable and they open up to have a more honest and in-depth conversation.
What processes have you put in place to manage hiring while we’re growing?
Fazan: As we started scaling up, we switched our applicant tracking system to Greenhouse with the aim of improving our candidate experience, but also our internal processes. We want clarity and consistency around all recruitment internally. We’ve grown to a point where we created an organisation structure allowing individuals to have more time for interviews and recruitment.
Shannon: We’ve got a lot of our focus on increasing the efficiency of scalability within the recruitment process within our company OKR’s (objectives and key results).
What happens after someone has signed the contract?
Fazan: We have a very structured and thorough onboarding process. Our goal is to take every candidate through the transition into the company as painlessly as possible. So, as soon as they sign the contract, our priority is making sure they’re ready to go.
Shannon: We have a process that different people in the company all take ownership of. So, it’s not all one person. Which spreads responsibility but also gets people integrated more quickly.
The first step is obviously onboarding, so we get all their necessary details and set up with an onboarding email. Before they join, they get a welcome letter and a book chosen by one of our founders. Just as a nice gesture to help them feel welcome before they even walk through the door. Then they receive their new laptop and we help them sign into all their accounts on the first day. They get a welcome pack waiting for them too, to help them feel a part of the family. Like their own AL branded mug and pen… things like that.
The first day then consists of a welcome lunch, we introduce them to everyone in the company-wide slack channel so they can start meeting people easily, and more often than not they have a welcome drink at our local as well.
How does the Talent Acquisition team help new starters settle in?
Fazan: We assign them to a family group. There are 5 ‘families’ in the company, which are aimed to socialise people that might not otherwise get much chance to spend time together. For example, engineers which are off on client site and those that are more office based.
Also, we think it’s really important to keep in touch with new starters, at least for the first couple of weeks. Just to help them with systems and processes and so they feel they have an obvious person to turn to with any questions.
Shannon: I agree with that, the most important thing for me is not waiting for people to need to come to you but just making sure you’re always there if they need help with anything at all.
We can see from the team that they really work hard on putting a robust end to end hiring process into place, to focus on sustainable growth for the company and an excellent candidate experience every time.
If you’re interested in working for a great company, you can take a look at our current job opportunities here.
We work with our clients to de-risk and accelerate their business goals realisation. Our approach is based on tailoring our services to fit your needs leveraging our portfolio of strategy, execution, innovation and service delivery offerings to help you reach your objectives
We’re always on the lookout for exceptional talent and people who share our values. Even as we continue to grow, we maintain a family environment with respect and teamwork core to our culture.
Piotr Grześkowiak has been at Automation Logic for just over five years, starting out in our DevOps Academy after graduating in Computer Science with Information Security. During those 5 years, he’s gone from an engineer in training to a well respected senior engineer, trusted by the whole company. Piotr’s been on three Central Government client […]
We interviewed AL’s co-founders Kris & Norm about their journey building Automation Logic into the business it is over the last 12 years. From the values they’ve set in place, to the struggles they’ve faced. And obviously, because it’s pretty difficult not to mention it these days, the impact covid had.
A memoir of a Workload Migration engineer by Liam Rae-McLauchlan We’ve all read the blogs and articles about migrating to the Cloud and its benefits, but in practice it can be a daunting task. Maybe your organisation is planning to move to the cloud, or is already trying – up to 85% of enterprises are […]