That time when I realised that it’s all about the people

Shazam is full of smart people, smart people that love their jobs – and we love it that way. Our quest as a global hiring team, therefore, is not only to keep finding and introducing smart people to the business; it’s to find more smart people that will truly love their jobs too. Why? Because when you have a room full of smart people that love their jobs, that’s when the magic happens.

The thing about smart people is, they already know a LOT of stuff. They question, they challenge and we wouldn’t want them any other way. So how do we ignite a spark in those smart people? How do we make them interested in us?

Our amazing product is the first and most obvious thing. What can I tell you – it rocks. We create magic for our users, and that in itself is hugely compelling. I get to watch, first hand, the way that our teams work together cross-functionally to produce something truly awesome on a daily basis. We ship our product every month, and each time get that little bit smarter and faster, continuously updating and evolving our tech stack.

But even more important than our product is our people. When I ask people in interviews what the thing they love most about their current role is, the first answer they give 90% of the time is: the people. It really is that simple folks. People are motivated by being part of a great team, and one they truly vibe with. Any company that fails to recognise that people are their biggest asset really is missing the point.

At Shazam, therefore, one of the key pieces of work I rolled out during my first few months here was around humanising the hiring process, and looking at ways to make sure we give people a real flavour of who we really are and what it might feel like to be a Shazamer.

The first piece of this puzzle came in the form of interview training for the teams here. I designed a programme to challenge and change people’s approach to hiring. Given that we have a team of seriously smart folks here, this was never about being prescriptive about anything, just simply demonstrating what good hiring looks like and the tools that are available; how important the way we make people feel is; that we remember that we have all been where they are once; and that we make them feel respected and valued.

Even more importantly, knowing that people is what people truly celebrate in the workplace, it is paramount that our team present authentic versions of themselves in interviews, and that means not reading from a script! Both parties have to feel comfortable. The focus has to be on creating a forum for a respectful, intelligent two-way discussion (and therefore assessment) – one that challenges and inspires (hopefully both parties).

We are also working on giving people more access to what it means to be a Shazamer from an online standpoint. Expect to see more of how we work, our environment and our people coming to some part of the internet near you soon.

The next piece of the puzzle was to make sure my team use a great hiring process. Great process means that not only do we send the right message about our brand, but also that we are hiring the right people for the right roles!  When hiring for a new role, my team spend time working out: What do we need this person need to do? And: What skills will they need to be able to do that?

We sit down and flesh this out with the hiring manager also taking input (where relevant) cross-functionally. We call this the ‘Recruitment Plan’. It’s essentially a two-page document covering the following:

  • Where the role sits within the business and whom it interacts with.
  • What this person needs to be able to come in and do/be doing at week one, 30 days and 90 days.
  • What three things should this person have achieved by the end of year one.
  • What is the employee value proposition for this role? What makes this role rock? What makes this role special? What is the manager’s background? What kind of manager are they? And lastly, what do they think makes Shazam rock?

By focusing the hiring manager on these key areas ahead of the hiring process, we get them to consider what they are really looking for in a person, and what they need to be able to do. We then write the job spec, using the managers input as much as possible. We focus them on pulling out the 6-8 performance objectives they need to bring to this role, but using words like ‘lead’, ‘build’, ‘manage’ to give a real sense of  what they will own, what they will need to deliver and the kind of satisfaction they are likely to draw from this.

By religiously following this practice, we also get key tools as Recruiters, gems of information and insight into each role. That information all goes into how we position the role, how we headhunt and how we inspire those smart minds to join us. We also coach the managers along the way each time, by sharing ideas and anecdotes that they in turn might decide to use when interviewing.

And that’s just it. It has to be about inspiration. It’s important that we also allow our team to find the approach that works best for them, whilst making sure there is an undercurrent of best practice throughout. You can’t tell a smart person how cool a job is – they have to learn it for themselves, and the same applies to learning about great hiring when on the other side of the fence.

We aren’t in the business of persuading people that we are awesome, we just open the door and allow them to see and feel whether Shazam feels the right place for them. The aim for each candidate is that they have a range of different kinds of discussions with us to give them different flavours and perspectives on our business and our people. Whilst we might have approached them to begin with, they have to choose us right back, and we have to see that they believe in their ability to create magic with us just as much as we do.

If you’d like to explore creating some of that magic with us, head over to www.shazam.com/careers, and see whether we have something you’d like to explore.

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