Recruiting Success: Why Redbubble Built Its Talent Function In-House

We’re excited to kick off 2018 with a guest blog post from Michael Kyle, Talent Success Manager at Redbubble. Employee referrals and company culture are a huge part of Redbubble’s talent acquisition strategy and if you enjoy this post please download our eBook: 6 Strategies to Accelerate Employee Referrals.

Before joining Redbubble, I led recruiting at two early stage startups – one that failed and one that succeeded. I can still remember the day I understood the importance of recruiting. It was during an all-hands meeting, when the CEO at one of those startups (the one that succeeded) presented a slide indicating our top four company goals: #3 was “Hire more F*cking people!”  It was an invaluable signal that taught me just how closely the success of talent acquisition correlates with the business success of startups and growth companies.

I joined Redbubble in August 2015 as one of its first internal recruitment partners because I knew it was serious about investing in People and Culture. I could see that our CEO understood that it would be impossible to build a company of enduring value unless we attracted and empowered the market’s most creative and talented individuals. It was, and is to this day, exhilarating to work for a company where the business case of talent acquisition is so deeply embedded into the corporate culture.

Why did we bring recruitment fully in house?

1. The True Cost of an Agency Hire

In 2015, we were heavily dependent on hiring through expensive and non-scalable agency resources. (On average in the SF Bay Area, quality contingency firms can cost upwards of 25% of first year salary). Our team’s first OKR was to show impact around cost savings.  Reducing the spend by well over half in year 1 and around 80% in Year 2, the only outsourced support we rely on today is for executive-level searches. This is more money our organization can invest in learning programs, referral rewards,  enhanced market-leading benefits, and a small yet significant budget carved in to experiment with tools and activities that help our own team work smarter.

2. Driving Diversity and Building Our Employer Brand

In addition to cost, another added benefit was being able to more tightly control the messaging and marketing that went out to candidates from Redbubble. We also found that, unless we set adamant benchmarks and objectives, agencies diminished our commitment to attracting non-traditional talent. After doing the math, we realized that hiring a firm for specialized, hard-to-fill reqs did not decrease  time-to-fill or improve the quality of our hires. The proof was in the numbers and we finally made the decision to stop accepting referrals from agencies.

3. Nurturing an Inclusive, Mission-Driven Culture

In addition to cost and quality, there is another KPI we are measured by, one that’s much harder to track in our ATS reporting. I call it our emotional index. It’s a feeling you get when you walk into any of Redbubble’s offices knowing that the people there align with our values, add to our culture, help foster inclusion in the workplace, and are those who believe in our mission. Because our hiring teams and our people know us so well and respect the Talent Success team at Redbubble, they take hiring seriously and dedicate the time needed to participate in the process. Not something you can as easily achieve with outsourced resources.

What is Talent Success?

Recently, we changed the name of our team from Talent Acquisition to Talent Success (just another example of the creative license we value at Redbubble). We see our jobs as balancing that tight-rope between candidate advocate and hiring team advisor. Without giving all the answers away or influencing performance, we’ve created an inclusive candidate journey  — one that allows our candidates to put forth their best selves.

We also grew the team. Why? Mindfulness and balance are important in our culture and nothing says hypocritical like recruiters sending candidate correspondence at one in the morning. We added “Talent Sourcing Champions” dedicated to each market to impact our ability to reach and engage passive talent, and to deliver on our unyielding commitment to attracting folks who were underrepresented on our teams. This perfect blend between sourcer and coordinator allowed these new additions to more consistently impact both speed and quality, and develop more quickly. (And PS, I personally believe in hiring people into talent teams who don’t already have advanced recruitment experience — for me it’s more about why people want to get into recruiting and not with how many “reqs they have closed at hot unicorn startup Y”.)

What’s next? Now that we have proven our in-house talent muscle, we are looking at ways to continue upleveling. I dream of the day we bring executive recruitment in house. We are also looking at ways that recruitment tech can help us innovate and automate. We want to spend more time engaging and less time with redundant data entry. We’re also excited to maintain the momentum we have seen in our Australian office, where 49% of our hires have come from referrals. It makes sense to keep an open mind, challenge your status quo, and to “always be learning”, and that’s why I like keeping my pulse on the latest innovations in talent tech.

If you enjoyed this post please download our eBook: 6 Strategies to Accelerate Employee Referrals.

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