Santiago Castro Explains the Secret Sauce to Jobsity’s Hiring Success
Recently, I sat down for an interview with Santiago Castro to ask him a little about himself, the company, and especially how it is that Jobsity is able to consistently hire top developer talent in Colombia and Ecuador to service enterprise-level clients in North America.
What is your role at Jobsity?
I’m the COO, and I am responsible for managing the day to day of Jobsity’s entire international operations. My portfolio includes accounts management as well as recruiting and HR management.
When did you start, and how has your role evolved?
I started with the company about five years ago, when there were only five employees. In the first years, all of us did billable coding. Eventually, as we grew, my role became mostly managerial.
That said, all of our senior managers and officers do take on at least one software development job hands-on, once per year.
How has recruiting changed for Jobsity since the early days?
It was a huge challenge at the beginning. We started with the usual social media applications (LinkedIn, etc.) but most of our early hires came from personal referrals. It was a learning curve to figure out which were the best tools for recruiting.
Formalizing the processes (Recruitment/scouting, Vetting, and Closing the employment contract) helped a lot. All the steps are standardized in our Wiki Internal Portal. Its automated and standardized tasks really speed up the onboarding and internal training process.
What are your main recruiting sources? How do you find candidates?
There are three main sources:
Networking - We network with IRL communities as well as virtual ones. We nurture personal relationships within the communities at developer meetups and conferences, as well as through LinkedIn and StackOverFlow.
Recommendations - We have a finder’s fee program with company employees & selected associates who recommend candidates that we ultimately hire.
Universities - We operate in a similar way to athletic recruiters. We scout out younger talent at the best tech programs in universities across Ecuador and Colombia. We remain friendly with teachers who can recommend the best candidates, and then bring them along with further training in our in-house Coding School (BootCamp+).
What is your “Four Step Process” for vetting candidates?
1. Basic applicant screening for education, technical background fit, work experience, and the essential soft skills of English and communication.
2. An initial HR Interview: this is a long interview that includes exploring their background, English and communication abilities, passion level and problem solving approaches, fundamental programming, and cultural fit.
3. Then there is a technical Interview - an online, live testing challenge where they have to solve a technical problem on the spot.
4. Finally, candidates are given Take-Home Challenges - they get 5-7 days to solve certain practical coding exercises at home.
All of these steps are incorporated within our J-Talent recruiting system, which makes the whole process optimally efficient.
What else is in the Secret Sauce that enables you to hire from the top tier of any applicant pool?
Our in-house recruiters all have a technical background, and they also work part time at coding themselves. Rather than using external recruiters who are more focused on checking off skills from a list of requirements, they’re actually peer-to-peer recruiters who can talk with candidates in-depth about their actual project work and problem-solving approaches. Because our recruiters are also coding themselves on a regular basis, they can better discern a candidate’s talent and capabilities in real situations.
Efficiency gains have also helped. We’ve organized our whole recruiting and hiring process using our own native talents. When we started, we were using basic spreadsheets tracking our hiring process. Over time, we developed our own “J-Talent” application that automates all of those hiring steps. It features a dashboard where we can see all hiring stats at a glance, giving us great visibility into how well we are doing with our hiring goals.We also use J-Talent to manage our live coding interviews and our take-home challenges.
Why would a top tier developer who could make the same market pay elsewhere prefer to take a job at Jobsity?
There are a number of factors, I think:
How we respect people
How we manage their time
Continuing education that’s ingrained in our culture
Cool, relaxed work environments instead of the usual dreary cubicle farm or open industrial space full of desks. Our Quito office looks more like a Colonial summer mansion.
Flattened-out management culture - everyone can send a Slack message to the CEO at any time. Our informal, approachable management style makes all of our coders feel heard and appreciated.
Mainly, it’s all about the company culture.
We brew fair trade coffee and stock craft beer. We play ping pong, and hold Mojito contests. And we live and breathe technology.
We’re very open to new ideas, new technologies and new approaches. There’s a beer keg in our kitchen area that came as a result of employee suggestions. Another recent suggestion resulted in a current project to build our own app that will control doors and alarm accesses for our offices.
Many of our perks and onsite amenities come out of our virtual suggestion box. We take them all seriously. There’s a micro site we use called IdeaScale that lets you post a suggested improvement with an idea brief, proposed budget and timeline. While in some areas there may be no such thing as a “dumb question,” IdeaScale lets our people test for themselves whether their ideas are really that viable before putting them out there.
Another huge factor that attracts the best people is our international clientele and the cool brands they represent. A lot of world-famous companies like Disney, NBC and Groupon have actively chosen nearshore staff augmentation to build distributed teams with Jobsity. It’s not that easy to land international clients, but Jobsity offers local coders the entree to work with internationally famous brands such as Disney Channel , NBC and Bloomberg.
Learning and mentorship opportunities abound here. That’s one of the things that people appreciate the most: our dedication to professional development. New hires and existing staff all take advantage of our ongoing classes to learn new skills and languages, or polish their techniques. It also builds a camaraderie among staff, which keeps our retention rates high in an industry notorious for fast turnover.
How much do you love working at Jobsity?
I wouldn’t want to work anywhere else. Seriously. Our executive team is smart, motivated and driven, but they also know the value of being able to blow off steam at the end of the day. A real camaraderie develops here among the staff, which is one of the main reasons why we have one of the lowest turnover rates (> 3 years average retention) in the developer business community.
Santiago, COO at Jobsity, has been working on the web development industry for more than 15 years, assuming a variety of roles as UX/UI web designer, senior frontend developer, technical project manager and account manager, he has achieved a deep understanding of the development process and management, and developed strong communication skills with groups and clients. At present, Santiago runs the operations of Jobsity, managing offices in the United States, Ecuador and Colombia, leading a team of more than 100 developers, working on major projects for clients like NBC, GE, Bloomberg, Cargill, Pfizer, Disney and USA Today.
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