How Smarp is growing its tech team to accommodate an expanding client base

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Michael Andreyev
September 28, 2021
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Smarp offers a platform for employee communication, advocacy and engagement. It helps businesses create, aggregate, and automatically deliver personalized content to every employee. Smarp operates in Helsinki, London and Atlanta with more than 60 full-time team members. The company has recently announced it would join forces with Hamburg-based social intranet app COYO to become a global leader in the employee communications and employee engagement software space.

We spoke to Elena Palchikova from Smarp’s Talent Acquisition team about hiring developers for a fast-growing company, tech recruitment trends, changes in the work environment and collaborating with Toughbyte.

Why did you decide to hire more developers?

There’s been a big boost on our clients’ side over the last few years. We now have a big client base with over 400 clients including companies like Salesforce, Google, Amazon and Vodafone, so our technical team is constantly growing. We’ve grown the team close to 40% over the last two years, so it’s been quite a jump in scale for our company.

What does your hiring process look like now?

The process is equal for everyone involved, there is a certain amount of steps and a technical evaluation for every candidate. First we organize an HR screening, although sometimes Toughbyte does it for us. During that screening we tell the candidate about the company and check what the person is looking for. If that’s a match, the next step is meeting our technical team for the technical assignment. After that the candidate meets the hiring manager for a longer discussion to check their motivation, team fit, long-term plans etc. and then comes the offer. It’s not a long process overall although it might take longer than at some other companies. However, we try to make it as light as possible and our goal is for the candidates to meet as many potential colleagues as possible so that they get the idea of who they are going to work with. The candidates are also welcome to ask questions to make sure they know enough about us and can confidently say that Smarp is a good match for them.

What do you like about working with Toughbyte?

The first thing that comes to mind is definitely communication, because that’s the key. It’s flawless and very responsive. We have weekly catch-ups and can customize what we have to discuss every time. Besides that, Toughbyte sends automated updates every week, which is amazing, so we can see how many people were contacted and how many candidates we can expect next week. The amount of very good and qualified candidates has also been amazing and we see the huge work behind that Toughbyte is doing. We’ve been working together for some time now, so Toughbyte really knows what we are looking for and it’s super-easy because we can immediately send a request and we know that we will get the profiles we need.

Do you have any tips for other companies hiring developers?

It depends on the scale and purpose of the company, but we would definitely recommend not to avoid recruiting international talent. There’s a huge pool of candidates abroad, and if we’re talking about Finland, there’s a shortage of talent here. We would recommend paying a bit more attention to foreign candidates, being more inclusive and adapting your processes to international talent because in our opinion, that’s a very clear future trend. Technical education in the CIS is very high-level, so there are a lot of great specialists there. It would be a good idea to adapt to international hiring early enough in order to make it an easier process.

Are there any major trends in recruitment that you're seeing?

These days, the market clearly belongs to developers rather than companies. The trend is for companies to show fully and clearly who they are in order to be attractive not only on a tangible level with salaries, etc., but also on an intangible level. There are many other perks that candidates can get by joining a company and it takes much more effort to attract good talent. Technical specialists are considering very carefully which projects to join and what the benefits are. Nowadays it’s about the environment, the people and the company’s mission. The hiring process is more complicated for both companies and recruitment agencies because nowadays it’s like art.

How did you adapt to changes due to COVID?

There was no harm done to the company in the way it operates in remote mode, except for the fact that we all miss our colleagues now. It’s great to see that people can be successful and perform the same even if they are working remotely. Our Ops team has done a lot to keep people engaged. Of course, we are discussing what’s going to happen next - will there be some kind of a hybrid work model or fully remote work? Smarp wants to keep office traditions because gathering together and sharing energy and warmth with each other is a huge thing, but we will probably implement some kind of hybrid work model because that’s what a lot of companies are doing now and we also see the benefits of remote work.

It’s been a pleasure to help Smarp find great talent for their Helsinki team over the last few years.

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