How to get a job in a product IT company – the PeopleForce IT recruiter

Polina Ozernyuk, an IT recruiter at PeopleForce, told LC Work about the benefits of an IT company for job seekers, the recruitment process, sources of finding narrow-profile specialists, the reasons for rejecting candidates, and the principles of interviewing LC Work journalists.

How to get a job in a product IT company – the PeopleForce IT recruiter

Valentyn Ihnatiev

29.12.2022 | 02:23

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In which countries does the PeopleForce have offices or divisions?

Our main office is located in Kyiv, and it is the only one we have. We also have a Polish venture fund, their office is in Poland. But I will not say that this is our office, but rather a division where the directors, executives, and co-founders of our company can come and hold conferences when they are in Poland.

So, you recruit people only for your Kyiv office?

Not really, because we have a full remote now and we recruit absolutely everybody, even sometimes from America, India, Europe, of course, but mostly Ukrainians. It can be completely different people, of any nationality. Excluding Russian citizens.

In any case, we have an international team as we have people working from other countries, especially in our difficult times, sometimes part-time as well. Nevertheless, they are our full-time employees. And if there had been no war, they would most likely have come to our Kyiv office, at least for team building and corporate events.

What advantages does your company offer for job seekers in foreign markets?

First, our management. Our company is really looking for an opportunity to present itself in European markets, in some ways it even teaches Europe to be more organized, somewhere even operational (that is, meeting deadlines, self-control, and self-organization). Also, motivation: monetary and career. We have a well-organized hierarchy and decent wages. Of course, it depends on the responsibilities and position, as well as the candidate’s experience.

Secondly, if we talk about functionality, we have everything clearly organized. We are a food company, and Europe is very interested in this. I am talking about both applicants and partners now. Anyway, in this regard, PeopleForce is a leader in its field today, and I'm not afraid to say it. Comparing us with our competitors, applicants see that our product is not only successful but also useful, because they start using it themselves and say: “Wow! What did you create!”.

Thirdly, a person develops and works with the Ukrainian team, which is also very interesting for everyone now. No matter how it sounds, the war will bring a new era to our country. All people will see that we are a developed country because most Europeans believe that Ukraine is something very ancient, while this is absolutely not the case. In many ways, we are smarter and more organized, and in some ways, we are even 10 steps ahead of Europe, as everyone could already notice.

Of course, applicants are interested in working with us. Plus, they get paid sometimes even higher than in Europe. For example, I live in Croatia where the average salary is €1.000 – 1.500. And people can immediately receive $7.000 here if we are talking about some IT positions. We all understand the difference.

Does the recruitment process for PeopleForce differ in Ukraine and abroad?

We just can’t talk about the office right now because today it’s not relevant. Naturally, we will not invite people, especially foreigners, to the Kyiv office, as this may carry potential risks.

We have a fully remote and very flexible schedule, which, for example, will also be more comfortable in terms of cooperation for Poles or Germans.

If we talk about the selection of personnel, then nothing has changed. That is, I process business correspondence in English and get candidates interested in our reputation, product, fascinating functionality, good salary, and prospects. This is also important not only for Europeans but also for applicants from any countries which whom we cooperate with.

What sources do you use to find candidates for the open vacancies?

Naturally, LinkedIn is a must-have. With LinkedIn, I work specifically on management: customer success, and customer support. I find Ukrainians who know more than one language here.

In addition to LinkedIn, there is also Upwork. I use Upwork to find some niche jobs. For example, we currently have an open position for a HubSpot implementation consultant. On LinkedIn, it's quite difficult to find a position with the relevant experience that we need so I use Upwork.

There is also Djinni. I can just applaud it, they are now so developed and so helpful in recruiting. I really recommend everyone use this platform.

I can mention DOU too. They can help estimate salaries and much more. But I can't say that I'm actively working with DOU at PeopleForce. More likely no than yes. It's just not necessary - LinkedIn, Djinni, and Upwork are enough for me.

What is the specificity of recruiting specialists in the technological field in which PeopleForce operates?

The first is, of course, English. Based on this, we immediately reduce the number of applicants. Every person who works for us must know English since the founder of the company is a foreigner. Naturally, all communication with him, with management, and with partners will be in English. Accordingly, all chats and work programs are also in English.

Secondly, we work based on the SaaS model. That is, it is desirable that people understand not only the IT industry, outsourcing, and outstaff companies but also product companies. It is important that they have some relevant experience.

Third, we have a well-organized hierarchy. Therefore, the guys who, for example, worked in companies with horizontal management should understand this and adapt to this system. That is, we all communicate informally and we have a cool community. But we also have subordination, and a person must understand that they can grow here to a director, to a team leader, to a department manager. This is a different degree of responsibility and completely different “feats” on the way to these achievements. Therefore, after all, I look for candidates, of course, with English language skills and relevant experience, preferably in a product company. This is really important.

What stages do candidates go through in the selection process for a job in your company?

Naturally, it all depends on the position. In any case, we are not limited to just one stage of an interview with me since, as I said, we have a clearly built hierarchy.

The first step is an interview with me. Next, I do a thesis review for each candidate.

There are vacancies that imply the completion of a test task right after the interview with me, there are vacancies that do not imply this but include three more stages of communication with management:

  • with the director of the department;
  • with the director of the company;
  • with the founder of the company.

Sometimes there are four stages, that is, a final call is allowed regarding plans for the next, for example, six months, in order to understand whether a person will pull off this section of work or not.

Test tasks, of course, are different every time because we develop them individually for each position.

Everyone is individual, but in general, we have at least two stages of interviews in our company.

Which stage has the highest rejection rate?

Usually, it’s the first one. The director looks at my feedback and resumes to compare them. Checks if it is relevant or not, interesting or not. It also happens that a person doesn’t have relevant experience, but they answered all the questions in an interview with me and can pull off the desired area of work.

What follows is, of course, a test task. Sometimes it happens that I send a test task right away so that a person shows themselves, and after that, there is no point in further conversation. The test is failed - that's all.

What can push a recruiter away at the stage of studying a candidate's resume?

To be honest, I don’t know how other HRs work, but I don’t really believe everything written on a resume. Because I myself know how to write excellent resumes.

Therefore, I do not proofread every word but look at the basics. For example, we are considering a front-end developer, and I need to look at technologies, certain frameworks, and programming languages. Next, we look at relevant experience, how much commercial experience the candidate has in general and whether they are suitable for this position. For example, I need six months. He hasn't had half a year - he doesn't fit anymore.

Without a doubt, a resume is important. Even the way it's designed. I don’t like resumes that are as empty as possible, too concise, where nothing is clear and everything is written in abrupt words.

But I'm used to paying attention to candidates and having at least a brief chat to ask them questions. Even if the resume is in doubt and chances are 50/50 that a person fits, I prefer to chat, rather than immediately say: “No, you are not suitable for us.” It can be 7-10 minutes, and it is already clear whether a person is suitable or not. But the candidate is pleased, and I am pleased. Moreover, candidates can develop, and in six months or a year, they can return to the same HR that they remember - and a repeated dialogue can become successful for both parties).

What are the most common mistakes applicants make when interviewing you?

I don't think there is a "right" interview. It just doesn't happen. A person is just talking about their experience. Naturally, experience may or may not fit. But this is not about mistakes.

The only thing that matters to me is the human factor. For example, developers, especially backend developers, often have high self-esteem and are often arrogant. I will never hire such people no matter how professional they are. Such a person will storm the atmosphere in the company, this is not a team player.

It is also important that a person be confident. Confident in what they say, in their experience, and in some of their soft and hard skills.

And I don't like it when they lie. I use this technique: I can ask the same question again after a while but with different wording. If a person begins to get lost - they said one thing at first, forgot it after a while, then said something else - this is already not good.

There is also a moment when a person changes jobs often. For example, I had such a period when I changed three jobs during COVID, and it also looked a little strange on my resume. But this is not my fault - since we were really laid off, there was a difficult situation, and I was constantly looking for a job. Therefore, this will never embarrass me because a person can jump from place to place but stay in your company for five years. So, I do not work according to these templates, everything is very individual. During a conversation, it can only push away if a person says, for example, that they left their job because they got bored. But on the other hand, it is an honest answer.

Which candidate will definitely fail the first PeopleForce interview?

First, these are non-team players who begin to get lost in the dialogue and make things up on the fly.

Also, these are people who do not have enough skills. For example, we have had such a situation many times when a person indicates that they have a B2 level in English. We start checking their level, and they have A1. I don’t understand why you would lie in such a case, it’s better to say it as it is and save your time.

Does it happen that you hire a candidate even if they lack hard skills?

Of course. A person can be taught everything but humanity cannot be taught. This is always possible if a person is pleasant, ambitious, and they are ready to work. And it should be clear that they are trying and they were creative both in the test and the interview, they want to get to us and worry, trying to prove themselves. But at the same time, they must have a foundation.

If we see that a person can be taught and trained, we see that they will be useful - of course, we hire them. Naturally, for a different salary, but we give this chance.

What advice can you give to candidates who want to get a job at PeopleForce?

I think it's important to know our product because it's not that hard to learn. We are already leaders in Ukraine, we are already loved by many IT and other companies in Ukraine.

You need to know English, this is a must, and you need to have the desire to grow in a product company. It is desirable to understand who we are, what the HRM platform means, and why it is needed, to understand the usefulness of our product.

Of course, the most important thing is the desire and, I repeat, the human factor. Ambition, interest, and just a desire to learn and work.

At the same time, I’ll say right away that we have a rather serious selection in terms of hard skills. Because there are very difficult positions, for example, customer success manager or HubSpot consultant and product manager, in which a person must be experienced in any case. Unlike customer support, for instance, where you do not need to verbally communicate with customers, business correspondence in English is enough. Therefore, even if a person has the experience of a sales manager, they know how to conduct business correspondence, communicate, solve complex problems, and their English is great - we, of course, will consider them.

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