Netflix and Fill.


Shannon Anderson shares insights from one of the great sessions at Talent42, the national tech recruiting conference, held in Seattle each June.

One of my favorite talks at Talent42 was this dynamic recruiting machine duo at Netflix. Laura Pruitt is a Content Delivery Analytics Manager (a Hiring Manager) and Sydney Busch is an Engineering Recruiter. Together they hunt for great content analytics talent for Laura’s DEA team. Ya, right, together? I’ll believe it when I see it!

Netflix is a culture of freedom and responsibility. There seems to be a certain lack of structure that inspires creativity and innovation (and I suspect a bit of chaos, but just enough).

The key themes:

  • Partnership
  • Creativity
  • Momentum

The New Normal: Partnership

At Netflix, Hiring Managers are literally accountable for filling their own jobs. Literally. And recruiters are held accountable for helping them. Using their car analogy, the hiring manager is driving, the recruiter is navigating. WHAT? Usually it’s the other way around. Why? It’s logical, really: “The hiring manager responsible for her team making impact. If she’s not owner of recruiting then how can she be held accountable for her team’s impact”.

The recruiter leads and hand-crafts a recruiting strategy (navigates). The hiring manager contributes to that strategy. Once they have a plan, they split up execution, with the hiring manager as lead (drives the car). The hiring manager actually does things like…get this…sources and reaches out to candidates on github and stack, and conducts initial phone screens, co-writes marketing copy, etc. The recruiter creates a meetup or a special landing page or twitter handle (not marketing, not PR, but the recruiter herself just whips this stuff up).

In a given week, the hiring manger (in this case Laura) might spend 50% of her time on recruiting activities. 20–30 hours a week. NO WAY! Yup. She views recruiting as PART OF HER job. I have a hiring manager crush on Laura Pruitt.

Now, this is a special relationship and no two hiring managers are alike. Sydney partners with about 18 hiring managers (not all active at once). Each relationship takes a slightly different form, but they are all customized to meet the needs of the particular partnership, situation and role being targeted for hire.

Intentional Creativity

This brings up an interesting point. How the HECK do you SCALE this kind of thing? I mean, Laura and Sydney are working together in a tight partnership and they only have 1 job to fill together. That’s a luxury. I don’t know how to scale their model, but here’s the thing, ya’ll: they don’t need to scale. They don’t optimize for time or cost. They aren’t in the volume business…they’re in the quality business. I’m so in love.

Laura and Sydney unleash their combined creativity to define their roles precisely, and then go to market with a surgical knife, not a shotgun.

First, they use data to guide, not dictate. They use data on the front end. “We don’t use data to define success, we use it to define successful strategies”. Data is also used to iterate, but they have to ask the right question (right?), such as “why are we having more success when the hiring manager reaches out than when the recruiter does”? The answer isn’t always what it seems and could be tied to factors like time of day the candidate got a message, or email vs. phone, or github vs. LinkedIn. Ask the right questions of the data.

Second, they do a ton of micro-branding. They know that branding is a long game AND a short game. For example, Sydney created a twitter handle just for DEA. And a YouTube page, Meetup Page, etc. Without permission or cooperation or dependency on marketing. She just did it. Took 2 minutes and a (all informed by the target candidate profile). The hiring manager wrote a blog describing the problems her team is solving and is crowd-sourcing a solution. That’s a GREAT idea.

Some of the tools in their quiver are in the image below:

  • Sourcing Strategy includes the usual tools and their brilliant “divide and conquer” execution method.
  • Referral Strategy means being intentional and consistent
  • Networking is intentional (notice a theme?) and specific. Guess what? They build pipelines. Yup. That way they are not always starting from scratch.

Momentum and time are your friend

It’s not enough to talk about it.

Just do it and keep doing it.

Hold each other accountable, be transparent, honest, respectful, relentless.

Have goals, iterate, correct, win. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

Make 1 great hire at a time.

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Shannon L Anderson is a Principal Consultant with Recruiting Toolbox. She draws from over 25 years of talent acquisition, executive search and leadership experience, including 14 years as a corporate recruiting practitioner at Microsoft and Ignition. She loves to solve unique talent challenges presented by companies at progressive inflection points.

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