Last week, the column written by Zero to One Search CEO Marat Yakupov was published in the Russian prominent business media Rusbase. Marat shed light on some features of the profession of IT recruiter, told about nuances of starting a recruitment agency in Germany and secrets of managing a remote team. Now we’d like to share the most interesting highlights from the article with our English-speaking audience.
IT Recruiter=IT Expert?
An age-old question for every entrepreneur is whether you should be an expert in the field of your business, or your management and leadership skills make up the success of the team. Marat’s experience proves that there is no the only right answer to this question, especially in the tech industry. On the one hand, knowledge of tech stack always accelerates the process of selecting the right candidate, but at the same time, soft skills also matter especially when it comes to business development. So, should an IT recruiter be an IT expert? Below is what Marat says about it:
“Another issue I faced while launching the agency is the issue of personal tech expertise. When I first started doing IT-recruiting, I had enough knowledge neither in recruitment, nor in HR, nor in technology.
Your energy and soft skills are crucially important in IT recruitment, but your expertise also plays a big role, because companies often need ‘plug and play’ specialists, that is, strong niche professionals who will quickly succeed in their narrow specialization. To find them, you need to be comfortable with technologies.
The expertise came to me along with experience. My advice is to always request feedback from a client. Once a project is finished, I talk to clients and ask why they hired that particular candidate from the pool, and why others were not a fit. I learn insights and share them with the team to improve our performance.”
Things to know about doing business in Germany
Germany is always considered as the place of opportunities for entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts. The leading economy in the European Union with the booming IT sector and high-skilled workforce provides plenty of chances to succeed. According to Marat, the German business environment provides enough chances to create own success story:
“It is quite easy to set up a business in Germany. The most important thing is to register with the tax service. Here are the three main advantages of doing business in this country:
- Trust. I have never faced the situation when a client refused to pay after we finished a project. In Germany, I have confidence in both my business partners and the authorities.
- Efficiency. Everything works by mail or by call — you don’t have to go to administrative institutions and wait for a long time. Processes are very transparent.
- Attitude. There are many organizations in Germany, including at the local level, providing consultations to entrepreneurs. Even if you are an immigrant, you can always find support and can count on advice.”
As for the cons of doing business in Germany, Marat notes a high competition on the market, which is explained by easy access to the market and high demand for IT specialists:
“When it comes to disadvantages, competition here is really high. The market is saturated enough, and this creates active competition, especially among small companies. In addition, the Germans are still adherents of bureaucratic procedures, so sometimes you have to deal with more paperwork than expected.
If you already have professional contacts or a customer base, it will be much easier to start a business. At the same time, here you can always go for a direct contact option — you can write to a potential client directly via LinkedIn. With a high probability, you will get an answer and dialogue will start, and then everything depends on you.”
Management at a distance
Marat’s business strategy takes into account the fact that all employees of Zero to One Search work remotely. According to him, the concept of remote working has many advantages, but when some specific problems appear, a company’s head should have reliable tools to overcome them. One of such tools is an established mechanism of communication within a team.
“When a team works remotely, the main communication tool is video calls and messengers. Sometimes there are difficulties because you need to find a convenient time option for a call, given that employees are in different time zones. This is why we regularly hold remote team building sessions, have introduced the practice of virtual coffee breaks, organize weekly team calls and share each one’s results with the team.”
For the owner of a startup, it’s also important to get engaged in all operations starting from day 1, Marat says. This will strengthen communication between the CEO and a team and make clear the need for some changes and improvements once it appears:
“Previously, we had a person in the company who was engaged in operational processes, including motivation and control of employees. After a while, I understood that this is not enough.
I started getting more involved in operations and at this point, I realized that I lack managerial experience. I had to completely immerse myself in the company’s daily activities and deal with the smallest details.
The need for changes and issues with the strategy became clearer. As a result, I launched an internal reorganization in the company, made the feedback cycle shorter, and started to pay more attention to the on-boarding process. About three months have passed since these adjustments, and I already see that activity and speed have increased.”
In conclusion, Marat shared with Rusbase some expectations and plans for the future, revealing strategic prospects of the company and intentions to expand the geography of Zero to One Search activities:
“Today, we are steadily growing and developing. The team is getting bigger, the geography of clients is expanding, and the internal structure is becoming more complex. We want to build a strong reputation. We are actively working towards building and strengthening the brand. And then we eye to expand further. We have recently started working with clients in Portugal and Russia. We are also thinking about trying other HR-related businesses within the company,” Marat concluded.
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