Recruiting tips for the scaleup phase – Shippeo’s 4 key steps to hiring well during fast growth

Shippeo is one of the fastest-growing scaleups in the logistics industry. In 2020, they doubled their workforce and hired new people each week. We caught up with their Founder and CEO, Pierre Khoury, and their Head of Talent, Agnieszka Goulin, to learn more about their strategy for hiring, maintaining high candidate quality, and keeping diversity and inclusion (D&I) intact throughout this staggering growth.

Today, Shippeo employs around 200 people. They welcome newcomers every Monday and have hired around 25 newcomers per quarter for more than a year.

“Regardless of which position we hire for, we look for candidates who match our company culture and share our values of team spirit, ambition, simplicity, and commitment. These are the very first things we look for in each candidate,” says Agnieszka Goulin, Head of Talent.

Technology and communications are key when hiring fast

For hiring and onboarding, you need to build a very efficient recruitment process and have a dedicated talent acquisition team that are enabled by the best HR tools out there.

“We’re lucky to access the best recruiting technology, including an efficient applicant tracking system (ATS), which simplifies and automates time-consuming recruiter tasks. Currently, we’re introducing hard and soft skills-testing platforms into our interview process to better assess the match between the candidate and the position. Through this, we can also assess a candidate for things like team fit.”

Shippeo uses SmartRecruiters for their ATS. It automates time-consuming tasks like scheduling interviews, and helps them follow the interview process by managing the relationship between recruiters, candidates, interviewers, and hiring managers. It also contributes to a positive candidate experience throughout the process and provides team performance metrics and analytics. Shippeo has a bonus program for internal referrals, and the system is also used to manage this process.

Shippeo’s interview process includes five rounds: recruiter screening, hiring manager interviews, a challenge (home assignment, business case, technical test, etc., depending on the position), peer interviews, and finally, an interview with one of Shippeo’s co-founders.

“We try to keep it smooth in order to be able to finalize the interview process within a maximum of five weeks. The average time is three weeks. During the pandemic, the entire process was remote via video interviews. Now, we try to make the candidate come to the office at least once so that they can meet the team.”

Although difficult to maintain when recruiting so quickly, candidate quality is not compromised at Shippeo. Agnieszka notes that it is easy to give in under pressure, but Shippeo has taken measures to avoid bad hiring decisions. Among other things, they have decided not to externalize any part of the process to recruitment agencies, as it does not save them time. They want to get to know the candidate throughout the entire process. Compromising on hiring quality can have long-term consequences for the business and potentially become very expensive down the line.

During the past year, Shippeo has had to adapt their hiring and onboarding due to the pandemic, making it a fully remote process for many employees. The adoption of new internal technology for project management has helped tremendously. Employee feedback has been positive, and retention remains high.

Shippeo's CEO, Pierre Khoury, catches up with team members during a coffee break

When scaling up, it’s important to invest in attracting and retaining talent

An important piece of the puzzle is attracting the right talent and ensuring that employer communications are on point. Most of the positions that Shippeo hires for are new, offering individuals the chance to have a visible impact on the company while working on new projects from scratch. As a result, the company is careful not to understate the level of autonomy required in many of the roles.

“We aim to attract people who can work independently, but we also recognize the need to ground and equip teams with some structure and process,” says Pierre Khoury, CEO. “I’m really pleased to hear from new starters that our remote onboarding program is best-in-class, for example. Many parts of the organization are involved in the training, virtual meetings, and initial onboarding. We have invested in a number of tools that really simplify this phase of learning and getting up to speed.”

D&I needs to be maintained during the hiring process, regardless of growth challenges

For Shippeo, understanding unconscious bias has been an effective way to foster diversity and inclusion in the workplace. Training on the topic is organized for all hiring managers, and recruiters are taught how to vary their candidate sources. The gender ratio is also constantly improving. Having a diversity of origins is part of Shippeo’s DNA; they currently have people of 27 nationalities, speaking 29 different languages, across the company.

Shippeo has an office in Rotterdam, one of the largest ports in the world

To summarize, taking these four steps will ensure successful hiring while scaling fast:

  1. Invest in employer branding – Strong employer branding will get you better talent and will enable you to attract talent even when you are not actively hiring. For any scaleup, providing a clear and unique reason why someone should join the organization makes it attractive.
  2. Invest in candidate experience – Ensure that your process is efficient and pleasant. Shippeo has invested a great deal in their candidate experience, in essence treating candidates like customers.
  3. Invest in people - Have an efficient internal recruitment team that is fully dedicated to finding, recruiting, and retaining talent.
  4. Invest in tools - Having the best tools available will enable your team to find talent that would otherwise not have been available. It also helps them to be more efficient.

    Hiring during the COVID pandemic

    The pandemic proved to have a positive impact on recruiting at Shippeo. When many other companies made parts of their workforce redundant and stopped hiring, there was suddenly both a lot of tech talent on the market and a lot less competition for that talent. At the same time, people were searching for safety, preferring permanent employment to freelance. In the French tech sector, throughout the pandemic, recruiters collaborated across companies, which also worked to Shippeo’s advantage.

    Of course, Shippeo had to adapt and implement an entire process for remote onboarding, which was important for retention and satisfaction.

    “I’m thrilled to have received such good ratings in Glassdoor and through our NPS survey. It proves that we were able to successfully pivot to a fully remote system for recruiting and onboarding during COVID,” says Agnieszka Goulin
    Before Covid, meetings were often held in the office kitchen area