Hiring 32 professionals.......an update on the Atlassian32 recruitment campaign

In August 2009 I blogged about the innovative recruitment campaign of Australian software company, Atlassian. This campaign invited open slather recruitment agency participation ... with a catch. The Atlassian32 campaign was launched with the purpose of hiring 32 software engineers for their Sydney head office.

After I posted the article on my personal blog 39 people commented on the article, easily the most number of comments any of my blog posts has received. To say there were contrasting points of view would be an understatement.

It's now 6 months down the track so I thought it worthwhile to re-visit the Atlassian32 campaign to see how they are doing. Here's a summary of the results so far:

2,500 applications from 55 countries - an increase of over 350% in the number of applicants usually received (per vacancy)

24 engineers hired - at an average of 1 hire per week (including Christmas and New Year) with 3 offers about to be made

40% of hires have been from outside Australia - new employees are joining Atlassian from USA, Germany, Portugal, Poland, UK and New Zealand

halved recruitment costs (per hire) because referrals from staff and external people almost tripled with the Refer-a-Mate program that offers a $2,000 cash bonus

Only 1 new hire (4%) was from a recruitment agency - previously 27% of hires came from recruiters. Yet for the Atlassian32 campaign 54 recruitment companies signed up to the Bounty Hunter Terms and Conditions

Based on these results, while acknowledging that the campaign is not yet complete, I would conclude that the campaign has been an overwhelming success for Atlassian. This is bad news for recruitment agencies in more ways than one.

Most significantly (and depressingly), the seeds of the Atlassian32 campaign were sown by an own goal. Specifically the goose that was laying the golden egg was killed through the actions of agencies, working on Atlassian jobs in times past, repeatedly misrepresenting, predominantly through job ads, the salaries on offer at Atlassian.

This behavior had a direct impact in three ways:

i. The candidates had (falsely) raised expectations with respect to remuneration

ii. When Atlassian employees found out about the salary figures being tossed about in the market place they were, understandably, very unhappy as these quoted salaries were not being paid to existing employees.

iii. The founders of Atlassian had to undertake direct personal intervention to quell the internal rumblings and set the record straight about remuneration for new recruits

As a result of this chain of events the recruitment agency sector, indirectly, has helped create a template for Atlassian who were seeking a break-through in how they hire high quality people quickly.

My summary of the Atlassian Hire-Lots-of-Great-People-Fast template is as follows:

1. Create a specific campaign - Atlassian32 was created with the specific goal of ensuring every software engineer in Australia knew of the job opportunities available at Atlassian

2. Use video - Atlassian uses short, interesting videos to provide both job information and an understanding of the company's values and culture

3. Use social media to go viral - Atlassian uses Twitter, blogs and other social media to spread the word online which spilled over into the national print media generating approximately $60,000 worth of coverage

4. Create a campaign that has a compelling and different WIIFM for all - New hires are eligible for a "holiday before you start" (up to $1000), any person who refers a friend to Atlassian who is subsequently hired can claim a "Refer-a-Mate" bonus of $2000 (23% of candidates for Atlassian32 came from Refer-a-Mate), people hired from overseas are given a "Welcome to Sydney" bonus of both Bridge Climb and Café Sydney vouchers and any recruitment agency willing to sign up to the Bounty Hunter Rules was eligible to refer up to 4 candidates over a 5 month period.

5. Throw open your doors, be generous and be transparent - On 29 October 2009 Atlassian co-founders Mike Cannon-Brookes and Scott Farquhar hosted around 300 people at an Open House at their head office in Sydney, which I attended. Free drinks (disclosure: I had ... umm ... 3 beers) and food (disclosure: I ate 4 kebabs and, err... lots of sushi), tours of the premises, a witty and informative talk and slideshow by Cannon-Brookes and free t-shirts (disclosure: size S was a good fit) were all part of building word-of-mouth momentum for the campaign.

When I spoke to Joris Luijke, Atlassian's Head of Talent, last week he said ‘the results of the Atlassian32 campaign have exceeded our expectations. We have been able to hire a large number of high quality engineers much faster and at a far lower cost than in the past'.

I asked Luijke what other organisations could learn from the success of the Atlassian32 campaign he said ‘don't look to HR for creativity and innovation in recruitment. We looked at, and took the best from, the world of marketing and communication and then adapted it to suit our particular culture and recruitment needs'.

Atlassian have certainly shaken up the recruitment world with their Atlassian32 campaign and I suspect they are not done yet, not by a long shot. Given Atlassian's history of success in shaking up the software market, I predict that this story has more chapters yet to be written.

What can you learn from the Atlassian32 campaign?

Note: In part 3 of this series (to be published in May or June) I will be taking an in-depth look at the performance of the 54 recruitment agencies who signed up to the Atlassian Bounty Hunter Rules as well as reporting on the experiences that recruitment agencies had in working on the Atlassian32 campaign.

Views: 184

Tags: Atlassian, business, clients, development, fees, of, terms

Comment by Barbara Goldman on February 25, 2010 at 7:35pm
I think that I learned that you don't like recruiters.

Do you have stock in bounty? It will be a cold day you know where when we use bounty. I have customers. I don't need to find jobs through bounty. My fees are real to cover costs. No way will we give bounty a large percentage. If a company wants to work exclusively with bounty, go for it. But, established firms, and recruiters with clients don't need the hassle.

I don't know what kind of recruiting firms you worked with, but, the recruiters I know are hard working, honest, dedicated, and indespensible to their clients.

Too bad you aren't in the US, I'd take those people from you just for fun :) I would keep you very busy staffing and hiring engineers, you are very good at it.

Now the bad news for you. (you relish bad news for recruiters) This is a site where recruiters bond, and help eachother. We like each other. And, we like corporate recruiters too. We are trying to learn to work together, not gloat.

My guess is that you used bargain basement recruiting firms, people who were desperate for accounts, and you got what you deserved. BRAVO for your excellent ideas. I applaud you, at least you did something creative.

The good news for recruiters is that we have companies like yours to pull from. YUM YUM
Comment by Ross Clennett on February 25, 2010 at 7:59pm
Err, I may be misinterpreting your comments, Babara, as being directed at me but am not an Atlassian employee nor am I any form of Atlassian client or vendor. I am a recruitment blogger, trainer and coach for the recruitment industry in Australia and am soley reporting the outcomes for Atlassian to date and providing some commentary. I am reserving my judgment about their Bounty Hunter strategy until the end of the campaign, when I have spoken to both Atlassian and the recruitment firms who chose to operate under their Bounty Hunter Rules.

I hope that clarifies things.
Comment by Barbara Goldman on February 25, 2010 at 8:03pm
I am so sorry. I just noticed that you are a recruiting trainer.

So am I.

I have traveled extensively and trained recruiters for major corporations. I have also trained third party recruites, and own a recruiting firm.

What you taught your client to do is good and creative. But, why Bounty? Why would you do that to aclient? Why would a recruiting firm want to give 25% of the fee to Bounty? What is the point?

I signed up with them about a year ago. Submitting resumes, waiting for answers, all the rules, etc. are disturbing and to me, disrespectful to our industry.

We are worth what we charge. It is expensive to recruit. Overhead is enormous. And, for some reason you think it's nifty for us to give up commissions.

I refuse to work with Bounty. I will work with any good recruiting firm with splits. If someone needs jobs to work, I have them.

You mentioned that the recruiting firms on bounty were allowed to submit a certain amount of resumes. You don't understand recruiting. It is not about resumes. Most of the people I place haven't updated a CV in years, and there is no way I'm papering the world with someone's resume, I consider a resume to be a private document. Submitting a resume is worthless.

Oh well, your blog wouldn't convince me to hire you to train anyone. If I were you, I wouldn't use the name of the corporations you are working with. This didn't help them at all. I was all set to take your people, and excited about it, but you are the recruiter/trainer.

You might want to train companies how to work properly with recruiters. We don't just place engineers. We place people like CFOs and CEOs, VPs of marketing and sales. These people bring value to the company. There are a lot of places that recruiters aren't needed. Like when hiring international unemployed engineers. Lots of people looking for work. But, that's not where we step in. I won't touch a job order unless the company needs me.

Again, do you have stock in Bounty? I'm surprised at all of this.
Comment by Paul Alfred on February 25, 2010 at 8:07pm
@Barbara I understand how you feel ... But if we don't stay on top of how companies cut costs or increase their ROI, we lose out on how we can improve our service offerings to the market place. In the end we have to always focus on providing full value to our clients.
Comment by Ross Clennett on February 25, 2010 at 8:38pm
To repeat, Atlassian are not a client of mine, never have been and I had nothing to do with how they chose to recruit for these 32 roles. The first I had ever heard of Atlassian was when they launched their Atlassian32 campaign. I attended the Atlassian Open House and drank their beer, ate their food and accepted a free t-shirt. That's it.

Bounty Hunter rules is the name that Atlassian gave to their way of dealing with third party recruitment firms. It has nothing whatsoever to do with BountyJobs.com which I think you are confusing it with.

If you read my original post on the Atlassian campaign you will understand more easily the context of my current post. You can read it at http://www.recruitingblogs.com/profiles/blogs/hiring-32-professiona...
Comment by Barbara Goldman on February 26, 2010 at 11:39am
Ok, I get it. A different bounty. Ok, they hired 32 people internationally, and did it take 5 months?

Perhaps I was very confused about the situation.

So, I read your original blog.

I have a couple stories for you. These aren't old war stories but recent.

On Monday, a COO from one of our client companies called me. He was delighted. He told me how excited he was that we filled his position within two days. It had been opened for six months. He told me to call someone in HR to get the paperwork done, and the deal was done. My candidate accepted.

Now the fun part. I called her. I left a detailed message that I was working with her COO, we filled the job, and he wanted me to tie this up with her.

She never returned my call. My recruiting manager, who managed the process, tried to call her several times, no answer.

Then, we went back to the COO, told him that she must be very busy, and may we just work it out with him?

He called me back. Told me that his HR person couldn't find the candidate. The candidate had disappeared. He also informed me that the candidate hadn't filled out the on line app, and she was supposed to do that on Monday. I assured him that she 'thought' she did it, but gosh, with the internet and blah blah blah she'd do it again.

Instead of doing it again, she faxed her resume, and the receipt that she received when she applied on line.

AHHHHH. Found her.

Then, we finally reached HR, and she was nasty with us. We needed some contractual information, and she spit into the phone (or ate it or something).

It is now Friday. The deal still isn't wrapped up. The CEO, COO, and Director of the department have been involved, they are wonderful. We can't seem to get HR to get moving. All we needed was some info from her to finish it.

The COO just informed us that we'll wrap this up today.

Now another story:

I placed a VP of Operations and a Director of Sales and Marketing in a corporation. The hires were excellent, everyone was happy.

Then, HR found out that we had worked behind their backs. Well, their internal recruiting wasn't working, and we came through. I thought we did a great job. HR pitched a fit.

The VP asked us to never contact them, and to work directly with him and the other execs. Was better not to upset the apple cart.

These are recent incidents. Every recruiter that I know has a similar story.

Now, let's start letting HR control the recruiting process, using their methods, and following their rules.

This is what happened:

I was very successful with a major corporation. I placed about one person per month there, in specialized positions.

Then, everything had to go through HR. Guess what? I get one tenth of the hires I used to. Resumes aren't presented to the hiring managers, etc etc etc. Next year, I'm not signing another contract with them. I love the company, have worked with them 7 years. However; I'd at this point rather take their people. So, no contract next year.

Now let's talk about the "rules" of engagement I read.

A four resume limit for recruiters. How does this help anyone?

The agreement starts with the assumption that all recruiters are bad. It tells us how to do our jobs. It is their contract. Why use recruiters at all?

This is MY service. I decide what contract will be signed, and the contract is not going to tell me how to recruit, or give me restrictions. Can't talk to anyone at the company? I'm still trying to figure that one out. Again, disrespect and ignorance of our value to the company.

If I went to the hospital for a gall bladder removal, I wouldn't make the hospital sign my "gall bladder removal contract". They would roll on the floor laughing. I sign theirs, it is their service.

So, looking at this hiring situation, I'm not impressed. I could care less. This company doesn't need recruiters. If a company doesn't need recruiters, it is referred to in our industry as a source company.

Things have changed because more recruiters went on their own, and flooded the market. Desperate for work, they take anything. It bastardizes our industry.

I know nothing about Australia, but aren't there engineers there? What was the cost of relocating all these people?

I am an old fashioned head hunter. I step in when my clients have tried it on their own. If they insist on telling me how to do it, I go elsewhere.

So, there you have it. HR trying to control recruiting, and not understanding our business at all. On the flip side, I know nothing about their unions, benefits, etc. I wouldn't assume to tell them what to do.

Have a happy day recruiting everyone!



HMMMMMMM.
Comment by Ross Clennett on February 26, 2010 at 4:13pm
Barbara - I agree that HR are often the problem and actually prevent, or substantially get in the way of, an organization hiring excellent people.

In the 3rd part of my series on Atlassian I will provide a detailed analysis and commentary on the way the Bounter Rules worked, or didn't work, for both Atlassian the 55 recruiters who agreed to these Rules and subsequently submitted candidate resumes for consideration during the Atlassian32 campaign.

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