How Atlassian is Out-Caring Competitors With Its Unique Candidate Experience

December 6, 2016

Willie Nelson tour tickets. That was Atlassian’s Head of Global Recruiting, Kristen Clemmer’s key to recently landing the perfect candidate.

“The salary I could offer her was less than she was currently making,” said Clemmer during a presentation at Talent Connect. “So I knew I had to get creative if I wanted to close the deal.”

Now, you might be surprised that concert tickets did the trick. But actually, it was a very strategic move. While talking to the candidate, Clemmer had learned that she was passionate about music and a Willy Nelson concert was high on her and her husband’s bucket list. So after making the offer, Clemmer told her that the job comes with 2 VIP tickets to an upcoming concert at $525 for both.

The candidate said yes. And, it wasn’t just about the tickets -- after all, they don’t add up to a some of the huge signing bonuses some companies offer. It was the effort the recruiter and the company made and time they took to understand what motivated the candidate that made Atlassian stand out - they made it clear that they really cared and that made the candidate decide to accept the job.

In other words, candidate experience is important and it can be the deciding factor for a potential hire looking to join your company. And for Atlassian – a fast growing, Australian-based company, creating a high touch candidate experience for every single candidate (both near and far) has been key to their success.

But, Atlassian’s candidate experience wasn’t always top notch

Founded in 2002, Atlassian is an enterprise software company that develops products for software developers, project managers, and content management. While its headquarters are in Sydney, Australia, the company is growing fast with over 1,800 employees and six locations. And, a large number of employees were added in 2016 alone.

With this hyper growth has come the challenge of vying for top technical talent in an extremely competitive environment. “As recruiters, it’s our job to tell our story to candidates about what makes the employee experience unique with us,” said Caitriona Staunton, Atlassian’s Head of Recruiting in APAC who presented alongside Clemmer, “and, we didn’t always get that right.”

When, Clemmer and Staunton joined in 2014, the recruiting process was “a bit of a mess” say Staunton, with recruiters getting 1000+ applications per week and dealing with frustrated hiring managers. And as a result, the candidate experience was suffering, with feedback from candidates like: “I got declined, with no explanation why” and “the interviewers had no idea what they were interviewing for…”

If Atlassian wanted the best talent in the long run, they would have to turn the candidate experience around. The question was, what changes could they make that would have the biggest impact on experience? After doing some brainstorming, they determined they would have to do the following three things to “out-care” the competition:

1. Provide a high touch experience for applicants near and far

“As recruiters, we are supposed to really care and get as close to the applicant as we possibly can,” said Clemmer. “But when candidates are spread out across the globe, that can be tough.” 

So, Atlassian came up with some unique ways to make the experience intimate for candidates everywhere:

Videos providing transparency into life at Atlassian

Over the past two years, Atlassian has built out a library of videos based on questions they were receiving from candidates – for example, “What is it like to work there?” and “What’s it like on XYZ team?” Here’s one of their videos featuring Atlassian’s mobile team:

“This allows us to have one-to-one conversations with every person about every idea they are interested in,” said Clemmer. And, she’s often gotten feedback from candidates that it was these videos that really made things come to life for them.

Next up: A virtual office tour

“When people come to our office for in-person interviews, we give them a tour and introduce them to the right people. But when we are interviewing people in different places, this isn’t possible,” said Clemmer. So to combat this, Atlassian created an interactive video tour of the offices.

The idea is that this lets candidates sitting at home see what it’s like to work at Atlassian – how teams are organized, what desks and social areas look like. And the interactive component allows candidates to choose content that is relevant to them to make the experience more personal.

“By creating this, we can give the experience to candidates anywhere at any time of day,” said Clemmer.

2. Think beyond the candidate and recruit their loved ones too

When you’re thinking high touch, it’s easy to just focus on the candidate you are trying to recruit. But the truth is that there are usually more people involved in the decision process.

“We strive to go beyond the individual as early in the recruiting process as possible because it’s rare that a big life event like changing jobs will only affect one person,” said Staunton. “After all, one of the most gut wrenching moments for recruiters is finding the perfect candidate, convincing them to want the job, and then finding out their spouse or family isn’t on board.”

So, to make sure their loved ones are supportive of the candidate take the new role, Atlassian does the following:

Sends a video featuring people who moved for a job at Atlassian

For the candidates who will have to move in order to work at Atlassian, it’s important to give both them and their families as much information as possible about the move (which can seem daunting).  

To reassure them, Atlassian sends a video that follows current employees from different parts of the world on their journey to move to work at Atlassian. Each person has different challenges they will have to face – like learning a new language, finding a school for their kids, etc. – and the video shows how they worked through these challenges. They also added subtitles for languages spoken by candidates’ families. Here's their video for new hires moving to Syndey:

Within the first few months of launching, this video was seen by over 20,000 candidates and their loved ones.

Sends a welcome package with goodies for everyone

Within 48 hours of a candidate receiving a verbal offer, Atlassian sends a welcome package to their doorstep. The package includes a letter from the company Founders, engaging the candidates loved ones and asking them to seriously consider supporting the move to Atlassian. In addition, they receive a letter from the founders scott and Mike and/or a proem from the company President about what it’s like to be an employee at Atlassian.

They also get some exciting treats for the whole family, including a trip voucher to “take a break on Atlassian” and go on a small trip so the new hire can start fresh. The package also includes treats for kids when relevant, including temporary tattoos, building puzzles, and Tim Tams (a very popular Australian cookie).

Recruiters have the option of personalizing the package if they feel there is something that the candidate would really love. Here are some photos tweeted by new hires upon getting the box.

“That’s viral marketing that money can’t buy,” said Staunton. And while the gift box including the precaution is $500, “it’s worth it for the huge first impression that it makes on candidates and their family and getting them to say yes,” she said.

3. Embed company values in the candidate experience

When it comes to recruiting, “values and culture are the only things you can really use to differentiate yourself,” says Clemmer. “So, we knew we needed to embed them everywhere.” And, that includes the onboarding experience.

One of Atlassian’s core values is “play as a team” and they wanted that to be apparent when the candidate becomes a new hire. And, for candidates moving from far away to the Sydney headquarters (or another office), that meant helping them with the relocation process in order to make them feel welcome.

So, instead of simply giving candidates money to help them move and letting them figure out the rest (which they had done in the past), Atlassian implemented a personalized relocation process that includes the following steps:

  • A welcome note (and more) – A few weeks before the hire starts, the manager sends a welcome note with a voucher to take friends out and say good-bye to the city they are leaving. They also include an iTunes or Amazon gift card so they can download movies and music to make the flight or drive more enjoyable. And lastly, they introduce them to their “relocation concierge” – a person who will help them book flights, check out neighborhoods and schools, and everything else they’ll need to do.
  • Pickup in new city – When the hire arrives in their new city, the relocation concierge is there to pick them up and even has snacks in the car catered toward the their interests. They will also help hires do any errands (like getting immigration pictures, etc.) after they are settled in.
  • Another welcome package – A second welcome package is waiting at the temporary housing where the hire will stay until they find their own place. This package is personalized and includes things like wine, toys for the kids (if they have any), bath salts, and more. They also include a photo book and encourage the new hire to take photos during the first 30 days.
  • A welcome video from the Founders  Atlassian’s Founders are deeply integrated in recruiting process in order to make sure every single hire feels valued. So Atlassian sends new hires a welcome video from the Founders that talks about the company culture and the type of people they want to work at Atlassian.
  • First meal delivery and stocked fridge – Along with the package, Atlassian also has the candidate's first meal delivered to them and stocks the fridge with basics to relieve them of stress while they are unpacking and getting settled

Yes, this might seem like a lot. And, Clemmer admits relocation is expensive. But “We feel like historically this is where companies drop a lot of cash,” she says. “If something is going to be expensive anyway, then spend the time make it really personalized. Make it worth the money,” she continued. That’s what will really make you stand out.

Final thoughts

Whether you are recruiting candidates in the same city as your company or across the world, it’s essential to think about what information they will need to help make their decision and what their biggest challenges will be once they’ve accepted the job offer.

As more and more companies realize the importance of candidate experience and start really investing in it, the real challenge becomes making yours stand out. And Atlassian did this by putting themselves in the candidate's shoes and understanding their needs and concerns.

Often, if a candidate feels cared for and like they are joining a company that will truly value them as an employee, that will trump the difficulties of a big move or any other challenges. And that will get you the best and most motivated candidates out there.

You can watch the full Talent Connect presentation from Atlassian below and check out Talent Connect All Access for more of the most popluar talks from this year's conference. 

*Image from Atlassian

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