Driven by the three pillars of develop, diversify, and deliver, Criteo's TA team has been able to define clear objectives that allowed recruiters to operate with achievable targets in sight.

In the Asia Recruitment Awards 2020, Singapore virtual awards ceremony that concluded on 24 July, Criteo was awarded a bronze trophy for the In-House Recruitment Team of the Year category.

The team not only successfully integrated organisational excellence, but has also demonstrated innovation and commitment in its robust recruitment procedure. While highlighting that business impact is important, Criteo’s Talent Acquisition Manager for APAC, John Dowling comments on the need to leverage on digital technology as the way forward.

Q What is Criteo's recruitment strategy, and how has it evolved in recent times? How does this agenda fit into the bigger HR priorities?

Criteo is a global technology company with a mission to power the world’s marketers with trusted and impactful advertising. With the arrival of our new CEO Megan Clarken in late 2019, Criteo embarked on a transformation journey to ensure our continued success in the years ahead. As the business moves through this evolution, our talent acquisition (TA) strategy has needed to adapt and flex to these changes, while still maintaining its core principles.

These core principles, or pillars as we describe them, are the 3Ds - develop, diversify and deliver.

To give you a quick overview, ‘develop’ is focused on growing our capabilities as a function – e.g. developing scalable hiring solutions for volume, developing the analytics capability within talent acquisition, as well as long term solutions to identify, engage and nurture our future talent pools.

The objective of ‘diversify’ is to widen our selection of tools and activities to support our efforts in the hiring of diverse talent within Criteo, which a big focus for us. The initiatives here include virtual and physical hiring events, new job boards in specific markets, intern programmes, assessment centres, and diversity hiring initiatives to support a more diverse employee population.

Finally, ‘deliver’ focuses on the results of our talent acquisition activity. This pillar leverages ‘diversify’ and ‘develop’ to ensure smarter and more efficient delivery of hiring targets with maximum productivity. It encompasses optimising recruiter activity with agile resource planning, to proactively developing internal partnerships with our business leaders to better forecast headcount plans.

By utilising this structured approach, we were able to define clear objectives that allowed the APAC Talent Acquisition team to operate with achievable targets in sight, therefore improving motivation, productivity, and drive within the function. This enabled us to supply the top-tier talent Criteo required to achieve its business aims in Asia, overcoming the country-specific challenges we face within the APAC region, as well as competing with major players in the technology talent space.

Q Share with us your winning recruitment strategy. 

The key business drivers behind the strategy centered on the ongoing transformation of our business, product portfolio expansion, tech and operations excellence, and the challenging and the evolving landscape of the ad-tech industry. Our hiring strategy in APAC needed to be able to deliver the results to support the business to effectively deal with these scenarios.

In terms of execution, we operated with a multi-faceted approach that would drive high productivity, whilst still allowing continuous improvement of the capabilities of the function.

Here is a summary of our approach:

  • Smarter, faster – Concentrating on reducing time to fill, closing positions at a speed exceeding the global company average. This was done through strategic talent pooling, utilising sourcing channels more effectively, process improvement, stronger stakeholder management and moving with urgency in everything we do. We achieved a great result in improving our time to fill by 10 days 2018 v 2019 yoy.
  • Diversification of sourcing – The team has constantly been looking at new ways to find the best mix of talent in the market. This has included leveraging professional networks, creating referral incentive drives, diversity initiatives, focusing on interns, and hosting regular recruiting events across Criteo APAC offices.
  • Regional approach, local touch – We cover six key Criteo offices across APAC (Singapore, Tokyo, Seoul, Sydney, Gurgaon and Beijing), so while it is important to keep consistency in the way we hire regionally, it is critical we adapt to local nuances to ensure maximum effectiveness in hiring within specific countries.
  • Candidate experience – We had a big focus on the candidate journey, ensuring that every candidate experience is positive, whether they are successful or not in application. This was achieved through a high touch, feedback-driven approach. The team has managed to secure a fantastic average score of 9.1 (out of 10) in 2019 in our candidate feedback survey.
  • Being present in market – A push on Criteo being present in the ecosystems of the candidates we wanted to hire. This has been done both through online engagement, as well as through hugely successful networking and hiring events. We have executed several meet-up events in our Tokyo office including 'Women in Tech' and 'Nikkei to Gaishikei', as well as the launch of Criteo Talent Connect in September 2019, which was Criteo’s first ever APAC-wide recruiting event held in both Singapore and Tokyo on successive evenings. These activities have benefited not only our talent pools but also have significantly improved our employer branding in the APAC region.
  • Delivery on results – Operating with a razor-like focus on how the team was tracking against targets throughout the year, with an understanding that recruiters were accountable for all roles under their responsibility. The team managed to deliver a 20.79% improvement year-on-year hiring total (2018 v 2019) in APAC, still ensuring that Criteo is hiring the best talent in the ad-tech market.

Q No execution is free from unexpected hurdles. In what shape or form did you experience challenges?

Without a doubt, there were a whole host of challenges along the way!

Firstly, the APAC wide coverage of our team’s scope, stretching from India all the way to Japan, means that there is a daily need to operate at an optimum level across different time zones, different currencies, different employment markets and different languages which brings a host of challenges for us to overcome. Through agile working practices, cross-collaboration and fantastic communication, leveraging the tools and knowledge available to them, the team deals with these obstacles effortlessly, ensuring the best candidates in the market are secured for Criteo.

Also, there is a real fight for talent out here in Asia Pacific. Our team finds itself successful in the race for top talent in a very competitive market space, often up against larger, and more well-known, technology competitors. With their industry know-how, talent matching capabilities and expert knowledge of Criteo, our recruiters can consistently introduce great candidates into our business, usually when the odds are stacked against them.

Finally, the typical vacancies that the team works on are a complex mix of technical, language and geographically driven requirements, meaning that the candidates are often rare in the market. Our team successfully utilises creative direct sourcing techniques to find these hidden gems, which keeps our reliance on agency usage at an extremely low level.

These challenges are what makes it all fun though, right?!

Q On to the most important part – results! How did you measure the ROI or milestones of this initiative, and what are you most proud of?

We had our own internal measures in place that kept us on track from a performance perspective, that operated alongside a roadmap of the various initiatives that were taking place. As well as exceeding the annual hiring targets, we have a big focus on continuous improvement at Criteo, so it was very important to analyse the year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter comparisons, which we were able to do thanks to detailed and transparent performance data that we shared with the team.

Despite challenging industry headwinds and talent market conditions in 2019, the Criteo APAC TA team had a fantastic year in terms of performance and went on to secure several outstanding achievements. The highlights for me were:

  • Number of hires in APAC (20.79% growth yoy)
  • Time to fill - reduction of 10 days (reduction of 14.92% yoy)
  • Candidate experience - secured an average evaluation rating of 9.1 from external applicants
  • Agency usage - 2%

These are the four metrics that the team put so much effort into, so it was fantastic for them to see these great results at the end of the year and the positive impact that they had on the overall business.

Q What is the extent to which Criteo has invested in the recruitment process? What forms of technology have you adopted?

As a technology company, we have embraced the digital offerings available to us to enhance our hiring process. As an example, we have recently invested in a new talent CRM system which leverages AI to give us fantastic capability to connect, nurture and engage with global talent pools, and provides us with ready-made pipelines of candidates for our future job openings.

On top of this CRM, we have recently launched our new jobs portal which gives our candidates a far slicker, smarter and intuitive job search experience. The site has given a new level of personalisation to candidates, making job opportunities more easily discoverable and better showcasing life at Criteo by raising more awareness about our culture and values. There are some neat features that enhance candidate experience, including the option of interaction with chatbots for quick answers, as well as easily accessible engagement with Criteo through our talent community and blogs.

As we have moved into dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, keeping our employees’ safety and protecting the business continuity are our first priorities. All employees at Criteo have been in WFH mode in the past few months so all our candidates’ interviews, as well as candidate onboarding, have now become virtual.

We have fully utilised the capabilities of Zoom, our video conferencing technology provider, to ensure that this has been as seamless and natural as possible. This has been a learning curve for some of our hiring managers who were used to physical interactions with candidates, however through guidance and education around virtual assessing, we are now in a position where all are fully comfortable with this approach.

Photo / Provided

Human Resources Online is on Telegram! Follow us @humanresourcesonline or click here for all the latest weekly HR and manpower news from around the region.