Risk management SaaS, Granite hired a hard-to-fill Backend-focused Fullstack Developer role by combining recruitment and talent marketing

Teppo Kattilakoski

CEO & Founder

TalentBee helped us overcome a challenge of finding top talent in a competitive field. We wanted a personalized approach and didn't want to settle for bulk lists of candidates or copy-paste messages. TalentBee delivered with a value-add approach and found the perfect fit for our Backend-focused Fullstack Developer role. Working with an external partner was a cost-effective and flexible solution, as building an internal tech recruitment capability would also have taken time and money. We chose to invest in quality and were impressed with the results.

Project summary

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Risk management SaaS, Granite hired a hard-to-fill Backend-focused Fullstack Developer role by combining recruitment and talent marketing. Granite succeeded in this challenging task within two and half months with the help of TalentBee’s team.

How did Granite hire a new member to their product team? The role they were looking for, a Backend-focused Fullstack Developer, is surely a hard-to-fill for many. Granite succeeded in this within two and half months with the help of TalentBee’s team.

Granite is a Finnish risk management SaaS founded in 2005, and it has 230+ customers, and 30K users monthly. Granite develops customer-oriented and easy-to-use risk management software solutions for the needs of the modern market.

The initial situation: reassessing the role from Frontend to Fullstack

“In November 2022, a Frontend Developer from our team had set out on new challenges. The biggest concern for us was, whether it would take ages to find a suitable person to fill the critical role,” says Henri Fors, Product Team Lead at Granite.

At the same time, Granite’s team saw it as an opportunity to pause and reassess the role, and change its focus to a new direction – from a Frontend perspective to Fullstack.

“I had my doubts that it would be very difficult for us to succeed in selling Granite as a pretty unknown employer to this target talent audience. I was afraid we wouldn’t be able to find a qualified person to fill our crucial hiring need,” says Tiiu Pyykönen, HR Lead at Granite.

What is more, no-one in Granite’s team had participated in a direct search recruitment process before. In the past, Granite had succeeded in recruitment through a more traditional process: posting the job ad and getting applications in, or talking to people in their own networks.

“We knew exactly that the talent market is challenging in this field. We had to find a way to do things differently – with our previous process, we probably would not have received qualified applicants,” says Teppo Kattilakoski, CEO and Founder at Granite.

Granite’s team came to the conclusion that instead of trying to improve their own process, it would be more profitable and faster to get an external recruitment partner to help. Someone that had experience in recruiting similar roles to SaaS companies…

The decision-making: which recruitment partner should they start working with?

Teppo decided to post on Linkedin: “which recruitment partner should we go for – ping in the comments!” As a result, a person in his network pinged Samuli Salonen, TalentBee’s CEO & Co-Founder. TalentBee’s approach & SaaS focus sounded like something Teppo & the rest of the Granite team could find interesting and suitable for them.

“We realized that we don’t want to go with any bulk solution that many potential partners were offering – long-lists of candidates, copy-paste messages, and all that. It was also a red flag for us, if the potential recruitment partner’s advice for us as the hiring team was to raise the salary high enough, so that even someone would be interested,” Teppo thinks back.

In fact, Granite as a workplace is a hidden gem – their current employee retention is top notch, and they even have happy returnees on the team. The problem wouldn’t be unattractiveness as an employer that should be compensated with an unrealistically high salary rate.

“TalentBee’s Samuli was genuinely interested in finding the right solution to our challenge. We liked TalentBee’s approach from the first meeting,” Tiiu says.

“TalentBee’s team had thought it through – how to approach the candidates in a value-add way, and also think about the customer’s benefits. The salary does not necessarily have to come first – but it’s a part of the selling points. TalentBee’s way of combining the recruitment process with employer branding was meaningful to us,” Teppo says.  

“One of our wishes was that it would be great if the recruiter could also teach us about the best practices of direct search as we go. That way we could at the same time increase our own talent acquisition capacity. This is what TalentBee’s tech recruiter, Saara also set out to do while she led the process for us,” says Tiiu.

The recruitment project tear-down

The project team consisted of TalentBee’s tech recruiter, Saara Kyllönen, and employer branding specialists Nea Raaska and Siiri Laaksonen. From Granite’s side, Tiiu and Henri participated actively in the process. Also Henri’s two team members from the Product Team participated closely in the evaluation of the candidates.

“The best thing about the process was that we didn’t have to worry about what should happen next – Saara gave us all the instructions and led the process through and through. It was also important to us that the hiring team was included in the decision making,” says Tiiu.

“I wanted to bring my team along. Neither of our developers had previous experience in recruitment. However, they are the two closest future colleagues for the new team member, so it's important that they get to know each other early on. Both have been happy to be involved in the process,” says Henri.

The process started with deep diving into Granite’s hiring need – defining the profile according to the current information, and finding the unique selling points of Granite as an employer. TalentBee’s team consisting of both recruiters and employer branding professionals worked closely together with Granite’s team.

“Saara as the project lead was very cheerful towards us when we kicked off the project. She had a strong belief in Granite as a great team and a place to work, and that we would definitely find the right person for the role. At this point we no longer had the fear of not finding anyone. It would realistically just take time, sometimes even half a year,” Tiiu says.

After the first round of recruitment marketing and headhunting with good results, and Henri’s team assessing the candidates, it was pointed out that the role needs redefining. This is pretty common in recruitment processes when you learn about the candidates and try to match them to your hiring need as you go.

In this case, Granite’s team learned that the initial role should not only be changed from Frontend into Fullstack, but in fact into Backend-focused Fullstack.

“It’s common that we don’t understand everything about our hiring need when kicking off the recruitment project, especially when the role is recruited for the first time. This is the case for many fast-growing SaaS companies,” says Saara from TalentBee.

“When we learn something new important about the hiring need, it’s crucial to go back to the drawing table and reassess the profile a little bit. This will more likely lead to finding the right person. The better the profile is defined, the better the candidates understand what we are looking for, and get interested in the position. My job is to guide our customers through this process,” Saara says.

“The process and the results proved that the right actions were chosen to achieve the goal.” -Teppo from Granite

With this new knowledge, the project team kicked off a second round of agile recruitment marketing actions and headhunting. And this round resulted in success!

A bit more than 2,5 months after the first kickoff of the project, a Backend-focused Fullstack Developer was selected from two final round candidates, and he accepted the job offer from Granite.

“The project resulted in finding the right person for the role. The process and the results proved that the right actions were chosen to achieve the goal,” Teppo says.

The Project Retrospective

A retrospective meeting was held at the end of the successful project. The whole project team participated in sharing learnings and data.

“In the meeting, we talked about what went well, what could be done better and what was learned from our and TalentBee's perspectives. It had been 2 months since the kickoff, so it was good to recall where we started from, what happened in between, what was reassessed during the project, and how we ended up with the final result,” Tiiu says.

For Henri as the Product Team Lead, it was the first time he was responsible for recruiting a new member to his own team. For him, there were many valuable learnings.

“I have participated in hiring processes before, but have not been in charge. It was meaningful for me to get support in interviews and approaching the candidates. I also got big learnings from the process. Saara sent me an agenda for each meeting with the candidates, some thoughts and the suggested interview questions,” Henri says.

According to Henri, there were the biggest new learnings for him about the great candidate experience. For example: to offer the candidate an opportunity to also ask questions. Also asking about the candidate’s feelings after each touchpoint both ensured a good candidate experience, and gave valuable information to the hiring team.

Keeping the candidates up to date with good communication also increases the likelihood of closing the hire with the right person – without possibly risking to lose them to another company’s process.

“After each meeting it’s a good idea to book the next meeting or touchpoint for you and the candidate. It’s important to keep the candidate up to date and not let them wait for a text message for 3 weeks. With Saara’s sparring, I got my own thoughts about the good candidate experience confirmed,” Henri says.

“What is more, I am an introverted person, not overly social. Still, Saara's enthusiastic attitude caught me, too. With the TalentBee team, we went through every meeting with a smile,” Henri says.

“For me, getting so many tips from Saara to build our own recruitment process was very valuable. A big learning was that the deals are won between the meetings. It means candidate-centric communication that happens on a weekly basis. According to Saara’s tips, I have now also documented our recruitment process,” Tiiu says.

Also the meaning of employer branding was brought up in the outcomes and learnings of the project. It was learned that opening up Granite’s culture to the talent audience with social media & blog content works well.

“I really liked the results of recruitment marketing. The blog texts and social posts were tailored to look like our own – they didn't look like an external partner made them. Also results-wise, they were effective. In the retro meeting, we got data about what worked and what didn't,” Tiiu says.

Granite came to the conclusion that there is a lot you can do with campaigning during the recruitment process, but the basis for the employer brand awareness should be built in the long term with strategic actions. It was identified that in the future EB could be one of their important focus points.

“If you do only one recruitment a year, I think recruitment marketing is enough. But if you are scaling and recruiting, for example, 4 roles per year, it is significantly better to do EB than if the channels are silent all the time,” Tiiu sees.

The other outcomes of the project

On top of finding the right person for the role, also other outcomes were achieved. As a result of the process, not only the right person for the role was found, but Granite also got good candidates into their talent pipeline for the future.

“In terms of quality, we got really good candidate lists. Moreover, it was difficult for us to distinguish who would be the best,” says Henri.

Some people became interested in joining Granite, but it just wasn’t the right time yet. And as a growth company, for Granite there will be future hiring needs, too.

“A positive thing, even a bit surprising, was the kind of answers the contacted candidates had given to Saara. Very good response rates, even more than 50 % of those outreached answered the messages. The candidates praised that it was a refreshing approach, that Saara sent them personalized video greetings. It sets us apart from other companies in a positive way, and gives a positive image about Granite, unlike traditional copy-paste communication,” Henri says.

“Transparency was also a big plus. We didn't only see the contacted profiles, but also the messages that Saara has sent to the candidates, and the task lists that she made for herself on a weekly basis. At the beginning of the week, we always got a summary of what is being done and what was already done. I stayed really well with where we were going,” Henri says.

“We didn't choose to work with a partner because we were so busy ourselves. We did that because we wouldn't have been able to do it with the same quality ourselves. After all, we paid for quality, not for saving time in itself. If we were to start building the recruitment capability ourselves, it would take time and also cost money. The number of recruitments should also be large, so that there would be full-time work for an internal recruiter. An external partner is flexible – and when there is a need, it is much more likely to go well than badly,” Teppo comments.

“Now we are in happy spirits. The process went really well, and a new colleague is about to start. The onboarding plans have been prepared and the equipment ordered. We’ve decided that when the next recruitment comes, that is not worth doing ourselves, we will call you again! This was the best choice for us,” Tiiu says.

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