An Employee-Focused Guide to Talent Acquisition

Brandon Sammut of Zapier fills us in on what it's like to build remote culture and how to build a people-first company.

As a com­pa­ny that has been ful­ly remote before it was cool to work from home, Zapi­er founders Wade Fos­ter, Mike Knoop, and Bryan Helmig came up with the idea for new soft­ware in 2011 when they were still in school. After grad­u­at­ing, the trio moved out to the Bay Area, the place to be in tech at the time.

The mis­sion of the com­pa­ny is very close­ly tied to the prod­uct: how to make automa­tion work for every­one. The plan was to take a pow­er­ful piece of tech­nol­o­gy and make it acces­si­ble to the aver­age per­son and busi­ness. That was the core idea in 2011 and it remains as such today.

Anoth­er big part of Zapier’s mis­sion is rec­og­niz­ing that ordi­nary peo­ple are capa­ble of amaz­ing things. And how they can, through automa­tion, enable peo­ple to do what they’re best at. It’s all about giv­ing folks the time to get back to doing what they love, and leav­ing automa­tion to the machines. 

Zapi­er believes that bril­liance is every­where, and the founders want­ed their com­pa­ny to reflect that. This is why Zapi­er has been 100% remote since the beginning.

At the time, this was a wild­ly uncon­ven­tion­al idea — in fact, many peo­ple in busi­ness saw it as an unwise or bad idea. But they did it anyway. 

Being Worthy of Attracting Talent

Because of this notion that bril­liance is every­where, Zapi­er had to become wor­thy of attract­ing tal­ent from all over the world. They had to become an employ­ee-focused brand. The 600 employ­ees at Zapi­er live in 39 coun­tries and across mul­ti­ple time zones. And the com­pa­ny believes they’re bet­ter for it.

The all-in remote mod­el doesn’t come with­out chal­lenges, espe­cial­ly as the com­pa­ny grows. It can be dif­fi­cult to cre­ate a sense of belong­ing and com­pa­ny cul­ture in an all-remote envi­ron­ment. Zapi­er is able to keep up and improve by con­stant­ly learn­ing from their employ­ees in the same way that they learn from their products.

One spe­cif­ic prac­tice that Zapi­er put in place that can be applied else­where, is the idea of trans­paren­cy. One of the five Zapi­er val­ues is to default to trans­paren­cy.” A large part of this means giv­ing team mem­bers easy access to infor­ma­tion and the con­text of estab­lished rela­tion­ships and how the place works. Con­nect­ing peo­ple in the same time zones or coun­tries is also help­ful. Bran­don says that it’s all about stay­ing hon­est, hum­ble, and curious. 

Zapi­er is cur­rent­ly work­ing on a very unique (read: unheard of) ini­tia­tive that will help their employ­ees find their next job, whether that’s at Zapi­er or else­where. It’s about cre­at­ing clear path­ways for their team mem­bers, with­in the com­pa­ny or some­where new. They can get coach­ing on their resumes, do mock inter­views, and more.

It goes back to the idea of Zapi­er as a wor­thy com­pa­ny. When they’re at their best, they are wor­thy of long-term employ­ees who are in it for the long haul. That said, if despite it all it’s the right thing for a team mem­ber to go some­where else, Zapi­er will thank them for their time and do what they rea­son­ably can to help them find their next position.

By fol­low­ing this mod­el, Zapi­er auto­mat­i­cal­ly cre­ates advo­cates who are out there in the world and speak well of the com­pa­ny. It’s a strate­gic move, but it’s also one that hon­ors the human expe­ri­ence and shows a lot of gen­uine care for their peo­ple, lov­ing­ly referred to as Zapians. 

Consumer Brand vs Employer Brand: Showing Instead of Saying

A con­sumer-based brand is focused on what your cus­tomers are say­ing about your com­pa­ny, prod­uct, or ser­vice. It’s very exter­nal. An employ­er-based brand is all about what peo­ple think it might be like to work at a com­pa­ny, based on what past and present employ­ees are say­ing about their expe­ri­ences. It’s more internal.

As Zapi­er works to become an employ­ee-focused brand, they fig­ured out one notion ear­ly on: it’s essen­tial to show instead of say.

Bran­don says that it’s less about deter­min­ing what you should say to prospec­tive can­di­dates. Rather, it’s more about what you should show. You can’t fake your brand. Or you can, but even­tu­al­ly you’ll get found out when the work­ing envi­ron­ment isn’t all that it’s chalked up to be.

No com­pa­ny is per­fect and no com­pa­ny is right for every­one. But when you have a strong employ­er brand, you auto­mat­i­cal­ly go through a pre-onboard­ing process. When you’re clear about what your brand is all about, you’ll attract peo­ple who relate to it and who may be a good fit.

Bran­don reit­er­ates that when you’re gen­uine, you’re going to retain your employ­ees, you’ll be able to find peo­ple who are aligned with your mis­sion organ­i­cal­ly, and you’re going to be able to hire peo­ple you actu­al­ly want, based on their human qual­i­ties instead of just a resume. 

With so many choic­es out there, there’s a hir­ing renais­sance going on right now. It is chal­leng­ing and involves a lot of growth, change, and uncer­tain­ty. By using Zapi­er as a mod­el, you can cre­ate an employ­ee-focused brand that will attract the best of the best. 

When you hire the right peo­ple, the right prod­uct will fol­low. Zapi­er is an excel­lent exam­ple of this idea.

Check Out the Full Episode

Learn more about how build­ing an employ­ee-focused brand can sup­port your tal­ent acqui­si­tion. In this episode of The Brag­Wor­thy Cul­ture pod­cast, Jor­dan Peace sits down with Bran­don Sam­mut, Chief Peo­ple Offi­cer at Zapi­er. Bran­don filled us in on what it’s like to build remote cul­ture from the get-go and how to build a peo­ple-first com­pa­ny. Lis­ten on Apple or Spo­ti­fy.

For those who don’t already know, Zapi­er is a no-code tool to help auto­mate repet­i­tive tasks between two or more apps. This mis­sion is so deeply embed­ded in Zapier’s DNA that it reveals itself not only in how they work with their clients, but how they devel­op their employ­ees. Bran­don shares the why behind Zapi­er: offer­ing a pow­er­ful tech­nol­o­gy that is nor­mal­ly expen­sive and/​or dif­fi­cult to use, at an afford­able price and in a user-friend­ly for­mat. Bran­don also dis­cuss­es why Zapi­er val­ues remote work (and always has) and the pos­si­ble end of their delo­ca­tion pro­gram. Bran­don also talks about the impor­tance of trans­paren­cy at Zapi­er, which car­ries into a pro­gram that helps team mem­bers find growth and oppor­tu­ni­ty at Zapi­er, or else­where!

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