July 5th, 2023 at 4:41:17 PM

Interview with Kadri Alekõrs: thoughts on hiring at Katana and the market reality

Over the last 6 months we have seen a lot of turbulence in the technology industry, including cutting costs and layoffs.

The good news is that there are still many companies that actively grow and Katana is one of them. Today we’re talking to Kadri Alekõrs, a Talent Acquisition Partner at Katana Cloud Manufacturing.

Kadri Alekõrs

💡 Kadri, please tell us a little bit about your career path in recruitment.

I started my recruitment career in Tallink. I was supporting the Tallink organization in their growth by focusing on recruiting for Tallink vessels, hotels, IT department and offices etc. My duties included working closely with universities and schools to raise future growth. That's where my interest in IT recruitment started, because I worked with Robert Kaev (a Chief IT Architect at the time), who explained to me the difference between a programming language, a framework, etc. 

Then I joined the Agency HR & Talent as the first employee. Today, this agency is known as TalentHub. I was engaged in various recruitment projects daily, mainly in the IT field.  

After this, I worked as a Talent & Culture Manager at BDO Estonia and currently I am working as a Talent Acquisition Partner at Katana Cloud Manufacturing. 

💡 You were in different HR roles as well as in different types of industries. What makes tech and product recruitment at a startup like Katana special for you?

Thanks, that's an excellent question. Product and tech recruitment at Katana is special for several reasons: 

1. Impact: We want to impact the world through our products positively. This is a solid motivating factor for candidates who want to work on something meaningful and impactful. 

2. Modern tech stack: Katana is  often at the forefront of innovation. We are developing new technologies or improving existing ones, which can be exciting for potential candidates. This attracts top talent interested in working in cutting-edge teams on innovative projects, and who want to be part of something new. 

3. Autonomy and Responsibility: Katana employees often have more autonomy and responsibility than they would in a larger company. This appeals to candidates who want to take ownership of their work and impact the company's success. You can think like a maker. 

4. Supportive Culture: Katana is a mindful work environment that prioritizes employees' well-being and fosters a supportive culture. In a small team, the culture is often more closely-knit and can provide a sense of belonging and purpose. 

5. Open and Transparent Communication: Honest communication among employees helps to build trust and offers a good overview of how we are doing in the company in general.

💡 What does your typical workday look like?

My typical working day varies a lot, as it depends a lot on how many recruiting projects I have on my desk, and which tasks have higher priority.  

I usually start my day by replying to emails or messages. The order varies from day to day, but I always have 2-4 interviews a day and I plan to do at least 2-3 hours of sourcing every day. In addition, there are still ongoing tasks. 

💡 When interviewing the candidates, what is your overall interview strategy? Do you have any favorite questions?

My general interview strategy is always to offer the candidate a positive interview experience and I am always well prepared. Before the interview, I review the candidate's LinkedIn profile or resume and cover letter. This helps me ask relevant and insightful questions.The second important step is to create a welcoming environment. I always begin the interview by introducing myself and making the candidate feel comfortable. I state the purpose and duration of the call. 

I have a favorite question that goes like this: If you join Katana, what kind of value would you create? 

💡 Tell us about your project Cerebrum Hub.

I am one of the co-founders of Cerebrum Hub, but I haven’t actively contributed to their activities since last September. 

My role was to help build the career service, as it is also essential to support people with starting a new career in the case of re-skilling. 

💡 There’s plenty going on in IT right now, and not all the news is good - there’s been quite a lot of layoffs lately. What changes have you observed in the candidates market in the last 6 months? How has this affected your hiring strategy?

Indeed, in the last 6 months, the labor market in the IT sector has changed, but the competition for top IT talent remains fierce, and companies are increasingly offering more flexible working arrangements, better benefits, and higher salaries to attract and retain talent. With the remote work trend, companies are also competing with other organizations from around the world for the same candidates. 

We have done a small re-evaluation of our hiring strategy to stay competitive in the current job market. We are focused on building a strong employer brand and offering more opportunities for professional development and career advancement to our employees. 

💡 What advice would you give to the candidates who are actively looking for a job in the current conditions?

If you are actively looking for a job in the current IT job market, here are some pieces of advice that may be helpful: 

1. Keep your skills up to date: Continuously learn new skills and technologies that are in demand in the current job market. This can make you stand out as a desirable candidate. 

2. Be flexible: The current job market is unpredictable, so consider positions that may not be your dream job but could lead to valuable experience and networking opportunities. 

3. Prepare for remote interviews: Due to the pandemic, many companies are conducting interviews remotely. Make sure you have the necessary technology and a quiet space to conduct the interview. 

4. Stay positive and persevere: The current job market may be challenging, but don't lose hope. Stay positive, stay motivated, and keep applying for jobs. Eventually, the right opportunity will come, and it could be you landing your dream job. 

Kadri, thank you for sharing your story with us, as well as the positive outlook and best of luck to you and Katana in finding a great talent!

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