POSTED ON November 09 2016

IWHJ Podcast: Shopify's Anna Lambert

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ABOUT ANNA:

According to Shopify’s Director of Talent Acquisition Anna Lambert, the recruiting industry is broken. And, we happen to agree. While most companies utilize a traditional process for filtering out candidates based on a list of experience and requirements, Shopify does things very differently. In fact, Shopify actually encourages candidates to apply if they don’t meet all the traditional requirements listed on a position.

“We don’t want to exclude people who can be incredible in a role because they don’t think they’re qualified,” Anna says. Shopify’s website goes further, saying, “Experience comes in many forms, many skills are transferable and passion goes a long way.” Don’t you wish more companies thought like that?

In episode 29 of I Want Her Job: The Podcast, Editor and Host Polina Selyutin speaks with Anna about how Shopify actively seeks to understand a job candidate's history and how the company factors in passion projects and career goals when hiring. If you’ve ever been discouraged by the traditional job application process, you won’t want to miss today’s show.

TOPICS DISCUSSED IN TODAY'S SHOW:

  • Getting An In: After hearing a presentation about Shopify’s culture, Anna reached out to the chief operating officer with an email recommending projects she could tackle and describing her background. Her email to the COO showed she was willing to take on projects to move the company forward. It was this initiative to highlight areas she observed needed help that got her noticed and hired.
  • Making Moves: To advance in one’s career, Anna suggests one focuses on the problems they find interesting to solve, as well as the problems their company needs to solve. This intersection will lead to faster success, she says, than focusing on titles, which might not matter as much.
  • People First: “The recruiting industry is broken,” Anna says. “There are so many companies that do it wrong. They talk about bums in seats and numbers … ” Shopify, on the other hand, takes on recruiting with a human-centered approach.
  • A New Way: Shopify wants to know what a job candidate loves outside of work, passion projects and hobbies. The company, Anna says, likes to match a candidate with the best opportunity for their whole self. “Recruiting is absolutely the best job when you are in an organization that does it right,” she says.
  • The State of Recruiting: Anna is committed to shifting the way an industry recruits, because she believes matching candidates to the right role is a crucial job. She also works to break the status quo by seeking more collaboration amongst the recruiting community.
  • What Really Matters: “We don’t care about education or number of years of experience,” Anna says. “We care about the quality of experience.”
  • Matching People To Problems: Shopify aims to generate a diverse pool of candidates from many different backgrounds and takes transferable skills seriously. “We don’t want to exclude people who can be incredible in a role because they don’t think they are qualified,” Anna says.
  • Recognizing Experience: Anna shares a story of hiring a technical writer who had taken 10 years off to raise her children. Although the candidate’s employment gap and CV probably wouldn’t have caught the attention of traditional HR screens, Anna requested a writing sample and saw the value the applicant could bring. Today, this hire is managing a team of technical writers.
  • A Helping Hand: When a company has layoffs, Shopify has been known to set up booths offering those laid off words of encouragement and invitations to apply at Shopify. Even if one doesn’t end up applying at Shopify, word of mouth spreads news of the gesture, and the company has noticed the word quickly spreads about the company’s culture. “We’re able to attract people from all over the world to our cities,” Anna says.
  • Talking Trust: The talent acquisition team at Shopify empowers its recruiters to develop creative strategies and tactical processes to find the right matches.
  • If I Was In Your Shoes: Whenever you can as a candidate, try and show a prospective employers what you would do if you had the job. For example if you are a UX designer, Anna says, send over a sample of how you would make a change or set up a process flow.
  • On Her Retail Launch: As both a Shopify employee and user of the platform, Anna made a leap and co-founded Caged Collective with a friend from NYC. Because of this, Anna says she has the ability to understand Shopify from different perspectives, which gives her even more insight into the company. She now encourages others to create their own store through a free Shopify trial.
  • Fearless Flyer: In addition to Anna’s daily role in disrupting the recruiting industry standards, Anna is enjoying the process of learning how to fly a plane.
  • On Early Influences: Anna grew up in the small town of Goderich, Ontario, loving snowboarding and working in different jobs – including a stint picking up garbage for the city. Her travels to France during her sophomore year in high school and during her university studies made a huge impact – expanding her perspective on the world.
  • On Her European Travels: “I look back on that year and my ability to be a good recruiter, and my interest in diversity and inclusion is impacted largely by that year – by meeting so many different people in different situations and backgrounds,” Anna says.
  • Connect: Follow Anna on Twitter.

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