24 April 2019 Courier Apr/May 2019

Keeping hold of tech talent

The co-founder of German talent-sourcing startup MoBerries reveals how to hire – and keep – employees.

THE ONLY WAY a business can survive, according to Mo Moubarak, co-founder of online recruitment service MoBerries, is through the bond made between startup bosses and their employees.

It’s a simple enough idea, but retaining talent in the tech sector can be incredibly tricky. According to research from LinkedIn (by analysing turnover rates across it’s userbase), technology companies have the highest turnover of staff compared to any other industry. ‘We compete against every company, every sector,’ Moubarak says.

Look to your users

Moubarak is, of course, well accustomed to hunting for talent in a competitive market – the MoBerries platform is all about recruiting staff for technology roles, after all. And while the platform is his first port of call for hiring his own staff too, with 94% of the company’s employees coming through this channel, actually building loyalty among employees is something that must be worked on continually.

By looking to people already using his product, Moubarak can ensure there’s a certain degree of understanding about what MoBerries does. Hopefully they also already rate the quality of the product – both things which make it easier to sell the business to the candidates in an interview setting.

MoBerries is not alone in using this tactic. Crème de la Crème – a Londonbased tech recruitment platform – also hunts for users that could someday become staffers, and has even hired C-Suite team members this way.

The MoBerries Mafia

When a candidate is invited for interview, it’s an opportunity to get them excited about the prospect of a job offer. Moubarak says he does not offer any extra perks to entice people into the business (like gym passes) because he wants to emphasise the merits of the platform that’s being built. He also wants to set himself apart from businesses that have a reputation for putting perks in place where salaries could be better. ‘I don’t use soft messaging like: “we have an office bar”,’ he says. ‘[That’s] a way to get people in cheaper, [by] offering those illusions.’

Beyond the essentials (he looks for developers with roughly five years experience in the sector who have ‘out of this world’ capabilities), Moubarak says it’s key that anyone who works at MoBerries should slot into the company’s culture which – for better or worse – he describes as being as tight-knit as the Mafia. ‘I look for personality, motivation and what a person can contribute,’ he adds.

Happy workers

Moubarak is also realistic about the risks of staff being poached by other companies. ‘The key is to realise not everyone is going to stay with you forever,’ he says, adding that nothing good can ever come out of persuading employees to stay with a business if they are tempted by a poacher’s offer.

To make sure staff don’t get to the point where they’re entertaining new offers, he makes sure that everyone – from junior levels to top management – get involved in decision-making and ‘shape the future of the company’. The business is run ‘like a committee, and employees are given genuine responsibilities in the company’s operations,’ he explains.

MoBerries’ staff turnover rate for 2018 was 23%, compared to Germany’s industry wide average of 25-30%. That’s pretty good going for a tech company. ‘The key thing is to be real with people and proactively make them a part of your business,’ he says. ‘Be real and sell the mission, not the benefits.’