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Greenhouse Open 2018: Recruiting Lessons from Dropbox, Lyft, and Talkdesk

Greenhouse Open gathered HR leaders from companies like Dropbox, Pinterest, and BuzzFeed to discuss everything from inclusion to analytics. Read on for some of the best takeaways from the first day of the event.

Ben Jackson
April 5, 2018

It’s conference season, and this week, Greenhouse brought together hundreds of HR and finance leads for OPEN 2018. Here’s a sample of the panels along with some of the best takeaways from each.

Why 50% of Hires Should Come from Referrals (and How to Make it Happen)

Talent leads Linsey Jackson from Lyft and Shauna Geraghty from Talkdesk spoke with Laura Bilazarian, CEO of Teamable, about how they maintain a 50% referral rate for new hires.

Inbound vs. Outbound Referrals

Most teams rely on inbound referrals, which means they need to wait for employees to recommend someone who might be a good fit. Outbound referrals, on the other hand, take more work: a recruiter needs to request an export of a relevant employee’s contact list, then sift through and request warm intros. Outbound demands more time but gets higher-quality candidates, since it doesn’t rely on the recruiter and the referring employee having a Vulcan mind meld.

Vulcan mind meld
Outbound referrals don't rely on the recruiter and referring employee having a Vulcan mind meld. (Image credit)

Passive vs. Active Referrals

The panelists also stressed the importance of seeking passive referrals to candidates who are off the market. Many teams rely exclusively on active referrals to those currently on the hunt. Passive candidates are tougher to land, but unsurprisingly, they tend to receive a lot more offers when they finally interview.

Maintaining a Level Playing Field

Geraghty warned the audience to be mindful about conflicts of interest with referred candidates and prep the referring employees ahead of time. “We don’t want that individual to spend too much time with the referral prepping them, because then their presentation will look a little bit different.”

The Journey from Ops to Optimization: Learnings from Airbnb & Dropbox

Neil Frye, Head of Global Recruiting at Dropbox, and Kumud Kokal, Head of Business Systems at Airbnb, spoke about the lessons they learned scaling their hiring pipelines.

5 Lessons from Large-Scale Change Management

Frye outlined five lessons from his time at Dropbox:

  1. Don’t underestimate change.
  2. Simplify and take baby steps.
  3. Pilot before you go live.
  4. Align with vendors and partners.
  5. Staff with knowledgeable resources.

New Challenges Require New Capabilities

Frye’s team began by using 2-week design sprints to define new HR processes for the team. After building a data warehouse and integrating their people data, they launched custom dashboards with action-oriented analytics. They also redesigned key talent roles, building new capabilities into the team with experts in data analytics and programming languages like R and Revolution.

Diagram of the design sprint process
Google's Design Sprint process played a key role in Dropbox's process redesign.

Integrating Design Thinking into HR

Dropbox’s evolution wasn’t limited to data: design played an important role in the new structure, too. Frye stressed the need for HR teams to bring a “product mentality” to their work: for example, “Talent scouts are required to do market mapping… to understand the diversity of the talent pool.”


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