In three years, Yotpo’s staff has grown over sixfold — from 50 employees in Tel Aviv alone, to over 300 with offices in New York, London, and soon, Salt Lake City. Rapid scaling at a startup is notoriously challenging. It’s expensive, time consuming, and presents a range of operational challenges. But Yotpo’s company wide bingo-themed Recruitathon saved the company $70,000, and brought in over 500 referrals, plus 16 new hires in the Tel Aviv office. In 2016, the Yotpo New York City office grew from 30 to 90 employees. In 2017, they hired another 20 people in just 44 days during their February 15 challenge. And if you think there must have been a quality versus quantity trade-off, think again. Yotpo managed to do all this while keeping their highly selective hiring process completely intact. That’s pretty impressive for any company. For a startup, it’s basically unheard of.
We sat down with Sally Bolig, Head of Talent Acquisition at Yotpo in New York City, to ask her how they did it.
“People today have become phenomenally good at ignoring advertisements. Who can blame them? What people actually want to see is social proof. So they turn to the more balanced, trustworthy source — reviews from other people,” Sally tells us about the Yotpo thesis.
Yotpo helps businesses leverage their reviews, and other user generated content (ratings, photos, Q&A, etc). Not only do they make it easy to gather customer reviews, but they also make it easy to use that content for marketing. The result is a new kind of more honest advertising that’s based on real customer experiences. It also happens to be highly effective.
Sally Bolig joined Yotpo in 2016, but started working with the company long before that out of an NYC recruiting agency. She placed six people in their NYC office, working closely with Tom Rotem, the VP of Sales.“Tom sent these updates that made it clear that [Yotpo] not only cared about me, but they also cared about the people I’d placed there,” Sally recalls. When someone she placed at Yotpo got promoted or accomplished something big, Tom would send her an email telling her about it. “The hiring directors were genuine, and they were considerate of the people they were bringing to the business,” Sally tells us. “That is very important to me, and that is the way I’ve always recruited.”
She was struck by Yotpo’s open-mindedness when it came to hiring. They trusted her judgement, and took chances on candidates that none of her other clients would consider — candidates who went on to become top performers at the company. And in a field where integrity isn’t always easy to come by, and promises made to candidates frequently go unfulfilled, Yotpo never seemed to fall short.
We asked Sally about Yotpo’s workplace culture, and she listed three qualities that everyone at Yotpo needs to succeed:
Yotpo has always believed that referrals make the best hires, so when Sally started at Yotpo, one of her top priorities was finding ways to increase employee referrals. We asked Sally about what they used to do before the Recruitathon and February 15. “The first thing that we would do was sit down with each employee one on one, and a recruiter would literally go through their entire LinkedIn network with them and find people who looked relevant,” she recalls. “We also had lunch meetings where we would buy everyone lunch, and everyone would be required to sit together and source three people from their network.”For a while, these methods were pretty effective at driving referrals — and even more effective at driving everybody crazy — but eventually, Sally realized they were hitting a wall. “You reach this point where your staff feels like they’ve given you everyone they can possibly give you, and they don’t have anyone else to refer,” she says.
She realized that to keep getting referrals, they’d have to get creative. That’s when Sally and her team had the idea that would completely change their referral program. Yotpo’s entire culture and business is based on the idea that the most effective form of marketing is social proof. Why not apply this same concept to recruiting?
(this is actually indicative of a broader trend we’ve written about — “recruiting is marketing”)
Everyone was encouraged to post photos of themselves with their teammates on their social media, with a link to an open job in the caption. But the photos didn’t have to be anything fancy — in fact, most of them were taken on iPhones. They could be of anything, from office shenanigans to weekend excursions with coworkers. People started getting creative and having fun with it, and the response was overwhelming.“By putting yourself out there in your own personal way, you can be creative and accessible,” says Sally.
It wasn’t just the fact that they were posting to social media, it was what they were posting to social media. People could tell that the posts were genuine, and that spoke to them. The posts weren’t saying, “Here’s a carefully curated promotional video that my boss told me to post.” Instead, they were saying, “Here’s a fun thing that happened today at work! Also, we’re hiring.” Which post would you rather respond to?
2018 will be another busy year for Yotpo recruiting, with continued scaling worldwide, plus brand new office opening in Salt Lake City. They’re still fine-tuning their recruiting tactics — this year, for example, scaling will happen more gradually, so that managers still have enough time to give their teams the attention they need. But if there’s one thing we can take from the past few years, it’s that when you let your employees and community be real and personal, you get amazing results. Yotpo has proven that time and time again.