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15 minutes with…Jay Zaidi, Rangle.io

jai-zaidi

As Head of Talent at Rangle.io (a digital strategy consulting firm), and with previous roles at the RSA Group and TMX Group under his belt, Jay Zaidi has a wealth of talent insights and expertise to share.

We posed some of our favorite questions and discovered just what Jay loves about his job, how he achieves hiring success and his top tips for personal development in the HR game.

What do you love about your role and organization?

Where do I start?

Rangle.io was just named one of the Top 25 most sought after starts-up in Canada by LinkedIn. That doesn’t happen by some happy accident. It takes years of pervasive and persistent focus on building the best culture, by living the right values.

I could have gone to another large organization but I was looking for something different, so I chose Rangle.io – largely because of the leadership's trust in enhancing the Talent function.

I love the fact that I lead a team of exceptionally talented recruiters who are expanding the company’s capabilities and footprint in Canada, the US and Europe. Like many organizations, people directly drive our success especially in the consulting world, which we belong to.

The culture of learning, experimentation, and diversity are also huge draws. There isn't much in the way of red tape here, so if you have a great idea that can materially impact candidate (or customer) experiences, the company is all ears.

I’d classify the hard-worker people at Rangle as high IQ meets high EQ. We have incredibly smart and intellectual staff, who are also very nice people who care about each other, and our clients.

What does your recruitment process look like and how might that change in the future?

Rangle.io is five years old so we don’t have historical baggage or obtuse regulatory requirements like firms that are much older. Both RSA and TMX Group were 300 and 160 years old respectively, in heavily regulated, publicly-traded environments so it’s great that Rangle can iterate and pivot on the fly. We are agile practitioners by nature, so we’re constantly making tweaks to our process in all divisions, in real-time. It’s an infinite loop of ideation, designing, implementing, testing, learning & refining and then starting the cycle all over again.

We place a great deal of emphasis on improving the candidate journey from attraction through to onboarding. We aren’t perfect but we acknowledge our gaps and are working to overcome and exceed our own expectations.

What differentiates us is ‘how’ we execute each step in the recruitment life-cycle. We do our best to leverage technology but are also acutely aware that automation for the sake of workflow improvement isn’t the end game, nor a substantial game-changer in this environment, although it’s one of the many things we are improving.

At the end of the day much depends on the candidate's interaction and relationship with our Talent Team and hiring leaders. We often ask ourselves if what we are doing improves the candidate experience, hiring leader experience or the recruiter experience. If our process or technology does not address at least one of these experiences then we don’t use it.

We are open to change and are constantly seeking innovative ways to execute better. In my experience the biggest resistance to change is people. The notion of ‘if it’s working well, why change it’ is what sinks companies. Luckily we have a captive audience (i,e. our employees) that encourage our team to think outside the box to deliver the best talent possible.

How are you overcoming the biggest pain points in your current role?

Rangle.io has its growing pains, but this is a good thing. Growth means more people, more clients and career paths for our employees. Scaling up to meet the hiring demands of the business is one thing but doing so in the hottest tech market in history — along with a very scarce talent pool — is another. We’re in competition with all kinds of companies, from small start-ups to Fortune 100 companies.

Our growth objectives rest primarily on continuing to attract the best talent. Our pain points are solvable, with continued improvements to talent attraction and management, forecasting, strategy, process, and recruitment capabilities. All of these (and more) are on our collective agendas as an organization.

Up-skilling all of our employees to become talent spotters and advocates are one of our many goals, which will enhance our collective brain and brand power. We’re about to launch interview training for our staff, rebrand our employee and company value proposition, and integrate HR & talent technology. We need our systems to talk to each other better and remove any manual administrative barriers so our Talent team can focus on the big(ger) picture.

I am incredibly proud of the team and the leaders with whom we partner with. The team has taken everything that’s been thrown at them and they’ve been able to deliver. Leveling up our game is the next step through continued education and better partnerships with everyone involved in hiring people.

How do you deliver a successful hiring process?

The recruiter, candidate, and employee experience are first and foremost on my mind. If we can continue to improve all three then that will have a cascading effect across our entire brand and ultimately impact speed & quality of hire. Keeping our people happy has an unmeasurable but substantial impact on who we attract as well. It’s a collective effort that rests on all of our employee’s shoulders.

What’s the biggest challenge or skills-gap you feel HR professionals should address?

This is a tricky one. I often get odd looks when I mention this. In every position I have held I’ve advocated that anyone in their field (including HR) do a tour of duty in a completely different area of the business. In this case it would be HR in revenue-generating or technical functions. Exposure to the grit and hustle of life outside of HR will enlighten the most strident HR pros and will serve to open minds and think differently. I started in technology and in consulting roles before taking on HR challenges (and believe me HR is hard), so my path was different than most others. I’m certainly not perfect and I have a lot to learn still.

Having said that, the days of theory-driven, by-the-book HR practitioners are coming to a close – this approach just doesn't align with today's business objectives. Thankfully, we’re seeing this replaced by business-enabled HR mindsets, focused on attaining business objectives while creating a safe, inclusive and diverse workplace.

In the technology industry specifically, retention, inclusiveness, and diversity are major issues. There are so many opportunities for skilled individuals at other companies we have to constantly adapt the employee experience for everyone from co-ops through to the executive level.

Give us three personal development tips for other HR professionals?

  1. Again, funny looks when I mention this, but I highly suggest an HR pro leave their role for a year (or more) and join the sales or technology teams. You'll realize how quickly the fat in the process is cut in order to close a deal, generate revenue or ship a finished product. You'll come back with a much greater appreciation for your role and be empowered to change HR to do the same. One of my greatest leaders and mentor left HR and spent many years running a P & L (Profit & Loss) business line before returning to HR. That kind of credibility earned her a seat at the table and elevated HR for all of us working for her.
  2. Seek out knowledge that is completely outside of your domain. Take the opportunity to speak with knowledgeable people and learn from them. Take an online course on how to develop a basic web page; you'll learn about development methods along the way. Learn the theory behind Blockchain and what it means to business. The knowledge is there, just go get it. The more depth you have, the greater your capacity to understand other points of view and align with your business partners in a more meaningful way.
  3. Data, data & more data. Collect, analyze and use data to tell your story. Clean and uncompromised data should be the first thing on anyone’s list of business priorities. It helps to formulate ideas, create solutions and provides unbiased feedback. Data is like the magnifying mirror that exposes every flaw. It can be hard to look at but once you accept the truth, only then can you work to improve yourself and/or your function.

What industry buzzword would you be happy to see the back of?

Just about all of them, but especially “synergy’. It’s an over-used and terrible word that means nothing. We need to make things clearer, not more abstract.

About Jay Zaidi

Jay Zaidi is currently the Head of Talent at Rangle.io, where he oversees talent acquisition strategy and operations. Previously, Jay was Head of Talent Acquisition for RSA Group, a 300-year old global insurance company and Head of Recruitment for TMX Group (Toronto Stock Exchange), the Seventh largest stock exchange in the world. Jay is also a public speaker on such topics as talent attraction, technology impact and business partnerships.

In his personal life, Jay is a father of two wonderful children, a husband and an avid enthusiast of technology, business and basically anything with an engine.

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