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Liftoff’s Yordanos Asmare on recruiting and retaining diverse talent

Listen in on the conversation between Yordanos Asmare, Senior Global Recruiting Manager at Liftoff, and CodeSignal Co-Founder Sophia Baik in Data-Driven Recruiting Episode #48. Asmare and Baik discuss recruiting in a competitive market and retaining diverse talent with a holistic, data-driven approach.

Yordanos Asmare, the Senior Global Recruiting Manager at Liftoff, has seen the company grow fivefold since she started there four years ago. Liftoff is a mobile app marketing and targeting company that utilizes machine learning to optimize user acquisition and engagement – and it has experienced tremendous growth since its founding in 2012. “I was employee number 55,” says Asmare. “We’re now 270 plus employees, and a truly global company.”

Asmare spoke with CodeSignal Co-Founder Sophia Baik about how Liftoff stays competitive when hiring technical talent, the importance of taking a “holistic” approach to recruiting, and why the tech industry needs to reframe how we think about recruiting diverse talent. 

Recruiting Holistically

Silicon Valley recruiters are keenly aware of the competition for hiring high-quality technical talent. What allows Liftoff, a startup operating in a saturated market, to compete with the tech giants in hiring for talent? The secret, says Asmare, is Liftoff’s “holistic” approach to recruiting and retaining top talent.

When closing candidates, for example, Asmare explains that her team presents an offer “in a holistic manner,” where candidates “really get to see what they would be coming into – the role, team, product work, financial picture, expectations, growth path, and more.” As part of the ramp-up and onboarding processes, Asmare and the recruiting team check in regularly with new hires. Liftoff new hires also participate in a mentorship program with more seasoned team members, where they are given, as Asmare puts it, “opportunities to fail early on and learn from those mistakes.”

Asmare credits the success of Liftoff’s recruiting to its end-to-end and human approach, which focuses on establishing trust and credibility with candidates early in the hiring process, and then building on this once they join the team. “We are bringing in a human being, not a qualification on a resume,” Asmare explains.

Attracting and Retaining Diverse Talent

Asmare’s holistic vision for recruiting doesn’t just allow her team to attract top talent. It also speaks to a timely issue in the startup world: how to make tech more diverse and inclusive. For Asmare, making a difference in diversity isn’t about numbers, though. It’s about making your workplace an environment where employees feel empowered to succeed.

“For me, where we should be starting is, ‘how do we improve equity and inclusion in the tech industry?’” says Asmare. Rather than focus on quantitative diversity measures, Asmare recommends looking at the structure of support, ownership, and growth your company offers to new hires. Retaining diverse talent requires that your team members feel ownership over their work and that they have “a voice at the table” – it’s not enough to just be in the room.

What does this mean for recruiters? Start by looking at your requirements of “must haves” and “nice-to-haves” for new roles, says Asmare. She advocates for taking a critical look at what you’re looking for in your candidates and why. With each requirement, ask yourself, “Why do we need this and how do we assess it?” and, “Are there skills that could be bridged through training?” It’s also important to keep in mind that “access” (to elite universities, for example) and “talent” are not the same thing. 


Recruiting for diversity isn’t about “lowering the bar” for some candidates, Asmare emphasizes. Rather, a holistic approach to recruiting that focuses on retention is the key to building out a team of diverse and high-quality talent. 

A data-driven approach allows recruiting teams to see the big picture impact of their work for key indicators like retention and diversity. “Data-driven doesn’t just mean using numbers for one aspect” of recruiting, says Asmare. “It’s the comprehensive analysis and understanding that matters in terms of establishing Key Performance Indicators. If you integrate data into every step of the recruiting and hiring process, it can surface things that will surprise you – and make the team more efficient.”

Learn More

Want to learn more about how you can build a winning organization through data-driven recruiting? Visit CodeSignal to find out how you can measure technical skills effectively and objectively with its automated assessment and live interview solutions.