This guide brings together proven strategies from Talent Acquisition leaders at top companies for increasing diversity on your engineering team.
21st Century Hiring for 21st Century Security
Enterprise-Level Security, Modernized
The IoT boom of the 2010s made fully-integrated smart homes–once a science fiction staple–widely accessible to consumers. Voice assistants like the Amazon Echo and the Google Home can do a variety of functions, from preheating the oven to turning the lights on and off. Smart thermostats like Nest can learn your family’s schedules and adjust your home’s heating and cooling in response, saving money and helping the environment. But the biggest change most of us have seen isn’t our smart light bulbs or our wifi-enabled washing machines–it’s our home security.
Once the domain of hardwired burglar alarms and protective lawn signs, home security as a field had remained relatively stagnant since the 1990s. That changed–rapidly–with the introduction of video doorbells, cloud-based surveillance cameras, smart locks, and more throughout the 2010s. Companies like Ring and Nest made fully-integrated, cloud-based, smart ecosystems accessible to the average consumer, revolutionizing home security and bringing the industry into the 21st century.
Why, then, was enterprise- and commercial-level security left in the dust?
Verkada founders, left to right: Hans Robertson, Filip Kaliszan, James Ren
This was the question Filip Kaliszan, James Ren, and Benjamin Bercovitz found themselves facing. Coming off the success of CourseRank, which they created while at Stanford, they noticed that while home security was advancing at a break-neck pace, enterprise-scale security was still stuck in the 1980s. They founded Verkada in 2016 to fill that gap, bringing enterprise security into the 21st century. Their suite of hardware–which includes cameras, viewing stations, and door controllers–is powered by machine learning, stores footage to the cloud, and can be accessed remotely, freeing large-scale security from the confines of basement-level monitoring rooms and bringing it up to speed with the innovations seen in the consumer space.
Following challenging seed and A funding rounds, Verkada found its footing and launched into hyper-growth in 2019. By January 2020, Verkada served approximately 2,500 clients including 25 Fortune 500 companies, and completed an $80 million funding round, giving the company a valuation of $1.6 billion and propelling it to unicorn status. Naturally, a hiring surge followed, and Verkada found themselves facing a new set of challenges–how to scale their talent acquisition process.
Scaling Hiring for Hypergrowth
Drew Ozanne joined Verkada in June 2019 as the first technical recruiter for the company’s camera software engineering team. According to him, in that year alone Verkada “went from 80 employees to over 250 employees, about 50 of those being engineers”–a 212% increase. With their sights set on a 220% overall increase by December 2020, quickly scaling their talent acquisition process became an urgent need.
Scaling up this much this quickly isn’t without risks–especially when it comes to candidate and employee experience. Hiring is a time- and effort-intensive process on all ends, particularly when it comes to technical hiring. Job-seekers often have to balance existing school and work commitments with the demands of the technical hiring process. They devote their evenings and weekends to completing assessments and take time out of their schedules to attend marathon-length onsite interviews–on top of the expectations to participate in hackathons or develop their own, independent projects. Whether they’re entry-level soon-to-be graduates trying to balance finals with job-hunting or if they’re senior-level engineers who are already in demanding positions but are looking for their next opportunity, it’s no wonder that, as Drew notes, at-home assessments often deter candidates.
The main challenge that we’re going to be facing in the next several months […] is going to be scaling this engineering team
However, this sort of dedication to candidate experience requires even more resources to be invested into an already-demanding process. Talent acquisition professionals already spend weeks’ worth of time on screening, outreach, relationship-building, interviewing, and scheduling just to fill a single position; for engineers, each onsite interview can eat up an entire workday, not to mention the time spent writing and reviewing take-home assessments, participating in phone and video interviews, and debriefing with other teams. This takes time and energy away from the work that’s driving the company’s growth in the first place; after all, more time spent hiring new engineers means less time developing innovative products and solutions.
Engineering manager Cody Randall said how they “would have to screen all the resumes manually and […] send out about 200 tests” which had to be individually written for different coding languages and manually scored–a significant draw on his team’s resources. The challenge Drew and his colleagues found themselves facing, then, was how to scale up their operations to keep facilitating Verkada’s explosive growth without compromising candidate experience or overburdening their teams.
Efficient, Scalable Recruiting with Hidden Benefits
While Verkada and CodeSignal have been working together since 2018, it’s become an invaluable asset since the company entered a hypergrowth phase in 2019 and needed to quickly triple the size of their engineering team. Verkada became an early user of CodeSignal Pre-Screen, adopting the platform in September 2019, one month before its October launch. Pre-Screen is the only coding assessment that can be used at the very top of the hiring funnel, making it a great fit for high-growth companies like Verkada who need to screen thousands of applicants in a short period of time. Pre-Screen allows its users to send out pre-written technical skills evaluations that are graded automatically, generating a Coding Score that lets hiring teams filter through and find qualified candidates at a glance.
Powered by more than half a decade of machine learning, CodeSignal’s Coding Score provides a reliable and trustworthy measure of a candidate’s skills, broken down into relevant categories to help hiring teams make quick, informed decisions. “That score is actually a really great indicator [of a candidate’s performance]” Drew states, noting that while the “way CodeSignal is going to help [Verkada] scale is mainly with [its] new grads,” they utilize Certify “for all of our technical recruiting hires–everything from new grads to senior engineers.”
We’re using CodeSignal for all of our technical recruiting hires–everything from new grads to senior engineers
— Drew Ozanne, technical recruiter
Drew notes CodeSignal’s intuitive, user-friendly interface as a key benefit for Verkada. “We found it really easy to use,” he says. It’s “really simple to just shoot out a link” to potential candidates, which both makes it easier for a small talent acquisition team to reach a wide applicant pool and helps recent graduates navigate the complex world of technical hiring, resulting in higher conversion rates for internships and entry-level positions.
Assessment design is also simple with CodeSignal, making it user-friendly for engineering teams as well. Drew states that they can easily “create multiple tests [and] continually tweak them.” Cody confirms this, saying that he “got to write the test once, and [they got] to use them for all the languages across all of [their] teams.” This reduces the burden on engineering teams even further, making the technical hiring process more efficient and less stressful for everyone involved on both ends.
While Pre-Screen helps talent acquisition professionals like Drew filter through high volumes of candidates quickly and reliably, Cody noticed added benefits for Verkada’s engineering teams. It’s well known that Silicon Valley has a diversity problem, with women and people of color–particularly BIPOC–struggling to gain equitable representation in tech spaces. It’s been proven that using resumes as a primary screening tool is a strategy that’s highly vulnerable to bias and intentional or subliminal discrimination.
Moreover, pedigrees are an unreliable measure of a candidate’s true skills and future job performance. When used as a top-of-funnel tool, Pre-Screen removes the need to screen resumes and foregrounds a candidate’s concrete, measurable skills to create a more equitable hiring process. “I typically don’t have to look at the resumes, which removes many a bias I would have,” Cody says. While boosting diversity in their hiring process is an added bonus for Verkada, by introducing Pre-Screen early in their hypergrowth phase ensures that their workplace will become increasingly equitable as they grow.
Doing, Not Dying
When a company needs to scale up its teams by over 200% like Verkada did, managing that growth becomes a moment of truth–hypergrowth represents a critical juncture where many young companies either do or die. By streamlining their top-of-funnel hiring process with CodeSignal Pre-Screen, Verkada has been able to not only survive but thrive through this challenging period. Their revenue has continued to grow, increasing by 21% in the second quarter of 2020. They’ve launched another hiring surge as a result, this time utilizing CodeSignal Interview to bring their onsites virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Interview combines high-quality audio and video calling, a virtual whiteboard, a live coding environment, and more into a single platform, making remote technical hiring simple. With remote work continuing for the foreseeable future, this powerful tool is sure to come in handy for Verkada; they plan to more than triple their team by the end of 2020. Hypergrowth is both an exciting and challenging phase for any company, and with CodeSignal’s help, Verkada is more than prepared to rise to the occasion.
How Can CodeSignal Help Your Company?
Whether you want to scale your talent acquisition process, reduce bias and boost diversity in your company, improve candidate and employee experiences, or conduct technical interviews remotely, CodeSignal can help your company simplify, optimize, and scale your hiring process. Pre-Screen and Interview were the right fit for Verkada’s needs; CodeSignal also offers Tech Screen-–a technical phone screen replacement that gives time back to engineers while providing a white glove candidate experience. Whatever challenge your company is facing, CodeSignal has a solution to fit your needs so your company can #GoBeyondResumes and keep growing.