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Welcome to Hired! Our goal is to be a hiring resource for Canadians. We showcase companies that do great things and are looking for great people to join their team! On this episode of Hired! by ModoHR, we spoke with Ryan, Manager of Talent Acquisition at Thinkific, a software platform that enables entrepreneurs to create, market, sell and delivery their own online courses.  

On this episode we discuss:

  • Thinkific’s rapid growth
  • The hiring process at Thinkific
  • Diversity and Inclusion at Thinkific

Tell us a little bit about Thinkific, how you ended up there and what your role entails.

My role at Thinkific is really to hire lots of people. I lead the recruitment team with six amazing recruiters. We really focus on partnership with our internal hiring leads so we're a part of every step of the recruitment process and help our business hire and scale and continue to grow at such a rapid pace. We don't know what to do with ourselves.

In 2020, the headcount was just over 200 people. And then by the end of 2021, the team plans to be adding around a total of 300 people. Congratulations! I don't think I have heard of numbers that big, as of recent, so could you tell me a little bit about those plans?

It started last year we were experiencing tremendous growth. As a business pre-COVID. It's an opportunity as education, online education, in particular takes off, we have a very strategic partnership with Rhino ventures, based here in Vancouver, and received a significant round of funding from them. It really helped launch us the better part of 2020 and into 2021, as well.  

The plan to hire this many people - well, we've scaled up our recruitment team and a lot of our HR processes in general, which have really helped. But essentially, it's hire somewhere close to 60 people in the first quarter, and then about 100 people from every quarter here on out. There’s a lot that's going to go into that and our team's going to work really hard.  

As I understand, Thinkific is funded by Rhino ventures, who also is partnered with Klue, who we interviewed a few weeks ago. 22 million dollars in funding to date. When we're talking about this mass hire, happening over the next year, if we did a breakdown, what types of roles are you hiring for? And are these people going to be remote?

On distributed piece we actually had, we called it a guilt free work from home policy in the first place. We've had to shift that now because we're obviously all distributed. So yes, lots of hiring. Our hub is here in Vancouver, we're going to look at how we can expand across Canada, and potentially internationally as well as we go, throughout the year. Our focus right now will be on Canada, at least.  

Where are those hires coming from? Like I said, product is going to be a huge part of that. We really want to focus on how we can continually improve our product, the learner experience, the experience for our customers so engineering, product design is a big focus.  

The second side, I think our unsung heroes of our business are the support team. We have technical support, we have customer support online, on the phone, and probably hire about 25% of that headcount, at least on that support and success teams. Those are two big buckets that are going hire about 200 people between those two areas.

It seems that you focus a lot of attention on employee referrals. What's the approach to the employee referrals?

I don't want to say we have a secret sauce for that but a huge part for us is hiring individuals that align with our company values, so those people are really passionate about what they do. They are driven and motivated to succeed in their own roles. Generally, they care as one of our core values and I think it's really important for individuals and our team members, so a lot of times, what we find is those people naturally want to bring the other people they know that align with that to the organization.  

The second part of that is we have good employment branding and marketing, which helps not only internally branding, but also externally, including educating our team members on why and how referrals are important and incentivizing in different ways, not just monetarily, but driving the success of the organization and how their referrals mean success for our business. We can't grow without them. We're continually looking at ways we can do that and highlight our hires that have been referred and another way is to just celebrate our overall growth.

When it comes to the application process itself, putting myself in a candidate’s shoes, could you tell me a little bit about what to expect in the application process?

We use an application form on our website where we actually want to learn more about you, not just to ask you about your work experience but what makes you a person. I think it's a little bit more of a tailored cover letter approach which gives us the information that we want to hear. That is step one.

We then go through a couple rounds of interviews.

  1. We do an initial interview with usually the hiring manager, led by us on the recruitment team.  
  1. Then we always do a take home test which is some form of case study, technical assessment, a lot of it for engineers is coding or maybe it's design.
  1. Then followed by a top grading conversation. We take someone, anywhere from an hour to three hours, usually from their education all the way to their current job. We'll talk about every job that they've had, why they've been successful, what challenges they've had, some of the people they've worked with, and time flies! Three hours seems like a long time to talk but it's about understanding who you are, and you are hearing their full story. A lot of times candidates forget that their job at Starbucks, gave them really great values and a set of foundations that have helped them in their job as an engineer.

We don't want to miss those things. We want to hear about all your successes, and what has led you to be who you are today, and not just about your last job and hearing about some awesome accomplishments from the one job.

How does Thinkific view diversity and inclusion?

It's something that we feel like we do a good job with, but there's always room for improvement, which I think a lot of other organizations are in the same boat. We want to continually push ourselves to do better. One thing we did in 2020 was align ourselves with pay up for progress which Unbounce really led the charge with. I think there are over 50 companies now that have all signed this pledge. We took it very seriously and wanted to look internally, in terms of pay parity amongst the organization, something that we'd always looked at and done sort an internal analysis of, but this was a good, formalized step for us.  

A couple of other pieces:

We really see top of funnel and recruitment as an area to focus on. We ask questions such as are we getting our jobs to underrepresented groups?  

Are we highlighting the current diversity that we do have in the organization? Including:

  • Half of our leadership identifies as female, a really good percentage of our engineering teams identify as female, really good balance gender wise.
  • Our inclusion roundtables that we do monthly to bring people together talk about some of the issues and challenges that people have in the workplace and think of ways to solve them and make them a little bit better.

Like I said, top of funnel for us, how do we get it out to as many people as we can partnering into organizations that represent underrepresented people to share our jobs, and really try to show and showcase our inclusivity and welcoming of all people?

What's some advice you have for a candidate who may be looking to submit an application?

We post on all the job boards for sure. Our website, really does showcase our culture and our values because sometimes on other job boards, you don't necessarily see that. The website is a great place to go to, it will have the most up to date jobs.

Advice to a candidate is just to be your authentic self. We ask you questions in your application and in the interview about who you are and what you bring to the table, but also who you are as a person. I think that that's really important for us because we're not just hiring numbers, we want to hire people who are continually going to add to our business. So, my advice would be to be your authentic self and bring the full you to the to the interview and into your application.

Check out our last episode of Hired! with Guusto, an employee rewards and recognition organization.

Welcome to Hired! Our goal is to be a hiring resource for Canadians. We showcase companies that do great things and are looking for great people to join their team! On this episode of Hired! by ModoHR, we spoke with Ryan, Manager of Talent Acquisition at Thinkific, a software platform that enables entrepreneurs to create, market, sell and delivery their own online courses.  

On this episode we discuss:

  • Thinkific’s rapid growth
  • The hiring process at Thinkific
  • Diversity and Inclusion at Thinkific

Tell us a little bit about Thinkific, how you ended up there and what your role entails.

My role at Thinkific is really to hire lots of people. I lead the recruitment team with six amazing recruiters. We really focus on partnership with our internal hiring leads so we're a part of every step of the recruitment process and help our business hire and scale and continue to grow at such a rapid pace. We don't know what to do with ourselves.

In 2020, the headcount was just over 200 people. And then by the end of 2021, the team plans to be adding around a total of 300 people. Congratulations! I don't think I have heard of numbers that big, as of recent, so could you tell me a little bit about those plans?

It started last year we were experiencing tremendous growth. As a business pre-COVID. It's an opportunity as education, online education, in particular takes off, we have a very strategic partnership with Rhino ventures, based here in Vancouver, and received a significant round of funding from them. It really helped launch us the better part of 2020 and into 2021, as well.  

The plan to hire this many people - well, we've scaled up our recruitment team and a lot of our HR processes in general, which have really helped. But essentially, it's hire somewhere close to 60 people in the first quarter, and then about 100 people from every quarter here on out. There’s a lot that's going to go into that and our team's going to work really hard.  

As I understand, Thinkific is funded by Rhino ventures, who also is partnered with Klue, who we interviewed a few weeks ago. 22 million dollars in funding to date. When we're talking about this mass hire, happening over the next year, if we did a breakdown, what types of roles are you hiring for? And are these people going to be remote?

On distributed piece we actually had, we called it a guilt free work from home policy in the first place. We've had to shift that now because we're obviously all distributed. So yes, lots of hiring. Our hub is here in Vancouver, we're going to look at how we can expand across Canada, and potentially internationally as well as we go, throughout the year. Our focus right now will be on Canada, at least.  

Where are those hires coming from? Like I said, product is going to be a huge part of that. We really want to focus on how we can continually improve our product, the learner experience, the experience for our customers so engineering, product design is a big focus.  

The second side, I think our unsung heroes of our business are the support team. We have technical support, we have customer support online, on the phone, and probably hire about 25% of that headcount, at least on that support and success teams. Those are two big buckets that are going hire about 200 people between those two areas.

It seems that you focus a lot of attention on employee referrals. What's the approach to the employee referrals?

I don't want to say we have a secret sauce for that but a huge part for us is hiring individuals that align with our company values, so those people are really passionate about what they do. They are driven and motivated to succeed in their own roles. Generally, they care as one of our core values and I think it's really important for individuals and our team members, so a lot of times, what we find is those people naturally want to bring the other people they know that align with that to the organization.  

The second part of that is we have good employment branding and marketing, which helps not only internally branding, but also externally, including educating our team members on why and how referrals are important and incentivizing in different ways, not just monetarily, but driving the success of the organization and how their referrals mean success for our business. We can't grow without them. We're continually looking at ways we can do that and highlight our hires that have been referred and another way is to just celebrate our overall growth.

When it comes to the application process itself, putting myself in a candidate’s shoes, could you tell me a little bit about what to expect in the application process?

We use an application form on our website where we actually want to learn more about you, not just to ask you about your work experience but what makes you a person. I think it's a little bit more of a tailored cover letter approach which gives us the information that we want to hear. That is step one.

We then go through a couple rounds of interviews.

  1. We do an initial interview with usually the hiring manager, led by us on the recruitment team.  
  1. Then we always do a take home test which is some form of case study, technical assessment, a lot of it for engineers is coding or maybe it's design.
  1. Then followed by a top grading conversation. We take someone, anywhere from an hour to three hours, usually from their education all the way to their current job. We'll talk about every job that they've had, why they've been successful, what challenges they've had, some of the people they've worked with, and time flies! Three hours seems like a long time to talk but it's about understanding who you are, and you are hearing their full story. A lot of times candidates forget that their job at Starbucks, gave them really great values and a set of foundations that have helped them in their job as an engineer.

We don't want to miss those things. We want to hear about all your successes, and what has led you to be who you are today, and not just about your last job and hearing about some awesome accomplishments from the one job.

How does Thinkific view diversity and inclusion?

It's something that we feel like we do a good job with, but there's always room for improvement, which I think a lot of other organizations are in the same boat. We want to continually push ourselves to do better. One thing we did in 2020 was align ourselves with pay up for progress which Unbounce really led the charge with. I think there are over 50 companies now that have all signed this pledge. We took it very seriously and wanted to look internally, in terms of pay parity amongst the organization, something that we'd always looked at and done sort an internal analysis of, but this was a good, formalized step for us.  

A couple of other pieces:

We really see top of funnel and recruitment as an area to focus on. We ask questions such as are we getting our jobs to underrepresented groups?  

Are we highlighting the current diversity that we do have in the organization? Including:

  • Half of our leadership identifies as female, a really good percentage of our engineering teams identify as female, really good balance gender wise.
  • Our inclusion roundtables that we do monthly to bring people together talk about some of the issues and challenges that people have in the workplace and think of ways to solve them and make them a little bit better.

Like I said, top of funnel for us, how do we get it out to as many people as we can partnering into organizations that represent underrepresented people to share our jobs, and really try to show and showcase our inclusivity and welcoming of all people?

What's some advice you have for a candidate who may be looking to submit an application?

We post on all the job boards for sure. Our website, really does showcase our culture and our values because sometimes on other job boards, you don't necessarily see that. The website is a great place to go to, it will have the most up to date jobs.

Advice to a candidate is just to be your authentic self. We ask you questions in your application and in the interview about who you are and what you bring to the table, but also who you are as a person. I think that that's really important for us because we're not just hiring numbers, we want to hire people who are continually going to add to our business. So, my advice would be to be your authentic self and bring the full you to the to the interview and into your application.

Check out our last episode of Hired! with Guusto, an employee rewards and recognition organization.

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