Collab’s Approach To The New Talent Landscape

By Courtney Shanklin, EVP, Human Resources, Collab, Inc.


What are some ways your agency/organization is keeping agency culture alive in the midst of the ever changing industry landscape? (i.e. internal initiatives, incentives, etc.) 

We look to nurture an environment where employees are comfortable being themselves. True connection can only take place when we show up each day as our authentic selves. This has been true both before and after the seismic changes we’ve all experienced over the past year and half. So, when we think of kindling our culture, we hold authenticity in highest regard.

Moreover, as humans we thrive on connection; creating or experiencing something as a collective unit. We’ve focused on creating as many of those connection points as possible even when we can’t be together and giving employees the agency to decide which initiatives they will participate in. From a lively DEI training discussion which challenges employees to consider alternative ideals and look inward in ways that may not have before to a simple wine and paint night to an intensive offsite, consistently creating opportunities for our people to authentically connect is vital to keeping culture alive and creativity flowing.


As the challenge increases for business leaders to find the right talent, and with WFH impacting those decisions, what strategies are you using to help find candidates?

It’s no secret that finding top talent is an ongoing challenge and with the current market, employees are being more and more selective in their approach. However, with unlimited flexibility regarding where our talent works, the talent pool has changed in dramatic and exciting ways. Like many other companies, we’ve experienced our recruiting difficulties but have found some creative ways to attract talent.

Considering our process for finding top tech talent, the primary programming language that we use is Ruby. Therefore, we want to be intentional in showing strong support for the Ruby developer community we love while also connecting directly with prospective Ruby talent. It made sense for us to then be an official sponsor of RubyConf this year which will take place November 2021 in Denver, CO. Whether it’s as large-scale as sponsoring an event to a more grassroots approach such as identifying and connecting with top contributors to the Ruby community on github, our approach is to go to where the talent works and plays. Our goal is to bring Collab to top of mind for talented engineers looking to be an integral part of creating new and exciting products for the Creator space.


With demand for new talent high, and the competition strong, standing out among the crowd is never easy. What would be your advice to young talent looking to enter the industry?

Now is the time to do inventory on your key strengths and passions and be ready to speak to them enthusiastically. There’s nothing better than a hungry and curious candidate that shows up to an interview prepared with thoughtful questions, knows all about your company, and can speak confidently to exactly how they would bring value. Step into your power and confidence and you’ll ace that interview. But first, do your research!


As the pandemic has shifted the expectation and relationship that individuals have with employers, how are you promoting a healthy work/life balance?

Workplace flexibility is now fully expected, it’s no longer a differentiator. We’ve always given our employees ample autonomy, trust, and treated them like the capable adults that they are. We’ve taken it a step further now to promote work-life balance. Times have been hard. If an employee wants to work for a month from Hawaii in-between surf sessions or from the comfort of their Nana’s house on the Cape, we’re not phased as long as the work product is strong and something that the employee would proudly stand behind. The pandemic has forced us to determine what is really important. Balance and happiness ultimately makes for a stronger, more creative workforce.


What does the new ‘normal’ agency culture look like?

Flexible or agile environments that are grounded in strong company values are now expected and will become the new normal. People now must know they are a part of a company that puts their employees first and stands for something. People-centric agencies that really show a deep care for their employees will thrive. Rigidity and ass-in-seat mentalities will quickly make an employer irrelevant.