Cloudflare TV

This is Your Tech Leader Speaking

Presented by Gretchen Scott, Rachael Goodenough
Originally aired on 

Rachael is one of Australia's leading talent acquisition managers with unparalleled experience in the tech industry. Join us to hear her thoughts on the current state of play.


Transcript (Beta)

Hi there, I'm Gretchen. Thanks for joining us for today's episode of This Is Your Technologist Speaking.

These are a series of talks we're running with local APAC industry leaders.

And I got to tweet yesterday about having one of the best jobs in the world, and I truly do.

I mean, who else gets to get up in the morning, make a coffee, and then spend their time chatting with the talented and inspired people that I've somehow managed to get on here with me.

So today's guest is well known in the industry across multiple states in Australia.

Everywhere she goes, she creates this community of support and encouragement in technology, whilst at the same time managing to do her day job.

It blows me away, actually. And I'd really like to extend a warm welcome to Rachael Goodenough.

Thanks for coming. Hi. So just as a backstory, I met Rachael when she was in Melbourne, and she got Women Who Code Melbourne up and running.

It had just been left to kind of squander in the universe, and nothing was happening.

And Rachael moved here and got it up and running, and then handed over the reins when she went back into state to Queensland, and got the same thing happening in Queensland, reinvigorated their group.

So she really is a champion in the world.

But that's later. Rachael, you've been working in tech, or HR and tech for over a decade.

It's a crazy space, and it's always changing.

What are you seeing at the moment when you're recruiting for technical roles?

Yeah, it's absolutely happening at the moment. And I've had a few people reach out saying, what do you think is going to happen?

And I'm like, don't know.

What we are definitely seeing right now is huge increases in salaries, highly competitive market.

And also, it's now a national market. So companies that used to hire Sydney and Melbourne, they're now creeping into Brisbane, to Adelaide.

So it's making our smaller markets more competitive.

And they're also offering their Sydney and Melbourne salaries as well.

I suppose that's okay, because Sydney and Melbourne people are now relocating to Brisbane.

So it's a worldwide little traffic system at the moment.

What we are also seeing as well, too, is huge counter offers.

So people are going out there, they're getting lured to a different job by a huge salary.

But then their company is coming back and offering these huge counter offers.

So I know of up to 60 grand to stay in their current job. So yeah, it's happening out there at the moment.

I heard this similar story of a technologist in Melbourne, he was a very senior engineer.

And the company he was working for got acquired, and it was a much bigger organization.

And he said to them, look, I love the work, I love what I'm doing.

But this is not the corporate structure I want to be in.

So I'm going to go elsewhere. And they came back to him and said, if you stay for six more months, there's I think it was a 50-60k bonus just for staying, so they could have time to find someone else.

I don't know what you even say to that.

Exactly. Because that's life-changing money. And we used to always fall back on the 80% of counter offers, six months later, you end up leaving.

But if you do end up getting an extra 30, 60 grand plus on your salary, I don't know.

This could change that longevity around people do eventually kind of moving on quite quickly after they have been counter -offered.

So we'll just have to see. There's so many things that are playing out right now that we don't know.

So yeah, but it's yeah, there's lots of money being thrown around.

There's lots of jobs, and it's competitive.

It's so interesting that it's competitive for the companies, but it's also competitive for the applicants as well, right?

They have to be demonstrating they've got what you're after, or is it a bit easier from that perspective?

I think the market had been changing anyway from being kind of employee-driven where people felt like they had to tap dance for a job to candidates really now.

We're pitching them. We're really going in, and we're talking about our EVP, what we offer, talking more about our culture.

So I think it really has changed for, it's flipped, the table's certainly flipped.

It's a candidate-driven market.

And that's, I love what you said there, and it's intriguing because sometimes, you know, when you're doing things like offering a 60k counter-offer or a bonus to stay for a bit longer, or it's quite a transactional interaction then, right?

Like it's, here's money, you do the thing. It's very cold and callous, whereas a lot of what people seem to be interested in is the other, it's the culture fit.

Am I doing something that has value for society that I find meaningful?

Will I enjoy going to work each day or spending half an hour on Zoom calls?

Purpose. Yeah. And what I'm really interested, the thing that kind of ticks over in my brain is every time, you know, someone gets counted or offered for, you know, this huge money, I'm like, well, if you knew they were worth that, why don't you just pay them that money anyway?

Like I've always been really unhappy with this idea of you can only really pay people significantly more once they've been offered somewhere else.

And at that point, candidates are already like halfway out the door.

Like they've already gone through, you know, their meeting with other organisations.

Why push people to that point just for them to get paid what they're worth?

Like it's just, yeah, it's gross. How do you do that before they're ready to leave as an organisation?

How do you go, hey, Sally over there, she's on what was market rate two years ago, but the market's changed.

I'm going to bring her to that point before she leaves.

How do you identify that? Is it hard? Look, what I feel is recommended way to go forth with it is you should be constantly analysing the market.

And one way to really look at that is going, okay, look, we've been offering all these candidates and we're getting knocked back.

So we're hiring for senior devs and they're saying, no, I'm getting paid 20, 30 grand somewhere else.

And we're like, oh, okay. So that means that we're either A, significantly underpaying our devs or B, there's something else happening in the market we don't understand.

At that point, go out, you do some market benchmarking. Okay, yeah, cool.

So what we're seeing does add up here. We can understand that either A, we are underpaying or we're paying right, but we're just looking at a different like level of role.

Map it out and then go back and go, okay, cool. Like we need to readdress this and then either bump your people up or look at what's happening as far as a role matrix is concerned as well too.

So if they're actually matched correct to the right level of salary.

Good points. Great points.

Do you think there's actually, I mean, the market's bonkers, that's my technical term at the moment.

Is that because there's a shortage of technologists in Australia?

And if you think it is, like, how do you fix that? That is, we're all in a bit of a panic.

We did used to look to hire from overseas for skilled candidates.

Where I think we're going to have to look at doing is just being flexible around how and who and what we hire for.

So instead of just going, what, 99.9% of this job spec, let's hire for capability.

Let's hire for potential. Let's hire for drive for learning.

The hires that I have made where they didn't actually tick all the boxes, but they just really wanted it, were the ones that had the most impact on the organisation.

And that's what I would really encourage employees to do.

I have in the past, I have this scenario where I had a hiring manager who had had this job open for two years.

We knew that there was absolutely no one who could do this job.

We'd already approached everybody and the hiring manager says, well, keep looking.

We can't.

We've looked. We know. And so at that point, if we had just thought flexibly about it and gone, okay, well, look, we know we need this is this.

Let's re-scope the role.

Let's look for say 70% and then appetite to grow and train this person.

You'd have your hire. And especially when in this, we had a contractor who was like smashing out like really expensive rates.

And it's just like, by a little bit of flexible thinking, there are ways that we can overcome this.

And it's just approaching with flexibility and just a bit more patience to train people as well.

I love that concept. I know we've talked before about junior devs and where they sit in the market and personally, and it comes from, I spent time teaching people to become junior devs.

So I'm completely biased in my take.

I think, and I own it. I don't know if that makes it better or worse.

Yeah. We, we train juniors and then some organizations just never take a junior.

And I understand that some don't have the resources available to do it well.

And I agree that you shouldn't take on a junior and crash them because that would, that would break my heart.

Have you seen the junior hiring thing done well? What are your thoughts on that?

I think it's, it's such a fine line because I feel like we should all be putting our backs into hiring junior developers.

They're our next generation senior developers.

So we all need to be doing the work to, to invest. That being said, don't hire for juniors if you do not have a program in place, or you do not have somebody else who is going to be responsible for their success.

It's really about going in to hiring juniors and a junior program, doing it with conviction.

So you want to make sure that you've got a coach, you've got a mentor, you have a safe place where they can say, I don't know.

And they can say that as many times as they like.

You know, you want to make sure you have work for them to do.

Let's not hire a bunch of juniors and just have them just like sitting around, you know, small little bits and pieces of work that starts to make sense when it's all kind of patched together.

On the flip side, don't just throw them in, you know, to the, the, the, the fry pan full of fire.

Yeah. Because like, everyone remembers their first go.

And we have to do that responsibly. And you just don't want people to come into the industry, have this awful experience because they don't have perspective to understand what's happening to them.

And then they burn out, and then they go into another industry or worse.

So I just think we have to, we have to do it, but we have to do it well.

Yeah, I really like that take. And I think too, it ties back to what you were saying before, at that point in time, you're hiring for kind of appetite and capability, not demonstrated skills.

And what a great way to practice it, like practice with your juniors when you hire.

And if you figure out how to do that, then you can do it at more senior roles.

Yeah. On that take, how on earth can you hire for potential capabilities when, and I'm going to tie this into a couple of things, because my head's doing everything.

I mean, a lot of us are starting to look at using automation or AI bots to kind of screen resumes, because so many are coming in and not aligning with jobs.

So it's that perfect mix if we're not getting enough people, but we're getting a lot of stuff that doesn't align.

When you've got that mix, how do you use technology well and responsibly to recruit?

Yeah, responsibly is the key word there. Because I think when we look at, say, for example, I've got a job and I've got 100 CVs on there.

And there does come a point where the human brain just is looking at those resumes, enough is enough.

So where technology can, there is some really great tech out there that will look at the resumes and it will kind of weigh it up against the job spec and go, look, this candidate is showing this.

And it will weight as far as, you know, who is the best fit.

That technology is just getting better and better and better.

And the other, and how they tested it is against some of the best sources, you know, in the world where they've got the tech, they've got the sourcer, and they've come out with the same result.

But it's done it within like, you know, 30 seconds and the sourcer is just going for it and comes 24 hours later.

Absolutely fine. But I suppose that is the piece though, where you do need the sourcer to come in and do that engagement piece and bring the candidate in and, you know, get them excited, get them engaged in the brand and whatnot.

But definitely think that that sourcing tech is a great way to identify some really good talent.

Yeah, because there's so much coming in otherwise.

Personally, I get so terrified from them, because I know my resume doesn't map to anything reasonable or rational.

So it gets excluded from those. I'm really intrigued to see if someone can come up with something that, don't get me wrong, I think resumes should be read and screened.

Really interested to see if someone can come up with something that almost says, your resumes are great, but what we want to look for is, I don't know, I guess I'm saying personality types or aptitude and the other stuff as well.

And then do both sides of this.

And that's, it's such an interesting piece. So for example, one of my favorite hires that I've made in my entire recruitment career.

You don't need to have favorites, Rach.

I like it. This particular hypothetical favorite, I had one of these circumstances where I had 100 plus CVs and I was reading through the resumes.

And you do also understand you have a responsibility to look at people's resumes and consider them.

You can't just read it, have a look. Anyway, I came across this particular person's resume and this particular person hadn't done the job that we had hired, like we were hiring to do.

Certainly transferable skills, but this particular person, the way they'd written their resume, it was so clean.

It wasn't over professional. It was a bit casual, but it was, it just had everything.

The formatting was perfect. And I looked at it and I was just like, I want to meet this person.

I want to meet this person who actually has not done this job before.

Anyway, we met the candidate and hired her.

And within four years, she had been within the company and was just, and because we hired for capability and potential, she was able to pick up all these different roles.

So she started in this role and then she's like, okay, yeah, great.

Did that. And then she's like, actually, that's really interesting. I might want to go and do that.

And she jumped over there and because she just has that appetite, she has huge potential.

She can just lend her hand, lend her brain to anything.

And she's just a superstar. So yeah, that's why she's my hypothetical favorite.

How would screening pick that up or not exclude that? Because what you're saying, my interpretation is that she had a huge appetite for curiosity, right?

She just wanted to keep learning and trying the new things, but she was also competent and capable enough of doing that.

Do we accidentally screen some of those people out?

I think with the technology, if we're looking at the tech in that instance, I don't know if it would have picked up her resume.

I think that's a really interesting point.

And maybe that's why we continue to still have that human eye in the screening phase.

We have different types of sourcing where I'm specifically going out and I know exactly the type of skill set I'm looking for and I'm headhunting for it.

And the flip of that is when we do have ad response where we have people who are engaged with our brand and they want to work for us.

That table is split.

And in that instance is where we have to really think about, okay, who is this candidate?

They want to work for us. We have to give them that respect. You know, let's engage them and let's, you know, let's do the right thing and really consider their.

And in that instance, that was my lens, but I just don't know if that will be the lens of, you know, an AI software product that is doing that screening process.

Maybe, you know, it's very clever. It could evolve. Things are getting much more inclusive and I'd say they're improving even in the last two, three years, right?

The outcomes. So interesting. So, so interesting. Are you, no, that question's not going to come out quite right.

Senior engineering salaries. What's going to, do you think organizations in general are going, wow, this is not sustainable?

Or do you think they're just going to keep throwing money at the problem and hoping it goes away?

I don't know. I just, I don't know about this one.

As these salaries get huge, I don't know if one option is we go, okay, we need to pay this money to get someone in the door, but instead of offering them a permanent job, we offer them like a 12 months fixed terms.

And then there's still a bit of stability.

And then, because when we're looking at these really talented senior engineers, they're always going to have options.

Like there's, there's that's not a problem.

So I think that's one way of approaching it, but by same token, if it just depends on the candidates mindset as well, too.

I don't know if it's going to go away.

I don't know if this will open up once we can travel again and, and we can sponsor and we can look at these different options.

Maybe it will get even worse.

You know, don't panic. Maybe it will. Like if we then can work for companies that are overseas and that drives up the salaries even more because now we can work for all these, you know, these great companies, which are somewhat the same time zone.

So yeah. Watch, watch this space. It's an interesting point. And I think to what you said, if any organization manages to do very well with different time zones and teams across time zones, then it's going to be even more disastrous or harder from the side of the world.

At the moment, I think the time zone thing gives us a bit of a buffer because it's hard to cross time zones.


And, and maybe, you know just this kind of like spitballing here, maybe it changes that we actually, you know, do start to think about how we can work with those, those cross time zones.

And I don't know, I don't, I don't know. But you know, like a lot, a lot's happened in 12 months in terms of, of how we all work from a remote perspective.

Maybe it might actually end up evolving into time zones as well.

Are you back in the office at all? I look, I am purely just because I need to.

I am an extrovert. And, and so when, even when I was interviewing for Octopus and Octopus had largely been remote first, and one of the things I said was, I'm like, to my manager, Tanya, I was like, you're going to have to let me come into the office, otherwise I'm out.

So I do come in two or three times a day, just to pester people, or two or three times a week, sorry, just to pester people and be like, what you doing?

Yeah. But the self -awareness and the, that you have, that that's what you need to function really well.

And their willingness to counter, like to enable that.

I love it. That's perfect. It's what you want, right? You know, like, I think largely, you know, in the past, you know, there are some people who still absolutely want to be completely remote first.

I like a hybrid. So, yeah. That's brilliant.

I like that. I like the flexibility in there. Yeah. It's nice to see.

And it's that piece around just making it so that your employees or the people involved can do their best work.

Yes. Yeah. Yeah. I know that if I spend too many days at home, my energy levels start to really come down.

And so then I'll get to the office Thursday, Friday, and I kind of spring through the door.

Hi, everybody.

Whereas, yeah, but I do also, I will acknowledge that I definitely way more productive when I am at home, because I can just like churn through my work.

And then I'm, yeah.

But yeah, each day, Laura, I think if organisations can work to that hybrid model and go, okay, like, this is truly how you'll get the best out of your people.

I think that's the best way to do it. So if you let your extroverts come to work, thank you.

I think we're all a bit more aware of what we do and don't need, because we spent the time not being able to go anywhere.

And it made you realise how much you do need to, whatever that threshold is.

I think I've seen people who are declared themselves to be the most introverted introvert saying, oh, no, I still need to have an actual conversation with at least one human.

So people are quite self-aware now, too, which is intriguing.

I like it. It really, I think COVID really brought that out where identifying, you know, just how comfortable you are being, you know, you know, working through your own stuff, being inside, or just how uncomfortable you were.

I was probably within the first week had my face pressed up against the window, looking outside.

So if I had still been in Melbourne, I wouldn't have survived.

I was very lucky to have been back in Brisvegas before we got there.

But yeah, good timing. I want to change tact completely.

Yes. At the start, I was talking about Women Who Code and that's how we met.

You're so involved in the community. Why? What motivates you to do this?

What's up with that?

I think that probably ties back into my extroversion again. So love people, love community.

And I know when I started attending meetups myself, this is a participant, I just got so much from it, so much fuel.

I would just be like buzzing for a couple of days.

And I just wanted to be part of it. So I was like, well, if I get this much joy from being there, like how much do I get from like helping out, you know, and that's like packing up chairs.

And that's literally like how I opened up Women Who Code Melbourne to start doing a bit of work for Melbs.

I'm like, I'll pack your chairs. I'll just let me talk. And that's how it kind of started.

I love being involved. I also love working with people who are there and they're after something.

They've got some drives. They want to grow a skill and they feel they can get that from Women Who Code.

And if we're mentoring people and you can see that growth, selfishly, I quite love that as well too.

So I love that they're getting it, but I love that improvement, whether it's just confidence or whether that is, you know, they've got that job or they've got that promotion or they delivered something.

I just, yeah, it's, it fuels me.

You can get so much joy from other people's success, right? I know, but then I feel bad that I get joy from it.

I'm like, maybe it's not selfless then, maybe I'm actually quite selfish about it, but I don't know.

I don't think anything's truly, truly selfless.

So Women Who Code Melbourne, we do a meetup once a month and one month will be a technical workshop and then the alternate month will be a professional development piece.

What, does Women Who Code Brisbane do a similar model? Yeah, we have, um, so we kicked back off in Jan and I think we will get to that at this stage.

We're really just trying to, um, understand what Brisbane wants, um, especially because while we're still remote, because I know we did it, like we were in person and those workshops are a bit easier to do.

And so we kind of got that.

So I think, um, once we get Brisbane, you know, back in person, I think we'll be able to understand.

I'd love to go back to that technical workshop.

Um, um, it was like, yeah, there was some great vibes, um, from that. So yeah, I'd love to, to get us to some type of similar model.

That'd be cool. What kind of, um, professional development, um, asks do you have from your members?

I know some of ours will, we'll put out surveys and say, this is what we're thinking for our next couple of events.

Can you preference them? Are you doing similar? And what are people asking for?

Yeah, that's a really good question. Um, when we've asked in the past, um, it's actually quite interesting because like, say for example, you, you punch out like a technical workshop that seems to attract completely different crowds to the, um, have people who are obviously kind of, uh, you've got some people who are like, I'm coming every month regardless.

And then you've got others who were like, I'm only going to come if you put on some good content.

Um, and so, and you've got, we're like, okay, technically that's something I'm interested in.

I might just pop back in. Um, so I think the surveying idea is really great.

Um, and then we try and also kind of weigh up with attendance. So, okay, cool.

We've just done this workshop. Did we have, did that, did that pull the numbers we thought it was going to, but also trying to acknowledge that people are a bit fatigued with online meetups and not taking it too personally as well.

Um, I think people just want to get back in person.

Like I've seen people advertising meetups at the moment saying it's in person.

Um, if you have no interest, um, in that particular piece of what they're up, you don't have, I'm going to go in person.

Oh yeah. Someone said to me yesterday, I was, I was attending an event around, um, getting women from technology onto boards in Australia and it was meant to be, um, in person, but because Melbourne had its fourth lockdown, they moved it to fully remote before the lockdown was ended.

Just so there was certainty for people, but one of the attendees said, I don't even care what the content is.

I would go to an envelope opening in real life at the moment. That's the theme.

Maybe that's the next event, an envelope opening.

Anything. And that's it. Like, um, you know, for some of us that drive, um, you know, um, side side note story, like the, as soon as Brisbane was allowed to have picnics at like 1159 on a Friday, I was out the door with my hamper, you know?

So like for some of us, like, that in-person draw is huge.

And, you know, I will absolutely be there with bells on. Oh, I missed the people side of things.

We've had some really interesting, um, asks from the Women Who Code Melbourne attendees around, um, confidence matters and how to pretend you're a bit more confident in the start.

And it's interesting because previously the ask was always about how do I negotiate pay?

Now they're asking more for broader confidence and career progression information.

Is that, are you having vaguely similar?

Yeah. It's such a reoccurring theme and it's, um, and it comes out a lot when people are looking for work and when they're interviewing, how can I look confident?

And it's just something, um, that maybe we just need to get better at helping people with or talking about because it almost, like when people come to talk to me about their confidence levels, they always feel like they're full of shit.

Like I'm, I've lacked confidence. Like, it's okay.

Like, get it. Um, but I remember I did a, I did a talk for Node Girls maybe two or three years ago.

And after it, I had probably about 50 people come up to talk to me, but they all would come in like a couple of minute breaks.

And every single one of these beautiful women said, how do I get confidence is what I need some help with.

Um, and I was like, that's so, so, but they all phrased it differently.

So yeah, I think it's certainly something that we need to think about, especially when we're hiring, like when we're hiring candidates and, and acknowledging that interviewing is so hard.

It's so hard. And that like people might have the jitters and it's okay because it, like, it brings out a different side of you, um, when you are.

Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. Just trying to make people feel comfortable.

And yeah, I mean, I know when I interview, I'm a completely different person.

Um, I get more extroverted. I like poor octopus. Um, like we've run out of time completely.

I've loved our chat. We've covered all the things, community recruitment bonuses.

We didn't get to touch on roller Derby, which I'm disappointed about.

So we might need to do a do over at some point. Um, thank you so much for your time this morning, right.

And for everyone out there watching and I'll see you all later in the week.