jobboost: introducing nick ebbekink
Like other employment agencies, JobBoost helps businesses and candidates find their match. But unlike other employment agencies, JobBoost combines social media and data to develop a targeted online recruitment campaign for each and every vacancy. It’s an approach the agency is known for.
They also focus, although not exclusively, on young professionals and recent graduates; a demographic eager to learn and able to offer businesses fresh perspectives.
But whilst JobBoost has gone from strength to strength since starting in 2012, the pandemic has dramatically impacted the recruitment industry. Now, entire interview processes are held online, virtual onboarding too. Many new employees have never even met their team in person.
We talked to Co-owner Nick Ebbekink about the impact, why speed is important to JobBoost, how businesses can champion diversity and the company culture he’s proud of.
What does JobBoost do and how?
JobBoost is a fast-growing employment agency helping match candidates and businesses throughout the Netherlands. We work with multinationals, SMEs, governments and startups. Our mission is to connect the best employees and organizations so they can grow together.
Our strength is a unique and innovative recruitment method. We develop an online recruitment campaign for each vacancy, using social media and data-driven targeting, which is seen by thousands of potential candidates. Dedicated recruiters select the right employees and remain the point of contact for all parties.
Why is speed so important to JobBoost’s process?
We’re often called when the need for personnel is urgent; when an organization is scaling up or when a customer's service is subject to peak and off-peak times. In these times, providing a solution quickly is critical.
We’ve seen this a lot in the past months as companies have responded to surges during the pandemic. For instance, we recently helped an airline find extra personnel for organising refunds and changes to bookings. Another customer who supplies hospital equipment was faced with the challenge of increased demand from intensive care departments. And soon we’re helping a transport company distribute coronavirus vaccines.
These companies couldn’t have foreseen that suddenly so much would be expected of them. Still, they had to provide their services. We arranged the staff, and they continued to deliver.
Speed is also one of our pillars of innovation. We’ve digitized our recruitment process where possible without losing personal contact. We want to have the fastest and best applicant journey for both our applicants and recruiters.
JobBoost focuses on young professionals. Could you talk a little about this and the importance of this demographic?
We don’t only recruit young people, but we do indeed focus on young professionals, starters and students. I think in recruitment, as it is in many industries, it’s important to specialize, to pick a niche. Doing so puts you ahead of competitors who don't specialize. At JobBoost, we know our niche inside out, and as a result, we can better tailor our recruitment methods to them.
And as a company, we’re in the middle of that demographic. Most of our employees are between 25 and 35 years old. This means we have a genuine understanding of what motivates young people, what they’re looking for in a job and the channels they use to look for those jobs. We tailor our recruiting method precisely to this with a strong online focus.
It’s also an exciting demographic for our customers. Young professionals have grown up with IT, so they’re quick to integrate into the systems of a modern business. Recent graduates offer businesses a fresh look at their organization. And both are in the early stages of their careers, full of energy and eager to learn.
How has the pandemic changed recruitment?
The pandemic has had a massive impact on recruitment. And the majority of that impact has been in onboarding new employees. You have to consider that many people hired during the pandemic have never met their colleagues in real life. Or seen the office in real life. They may have gone through the entire process through video calls, and that dramatically affects the connection people have with a business and the people who work there.
Some companies have safely organized the onboarding process at the office. Others try to realize that connection online in all kinds of ways. We help customers with this by organizing online and offline onboardings together. It’s going well but executing the entire process online will never be the same as when you meet new team members in person.
At the same time, I see this leap in virtual recruitment as a positive side effect of the pandemic. It’s forced employment agencies to organize their recruitment process online much better than before. Until recently, every candidate who seemed to fit a vacancy was invited to the office. Now companies and applicants get to know each other from home and can assess whether the match is there for an introduction in real life. In other words, it saves hiring managers a lot of time because they only speak to the best candidates in the office. And for applicants, it doesn’t waste their time and saves travel costs.
Whilst onboarding is harder to re-create virtually, first phase job interviews are working well online. And because of this, companies are paying more attention than ever to employer pages, introductory videos and information about a department. That information is crucial because applicants are no longer coming to the office for the first meeting.
Another change that’s happened is it’s now becoming more common for applicants to be asked to send a video pitch as a first step. This gives the employer a good picture of the person from the start while not requiring an immediate conversation. It’s a great tool for a first selection.
The pandemic hasn’t necessarily initiated these changes, but it’s speeded them up and normalised them. We had a streamlined online candidate journey before the pandemic, but we’ve accelerated several processes regarding video applications. And I think virtual recruitment is making the process on both sides more fun, effective and even more complete, all whilst saving time.
One thing the pandemic hasn’t changed (yet) is the geographical area companies are accepting talent from. Many companies haven’t decided to what extent they will work from an office or home in the future. Until this is finalized, employers will be looking for candidates who live relatively close to the office. This makes the hire future-proof no matter what the work situation will be.
When, however, (partial) working from home becomes the new normal, I’m certain we’ll see a massive shift in recruitment. As an employer, you will no longer necessarily have to be in a specific location to attract talent. And as an employee, you may face competition from talent from completely different regions and countries.
Diversity is more important than ever. How can companies champion diversity and inclusion whilst hiring?
Organizations must know that trust in the workplace leads to better business results. And when you have a work environment in which everyone can feel seen, heard and appreciated, it has a huge impact on your results. When people feel like they belong and can be themselves, they’ll be at their best.
Some companies try to achieve diversity and inclusion by addressing the composition of their teams. They look at who’s needed to be more diverse and fill vacancies accordingly. It’s one approach, but I don't think it’s that simple.
I believe hiring the best candidate for the position and then making sure anyone and everyone feels at home in your business is the most effective route. What’s needed for that is an awareness of your corporate culture. If it restricts diversity and inclusion in any way, you need to do something about it.
Addressing diversity, however, isn’t just the responsibility of the recruitment department but the entire organization. That’s easier for some organizations than others, as many companies have traditionally been designed around a specific type of employee. Other organizations are, by nature, more diverse and inclusive. I would advise every organization to know where they stand in that regard. Then see what it takes for everyone to flourish.
What role does recruitment play in this? As I mentioned, I don’t believe in recruiting with specific diversity figures as a goal. That’s not to say recruitment doesn’t have a role in supporting a company attract diverse candidates. Recruiters have an advisory role. At Jobboost, we help companies write vacancy texts with diversity in mind. We encourage them to research what attracts different candidates to a job. We help them show what the organization has to offer in terms of diversity and inclusivity.
As recruiters, you listen to employers about their company and their work culture. But what’s JobBoost’s work culture like?
JobBoost is fun. That sounds like a cliche, but it really is. I enjoy working there every day and that’s how we want everyone within the organization to feel. We believe when we’re enjoying our work, that’s when we do our best work. Of course, work remains work, but I think we’ve done well in creating that environment. You can see this in the way we work together, in the team’s energy and in the healthy competition we feel in the market. People also feel this when they’re in our office, and it’s incredibly rewarding to hear.
I’m also grateful for how many young, talented people work for us. They’re quick to take on responsibility for their own projects and customer relationships. It's great to see them do that. And every day young team members share ideas that I would have never thought of, even though I've been in the industry for ten years. It’s inspiring.
But it’s not just young talent at Jobboost, and we have a base of seasoned industry experts too. That mix of experience and fresh perspectives creates a healthy environment where people can learn and grow together.
What’s next for JobBoost?
I’m really proud of where JobBoost is and excited about what’s to come. We’ve reached the point where our working method has proven itself and we’ve grown from a start-up to a scale-up. We’ve just moved to a bigger office at B. Amsterdam for this reason.
We’ve also built a reputation as a high-quality supplier of personnel and larger companies are recognising this. So, we’re starting to compete with the major players in our market. We’ve repeatedly shown that when it comes to finding the best candidate for a vacancy, we can make a difference. This has given us a lot of confidence in ourselves.
Jobboost is ready to grow even more, but we’re equally determined to keep the company’s culture the way it is. We will remain who we are: an agency who delivers every time for our customers and employees.
And finally, what advice do you have for candidates who have an upcoming video interview?
1. Test your equipment before you start. It sounds logical, but a lot of candidates don’t do this, and there’s nothing more frustrating for both parties than the camera or sound not working. If something does go wrong with the connection during the conversation, or your cat sits in front of the camera, stay calm. Fortunately, everyone is now used to these kinds of things happening.
2. Consider your background. It affects how you’re perceived. And just like with a regular job application, don't forget to match your clothing to the position you’re applying for and the company’s culture.
3. Be yourself. A video interview often feels more formal than a real-life conversation because you're talking through a screen. But an employer still wants to know who you are as a person. So, despite the screen, try to connect with the person on the other end. If you normally add some humour into a conversation, make sure you still do it in a video interview.
4. Have a professional screen name and profile image. Sometimes people use video meeting services mainly for catching up with friends and family but not for business. I’ve heard of a few times where candidates have realised mid-interview that haven’t changed their profile name to something more appropriate for a business context. It’s an easy one to forget.
5. Remember to disconnect when you exit!