Hello friends! I’m Deborah, Culture Scout for the Buffer team. I’ve been very lucky to join the Buffer team in October and finish my bootcamp a couple of weeks ago.

What is a Culture Scout, you might ask? I’m part of the People team and my role is to bring on new folks to the Buffer journey, with a focus on finding people that are as passionate about our values as we are, and those who we believe can contribute to the Buffer culture. I split my time between a few different things:

  • Reviewing the fantastic notes from candidates and the ideas they would want to achieve as part of Buffer.
  • Exchanging with candidates and getting a feel for how happy they would be if they were to join us.
  • Working closely with the rest of the team to keep a finger on the pulse of our needs so we can accomplish the many goals we’ve got going on.
  • Experimenting and exploring different areas to improve the candidates’ experiences.

I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity and also for the chance to get to know and exchange with so many wonderful candidates every day!

Rodolphe has done an incredible job with the hiring reports, and has offered me the chance to take the baton to tell you a bit about how things have gone in the busy month of November.

November’s new teammates!

In November, 10 teammates have graduated from Bootcamp and joined the Buffer team.

  • Jordan – iOS Developer
  • Humberto – iOS Developer
  • Kyle – Product Creator
  • James – Product Designer
  • Matt – Growth Analyst
  • Amy – Customer Hero
  • Mike – Customer Development
  • Ash – Content Crafter
  • Arielle – Community Champion
  • And me, Deb – Culture Scout :)

Here’s me and some of the Buffer UK team having some GIF fun at a recent meetup.

London meetup

November hiring conversations

We had 2,734 conversations with a total of 1,551 new applicants in November.

In the image below, you can see that “Total Conversations” are the number of hiring email conversations we had ongoing this month (we sometime have duplicates), “Customers” are our applicants and “New Conversations” are the new applications we’ve had through the month.

November hiring conversations chart

Taking a look at those stats compared to October, where we had 1,989 conversations with a total of 1,666 new applicants, it would seem like a few things stand out:

October hiring conversations chart

  • We had fewer new conversations in November than we had in October.
  • We caught up with a large number of conversations from October, which increased the number of total conversations quite significantly.
  • We had two major spikes with the number of new conversations, one on November 12th and one on November 24th.

This last observation particularly caught my attention, so I tried to dig a little deeper and looked for clues for increased applications on those two days—twice as much as our average new applications per day number of 50.

I’ll admit that the first spike is a little bit of a mystery to me, aside from a really great article on hiring by Sunil that directed to our ‘Join us’ page that could very well explain the increase.

The second spike is a bit easier to understand, being straight after our announcement of the new Salary Calculator.

Have you checked out our new Salary Calculator?

On November 24, we introduced our new salary formula and calculator. Two years after the kick-off of our first transparent salary formula, Joel and Leo launched a new iteration, taking into account ‘The Good Life Curve” and other components, with the goal to keep our salaries fair and increase our job market competitiveness in some areas of the world by taking better into account the market rates of each location.

Similar to the reaction to the previous iteration of the formula, we’ve been fortunate to have some great media outlets share the news, like TechCrunch, TNW and The Atlantic, which also drove an increase in applications.

calculator launch

Back with that first iteration of the formula and initial revealing of the team’s salaries, overall applications doubled in the following month for a total of 3,864 applications received.

A couple of weeks after the announcement, we have yet to reach a similar number, but we’re really excited about the increasing number of people who share similar values to ours!

New conversations per position

We currently have 14 total open roles on our Journey page, and at the moment we’re looking for 19 new team members to join us on the Buffer journey. Here’s the breakdown:

  • 8 in Product/Engineering (for 7 roles)
  • 2 in Marketing
  • 1 in People
  • 8 in Happiness/Customer Success (for 4 roles)

Some positions were closed in November and re-opened recently, which explains some of the temporary decrease in applications (for example, for the Customer Development role).

We’ve also had 7 people join us for their bootcamp in November, some of whom have already joined us full-time. You’ll hear more about it in our December report! ?

In the table below, you can see the positions that were open in November (the ones in bold are still open) and how the numbers compare to October.

Hiring conversations November 2015

Outlook and thoughts

Higher bootcamp success rate?

Historically, Buffer’s 45-day bootcamp has been a fantastic opportunity to confirm whether it feels like a perfect fit from both the Buffer team and the new team member. Hiring reports in the recent months have shown that on average, 6 out of 9 people complete their bootcamp every month and officially join the team.

In November, we had a 100% completion rate, which has sparked a few questions amongst the team.

  • It could mean that we’ve  gotten better at selecting candidates, and accompanying them on their Buffer journey, through our Buddy System.
  • At the same time, it might also mean that we’re not quite grabbing the opportunity of the bootcamp to really dig deeper into that learning experience, with the slight risk of diluting the culture in the long run.

As our team grows, we want to keep questioning in this area to make sure we create the best possible learning experience for us all—bootcampers and longtime teammates alike.

Improving the Buffer application experience

November has been an incredible learning curve for me personally, as I’ve gone through the process of learning the roles, reading through quite a few applications and started the interview process with 17 new candidates.

We’ve also continued the process with 7 candidates who had already started chatting with us at Buffer, and made a total of 7 offers.

As mentioned previously, we’re currently looking for 19 new team members, and while we have to increase the number of candidates we’re talking to in order to achieve that hiring goal, we also want to ensure a smooth experience.

The group of people who check out the jobs page and step forward are very special to us. We’re conscious that it is a very vulnerable experience and we’re really committed to making it an enjoyable one, whatever the outcome is.

I was very inspired by this article on recruiting scorecards. Admittedly, with our emphasis on culture when hiring for our team and our focus on collaboration when selecting candidates, we’re currently far from some companies’ goal of maintaining a maximum 30-day latency between first contact and signed offer.

We’ve also yet to start measuring candidate satisfaction rates, which would be a great indicator of how the experience feels for candidates, and also could help us work towards better inclusivity in our interviewees.

Over to you!

We’d love to hear more about what you want to read in future reports. We’re also always open for suggestions, so if there is anything you’d love to hear more about, please let us know! ? Feel free to comment with questions and we’ll do our best to respond directly or include your suggestions in our future reports :)

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Written by Deborah Rippol

Culture Scout at Buffer. I have a sweet spot for psychology, time travelling and all things tech.

  • Chris Joyce

    Thanks for this awesome post and the insight into the Buffer hiring reports Deborah! I love that yourself and Buffer are constantly looking to review and adapt the hiring process to get people who are a good cultural fit.

    Having seen good people come and go in my workplace due to not being a good cultural fit, I can see the importance of getting it right. It’s an area we can certainly improve upon. I have other experience in this area too. I’ve been involved in a six stage interview process with EE where I made the last 20 out of 3000 at which point both myself and EE agreed the atmosphere (culture) wouldn’t be optimal for me.

    Congratulations on the new job and best wishes in defining your role in the New Year.

    • Deborah Rippol

      Wow thanks for sharing Chris! I bet this was a very difficult decision for you and the company. Especially when there is a good alignment on the mission and the skill sets, holding strong on making sure both parties are happy in the long run is incredibly key and courageous!

      • Chris Joyce

        Thanks for your response Deborah! A difficult decision at the time, yet one that was right for both companies in the long run. ?

  • Amik Ahmad

    Everytime I read a post from someone at Buffer I am amazed at how informative and transparent they are. I recently had a conversation with some start-up folks in NYC about the culture that Buffer is fostering. It was interesting. I wondered aloud what holds back other companies from being so honest? Is it fear? Are they afraid to not have control? Whatever the case may be, I think we all agreed that more companies could benefit from the open culture that Buffer promotes. I suppose only time will tell if others will follow suite, but for now, I’ll look forward to learning more about the unique cultural values of Buffer through these great posts. Thanks.

    • Deborah Rippol

      Hi Amik! It’s a very humbling feeling for us to realise a bit more every day that so many people and companies share our values. Transparency can be something quite tricky to implement and if feel like even personally this is something that I work on improving every day :)

  • Erik Blair

    Aloha Deborah,
    I’m completely enamored with the culture at Buffer and the entire team dynamic. I Looking at all the outstanding positions available with Buffer makes me wish I was a better candidate. I really enjoy the transparency and the enthusiasm, and of course I really love the real world experience of using Buffer.
    Mahalo
    — @erikblair:disqus

  • Wasswa Samuel

    Congratulations Deborah, You are doing amazing work. Buffer Culture really holds a special place in my heart because its so contagious and everyone is just awesome. I can only imagine how incredible it is to be part of it. Keep it up and all the best.

  • Kristian McCormick

    Hi Deborah, Fantastic article and congrats on the new job! I recently applied for two jobs with Buffer because of the unique perspective taken with transparency and team value. Companies can only grow if they employee amazing team members that love their jobs. Kudos to Buffer for it’s advancements in changing the thought process for human resources. I hope I get the opportunity to visit with you Deborah and best wishes for 2016. Joy, Kristian

  • Deborah, it was such a pleasure talking with you via e-mail when I last applied to Buffer. I’m so glad you’ll be doing these hiring reports from now on — this first one is a sign that there’ll be much interesting to say, and your voice both here and via e-mail is friendly and engaging! :)

    I definitely look forward to seeing more of your reports in the future! I look forward especially to seeing how you implement some of the ideas from the article on recruiting scorecards and how the hiring process at Buffer grows and changes over time.

  • Ashley Fry

    Thanks for the awesome post! Very interesting to see potential trends with the amount of conversations and applicants you guys get as you grow. I’m in love with the ‘default to transparency’ mantra you guys follow. After working at a small start up that grew into a large-company, I’ve seen, firsthand, the power that being transparent about the company brings to the employees, and the direct correlation I feel it has with job satisfaction. It’s a very powerful and often misunderstood thing. Viva Buffer!

  • Gail Lawrence

    Hi Deborah! Congrats on the new role at Buffer. Awesome article. Very informative. I applied for a Happiness Hero position earlier this month. Love the transparency and culture of the company! Wish more companies would do that. Look forward to speaking with you guys! Love the product too!

  • Thanks Deborah for this update. Love the Buffer culture so much, and I really wish you the best ahead in your career with them!

    • Deborah Rippol

      Thanks Aaron! That really warms my heart :) All the best for you too in 2016 and beyond!

  • Appreciate that you’re taking an analytic approach to hiring, but the 30-day latency may not be the right metric for Buffer. For example, I love how for Jack Dorsey, the first thing he thought
    about building at Square was a dashboard with the most important
    Metrics critical for the health of his product >
    https://www.producthunt.com/live/jack-dorsey#comment-201678

    The same approach can be applied to recruiting, hiring, and retention. IMHO as a non-recruiter, the 30-day rule seems aggressive. I’ve always believed that when finding talent, you’re doing well if you can get two of the following:
    1) Most talented person for the job
    2) At a fair/correct price, and…
    3) In shortest amount of time

    Typically #3 is the one most companies sacrifice because of the importance put on #1 and #2. But, Buffer isn’t your typical company ;)

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Deborah Rippol

      Thanks for sharing that Andrew. This is super timely as well for me as I think about hiring goals for 2016. The idea in aiming for a shorter application cycle is to reduce the discomfort that can be felt by candidates when they put a step forward to join our team. I’m curious to hear if the 30-day goal sparks any other impressions for you? :)

      • @deborahrippol:disqus

        Agreed that none of us enjoys the anxiety associated with being on the application end, but I don’t see speed as the best measure towards a solution.

        Why do candidates feel discomfort? It’s because of the uncertainty of an unknown outcome. If one of Buffer’s critical values is Openness/Transparency, it would be incredible to see how far you can you insert that philosophy into the recruiting process.

        You have a recruiting process, that likely involves aspects such as a candidate’s current status, feedback from you/your team, and discussion on the candidate. As soon as you, the recruiter know a candidate’s status, the default to transparency would be to share that information. Typical companies leave candidates with no understanding of why decisions are made about their candidacy. If you could provide honest, real-time feedback about why a candidate did not move forward, you could have a transformational recruiting process.

  • Daniel Townsend

    Hi Deborah. Congratulations on your position as Culture Scout at Buffer. Did your love of time traveling give you an advantage in the hiring process? :-)

  • Ken

    Thanks, Deborah! Buffer’s practical and positive use of data continues to impress me. Too often numbers are used 1) incorrectly – with false correlations and biased conclusions, and 2) as cattle prods that harm rather than help. Y’all impress me so much, you’re gonna see a note from me as you dig through December’s pile of applications. Can’t wait to hear back from you! #happy2016! ;-)

  • Rose Kuo

    Congratulations, Deborah!
    I loved this: “The group of people who check out the jobs page and step forward are very special to us. We’re conscious that it is a very vulnerable experience and we’re really committed to making it an enjoyable one, whatever the outcome is.”

    Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Hi, Deborah! Congratulations on your new position with Buffer, it sounds like a great fit! I really enjoyed reading your first hiring report – how fascinating. Like Amik mentioned, I’ve been using what Buffer is doing to spark conversations with friends in the marketing field, where communication isn’t always transparent from agency to client, and vice versa. I have a few ideas on some potential additions for the next hiring report; would it be possible to connect with you via email? Could I also trouble you to learn a little more about your hiring process there as well? Thank you for sharing with us! :)

  • Great report, Deborah! Rodolphe has passed the baton well. Excited to see Buffer continue to keep growing and I think it’s so exciting that everyone who finished bootcamp in November received an offer! It could be a fluke, but I think it’s likely that you’re getting better at selecting candidates who really fit well within the culture. :)

  • Another excellent article! I’m devouring every one of them! I love to learn with the experience of others and this kind of information is priceless!
    Keep up the good work!

  • Brendan Moore

    Hi Deborah, thank for this post, which I’m coming back to after seeing it pop up in my Facebook feed today. After taking in more of the Open Culture posts, a re-read lead me to a new area of questions:

    Does Buffer track statistics on how many Buffer team members participate in those applicant conversations, and perhaps the average number of distinct individuals that an applicant talks to during the process? It seems like that would give people outside a better view of how spread out or concentrated the process is. Do view points come into play from many first-hand conversations, or is it typically a small group of people? I imagine that this will correlate with how far an applicant gets in the process, but a representation of that might be a challenging data problem. Perhaps number of unique correspondants vs days to decision?

    Anyways, I always love reading more about how Buffer takes then open approach in different areas, and I look forward to your future posts! Congrats!
    -Brendan

  • Rowan

    Hi Deborah, congrats on the (relatively) new role! I find myself repeatedly using Buffer’s culture as a benchmark for the startup I’m involved with so it must be very exciting to join as a Culture Scout. Had a look at the job description and it looks awesome! I’m based in London so wondered if you’d be free to grab a coffee? Would love to hear about how your experience has been so far. If you have some time I’m on Twitter @IamRowanAdams and email (rowan.adams31@gmail.com). Thanks!

  • Hey Deborah! I’m wondering if there’s any precedence on when a candidate can/should reapply if they are turned down after an application? And whether or not it helps or hinders a candidate to apply for multiple positions when applicable? Thanks so much! Joining the Buffer team is certainly at the top of my priority list! :-)

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