Cockroach Labs is the company behind CockroachDB, a cloud-native distributed SQL database. It builds cutting-edge systems infrastructure with massive horizontal scalability; and it’s on a mission to become the preferred platform for global enterprises. In August of 2019, Cockroach Labs announced a $55 million series C funding round, which will be used in part to expand its 115-plus-person workforce across four offices. The company doubled in size in 2018 and plans to continue growth through the end of 2019, specifically in engineering roles.
As the Manager of Recruiting Operations, Shannon Zwicker’s first initiative at Cockroach Labs was to streamline sourcing—and that meant leveling-up the technology the team was already using. The platform they were on was “fine,” Shannon said. “It got you to a certain place and then you’d realize it couldn’t do all the things you wanted it to do. There were limitations to adding new prospects to sequences and limitations to how they were managed. There was no visibility into content statistics. Nothing was there to tell us how to make our outreach better.”
But Cockroach Labs doesn’t do “fine.” Shannon’s previous company had used Gem; so she reached out to us directly. “My prior team had great things to say about Gem; so I came into the conversation with only a bit of skepticism. But the Gem team was so transparent and honest—no, we can’t do that; yes, we can do that—that any reservations I had were eliminated from the get-go.”
New platforms aren’t always quickly adopted; but two things happened shortly after the team had access to Gem that prompted every recruiter to embrace it. First, a recruiter ran a personalized campaign to 7 students at Carnegie Mellon University that saw a 100% response rate—all positive. Second, the team made their first Gem hire, a process that took only 26 days. “He was the fastest candidate we’ve moved through the interview process that didn’t come to us as a referral or from networking. It was for a front-end engineer role, by the way, and those are some of our hardest hires to make. So the excitement just spread from there,” Shannon said.
The biggest win, Shannon says, is time saved, “which is especially important when you have a small team.” Because the team can source talent, find emails, customize, schedule, and send outreach all in one window, they don’t feel like they’re running a fractured process anymore. “The ability to customize emails within the LinkedIn page is absolutely brilliant,” says David Delaney, a recruiter on Shannon’s team. “It’s motivating, because you can knock out a bunch of personalized sends in a small chunk of time. We had to schedule in big windows of time with our previous platform because it was so clunky. Now if I have 20 minutes, I can go into LinkedIn, add people to a project, customize, and schedule without opening a second, or third, or fourth tab. The task just isn’t as daunting.”
“The ability to customize emails within the LinkedIn page is absolutely brilliant.”
Knowing how people interact with message content has helped Cockroach Labs’ TA team refine their outreach. “In our stage 1 email, we talk about our company and how we’re growing our solution,” Shannon says. “In stage 2 we typically link to a blog post. Thanks to Gem’s analytics, we’ve discovered that’s when prospects start clicking back and forth between emails and content. I can see that our most recent hire went from our second email to our website to a blog post; he responded to us 6 minutes later. Thanks to Gem, I know how he became familiar with us, and what content ultimately prompted him to engage with us.”
But the biggest surprise, Shannon says, has to do with company branding. “Through templates, Gem allows us to be consistent in our messaging. We change up the language, of course; but we have a consistent voice now. So now we’re not just building a recruiting pipeline; we’re also building a brand. It’s pushed me to do things like reach out to our marketing team to get access to our Instagram feed, because we’re linking to it in our outreach—which means we need new and relevant recruiting content to be posted more frequently. Prospects are clicking; we have to give them what we promise. So our brand feels alive—which means we’re getting amazing inbound applicants, too. It’s a virtuous circle.”
Shannon sums up the benefits she’s seen since the team implemented Gem: “We’re sending out more messages; we’re being more consistent. We eliminated the email-finding tool we’d been paying for and streamlined two tools into one. Gem is fully ingrained into our workflow now. With our last platform, the team would just launch a campaign every couple of weeks. If people responded, great; if not, great. No one was added into it on an ongoing basis. Now people are jumping back in to source and adding more people to a campaign they created; there’s not the set-it-and-forget-it mentality anymore. Campaigns are alive. We went into our old platform to pull out metrics; it was so clunky we couldn’t see what year we were looking at! But I can tell you that we had one hire in a year with that platform—and that was a referral, so I’m not sure it actually counts. With Gem, we made our first hire within two months of signing the contract—and it was around 40% faster than the rest of our hires.”