Beyond RPO: Driving Innovation in Talent Acquisition - Embedded Recruiters on a Scalable Subscription Model, with Doeke Geertsma, Ep # 54

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By Mark Whitby. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

The classic contingency recruitment model is outdated and wide open for disruption.

Not only is the traditional multi-agency approach to recruitment grossly inefficient but it’s often a deeply unsatisfying experience for all parties, including the recruiter, the client and the candidates.

This is especially true for fast-growing technology companies who are scaling rapidly and running into challenges with talent acquisition.

In this episode, my special guest Doeke Geertsma explains how he identified a gap in the tech recruiting space and created an innovative solution to meet the demands of this market.

Doeke is the founder and CEO of WeAreKeen, based in Amsterdam with clients throughout Europe. WeAreKeen provides RPO services for fast-scaling technology companies. Specifically, they provide highly skilled tech recruiters who are embedded within the client’s team on a subscription basis.

Episode Outline and Highlights

  • [3:30] Doeke explains WeAreKeen’s business model and how it started.
  • [9:23] An existing market-gap that led to launching a ‘talent-embedded acquisition’ business model.
  • [17:11] Hear about Keen Academy and how it creates a talent pool of tech recruiters for WeAreKeen.
  • [23:39] Doeke shares the roadblocks and challenges when launching his business.
  • [32:20] WeAreKeen’ strategy for adding value to the tech recruiter community and investing for the long term.
  • [42:30] A walkthrough WeAreKeen’s approach to business development.
  • [50:30] Discussion on sales touchpoints and continuous nurturing of relationships.
  • [54:16] Doeke’s biggest learning - what would be done differently if given a second chance?

WeAreKeen’s Embedded Talent Acquisition Business Model

When offered an opportunity to work in Berlin, Doeke saw the increasing demand for tech recruiters. He saw a trend - tech companies picking up funding and embarking on a massive growth program only to run into major challenges. As Doeke stated, “And you see them struggling and the result of the struggle is always the same. They started looking for people, they weren’t there. They will start hooking up agencies, of course, there were agencies, but that didn’t solve the issue because then they start working with let’s say 5 or 10 different agencies and then the amount of work will not necessarily decrease.” This observation inspired Doeke to launch his own business to solve this specific challenge he heard over and over from founders of tech companies.

From a high-level perspective, WeAreKeen’s business model can be summarized as:

  • Adding extra specialized capacity to the client’s recruitment team
  • Subscription type business model: projects would run within 6-18 months
  • They specialize in tech recruiters - meeting the demands of clients scaling very rapidly

Hear in detail Doeke’s strategy on adding value and meeting client’s end-to-end recruitment needs - from designing recruitment strategies, branding, and hiring plans.

Adding Value to the Tech-Recruiter Community

Despite the pandemic, Doeke’s company was able to further add value to the tech recruitment community through webinar series, snackable contents, and masterclasses which are mostly offered for free. This continuous platform for learning and education aims to reach tech professionals and recruiters. Although there is no immediate drastic monetary value, this helps WeAreKeen to establish brand equity and massively elevates their standing and reputation in the market place.

Doeke believes that being authentic is most important in providing this type of service. As he said, “I really am a strong believer in the networking thing and being transparent and adding value… I think what to me is really important, it might sound a bit cliche, but there is a certain type of authenticity about it I think that people feel and like.”

He also added, “This may not give us the most growth in the short term, but in the long term I am a firm believer that this will bring us out on top basically because we like what we do and… we are in it to do an amazing job. If we see an opportunity to add value besides closing a deal then we’ll do it anyway because it will bring us more in the long run, right?”

Sheltersuit

Doeke is an avid supporter of Sheltersuit, a non-profit that designs and manufactures multifunctional products that provide immediate shelter to people experiencing homelessness. If you wish to donate and support, you may refer to the link below.

Doeke Geertsma Bio and Contact Info

Before starting as an entrepreneur Doeke had been active in the staffing industry for more than a decade with several international leadership roles. In his last position, Doeke helped set-up a new entity in Germany. It was in this role Doeke fell in love with Berlin and the technology scene. This was also the place where the business idea for WeAreKeen came to be. Providing RPO services to fast scaling technology companies and addressing the gap for well-trained tech recruiters.

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