We were so excited to have Jess Szucs on the podcast recently. Jess is the Head of Talent at Fathom, a fast-growing start-up based in Bristol. 

We got to pick her brains on the challenges of growing a business, as well as some great tangible takeaways that we wanted to share with you in this blog below! 

So what are some of the challenges of growing a startup business?  

“It’s a very long list! And obviously, not every startup will experience the same things. I think one of the things that you’re looking for is what the message is that comes from the founders because they are defining the working atmosphere and how they want their team to behave. 

You also don’t want to overdo structure and process in a small business, but equally, you don’t want it to become a chaotic environment that you’re in. And I think the other thing that could happen is, especially if you have a core group of friends who are, you know, having a good time, but they are also making a good business, you could have a lack of seriousness. And that could become something that you really want to avoid, especially when you’re talking to clients.  

You have to recognise the fact that, yes, if you have a good culture, people will go the extra mile. But they still have lives and families and kids and friends. You have to create an atmosphere where there is a work-life balance for the people who want to have that work-life balance. 

Does culture need to be defined from day one? Are there unwritten rules where you should start thinking about that? 

“I think culture shapes on its own wherever you define it or not. And, you know, let’s imagine that you have a group of founders, and they sit down and say “yeah, this is how we want to operate. And this is how we want to, like run the team” – it’s a useful exercise, regardless of what it’s going to be. But then the people who come in and their experiences and their culture will eventually contribute to your own culture.  

And I think if you define it in a way that you don’t really allow it to grow, that’s also not really a good thing.  

I think when you’re starting off, it’s good to have an understanding of how you want your employees to feel, And how you want them to cooperate. That lays down the foundations of how professional and strict or flexible your business will be. If you have good foundations, I don’t think there’s anything specific you need to worry about.” 

What else makes a culture healthy? 

“I think emotional safety is definitely number one. So if you create an environment where your people feel safe, to be themselves to talk about their ideas to contribute, you’re basically a start-up that your employees feel engaged in because they know that they don’t have to be stressed about coming to work.  

There’s a natural, relaxed environment that they are in, and they just realise that they can do whatever they feel it’s necessary to grow the business within sensible limits, of course.  

And the other thing is genuine and open communication. And I think that goes a really, really long way.” 

To listen to the full episode, click here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

We had the opportunity to host Greg Savage on our podcast, who is one of the most influential and well-known individuals in the recruitment space. 

Boasting a wealth of experience, multiple accolades, high-quality content and a book, we picked apart a ton of topics in the recruitment space, and wanted to share some key takeaways with you in the blog below!

What’s your advice around how to attract candidates, how to build a pool of them and get their full engagement from the beginning?

“It’s a heady cocktail of things. There are no passive candidates, all candidates are active, it’s just a matter of timing. Right? There’s no one listening to this podcast who is not going to change jobs at some point. 

Maybe it’s tomorrow, maybe it’s in two years. But, at some point, pretty much everyone’s going to change jobs. So, recruiters need to take a longer-term view pool, which is not in our ethos.

That means building a brand on LinkedIn. They need to build their brand through a strategic approach to content. And then that can be a step to engagement.”

How can you measure success?

“So, I’m a great believer that you can’t manage what you don’t measure. And, of course, KPIs have got a bad name in recruitment. 

Nobody becomes good at anything without measuring. Do you think people who play sport don’t measure? A great KPI system should be part of someone’s job.

Additionally, you need to help that person with tactics and activities that lead to the outcome. Some of that might be, of course, candidates you have to get from the database. By the way, that’s another thing that recruitment companies have to do a lot better! There are candidate graveyards, and by that, I mean that full of people that aren’t being contacted or engaged with.” 

What are you seeing in terms of how those motivations have changed over the last few years?

“I wrote a blog on this, and I said, the skill of understanding a candidate’s motivations is now the skill for 2022. Because it’s so wildly changed, and so many recruiters were making assumptions about that. 

I was the worst when I was recruiting, I’d see a person and go, ‘oh, two years since your Charter Academy? Yep, I’ve got four jobs for you.’ That was me as a brash, 25-year-old. 

I think in this industry, we’ve got to be slow to understand. Purposefully slow to understand. Ask a lot of questions, build up rapport and trust and really understand their motivations, but, also how to rank them. 

You’ve got to dig deeper because what I’m finding is candidates are increasingly interested in the culture of the organisation, and that sounds a little clichéd. 

But, another thing I’d be counselling my clients on is, can you answer the question, particularly authentically? 

People are finding that candidates are much more interested in a company’s employers. What’s their attitude to climate change? And how did they treat people during the COVID lay-off period? And, how diverse is the organisation? 

People want to really have visibility to their learning path, what training and development they’re going to get, too.” 

Maybe this is a good time to talk through the valley of death, and how it should be effectively managed to avoid dropouts and disappointments?

So, the ‘valley of death’ is that time, between the moment your candidate accepts the job and the moment they put their derrière in the client’s seat, figuratively speaking, because most of them may not go to the client. 

First, when you get an offer and the candidate accepts, support and reinforce the decision, and do it with passion.

Then, I would go through the offer document with the candidate. So, that might be a letter of offer or contract. I’ve seen things go wrong with candidates plenty of times; so try and manage and control the process. If possible, like the old days – and by that, I mean two years ago, I would like to make offers face to face. I know it’s not always possible, particularly now, but certainly, do it if you can. 

Why would you make an offer by telephone when you can actually make it by video where you can see the person’s body language, you can see the eyes, you can see the hesitation? So, have that conversation face to face, and soothe any jitters. 

Once you confirm the start date with the candidate, get the documents signed. Coach, your clients on the key steps also for a seamless process from both sides.

To listen to the full episode, click here. 

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

In one of our recent episodes of Talent & Growth, we sat down with Lou Adler, CEO and Founder of the Adler Group – whom you may know as an influential voice on LinkedIn!  

With his extensive experience in recruiting, thought leadership, and helping brands build world-class teams, we were so excited to host him and pick his brains about hiring leaders (as well as a ton of other valuable content which we know you’ll love!). 

We’ve highlighted some of our key takeaways in the blog below. 

Do you think that often we treat the hiring of leaders the same as we do other talent, when really, it’s different? 

Well, here’s the issue… Let me define what I perceive to be a leader first. A leader can be an entry-level person, somebody in a call centre, who goes out of his or her way to do a better job to learn more, to help to mentor others etc.  

But, it’s harder to find a leader at entry-level. After two or three years, a good person demonstrates they’re in the top 25% because of their leadership skills.  

Now, when you talk to these people, you discover that their aspirations of why they’ll switch jobs are not just to avoid pain, not just to get more money, not just to have a shorter drive; it’s to become better long term.  

So, these people are much more discriminating. And, if you don’t tailor your marketing to that customer, and let’s say marketing and recruiting, interviewing, every step of the way, they’re going to opt out of your process very, very quickly.  

Most companies focus on what’s in it for them a company, they don’t focus on what it’s in for the person. I don’t think companies build processes around the top 25%, I think they build processes around “hey, we’ve got to fill the job with someone who’s got all these skills, and supposedly has the competencies listed on our job description”. But that’s not the way to do it – and I think that’s where the big disconnect is. 

So, how do we attract the best? And how is the process different than other hires? 

“Let’s just take the three or four ideas of getting candidates… Number one is a job posting. Number two could be an email that you send to somebody you found on LinkedIn. It could be a voicemail or text or message (so many, but it’s all marketing).  

So, in my mind, how do you attract someone using those three means and maybe habits, maybe social media? I mean, it’s all of these things combined, but I call it a marketing campaign overall.”  

What should our metrics of success be when we’re hiring for leaders? 

“I think that’s a great one. So, let me give you the minor one and the major one. The minor one is when I had a recruiting team of about 15 or 20 recruiters, we use send outs per hire or interviews per hire, or candidates delivered to the hiring manager per hire. And we always felt that three or four was the correct number.  

But, a sub metric of that was the first two candidates who we’d present to the hiring manager. If one of those isn’t considered a serious finalist, there’s something wrong. 

The bigger metric would be something I call “quality of hire”. How do you actually measure the quality of a hire? Nobody really knows how to do that. It’s always a subjective metric after the hire. But, I actually do measure it. We know the 10 factors that define the job success and do a very good job of predicting it to 80 to 90%, accuracy!” 

To listen to the full episode, click here.  

On Talent & Growth we speak to talent leaders about the challenges they face and their solutions for attraction and retention. If you’re interested in hearing about how companies are building a more diverse talent pool, how you can attract top people from the big players, ways to create a more inclusive interview process or learn about the latest and greatest automation software to make your life easier, then this is the podcast for you.

The Animo Group has partnered with cord to give you access to a pool of over 10,000 active and 1,800-2,000 new engineers per week actively looking for permanent work.

The Animo Group is an embedded Talent Solution provider, we offer a flexible, tailored solution, giving you the freedom to scale up or down depending on your hiring needs. The Animo team behave as your in-house recruitment team, living your values, talking your language, and improving the success of your hires.

We do this by understanding your business, making Talent Acquisition a strategic part of your organisation, and building your teams for now and the future.

The Animo Group has built up a network of experts within People, Culture & Talent to share their insight on Animo’s Talent & Growth podcast channel accessible via their website https://theanimogroup.com/talent-growth-podcast/.

What is cord?

cord is a messaging tool to source active engineers, make direct hires and build great teams. No hiring fees and flexible subscriptions, built for talent teams and hiring managers.

Where does cord help?

cord helps companies make direct hires into their technology and product teams. Typical roles include Software Engineers, Infrastructure Engineers, Product Designers, Data Engineers/Scientists, Product Managers and Technical Leadership positions. cord caters for onsite, hybrid and remote work within the London and New York markets and for remote roles across Europe.


The Animo Group companies are able to join cord with a recurring 20% off subscriptions. The only way any company can access recurring discount is via cord’s partnership program so this is the most cost-effective way to join cord. To redeem the 20% discount, reach out to [email protected] and reference the The Animo Group partnership program.


Unlike other products, you can join cord on a flexible, month to month subscription. This means you’re not tied into long-term contracts and wont be paying for access if you have any months where you’re not hiring or if you need to prioritise other tasks. You can simply cancel your subscription from with the product and reactivate it again (still using the discount) when you’re hiring again.


The onboarding process is really simple:

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  3. A Customer Success Manager will be in touch with next steps and onboarding information.

Our Customer Success Team will be on hand throughout your time on cord to ensure you have the best experience possible, and our Support team ([email protected]) is also available to answer any questions or issues you may have.

Diversity & Inclusion

You can easily search cord based on gender and background. To combat the deficit of women in tech we are committing to proactively invite more women to cord than Industry Standard. Today 16.1% of active engineers on cord are women.

Our Q4 diversity report showed 36.64% of people joining cord came from BAME backgrounds (Industry Standard 15%).

What do companies say about cord?

Check out some video and written reviews of cord on our cord.co/stories and cord.co/testimonials pages.