An interview conducted by Elena Badea, Managing Director of Valoria with Cătălina Dobre, Co-Founder of the Mingle platform.
How was 2020 for Mingle, as a start-up at the beginning of the road?
I think a start-up at the beginning of the road has to pass a lot of tests, no matter when it is launched. The fact that we launched Mingle in April 2020, 2 weeks after the world stopped and Covid-19 stopped all activities, of course, brought us some specific challenges – but if they weren’t, there would certainly be others.
To give a little context, I will detail a little what is the purpose of our startup: Mingle is a modern platform for organizing recruitment processes. What we aim to do is support HR teams in companies with simple ways to collaborate, manage candidates and automate their work to hire the best people.
And it is precisely from the specifics of our business that the main challenges of 2020 came: it does not sound promising to launch new recruitment software when companies, facing uncertainty, rush to restructure and pause employment.
At the same time, after spending the first few days watching the market reactions and trying to figure out if our idea is still relevant, we began to notice an interesting change: our target segment – generally not very passionate about technology – began to accept it as the only solution to overcome this period. Suddenly, the digitization of some processes became necessary, and recruitment was no exception.
Looking back, we realize that 2020 has given us an opportunity that we have learned to take advantage of.
Of course, it was not easy to do this: for example, the hardest part was convincing HR people to test our product when they had much bigger head problems. But once things calmed down, we discovered that they needed such a product – and we managed to get the first customers.
Drawing the line at the end of 2020, I can say that it was the best year to launch Mingle – in addition to the fact that our market suddenly became ready to adopt the technology, it was easier for us to talk to as many as possible. people taking into account that all the discussions took place online.
What were the key elements that made Mingle chosen by the companies?
Our work is very much focused on the mission of developing a friendly, minimalist, fast, and modern application.
We want everyone who uses it to learn it quickly, to find everything where it is expected, and not to need an instruction manual to get the job done.
Also, we thought of a simple implementation and onboarding process, so that recruitment teams find it as easy as possible to adopt and integrate our solution into their workflows. Depending on customer requirements, we are ready to have day-to-day implementations.
And because we’ve noticed that recruitment processes can vary from company to company, we’re very receptive to making adjustments so that the platform adapts to customer processes, not the other way around.
We are not the first recruitment application on the market. However, I chose the positioning after more than 100 discussions with prospective clients, in which I understood that many of the current solutions are unfriendly, the implementation is complicated, the applications are difficult to learn and the support is weak. We wanted to offer something much better than that – and this is our main competitive advantage.
What are the most important transformations brought by 2020 in recruitment?
Like other areas of human resources or business, recruitment has also undergone a forced transformation.
A first visible change was, of course, the form: an activity that, until recently, could be done successfully only face to face, had to find a new form online.
To accommodate this change, HR teams had to rethink the way they do things. That is why we have noticed greater importance given to technology and systems: from our point of view, even if 2020 was our debut year, we were happy to find a large number of companies open to digitize their recruitment work.
In addition to the digitalization trend, from what I noticed in the market, the roles of candidates and companies were slightly reversed. Before, we had many companies fighting for a few candidates, and in 2020 it was the other way around. It will be interesting to see how this dynamic continues to evolve in 2021, as companies open more roles.
How do you see the digitization of HR processes advancing?
From what we have observed so far, HR activity is or is intended to be digitized in one form or another. HR specialists and leaders know the benefits of digitization and try to use existing tools to do their job as well as possible.
For example, for activities such as payroll or personnel management, HR teams have already adopted well-developed systems, while other processes – such as recruitment – are being streamlined.
In the last year, this need for technology has been accelerated, so that from 2021 (when budgets return to normal) we may see a strong trend of digitization of HR processes, including those that did not have priority so far. I think that at present at least 30-40% of Romanian companies want to improve their existing systems and invest in products dedicated to human resources, which will give them a long-term competitive advantage.
What are the main obstacles to this process, especially related to the recruitment side?
Simply put: resistance to change. Even if they want to improve the way they do things, HR teams need to take the time to learn a new way of working and organizing. Especially in recruitment, where we talk about many individual activities for which different tools are used: conversations with candidates are kept in one place, internal team feedback in another, jobs are promoted using various platforms, and candidates are organized in several spreadsheets from an excel file.
All these different ways of doing things, in other words, “habits”, need to be learned and replaced with new ones. Even if a recruitment software comes with the advantage of bringing all these activities together – and therefore of using a single tool for all – its adoption also involves a learning curve. Once they overcome this period of accommodation (which we tried to make as short as possible), HR teams can truly enjoy the benefits of such a system.
That is why we insist a lot on building an intuitive product, which can be implemented and learned quickly. Once adopted, it is almost familiar: all the information is where you expect it to be and it doesn’t take long until it becomes the new way of doing things.
What are your forecasts for 2021? What is important for HR managers to know?
From what we have noticed in the market, it seems that the forecasts for 2021 are promising. Some HR experts believe that in 2021 we will see the most competitive labor market in the last decade. An indicator would be the number of jobs promoted on Linkedin, which has now reached the level recorded a year ago. Also, economic indicators appear to be recovering.
If we follow these forecasts, I would mention 3 strategies for HR managers to consider:
- Focus on internal talent mobility – as the labor market becomes competitive again, the emphasis will be on maintaining and developing internal talent, rather than outsourcing. Related to this, the salaries offered for the roles with high demand on the market will most likely increase.
- Better experiences – for both candidates and employees. HR teams will focus on creating a better relationship with candidates in the recruitment process, to gain a competitive advantage in the labor market. And once hired, new colleagues will enjoy a better work experience – which will keep them in the same company for longer.
- Innovation in HR – anything related to people (whether it is recruitment, onboarding, or retention) has been and will remain an opportunity for innovation. The way we relate and lead people will remain constantly changing, and HR teams are the ones who will lead it in this post-Covid world.