The challenge of hiring engineers: Insights from a Former Global Recruitment Agency Experience | 株式会社ZEALS

The challenge of hiring engineers: Insights from a Former Global Recruitment Agency Experience

Written by zeals recruit | 2023/05/16

We are excited to share an insightful interview with Calvin, our resident Global Talent Acquisition Leader.
Through this article, we hope you will gain valuable perspectives from the person responsible for our global recruitment initiatives and learn practical advice to help you navigate and succeed in your career journey.

  • Calvin Caleb

    Born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia, Calvin moved to Japan initially for his studies and has spent ten fruitful years here. After earning his degree from Yokohama National University, he worked for a UK-based recruitment agency for four years before joining ZEALS in 2021. Now, he leads a team dedicated to attracting top-notch global talent to join both our Japan and US headquarters.


Deep Dive into HR Challenges: Why I Chose to Work in an In-House HR Division

Could you tell us about your career so far?

After graduating from university, I joined a UK-based recruitment agency where my main responsibility was pairing skilled professionals with various companies. Starting in B2B tech, I transitioned to O2O (online to offline) businesses, handling a diverse range of positions from consultants and sales to developers. While I found it fulfilling to work with unique clients daily, I soon realized that the industry was overly sales-driven. The focus on hitting targets and achieving specific outcomes, with rewards and bonuses tied to these results (as they should), didn’t align with my values. I’m not someone driven by money, and I wanted to be more directly involved in helping clients address their human resources challenges—the consultative and relationship-building aspects have always been my favorite part of agency work.

I believe that talent is a fundamental element in a company’s foundation and an essential factor in its growth and problem-solving capabilities. When working for an agency, you may not have the opportunity to dive deeply into a client’s specific pain points. However, by working in-house, you can gain a better understanding of the company’s unique challenges—knowing why we need certain types of talent, and what would happen if we fail to hire those talents. I wanted to be at the forefront of that process. That’s why I made the decision to work for an in-house company, rather than just observing things from the outside.

Inspired by ZEALS’ Unique Recruitment Strategy and the Incomparable Culture

Considering your strong belief in recruitment, why did you choose ZEALS?

When I was considering changing jobs, I had already received offers from two major global companies. Then, I happened to find ZEALS on social media and became intrigued after reading their Tech Blog. What caught my attention about ZEALS was their unique recruitment approach, which sets them apart from other companies in Japan, including the two that had already made offers to me.

It was impressive that ZEALS was willing to hire people living outside Japan and allow them to work remotely, even in the early business stages when only ten employees were on the team. While many companies strive to recruit global talent, ZEALS stood out for me about their ability to do so at such an early stage of their business.

I was also fascinated by ZEALS’ unique hiring strategy. Typically, global tech companies hire global talent to establish overseas subsidiaries and expand local sales channels. However, ZEALS, despite creating products mainly for Japanese companies and users, hires global talent with the goal of future overseas expansion. ZEALS aims to develop a product that not only excels domestically in Japan but also globally in the future. This is why they recruit people from overseas and I felt that this hiring strategy directly shows their commitment to achieving their vision.

Another reason is that I wanted to be responsible for establishing the building blocks for Zeals’ future global hiring. While Zeals manage to attract talents with the setup they had back then, it does not mean that it was without any flaws. Being able to come in, improve upon the existing framework, and make it scalable is an interesting challenge for me.

These were the determining factors that led me to decide to join this company.

I can tell you’re passionate, so could you tell me about your current job at ZEALS?

As the Talent Acquisition Leader at ZEALS, my role involves recruiting development team members for our Japanese branch and filling business function roles for our U.S. subsidiaries. While ChatGPT has recently gained attention for its innovative communication technology, ZEALS has been consistently focusing on the potential of developing communication through Chat Commerce since its inception. Even after nine years after our founding, our team members maintain a startup mindset and adapt our ChatBot technologies to meet changing societal needs.

Due to the differences in business phases between our Japanese and U.S. subsidiaries, we have unique hiring needs for each location. However, we’re always on the lookout for individuals who are passionate about developing new technologies, thrive in a startup environment, and align with our corporate culture.

What do you think is the characteristic corporate culture that is unique to ZEALS?

At ZEALS, our unique corporate culture is characterized by two key aspects that I always emphasize to candidates: empathy and a “work hard, play hard” mentality.

I find that “empathetic” is the best word to describe the concept of “Omotenashi” for our foreign candidates. At ZEALS, team members are always eager to help and support each other, even across different departments. New members often comment, “ZEALS has great people; everyone is always willing to help.” I believe that this culture of “Omotenashi” at ZEALS extends not only to external stakeholders like clients but also to internal stakeholders such as team members and colleagues.

Additionally, the “work hard, play hard” mentality is another defining aspect of our culture. While ZEALS members are dedicated and hardworking, they also know how to have fun. Despite the stress that can come with the job, members are still able to laugh and enjoy their work. This type of culture is rare in Japan, and it’s something that sets ZEALS apart.

Overall, I believe ZEALS has a unique corporate culture that blends Japanese and foreign elements. Team members are devoted and professional when it comes to their work, similar to those in foreign-affiliated companies, but they also enjoy an empathetic and supportive work environment, which is typical of Japanese companies. ZEALS’ distinct corporate culture is rooted in its values of diversity and inclusivity, making it a truly special place to work.

Challenging but Rewarding :  Attractiveness of talent acquisition job

As you are committed to your work, could you share with us what is the most challenging aspect of your job?

Talent acquisition can be a challenging job because it involves dealing with “people.” Each candidate has different priorities, preferences, and goals, which can be quite complex to navigate. Some prioritize personal development, while others focus on salary or work-life balance. As a talent acquisition professional, it’s crucial to understand each candidate’s needs and priorities and figure out how ZEALS can meet them. My responsibility goes beyond listening to candidates’ requests; it also involves showing the company how they can contribute to ZEALS and fit into our company culture. Sometimes, we can make adjustments to accommodate the candidate’s wishes, but other times, it’s difficult to fulfill all their requests. This process can be intricate and challenging, and I believe it’s one of the toughest parts of my job.

However, I genuinely love my job because I have the opportunity to make a positive impact on people’s lives. Many individuals consider changing their jobs when they feel dissatisfied or unfulfilled in their current roles. As a talent acquisition professional, I believe that I can offer them opportunities to enhance their careers by addressing what they feel is missing.

Furthermore, the most rewarding aspect of my job is knowing that the people I hire will likely remember me throughout their careers. Whether they continue to work at ZEALS or not, they may recall their experience with ZEALS and me as their talent acquisition recruiter. It brings me joy to leave a lasting impression on people’s memories and add value to their lives, which is the most interesting part of working in talent acquisition.

The Potential of Talent Acquisition: Transforming ZEALS from Startup to Leading Tech Company

Finally, could you tell us how you want to contribute to ZEALS’ vision?

My mission is to guide ZEALS toward becoming a company that can compete with the biggest tech corporations in Silicon Valley or the world! I aim to attract the best talent to join our team, just like top engineers who aspire to work for those renowned companies. I want my candidates to be excited about the idea of applying to ZEALS. To achieve this, we need to hire skilled individuals and cultivate a company culture that encourages them to recommend other top performers.

I firmly believe that elevating the talent level at ZEALS is crucial to our growth and success, and will ultimately help us reach the same level as other leading tech companies.

My current responsibility at ZEALS is to hire members for the development team, a task that offers me a valuable opportunity for personal and professional growth. When I first joined the company, I was eager to contribute to the “0 to 1” phase (and now 1-100) of the company’s growth, and I believe hiring top talent is an essential step towards achieving that goal. I don’t want to settle for just being a recruiter in a large company; I want to make a significant impact and leave a lasting legacy at ZEALS.

Could you please give a word to those who are considering joining ZEALS?

If you want to make an impact on a company, and not just be a part of one, then please contact us and we’d love to speak with you.


*This article has been prepared in Japanese and English.
Click here for the article in Japanese.