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April 3, 2024

How a VP of Engineering at a Series A startup, uses Paraform to hire senior & staff software engineers

Michael Damman
VP of Engineering @ Sailes

Sailes serves the Fortune 500, working to automate the entire prospecting lifecycle. Their AI agents – Sailebots – help companies triple their pipeline at a 5X cost reduction from manual prospecting.

Founded in just 2018, Sailes’ team has grown to over 30 people. With over $6.5M raised during their Series A, this Kansas City based startup is flush with talent, capital, and excellent clients.

Recently, Sailes was looking for an exceptional Staff Software Engineer who would eventually become a tech lead. Clay McCullough was successfully put forward for this opportunity by Cheri Muhle, a senior technical recruiter on our platform!

Michael Damman, Sailes’ VP of Engineering, joined us to talk about his experience recruiting on Paraform.

How did Paraform help with your recruiting?

When Sailes started out, they were looking for talent across the US. They launched just one year before the pandemic forced companies into remote operating mode.

But the team at Sailes values the dynamic nature of in-person collaboration. Michael and the other Sailes hiring managers strongly prefer looking local for the best talent.

“Because we were very targeted on location and niche, Paraform was helpful for this hire.”

A big part of what made Michael’s experience good was the ability to sync with his recruiter on the platform. Being able to get on an intro call with either multiple or individual recruiters allowed him to easily communicate his hiring criteria. This helps narrow the search to only solid, pre-qualified candidates – instead of a flood of applications. Posting on social media led to some issues:

“We had over 600 applicants for another role. There was no way I could have gone through all of them and still run my team.”

While it’s good to get a lot of interest, there’s also a lot of noise. Within those 100s of applicants there are probably some gems. But there are also people who aren’t as interested as we want our candidates to be. And those public calls for applications don’t get to the people that aren’t actively looking, but might be interested.

“[Paraform] really helped us expand our pool to people that are happy, but open to better opportunities.”

That category of professionals is exactly the type that Michael wants. Great talent, focused on their work, and excited about Sailes’ mission and business model. Working with a large network of recruiters with unique strengths helped him find candidates like that.

What are your favorite features?

Like many organizations, Sailes uses spreadsheets to rank and compare candidates along different criteria. On Paraform, those kinds of methods are baked in. Michael says these features nudge him to think through those things well, compared to a spreadsheet.

By closely listening to user feedback, Paraform ships tools that support logical best practices for hiring, like ranking.

“With your platform, we have that up front.”

Overall, Michael enjoyed the workflow in Paraform. The onboarding process was smooth, and things like meeting recruiters. specifying criteria, checklists, and move-forward decisions were natural. There are enough steps in the right order that things are fairly comprehensive, but not clunky.

“Having those all in one place and just being able to see all that was helpful.”

The capability to do everything in one place was another major plus for Michael. Aggregating candidate information from different sources is automated, so you don’t have to flip between tabs. Also, messaging and scheduling directly from Slack made things efficient.

“Instead of having to check email or check the platform, I got a notification right there.”

What do you look for when you hire?

Geography is an important criteria for Sailes, as a whole, but we also like to ask hiring managers about their best practices. Companies that use Paraform tend to have a high bar for talent. Being able to translate your hiring standards into actionable information for recruiters is a great skill. For Michael, mindset and excitement are critical characteristics for any new candidate.

“Mindset and culture fit are just as important as skillset and experience.”

Michael learned this over time, after seeing really smart people that just didn’t fit. The first two can be more challenging to assess and recruit for. People don’t, or don’t have the words to, put those things on a resume. You really have to have a conversation with somebody.

Clay, Sailes’ new Staff Software Engineer, fits the mold.

“The mindset’s been great. His excitement has been great.”

“I was able to free up my time a few weeks ahead of when I was expecting.”

Clay was the perfect example of how, even with niche requirements, Paraform’s network of startup recruiters can source a high caliber candidate.

He wasn’t looking around, but saw Sailes as an exciting opportunity that could be better for him. Finding someone that is as excited about working with you, Michael says, is as important as finding someone you’re excited about.

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