Hiring outside the box — how Helmes found a .NET developer

by Jobbatical April 19, 2017

A Jobbatical story with a plot twist


The story of Helmes, an international software house, began way back in 1991, with two aspiring engineers and a well to do business. Today, more than 25 years later, they still describe themselves as a team of entrepreneurial engineers with a knack for business and an eye for opportunities.

We spoke to Mariana Mutso, Helmes’ Technical Recruiter, about a successful Jobbatical hiring campaign that brought a Ukrainian .NET developer to their team in Estonia’s capital.

A typical workday. Photo courtesy of Helmes.

Headquartered in Tallinn, Helmes builds business-critical software for their international selection of high-profile clients, including leading telecom operators, banks and insurance companies, logistics corporations, and government institutions.

With development centers in Estonia and Belarus, it’s fair to say that business is booming for Helmes. “We are growing mainly in these two offices, but we don’t know yet — maybe we’ll have offices somewhere else as well soon,” Mariana says. “At the moment we’re dealing with organic growth. Our business grows as our clients grow.”

Helmes has come a long way from where it began. “When we started, we were not a software company at all,” Mariana reveals. “We were mainly dealing with core IT infrastructure. But suddenly we found a way to software.”

As the core of the business shifted, so did the company’s attitude towards its people. “The focus on people has grown,” Mariana elaborates. “We really look after our people. We have an understanding that happy people are those who can develop personally.” That’s why Helmes makes a real effort to provide a support network and a good environment for personal growth and learning. “People are our main thing.”

People—and this dog. Photo courtesy of Helmes.

Divided into independent teams that work a lot like small enterprises, Helmes proudly offers their people all the freedom they need to do their best work. “We expect people to grow, moving the way they choose. They are not in a box,” Mariana says. “They can come out and pick their position.”

The key to keeping a company’s entrepreneurial spirit alive and thriving for more than a quarter of a century is hiring motivated people who match with the company’s core values and uphold the organizational culture. “We are caring,” Mariana brings out their number one value.

“We care about each other and we care about our client. Everybody at Helmes needs to have this urge inside of them.”

Helmes, meet Jobbatical

Once you know what kind of people you’re looking for, it’s a simple matter of finding them. Easier said than done—with Estonia being as tiny as it is, the local talent pool isn’t enough for Helmes. “That’s why we are very open to different nationalities,” Mariana says. As the company’s Technical Recruiter, she’s the one everyone turns to when they’re feeling the need for new people. To make things more complicated, all of Helmes’ autonomous teams have very clear — but very different — views of what they’re after. It falls to Mariana to find as many great candidates as possible. Ready to cast a wider net, she decided to start looking for candidates from abroad.

Fate interfered in a way that’s familiar to most Estonians who, as a small nation, are used to having mutual friends with pretty much everyone else in the country. While on a kayaking trip, Mariana had a long inspiring discussion with a friend who — coincidence of coincidences — just so happened to work at Jobbatical. “Jobbatical was actually the first portal where I looked after the kayaking trip, and I really liked the concept,” Mariana says.

The quality and number of ready-to-relocate Jobbatical candidates was a pleasant surprise for Helmes. “We had candidates basically right away, which was great. They had very good international experience working in different big corporations,” Mariana recalls. “Many had worked at startups as well, with different clients, in different environments. That was really, really, really good. Their motivation to move was pretty high, which is difficult when you’re headhunting people from abroad.”

With its own unique set of challenges, global hiring is a big decision for a company to make, and Jobbatical was there for Helmes every step of the way. “Our account manager really takes care of us, asking the right questions and giving very fast results. It’s been really enjoyable,” Mariana says. “It’s a very nice experience as a customer, because someone is holding your hand and leading you through a process from start to the end.”

And although the main aim of Jobbatical is to move people and ideas from country to country, Helmes’ talent search ended with a nice little twist: Originally from Ukraine, Kat, the senior .NET developer they hired, was already living in Estonia when she applied for the position. “She could start right away, basically,” Mariana says. “So that was really a good coincidence!”

Even though Helmes might technically have ended up relocating talent from Estonia to Estonia, their Jobbatical experience is another inspiring story of global knowledge distribution and the free movement of ideas — and that’s what it’s all about.

Team photo courtesy of Helmes

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