How a Next-Gen Telco Hired a Needle-In-A-Haystack Engineer

by Maria June 20, 2019
Aerial view of Tallinn, Estonia

It is a truth universally acknowledged that any business looking to automate must be in need of a world-class automation engineer.

And so, too, at Telia Estonia, it’s the age-old story:

  1. Telco faces technological challenge;
  2. Seeks Cloud Automation Engineer;
  3. Finds engineer on Jobbatical;
  4. They live happily ever after.

But as anyone with tech recruitment experience can already tell, there’s much more to the story. As with all the best stories, there was a long, winding road that led our protagonists here.

So let’s take a step back….

Telia Estonia is a trusted IT and telecommunication provider. Inspired above all else by the opportunity to make lives easier and more comfortable with technology, this is one telco that’s definitely moving with the times.

Aside from being obsessed with their customers, Telia also values their own people highly. To aspire to be THE place to work. This, they know, is the only way to put an ambitious vision into practice. And indeed, Telia has been recognized repeatedly as one of Estonia’s most valued employers.

Telia engineers on a team trip. Photo courtesy of Telia Estonia

Automation, automation, automation

Keeping people happy at your company is only step two. It’s step one—finding the right talent in the first place—that can be the tough one to take. Especially on the brutally competitive, cutthroat, dog-eat-dog (or any other adjective you prefer that gets the point across—it’s tough out there!) tech landscape. Just ask Merili Aaloe, Talent Acquisition Manager at Telia Estonia.

‘It was difficult to find a suitable person for this position,’ Aaloe states matter-of-factly when asked about the company’s quest to find an automation engineer.

Or you could ask Lauri Mihkelson, who heads the Cloud & IT Infrastructure Services Development & Delivery Department. ‘Automation is one of the key technological challenges at Telia, to raise the efficiency and speed of delivery and avoid annoying manual activities for system engineers,’ Mihkelson describes the importance of the role. ‘We’re offering a new Hybrid Cloud solution to our B2B customers. The customer’s own private infrastructure, Telia’s and public vendors’—Amazon, Google, and Azure—resources are brought together on one orchestration and visibility platform,’ he elaborates. ‘That offering relies on integrations and value-adding offers, where automation skills are required.’

Special roles call for special measures

To fill such a demanding key role, Telia tried a little bit of everything, and then some.

‘We tried to fill it with the standard ‘post and pray’,’ Aaloe describes the initial (and, spoiler alert, unsuccessful) hiring process. ‘We also searched internally because Telia is a big company and our network is broad both locally and globally. And we also did the sourcing and talent attraction part.’

When none of this yielded any results to write home about, Telia turned to Jobbatical, a startup with a knack for tracking down hard-to-reach talent in all corners of the world. ‘Jobbatical was founded in Estonia and by Estonians, so we were very aware that it exists,’ Aaloe says. ‘As Talent Acquisition Manager, it’s essential for me to keep up to date with the latest sourcing trends and extra possibilities to attract people. I am always open to trying out new solutions.’

This new solution paid off handsomely. Soon after posting their vacancy on Jobbatical, Telia found The One.

In a fun little twist of fate, their needle-in-a-haystack new engineer Manuja Karunathilake, although originally from Sri Lanka, was already based in Estonia by the time Jobbatical introduced him to Telia.

Manuja with teammates at Telia. Photo courtesy of Telia Estonia

‘We’re very happy that we decided to try Jobbatical,’ Merili Aaloe says. ‘Manuja was already in Estonia, but I’m not sure we would have reached him without your platform. And besides Manuja, we also had other excellent candidates we couldn’t find ourselves in our sourcing activities.’

Diverse is the new normal

Given the type of talent that hangs out on Jobbatical—prone to travel, ambitious, passionate—it’s no surprise that a Sri Lankan engineer in Estonia was waiting for Telia on this platform of all places. Jobbatical’s career melting pot is a breeding ground for initially unexpected yet perfect matches between talent and employers.

Crucially, Telia didn’t just end up with the perfect hire for this specific role. They added a vital piece onto the board in a world where diversity is key to staying in the game. It’s no secret anymore that diverse teams quite simply perform better. They’re more competitive, creative, and better at problem-solving.

And for many companies and industries, diverse teams are the new normal—but don’t mistake normal for boring! ‘Hiring people from other cultures has become a reality for the IT industry, but every new member brings something refreshing,’ Aaloe says. ‘It will also push hiring managers to support the team more than before. Besides the professional contribution, getting to know a new culture is exciting. Work should be even more interesting from now on!’

In her conclusion, Telia’s Talent Acquisition Manager is just as matter-of-fact as she was at the beginning of her interview. ‘We’re happy that we found Manuja through Jobbatical,’ Merili Aaloe says. ‘And we hope that he enjoys staying with us.’

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