Libraryour peopleGrowing Veriff with Luke Govier, Head of Talent Acquisition

Growing Veriff with Luke Govier, Head of Talent Acquisition

We chat with Luke Govier, who recently joined Veriff to help us bring more awesome talent to our team to match our growing ambitions.

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Patrick Johnson
September 3, 2021
Our People

Luke Govier joined Veriff just a few weeks ago, and will be based in London with our growing team there. We wanted to pick his brain about why he joined Veriff, why he enjoys growing companies, and what can be the pitfalls of a scale-up business.

As someone experienced in talent acquisition, are you instinctively judging an interview process when you’re taking part in one?

Yes, absolutely. I would never join a company if I don’t agree with the interview process I’m being put through. I’ve previously been interviewed, and asked to complete an overly extensive homework task which I felt was free consultancy disguised as part of an interview, so I removed myself from the process as I didn’t feel you should ask this of candidates.

If you walk into a new company having hated the interview process, then things really won’t work out.

So considering this - why Veriff? What made us special?

Thankfully I’ve answered this question a few times already! 

There are three things I look for when joining a company.

Number one is mission. I have to buy into the mission of the company, and I’ve worked in companies in the past where I’ve not enjoyed the mission as much and I found it harder to engage. So really liking the mission is crucial.

If that box is ticked, then I move on to look at the stage of the company. I like to build - in my last two companies, I came early to both and grew them, and that’s what I’m passionate about. Normally this is around the time a company has raised a Series B, as Series A is too early for serious growth in terms of recruitment.

Finally, if I like the mission, and it’s the right stage in it’s growth, then I’ll go into the interview process and it’s all about the people. I have to see myself working with them, and I have to like them.

And if all three boxes are ticked - I’m in!

With Veriff - I love the mission, the stage is perfect, and everyone was amazing throughout the interview process, so it was perfect.

It’s worth adding that it’s not easy to find a company that ticks all three boxes as well as Veriff did!

What is it that’s so exciting for you about the growth stage of the company? And do you think it’s something you’ll always want to do?

For now definitely. It’s what I do. When I started looking for a new challenge and I spoke to recruiters, I said I specifically wanted to build again. I don’t think I’d want to do it forever though, as it’s really intense. After 15-20 years my blood pressure will be too high!

I love it right now though, because it’s so impactful. In recruitment, if you work for a corporation where the brand is established and the process is already really refined - you’re a cog in a machine. Hiring an amazing person for Amazon for example, doesn’t really change anything for Amazon. They’re still going to continue to be successful anyway. Your hires won’t make an impact really.

I consider my job to be growing a company, so I make sure that you have the absolute best people possible to reach your potential - which is why the mission is so important, I want to be part of achieving it.

When you scale, you know that every hire you make can genuinely change the course of the business and you need to build an infrastructure to make this work well. You need to automate everything, build reporting, and build the brand. You can have a massive impact if you do everything right.

If a company is scaling up, or in that growth period, what are the three key things to look out for - either things to absolutely do, or potential pitfalls to avoid?

Number one - build your infrastructure straight away. You have to get it right as I mentioned above. I made the mistake in a previous job of working incredibly hard for a year, and then in preparing for the second year we thought “Ok, how do we do this better?” and we had no data. So, we could only go on gut feeling.

In my next role, I built a reporting infrastructure straight away. It doesn’t take long, but if you do it on day one, you’re immediately measuring and allowing yourself to be smarter every year.

Number two - manage your mental health. Recruitment is an intense job, you’re either a hero or a zero. You’re a zero until you fill the role, and as soon as you find the right person you’re loved. But when you’re struggling to fill a role, people are overworked, and the business is struggling to deliver projects, you are the answer. And if you can’t fill the role you take the hit.

You have to be able to control this, and not burn yourself out. I’ve seen people struggle with anxiety during scale-up phases, and you need to work hard to stay calm and objective and keep doing the right things.

Number three - become a partner of the business. Don’t build a relationship which is purely transactional. The difference between a good recruiter and a great recruiter is the ability to be a partner. So, instead of simply taking orders, it’s providing feedback and advice about the best way to do things - how to best place a role, how long it might take to fill a role, where a salary is maybe out of proportion, or where a location is a bad choice because there’s too much competition, as a few examples.

You need to have the knowledge and the confidence to advise on these kinds of subjects, so it’s not a case of “we need this” but “how do we hire this?”, and you can then look at all the factors and make a plan.

Considering these factors - looking at Veriff today, when we’re hiring a lot, do you already have any opinions formed? Or do you need more time to understand the markets we operate in?

For sure it’s a bit too soon right now, as I haven’t had a chance to deep-dive into any of the roles. What’s apparent coming in though is that we need to build the recruitment team, which sounds paradoxical, but thinking long-term you need the team in place to hire the talent you need.

You can’t be an expert on everything - I can’t be an expert in verification, engineering, product, finance, and more, in both Tallinn and Barcelona, instantly, to the level required. What you need is people dedicated to those areas, and after 3, 6, or 12 months of working those markets they’ll be experts in them. It takes time, and needs to be properly set up to make a start on it.

I’ve done recruitment in 45 countries in my career, and going back to what I said earlier, if you’re recruiting in a purely transactional way, you can fill a role anywhere if you know what you’re doing. But the crucial element is to truly add value to the business by getting the right people.

Finally - after the global pandemic, have you seen a shift in candidate expectations towards wanting more options for remote or hybrid work?

It’s a great question. I do think that a lot of the hype around companies “letting you work from home all the time” is a little bit of fake news. I haven’t bought into it, because I think around 5-10% of the market demands that, but I think they’ve always demanded that. It’s why a lot of people become independent consultants, contractors, or freelancers. I’ve been working in a hybrid way for years - I’ve always had some flexibility around working where I’d prefer to.

I think we forget that pre-pandemic, a lot of people already weren’t spending five days a week in the office, and particularly in product or engineering (really any department in a tech company), they had flexibility. And definitely in companies with a good and established culture.

Companies who didn’t offer this flexibility, like investment banks for example, are now saying “come back to the office full-time” anyway. And in reality, there are people who actually love that. I don’t think there has necessarily been this change that people seem to believe has happened. You could always find what you wanted as an employee - if you wanted a hybrid, or to work from home, you’d find it if you looked for long enough.

Equally, there’s certainly no longer a huge demand for full-time, office-based work anymore. Honestly I’m not sure there ever was. 

And thankfully, Veriff is operating with a hybrid work model, and as mentioned in the interview, we’re recruiting the best possible new people. And that includes Luke’s new teammates! Go and check out all of our open roles on our careers page and see if you are the next great Veriffian.