9 minute read

Case study: The story of Mimecast

Mimecast solves security challenges at scale and is continually on the look for new hires to cover an ever growing tech ecosystem.

Challenge

Mimecast solves security challenges at scale and is continually on the look for new hires to cover an ever growing tech ecosystem. Mimecast started out as an e-mail security provider but has grown into a comprehensive cybersecurity, resilience and compliance platform. They protect not only a client’s email but also their data, users and web properties. Graeme Craig, Senior Technical Recruiter at Mimecast says the company was originally “a Java-house,” but has turned into an organization with quite an extensive tech stack:

Mimecast's tech stack as listed on their company page.

“We have a varied set of ecosystems that developed as we grew.” explains Craig. “We mainly use Java and C++, but through API connections we have quite a modular system extending with Python, Linux, Microservices and a growing Big Data / Data Lake and AWS instance.”    

That requires a diverse roster of talent, not only for their UK headquarters, but increasingly for a regional presence. Most of the engineering team are based in London, but Mimecast also maintains offices in Boston, US, as well as growing offices just outside of Amsterdam, NL in Munich, DE, Dubai AE, Johannesburg, SA, Melbourne AUS, and most recent offices in Canada. 

Mimecast may not be a tech titan, but it aims to hire from the biggest players in the space. Craig knows this to be a tall order, since they are not as well known in the tech industry as some of those giants. To succeed, they needed to get the word out there about their engineering capabilities and culture as a great employer. 

“Tech hiring has a supply issue. The demand is so high, every employer hiring is competing for the same talents.” Rather than focus solely on the short term hire, Craig told us, they knew many alternative solutions lost sight of the mid to long-term and to really engage with the technical audience. 

Graeme Craig

Graeme Craig, Senior Technical Recruiter at Mimecast 

Craig has been a tech recruiter for the past 20 years, and he says it is getting harder and harder to find the talent you want, especially, if you are also mindful of hiring a diverse workforce. Automating processes and an authentic branding strategy that drives applications was a must for them when vetting hiring solutions. 

The struggle for talent is intense. But the competition for tech talent is 10x worse.

Graeme Craig, Senior Technical Recruiter at Mimecast

The solution

Craig stresses that the first part of great recruiting is figuring out your strengths as an engineering organization and employer and then communicating those in an authentic way. “As a tech employer you need to be aware of what you have and what you don’t have.” 

There is no one size fits all. The goal for Mimecast has been to show that a diversity of people from different backgrounds make up the current culture, and that employees will get to work on challenging projects with the nurturing and support needed to thrive. Psychological safety is a concept Craig mentions here, a company policy that has helped the organization to keep a ‘startup soul.’  

As Mimecast grew from a startup to a more established company, it was important to formalize some of the pathways that allow people to continue to grow and learn. One initiative the HR team highlights on their Stack Overflow Talent presence is the pet project competition where anyone can suggest new features. “Coincidentally 2020 has been the year where we revisited our core value proposition,” Craig says “I just reworked our interviewing process according to it.” 

Showcasing a learning environment is one of the important elements of that, and the team is really happy to display all the details of it on its company page on Stack Overflow. Details that would be lost on other platforms, but ultimately make an engineer’s decision to apply. “We pride ourselves in being an organization where smart people can learn from other smart people.” Craig says. “When we assessed different tools at the time, it became clear to us that this would be really useful to present Mimecast’s engineering brand outside of the confines of the other platform. What we used in the past, by the nature of things, was looked after via marketing and represented a more holistic approach to Mimecast, without that engineering focus.“ 

Craig says the advantage for them has been that Stack Overflow Talent allows hiring efforts to focus on the engineering community, with a presence that is aimed at a technical audience and focuses on their needs in the workplace. It also means they are able to translate the core values for the engineering audience. 

“As an employer you need to make it obvious that yes, you have the challenges, the massive security projects, data centers around the globe, 386 billion emails under management. But equally important is that you enable people to do their best work. Mention things like childcare, healthcare, study assistance, inhouse university, patent support. Show future employees how they will be supported and nurtured.”

Stack Overflow Talent was the right place for Mimecast to showcase this. Not only was the global reach of 100 million developers a month a selling point, Craig says the strong mix of reaching developers with relevant content, branding Mimecast, and getting traffic to job listings has made their decision easy. The ability to target job listings very granularly and take initiative with active search for hard to fill roles has given them an all around tool.

“We use Stack Overflow Talent in a multifaceted approach. There are several ways to seek out talent. We capitalize on the database of candidates. And we were able to really push our talent brand and attract candidates to us.”

Mimecast makes use of the option to link members of their engineering team with their profiles on their company page, and Craig remembers how introducing the use of Stack Overflow Talent for employer branding was welcomed by the existing team. “Stack Overflow, the site, is a relevant tool within the engineering community, so I think just being present on there boosted morale with our team.”

The reputation that Stack Overflow has within the industry helps us through the branding possibilities and hiring partnership.

Were there any differences in the hiring process during 2020? Craig says, Mimecast was lucky because they've always had a culture of Work from Home Wednesdays. He describes the sudden shift to full time remote as “WFH Wednesdays on steroids.” Their experience and culture allowed them to pivot and adapt quickly. After that, the HR team came together to extend the virtual employee engagement strategies that were already in place. 

“Our focus here is employee mindfulness to help people through this situation. There are a lot of activities to keep people engaged and keep it a great place to work during these challenging times.” Mimecast employees were also given a stipend to improve their work set-up in their home. “This ties into empowering people to do their best work for us.” says Craig. Moving forward they are considering a hybrid model, allowing those who want to work from home for several days a week. 

The result

As one of the early users of the Stack Overflow Talent product half a decade ago, Mimecast saw the advantage in trying out a tool most relevant to developers before it was widely adopted. Years later, the platform continues to offer access to developers like no other one can. “You cannot find the number of developers you can find on Stack Overflow Talent on any other platform,” says Craig.“Through Stack Overflow Talent, we have been able to recruit end-to-end: full-stack, backend, mobile and frontend developers. As well as QA professionals.” 

In the past two years Mimecast has hired 12 engineers through Stack Overflow. For some of the hard to fill positions the team was able to bring down hiring-time by a third. More recently 50% off all Engineering hires in Mimecast’s Dutch and Israeli office’s came from Stack Overflow

Craig sees the added advantage in job listings being targeted to developers based on the technology tags they use. “The ability to target advertising on the platform to specific tags has been absolutely critical to the success of our campaigns on Stack Overflow Talent.” 

We have been able to use the company page to create what we think is an honest interpretation of what life would be like as a software engineer at Mimecast.

But it has really been the branding presence that made all the difference. “I think having the brand presence on Stack Overflow Talent has been very powerful from an engineering brand perspective and it really paid dividends.” 

Craig says the company page is the best representation of their engineering brand, so much so, that they direct traffic from other sources, such as LinkedIn and other platforms, to it. “The message there resonates much more powerfully with developers than what we had elsewhere. And the association with Stack Overflow, a brand used by millions of developers worldwide, benefits us.”

During the set-up, the onboarding and structure of the company pages helped Mimecast identify the right information and content to share for the technical audience. Craig and his team were really pleased with the resulting company pages, which included a behind the scenes look and easily digestible information. “Everyone is pushed for time, so are engineers. The page is visually appealing and has all the information at a glance. We spent a lot of time making sure that we got our messaging right and it was authentic.” 

He also says engineers don’t just want to read a job listing, they want to get to know the people working there. “Stack Overflow Talent company pages have really allowed us to deliver as much relevant content to them as possible.” It includes a virtual office tour, a list of all the benefits that are attractive to developers, and a look at the engineering culture that enables growth, learning, and autonomy. “We want people to be able to do their best work, and that shows in the language,” says Craig.“We pride ourselves on culture and a family feel. We are a PLC 5 years post IPO, so certainly a come of age start-up. But we kept the spirit.” 

Working with Stack Overflow Talent has been beneficial and is something they are going to continue in the future. “Especially at the end of 2020 and moving forward, our Talent Acquisition function, as in many places, has become cost conscious, so with the ability to use the database and swap out the job slots we have for different positions, Stack Overflow Talent has been a really great return on investment for us.” Craig is certain. 

The partnership between Stack Overflow Talent and Mimecast not only includes all-around support on branding and advertising, but recently extended to some insights and data for a location feasibility assessment the team was looking into. “It’s really support above and beyond,” says Craig. Our account manager is always making sure our organization is successful in creating a continuous talent stream.”  

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