If you’re in the recruitment and onboarding space, you likely wound up here because you love people – giving them an amazing experience and easing those fears and jitters that come with starting a new job. You probably didn’t end up here because you love background checks (but we’re certainly not judging if that is the case ☺️).
Background checks aren’t the sexiest part of the recruitment process, but they’re often necessary. Zinc is one of our partners that makes background checks easy and intuitive, saving you time and elevating the candidate experience.
We recently sat down with Zinc Co-Founder Charlotte Hall to learn more about the company’s history, her advice for investing in HR tech, and her personal leadership philosophy.
Check out our interview below!
Tell us about your transition from a career in marketing to HR tech. What's the story there?
Transitioning from a career in marketing to HR tech has been an exciting journey for me. I've always had entrepreneurial aspirations to start something new and make a meaningful impact in some way. After transitioning out of event marketing, I joined an insurtech startup as one of their first employees, and that's when I knew I had found my calling.
I was drawn to the scrappy nature of startups, where work is valued and testing is encouraged. You make strong bonds with the few people you’re working with and feel a genuine desire to see change. It's easy to feel like you're pushing work around without making a difference. I always wanted to make a difference.
Marketing plays a crucial role in getting a startup off the ground. I’ve also really enjoyed every aspect of running a business. As a founder, you have to wear many hats as there’s no one to do specific roles, but the variety has been fun and challenging in equal measure!
We saw a gap in the HR tech space, in referencing initially and later pivoting to background checks. The HR and talent community is willing to embrace change and challenge the old-fashioned ways of doing things. It isn’t dissimilar to my work in insurtech at Superscript.
What drives me in the HR tech space is the ability to positively impact people's working lives and save them valuable time. Seeing the difference Zinc makes is incredibly fulfilling to me. I’m a bit of a Slack addict, and looking at our internal feedback tool from candidates is one of my favourite distractions of the day!
What was the problem you were looking to solve when you co-founded Zinc?
When we co-founded Zinc, our mission was to tackle the more significant problem surrounding the background-checking process: identity. Candidates must go through this process without being fully informed or involved with traditional providers. It lacks any transparency whatsoever. Candidates need to find out where it goes or the outcome to share their data.
With Zinc, we set out to change that. We believe in a fairer, more transparent process. One which is quick, easy, and productive for every party. A process enabling candidates to own their data and companies to access the unbiased insights they need. We aim to empower candidates by allowing them to hold and reuse their background-checking data. We want to give them control and transparency throughout the process. And not only that, we want to provide them with an experience that would make them smile, lightyears ahead of what's currently available.
Our vision is for candidates to be able to reuse their checking data for their next role without wasting any time or their referees' time in requesting the same information again. We want to streamline the process, making it more efficient and seamless for both candidates and employers.
What do you see as the biggest challenge facing recruiters this year?
As a co-founder of a business with less than 50 people, I like to get involved in the hiring process. From my perspective, the biggest challenge recruiters are grappling with revolves around striking a balance between hiring efficiently and ensuring the quality of hire.
Recruiters are pressured to fill positions quickly and efficiently as companies strive to maintain a competitive edge. However, speed should never come at the cost of maintaining the quality of the hired talent. After all, recruiting top-notch candidates who can contribute to the company's success is the ultimate goal.
To measure the quality of hire, it's essential to establish clear metrics and evaluation criteria. One approach is to define key performance indicators (KPIs) that align with your company's goals. We use an OKR framework at Zinc. These KPIs could include factors such as the candidate's job performance based on tasks and the team's goals, retention rate, cultural fit, and overall impact on the team.
Do you have any advice for HR leaders looking to make a business case for investing in HR tech right now?
Absolutely! From personal experience diving into our hiring processes at Zinc, I've seen the immense value that HR tech brings.
One of the key benefits of HR tech within our company is the ability to hire efficiently while maintaining a high-quality standard. In today's competitive landscape, time is of the essence, and startups and enterprises alike need to fill positions quickly. However, as I mentioned, rushing the hiring process can lead to the wrong hire, which can have negative implications for your company in the long run.
You can streamline various aspects of the hiring process by leveraging automation and tech. Recruitment software, such as Workable, can handle resume screening, applicant tracking, and scheduling interviews. These tools can significantly reduce manual effort, allowing you to focus more on evaluating candidates and ensuring the right fit for your organisation.
By investing in HR tech, you not only improve efficiency but also gain the ability to track and measure these crucial metrics more effectively.
What are some of your guiding principles as a leader of a tech start-up?
First and foremost, open and honest communication is crucial. It is vital to foster an environment where people feel comfortable expressing their thoughts and opinions. Being straightforward is kind, but being unclear is unkind. Giving constructive feedback can be difficult, but I think it’s essential to foster a culture of trust and collaboration while ensuring nothing negative festers.
Treating everyone with respect and empathy is another principle I firmly believe in, especially considering the challenges we've all faced over the past couple of years. Recognising the humanity in each individual and showing empathy go a long way in building strong relationships and supporting one another.
At Zinc, we embrace a flat hierarchy, giving people the space and freedom to express their ideas. We hire the best talent because we value their expertise and diverse perspectives. By allowing their views and experiences to shine through, we can foster a culture of innovation and creativity.
Leading by example is another guiding principle I live by. It's essential to test ideas, make mistakes, and admit when we've made them. Encouraging a culture where failure is seen as an opportunity for growth and learning is vital for pushing the boundaries of what's possible. It’s also a secret weapon that startups have against big companies!
Last but not least, having solid personal and company values is paramount. These values serve as a compass, guiding our decisions and actions and ensuring we stay true to ourselves and our mission.
Just for fun: What's one thing most people don't know about you?
I have a deep passion for travel and exploration. After university, during a challenging job market in 2009, I decided to go to Borneo for a two-month charity project. Little did I know that those two months would turn into two years of incredible experiences.
While traveling, I had some of the most rewarding moments of my life. It was a transformative period that shaped who I am today. While I've become more cautious and anxious as I've grown older, I'm grateful for the boldness I had back then. I still can't believe I dared to do a bungee jump and skydive!
Traveling and immersing myself in different cultures has given me a broader perspective and enriched my understanding of the world. Although I don't have as much time to travel now as I'm focused on scaling Zinc, those memories and experiences will always hold a special place in my heart.