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CTW: Attracting talent through tech and student communities

Explore how CTW, a highly successful IP game platform company, adopted a new strategic talent acquisition process to effectively source new talent within the tech and student communities.

Nobu Sato

Nobu Sato

HR professional and recruitment expert at CTW

attracting talent in tech and student communities

I’m Nobu Sato, HR professional and recruitment expert. Our story is one of exponential growth, from releasing a handful of game titles to becoming a dominant force in our market. 

This growth wasn’t just about numbers, it was about continuously pushing the boundaries of creativity and technology. However, with growth comes the challenge of scaling our team effectively. 

The talent attraction challenge

Joining CTW in the midst of a boom was a wake-up call to the need for a structured hiring process. The transition from managing a few titles per year to handling an ambitious pipeline required a rapid scale-up in talent across various roles. 

The lack of structured hiring practices was a significant hurdle, leading to uncertainty and slow decision-making. As the company aimed for the stars, it was clear we needed a solid foundation from which to launch our talent acquisition efforts.

Adopting a strategic talent acquisition process

When I joined CTW, the recruitment process was intuitive but unsystematic, a reflection of our startup roots but inadequate for our expanding needs. 

1. Approaching the definition of talent in a new way

To address this, I proposed a holistic talent definition framework, emphasizing motivation, behavioral competencies, skill competencies, and cognitive abilities. 

This wasn’t just about identifying the right skills but also about understanding how a candidate’s motivation and cognitive style would fit within the fast-paced, innovative culture of CTW.

2. Implementing structured interviews

We transformed our interview process, incorporating structured techniques to assess candidates against these new, comprehensive criteria. 

Instead of generic interviews, we implemented scenario-based questions and practical tasks that provided insight into how candidates solved problems, adapted to new information, and worked within a team. 

This approach allowed us to gauge not just what they could do, but how they thought, collaborated, and could potentially innovate within their roles.

3. Making the right decisions, faster

Additionally, we recognized the importance of speed and agility in decision-making. 

We streamlined our approval process, enabling team leaders to make quicker, more autonomous hiring decisions aligned with the defined competencies. 

This shift significantly reduced our time-to-hire, a crucial factor in a competitive talent market.

4. Training our hiring managers

To ensure consistency and fairness, we also introduced regular calibration sessions where hiring managers could align on what excellence looked like for different roles. 

This practice helped in maintaining a high standard across the board and fostered a shared understanding of what success looked like at CTW.

This change in recruitment was not just about filling positions more efficiently; it was about building the foundation of a workforce that could carry CTW’s vision forward. 

It was a shift from a reactive hiring approach to a strategic talent acquisition process, one that aligned closely with our long-term goals and cultural values.

Engaging with tech and student communities

After establishing a completely new approach in our hiring process, we needed to enhance our initiatives to attract new talent from the tech and student communities. 

In our quest for talent, we recognized the importance of proactive engagement with the communities where potential candidates thrived. 

Our strategy was multifaceted, reaching out through various platforms tailored to different segments, from WeChat for Chinese-speaking candidates to LinkedIn for a global audience. 

We established a regular presence at webinars, offline meetups, and organized office tours to showcase our culture. 

These initiatives were not just about filling current vacancies but about building a pipeline of future talent by embedding ourselves in the ecosystems of potential hires.

Nurturing early-career talent

CTW has dedicated substantial efforts to nurturing early-career individuals, particularly those with a technical focus. 

We’ve established strong relationships with universities and educational institutions. This isn’t about one-off career fairs, it’s about sustained interaction through seminars, workshops, and guest lectures where we don’t just talk about CTW but engage in broader discussions about the tech industry, emerging trends, and real-world applications. 

We position ourselves as a source of knowledge and inspiration, not just potential employers.

In these sessions, I personally take time to focus on the nuances of tech roles and the job market, sharing insights that are valuable regardless of whether students choose to apply to CTW.

This approach has helped us build trust and rapport with the early-career community, positioning CTW as a company that truly cares about their development.

Our referral program is particularly innovative. It’s not just about incentivizing our employees to recommend potential candidates; it’s about creating a community of advocates for CTW.

We offer substantial rewards for successful placements, but it’s more than that – it’s about acknowledging the value of a strong internal network and the quality of hires it can bring. 

We’ve found that early-career individuals are more likely to trust and be attracted to companies recommended by their peers or mentors.

Moreover, I’ve made it a point to keep in touch with many individuals I’ve met, from interns to young professionals. 

These relationships often provide continuous feedback and insights, not just about CTW’s perception in the market but also about evolving expectations and desires of young talent. 

This has been invaluable in shaping not just our recruitment strategies but our broader company policies and culture.

Internally, we’ve fostered a culture where young talent is encouraged to take initiative and drive change. We don’t just provide a job; we offer a path to growth, learning, and impact. 

By involving them in significant projects and providing clear paths for advancement, we ensure that early-career professionals feel valued and invested in our mutual success.

Adopting cutting-edge technology in recruitment

Adopting Workable as our Applicant Tracking System (ATS) and Candidate Relationship Management (CRM) tool was a game-changer. 

This platform allowed us to streamline our entire recruitment process, from sourcing to offering. 

The integrated job boards brought a diverse array of candidates, while features like scheduler and communication tracking ensured that every stakeholder was informed and engaged throughout the hiring process. 

The ability to analyze candidate motivation, salary expectations, and interview feedback in one place significantly reduced our lead time for making offers. 

Moreover, Workable’s reporting and analytics capabilities provided us with valuable insights, helping us continually refine our strategies and improve outcomes.

Measuring success and continuous improvement

The impact of our recruitment strategy was measurable and significant. We saw a dynamic increase in the number and quality of candidates, a reduction in time-to-hire, and a boost in team satisfaction with the recruitment process. 

Our efforts paid off, with CTW outperforming external recruiters and becoming a recognized name among potential candidates. 

However, we didn’t stop there. We established a feedback loop, regularly reviewing our processes, and incorporating insights from candidates, new hires, and hiring managers. 

This culture of continuous improvement ensures that our recruitment strategies evolve in line with our growth and the changing dynamics of the job market.

Our commitment is to stay ahead, continuously seeking out and nurturing the brightest minds. 

Nobu Sato is an HR professional and recruitment expert in Japan. With over 10 years of experience in HR and project management, he has worked with multiple corporations across different industries and regions. In addition to the game industry, he also have experience in internet, logistics, and robotics. He is proud to lead the CTW Talent Acquisition team, which was a finalist for The Best Talent Acquisition Team in Japan 2022.

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