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Interview with Rockstar Recruiting

Could you shortly tell us what Rockstar Recruiting does?

Rockstar Recruiting is a personal recruiting platform that connects strong IT and technology experts with ambitious tech companies. We are not a typical recruiting company in that we primarily focus on the candidates, with whom we establish contact first. We are not big fans of using the classical, and in our view impersonal, methods of approaching candidates (for example via LinkedIn). Instead we focus on being present and active in the community. We organize events – such as hackathons – and contribute to tech events, giving presentations about relevant topics, for example tech recruiting. We are also members of the Swiss Data and Service Alliance, thus placing ourselves in the ecosystem, allowing us to grow our network organically with people who are passionate about what they do. This has proven a successful approach; we have seen many success stories and received positive feedback from the community.

What is Rockstar Recruiting’s background story?

Rockstar Recruiting is the brainchild of founders Klaus Fuchs and Justus Spengler. Klaus did his PhD in Information Management at the ETH Zürich, in collaboration with the University of St. Gallen, and he is going to be associated with the newly founded ETH AI Center. Justus studied Psychology at the University of Zürich and has over seven years of experience in tech recruiting. They complement each other well and therefore Rockstar Recruiting can provide candidates and tech companies personal and competent support in tech recruiting.

Rockstar Recruiting is a University of Zürich spin-off, which means that we are endorsed by them and part of their start-up program. Already as a student, Justus worked in tech recruiting where he acquired a strong skillset in the field. However, he soon realized that when he met the candidates in person, he could establish a much better relationship with them and get a better understanding of their motivation – consequentially the potential for finding the right jobs increased. Justus sat down with Klaus, they brought their ideas together, and Rockstar Recruiting was born: a very personal service for both candidates and companies.

Since then, the company has grown into a team of 15 employees. We have eight in-house staff and the rest are external employees servicing our clients. Every internal consultant at Rockstar has learnt some data science and tech basics and is able to interact on the necessary level with our candidates – some of the smartest people around.

Justus Spengler and Klaus Fuchs

Why is it important that Rockstar Recruiting exists?

We help create the perfect match for both candidates and tech companies. For candidates, it’s important to find the right next challenge. It’s not difficult for them to find a job – au contraire – they have too many options to choose from! What is more challenging is to find the right companies. We understand their motivation, skillset and – at times – their frustrations, and we then connect them with the companies that could be a good fit. We have direct contacts in many companies that the candidates may not have heard of and in many cases our placements go to positions that were never advertised. We help the candidates access the “hidden market”, so to speak. This is good for both sides as the companies are saving a lot of time when we send them good candidates before they have advertised the position. Recruitment processes are often so long that by the time they’ve run their course the best candidates may no longer be available. The recruitment market is competitive and fast-moving, which means that momentum plays an important role.

Can you give some examples of your success stories?

Three years ago, we were referred to the Hiring Manager of a big American tech company. They had access to some of the best data scientists on a global scale but lacked contacts in the Swiss talent pool and therefore asked for our help. Through our close ties to the ETH we helped them tap into the Swiss market. We made quite a good first impression with the hiring manager; after one interview he said that he never interviewed a stronger candidate – and he has experience from Silicon Valley and Seattle where he has met very impressive minds. In general, he said that the candidates from ETH were fantastic. It was great for us, a small company, to get appreciation from such a big American company and to be reminded that ETH really is a leader in European higher education.

Another success story, also in the field of data science and data engineering, was a project for an International online gaming company who asked for our help with their key hires as they were building up a team of data scientists and engineers in Switzerland. Once again, we got this opportunity through recommendations and we were positively surprised to have gained this kind of recognition outside of Switzerland.

Of course, we have some great domestic success stories too. We partnered with a Swiss start-up that had just received a sizable funding round and had ambitions to grow their data science and engineering team. We helped the start-up find amazing people that worked for established and reputable international companies and helped the candidates relocate to Switzerland.

How do your clients find you?

A nice side-effect of our personal approach is that clients and candidates appreciate it so much that they recommend us and give referrals. Instead of us constantly trying to acquire new business, we invest a lot of time into the personal relationship with our existing candidates and clients – which leads to referrals. 

What are your biggest challenges?

We could always meet more candidates. This is the biggest challenge as we work with personnel. Another challenge is that our personal approach makes it difficult to expand the candidate base exponentially and to keep up with client demands. We address this by teaming up with other companies and expanding to other locations, such as London.

Additionally, we are working on a collaboration with a company that is based in Berlin – the partnership will soon be official. They are building their network there, and some of their candidates are interested in exploring options on the Swiss market. We will be able to leverage their network and help their candidates come to Switzerland.

Finally, we are working on the digitization of our internal workflows because we realize that our personal approach benefits from technological innovation. We are investing money and time in developing a newer, more comprehensive and inclusive approach internally. Important to mention is that we recently received the label “swiss made software”, because we appreciate the skills of our local network of outstanding developers.

How do you see the future of Rockstar Recruiting and what is your long-term goal?

From the perspective of our candidates we see potential in enlarging our network with high-growth technology companies in Switzerland. From the client perspective we will be able to cater even better to their high demand through our onsite consultants and partners that are screening the local market in Switzerland, London and Berlin – we anticipate that further destinations will follow. As a result, we will be able to connect not only single candidates with companies, but to search for entire teams as well.

Mid to long-term we see us growing with our candidates and will provide services in the field of executive search in addition to the professional and expert level of today.

Throughout our journey it was and will remain important for us to respect our values and ethical standards that we internally describe as “sustainable recruiting”. Business growth has been just one of its many positive effects.

At the end of the day we enjoy what we do and how we do it – especially the strong connection to the tech community plays a big role in this. So, we are curious to see where this path will lead us, as Switzerland is gaining more and more attraction as a global technology hub.

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