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Marta Valverde
“Tech talent shortage is not a lack of skills,” says Synthesia’s Head of Talent Acquisition
Sep 05, 2023

Despite tech layoffs and AI dooming over world job security, the reality of many tech-companies is that hiring is harder than ever. Job postings for fields related to tech trends grew by 400,000 between 2021 and 2022, with generative AI growing the fastest at a 29% rate. In fact, ever since 2020, 44% of high-profile organizations have expected the talent shortage to become even more dire in the next five years. 


What needs to change to flip this narrative? 


We interviewed Sara Vosinek Gaspar, a seasoned talent acquisition specialist at Synthesia, who provides valuable insights on how tech startups can build exceptional engineering teams no matter the market conditions. With her experience in in-house and agency recruitment, she has successfully scaled Synthesia’s engineering team from 8 to over 35 members.

Watch the full interview for a deep dive
A new outlook on tech talent shortage

Sara strongly believes that our ‘tech-talent shortage’ is not a result of a lack of skills, but a lack of understanding of what skills are needed, what motivates tech profiles and how best to uncover skills in the hiring process. While this may be frustrating for recruiters “having no luck” building their teams, it is an empowering point of view that only leaves room for improvement. 


Read on to learn actionable tips on how you too can attract and retain tech talent no matter the market’s climate. 

1. Attract talent with perks that resonate to them
"It's all about making attractive employee propositions. Offer a four-day work week to your team, and you won't have an issue attracting talent,"
Sara Gaspar Vosinek
Head of Talent Acquisition @ Synthesia

While perks like remote work and flexible hours are attractive, understanding what motivates engineers and creating a work environment tailored to their needs is key. What motivates the people I want to work with? What benefits are important to them that we don’t currently offer? For example, avoiding micromanagement and unnecessary scrum ceremonies can make a significant difference in engineers.

2. Equip talent acquisition specialists with technical knowledge:
"Whether it's a tech recruiter or someone on your team, equip them with as much information as possible about the product and technical perspective."
Sara Gaspar Vosinek
Head of Talent Acquisition @ Synthesia

She stresses the importance of breaking down communication barriers between non-technical professionals and engineers. To bridge the communication gap between non-technical professionals and engineers, it’s essential to equip talent acquisition specialists with technical and product knowledge. What projects will this person be working on? What do those projects require? Are there any hard or soft skills that have not been considered? 


Instead of spending so much time thinking about the “ideal hire”, spend more time thinking about the real-life problems and situations the person will be involved in. When recruiters possess this knowledge and understanding they can engage in more meaningful conversations with candidates, showcase a better understanding of the roles, and accurately assess candidates’ fit for the team.

3. Hire to solve problems people don’t yet know they have

It’s one thing to hire tech-roles, it’s another to hire tech-roles to fulfill true innovation. At Synthesia, Research and Development is the heart and soul. 


R&D deals with everything research, such as their avatar’s voices. Meanwhile, the engineering team focuses on developing. There are no architects, which leaves for a more intentional hiring process. Their approach is to hire engineers and product professionals that are young but academically strong. Engineers that have had deep learning for example, in their university already. This way they take advantage of their fresh perspective: when someone understands a bit of theory, but doesn’t have all the stereotypes yet, they are more equipped to envision that which is possible but does not yet exist. 


On the other hand, they have a strong and more senior product engineering team responsible for building the product. This is why it’s more important for these profiles to be excellent at taking ideas into actual production: those experienced developers that are great at owning projects and capable of building entire features and projects on their own. 

“Although this reduces the amount of architects we have in our team, it’s what makes innovation truly scalable. A synchronicity between new ideas and execution that brings real value to users, fast.”
Sara Gaspar Vosinek
Head of Talent Acquisition @ Synthesia
4. Manage different types of engineering tasks effectively 
In the tech industry, there can be an expectation to be bleeding edge constantly with every new development that comes. There is a danger of getting lost in trends and forgetting the real business problem a product is solving.
But instead of changing the direction of the tech team every time there is a new “trend”, Synthesia is guiding product development – and consequently the work of their engineering team – with a strong Research and development team. Within R&D some engineers are working on things that are not yet possible, meaning that their research might be used in production one day, or not at all. 
This results in a team divide where some engineers work on iterating and improving the technology Sythesia already uses in production and others work on experimenting. The latter looks into what is new in the AI landscape, tests out other solutions and researches how those could potentially benefit the existing product. This approach gives companies a lot more insight into how the future development of the product could look while helping them deliver value to their customers faster. 
5. Focus on retaining talent as much as attracting it

As important as growing with the right people is, the only thing more is making the right people want to stay. To do so, Sara recommends focusing on two things: The first one is understanding that what motivates an engineer can be different to what motivates other experts at work. 

“If your team feels like they truly have an influence over something great, where all the graphs are just perpetually going up and up, and you really get people to be collectively motivated to leave their mark in the company that we know is going to be a historic company…the motivation that arises is unprecedented.” 
Sara Gaspar Vosinek
Head of Talent Acquisition @ Synthesia

Secondly, retention is about sustainable scalability. As growth is achieved, maintaining the original vision while setting processes to monitor and measure progress is just as important.

“One thing that we don't want is to go into a hyper growth mode, where we lose our vision that everyone is working on. We would rather keep a position open to really find someone that we know can take us to that next level in thinking versus just trying to feel some opposition because there is an OKR somewhere.”
Sara Gaspar Vosinek
Head of Talent Acquisition @ Synthesia
Sara Vosinek Gaspar's extensive experience as a talent acquisition specialist provides invaluable guidance for tech startups navigating talent challenges. From attracting tech talent through attractive employee propositions and informed talent acquisition specialists to embracing an agile approach to AI training, her advice reflects the essence of building a successful engineering team. By fostering a work environment that caters to engineers' motivations and needs, startups can overcome the perceived talent shortage and excel in today's competitive landscape.