Where each day brings a new opportunity to succeed
A quick browse through Syfter’s uniquely cool website, with its retro superhero comic-book vibe, tells you right away that this place is different. The site’s lively, GIF-dotted interface pulls you in, and the homepage, with an image of a caped crusader watching over Manhattan, reflects Syfter’s mission: to “make the hiring manager look like a hero.” But probing beyond this whimsical portal, what exactly makes Syfter so super, from an employee perspective?
Wanna Build a Business?
For starters, Technical Recruiter Sheila O’Sullivan and Customer Success Manager Michael Alexandrov both love the fact that, beyond valuing and rewarding hard work and think-outside-the-box creativity, the leadership encourages employees at Syfter to pursue their entrepreneurial spirit. They aim to create an environment “where everyone can build their own business within the business, encouraging independence and success — without metrics,” per the Syfter website. Alexandrov feels that is a rare quality in a company.
Specializing in IT contract and permanent staffing, the New York City-based firm, currently with 15 employees, was founded in 2017 by CEO Steve Perlman. As he explains it, the outstanding team at Syfter was established with a common goal in mind: to build other strong teams. And since Perlman and his own team are experts at that, he says, they know what it takes.
Perlman notes several hiring practices that set Syfter apart. For one, they hire for the individual rather than for the skill set. If a candidate already has certain characteristics — the kind of traits you can’t teach, such as integrity, passion, likability, intelligence and a great work ethic — Perlman feels he can teach them everything else. “Many people even get hired for one position and then switch into something else; we strive to find the best place for each person within the company,” he says. “I always say everyone has a different threshold, and I push to find it and challenge it.”
Another practice is that Syfter doesn’t hire managers from outside the company, instead choosing to promote from within. Additionally, Perlman strives to maintain a very flat hierarchy and encourages group decisions. “Even as the CEO, if everyone thinks something should go one way, and I think something different, we’ll usually go with the majority even if it doesn’t match my opinion,” he says.
This structure makes O’Sullivan feel like a valued member of a team that’s in it for the long run. “At Syfter, I have the opportunity to speak up in meetings and give my opinion on many major decisions,” she says. “The culture here encourages individual success while still valuing a team aspect. We are encouraged to ask for help, and we have others step in to support.”
Perlman says Syfter’s guiding internal philosophy is simply believing in its people. “We’re going to do better as a whole group than as a group of individuals,” he says. “We really let people create a place for themselves they love to be in.”
As an example, when they conduct interviews, each candidate meets with the whole team, and the team gets to vote on whether or not to hire the candidate. “We’ve not hired people I liked because the team didn’t like them. I remember once I liked a candidate so much, but everyone else didn’t … we went with the group decision,” Perlman says. “At the end of the day, I’m only going to do so much; your peers are the ones who help you as a new employee, so you need to have a good relationship with them.”
O’Sullivan was drawn to Syfter primarily because it seemed like a place where everyone was competitive but got along well. She wanted the opportunity to learn and grow alongside like-minded people, but didn’t want the company to feel cutthroat. She also liked the fact that in such a small company, there were people from different backgrounds and it was clear that diversity and inclusion were valued.
In addition, O’Sullivan feels there was much more time and effort invested into her training than at other companies. “In past companies, I have not been trained like I have here,” she says. “I once worked for a recruiting company where my manager handed me a book called Recruiting 101 and told me to read it front-to-back, then I was expected to perform well.” At Syfter, O’Sullivan had a full week of training before speaking to candidates; there are also ongoing weekly trainings, as well as a daily process that helps recruiters perform optimally.
Alexandrov adds that he was intrigued by the opportunity to work at Syfter because he believed that there was room for rapid growth within the company. He also found the company culture to be very inclusive, open and fun.
The mix of boundless opportunity and laid-back atmosphere at Syfter, along with an environment where employees respect and support each other but also challenge each other to grow, clearly works to keep its employees happy and engaged. “I wake up and get to see my friends every day while having the opportunity to make good money. I can be my true self,” O’Sullivan says. “Each day feels like a new opportunity to make things happen.” She also loves the vibrancy of the office; Syfter shares space in a WeWork building, which comes with perks like free food and drinks, fun events and even a dog-friendly policy.
For his part, Alexandrov appreciates that Syfter gives him the resources and opportunities he needs to be successful. “What motivates me to come to work is knowing that the only thing standing between me and my goals is hard work,” he says. He also mentions he has worked in multiple corporate environments in his short professional career, and Syfter is by far the most overall friendly work environment he’s encountered.
The Rewards of Recognition
The best way to validate that your product is good is word of mouth, according to Perlman. “Being recognized by SIA two years in a row [as a Best Staffing Firm to Work For] gives us that validation and helps us with attracting top talent to continue our growth, as well as making a statement to our current and prospective clients that we are validated as being great,” he says. “They don’t just have to take my word for it, they have the proof. We publicize it, even putting it in our email signatures, because we value that testament to our work.”
In addition, because he and his team take pride in what they do and in doing it well, they monitor Syfter’s online presence on sites like Glassdoor reviews and Google reviews.
When it comes down to it, Perlman says one of the best rewards is when people refer their friends to Syfter. “As a recruiter, it’s that feeling when a candidate refers another candidate or a client refers another client. The best feeling I get is when an employee recommends their friends to work here.”