by Ester Christine Natalia
In the past ten years, Indonesia has been experiencing rapid growth of digital and technology-based businesses. Hopping from one place to another or ordering food without leaving the comfort of the couch is now as easy as tapping the smartphone screen. On the back of this innovation, talents are working on building the information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure that makes user-friendly software. As a result, the demand for ICT talents is now increasing more than ever. Yet, the supply is in a shortage. According to the World Bank report Preparing ICT Skills for Digital Economy: Indonesia within the ASEAN context, the country is projected to lack nine million skilled and semi-skilled ICT workers between 2015 and 2030. Thus, seeking tech talent is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. However, that makes GeekHunter thrive over the years as a headhunter, helping companies find ICT talents.
“Of all talents across industries, IT talent is the most scarce one. The demand is high, but currently, we lack of supply. Each role also has a particular requirement that comes with a higher difficulty level. That’s why companies ask for our help to find the right IT talent in terms of skill, cultural fit, and attitude,” says Yunita Anggraeni, cofounder and COO of GeekHunter, also known as Anggra.
GeekHunter was founded in 2013, when Anggra and Ken Ratri Iswari, the company’s cofounder and CEO, got a project to scout 20 Bandung-based software engineers for a Malaysian company. They were only given a month to find the candidates. Thankfully, Ken’s career as a recruiter combined with Anggra’s previous experience as a public relations in a game studio company created a strong network and database of IT talents. As a result, the duo managed to get 18 engineers for the company. Since then, more projects came. Previously, both named their service as Ken Ratri Independent Recruitment Consultant before changing it to GeekHunter and formally established the business entity in 2015.
“We were the only recruitment consultant that focused on finding IT talent at that time, while the other headhunter agencies cater to all kinds of talents. Back then, the demand was not as high as now,” Ken says, but reluctant to tell the number of people they recruit monthly.
Initially, GeekHunter provides a recruitment service of IT talent in all kinds of range, from fresh graduates to C-level. However, now they focus on recruiting the junior level to C-level since the fees are higher than taking new graduates. GeekHunter receives a 20% to 25% fee from the candidate’s annual gross salary. The initial research done by Geek-Hunter will decide the amount charged to clients. The higher the difficulty level, the bigger the fee.
“For instance, finding talent with expertise in GoLang, which is an open-source programming language, with 3-10 years of experience equals a very high difficulty level. We will eventually bump to the same people who may not be avail-able on the job market,” Anggra explains.
Currently, GeekHunter has a database of more than 70,000 talents. Besides programmers, the company also has a talent pool of software engineers, UI/UX designers, digital marketing strategists, data analysts, and data scientists – these are the ones in high demand. The talents are from Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Malang, and Bali. It only curates talents with over two years of experience. Besides sourcing the database from talents’ online profiles, the company also enriches its database by attending programmer meet-up events and being the community partner for IT-based events and hackathons.
When GeekHunter was started, 70% of the clients were overseas companies looking for Indonesian talents. Now the trend is shifting as 90% of GeekHunter’s over 150 clients are local companies. The clients are coming from various sectors, including startup and state-owned enterprises. Ken and Anggra claim that they choose to be selective in getting clients as they also consider the company’s sustainability.
“Between 2018-2019, we rejected about 300 potential clients. We are very picky in choosing whom we will work with because we also aim to help IT talents get better and meaningful careers,” says Ken. With bootstrapping from the very beginning, the GeekHunter team grows from only two people to 25 people. Its growth is also starting to stabilize after growing exponentially within the first five years. This year, Anggra and Ken say they will focus on growing its internal team to cater to more job orders. The company has 15 recruiters currently and plans to add five more. As they do specific recruitment, all recruiters must have a general understanding of technology terms and contexts. Currently, GeekHunter is also developing a platform that acts as an article, event, courses, and job posting aggregator for IT-related content named GeekSpace. For the future of tech talent in Indonesia, Ken and Anggra hope the interest will grow in the community since courses, both free and paid, are already widely available.
“We hope the interest in IT-related jobs will grow because when they can succeed here, it means they can also succeed in other parts of the globe. All of the courses are already there to support them becoming excellent tech talents,” says Anggra. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic giving a massive blow to business, Ken says most of the companies have to hold their efforts to extend the operation and grow the business, including hiring staff. She also says that although some technology companies benefited from the pandemic, some are suffering from a drastic loss, especially in the tourism industry. As of May, 41 companies have asked Geek-Hunter’s help for the outplacement of their IT employees.
“Currently, many tech talents are available on the job market because of pay cuts and job cuts. This also results in corrected salaries for tech talent,” she says. To adapt to the changing situation, GeekHunter now offers help to find new jobs for tech talents who are unemployed and get pay cuts due to the COVID-19. As of mid-May, 700 tech talents were seeking new employment in the GeekHunter database. GeekHunter also offers talent representation services for high-level tech talents, including the VP and C-level, and outplacement services for companies laying off their tech employees. Next to startups, Geek-Hunter also focuses on conventional companies that need tech talent for digitalization. Ken says most of the companies are expected to start hiring in the third quarter of this year.