"The company is a reflection of its leader, and if so, then I really like the reflection that I see."
An interview with lucky hunter founder Tatiana Melnichuk
The Lucky Hunter Founder
Today at our Lucky Hunter blog there is an unusual guest. Recently, our company Lucky Hunter has turned 4: this is a very significant date for us because it means that our agency holds strong positions in the market and is growing rapidly, showing incredible results.
In honour of this event, we have invited a very unusual guest to our blog - the founder of Lucky Hunter Tatiana Melchuk. We learned how Lucky Hunter managed to reach new heights, what our boss plans for the future and how Tatiana's personality has changed over the years.
The interview turned out to be incredibly sincere and lively, but most importantly, it turned out to be very useful for those who are doing business or are going to become entrepreneurs. Read the interview right now and get inspired!
— Tanya, hi! Recently, Lucky Hunter has turned 4, and this is a very significant event in the history of your company. I would like to know how you came to this, how did it happen that the company has been rapidly developing and growing for the fifth year already? I would also like to discuss with you plans for the future, and talk about your professional experience. Let's go?
— Hi! Let's go!
— Tell me, please, how did it all begin? How did you come up with the idea of opening your own agency?
— Four years ago, even before I decided to open my own agency, I had worked as an employed person, worked at startups. At a certain point, I realized that I had hit the career ceiling, I had nowhere to develop.
All I could count on was a salary increase or more for a comfortable chair. Yes, those were the days when remote work wasn't mainstream and everyone worked from the office.
Tatiana Melnichuk, the Lucky Hunter CEO
I thought, "Is this all I can do?"
I thought, "Is this all I can do?" I wanted to fulfil my potential somewhere, and I gradually began to reduce working hours in the company. Since just leaving the company was a painful decision, we agreed with the employer that I would work several days a week. In my spare time, I started working as a freelancer and also started to make small steps towards starting my own business. So, for example, I already came up with the name of my future company, made a logo and created a corporate email.
Thus, step by step, thanks to my diligence and painstaking work, clients began to contact me, most often those who knew me personally and with whom I had previously worked.
At some point, I had so many clients that I realized that I couldn't cope with all the tasks. Therefore, I found the first recruiter, who, by the way, works at Lucky Hunter up to the present day.
I still don't fully understand how she decided to do this, because I didn't even have a website! Nevertheless, given that I had a large flow of vacancies from large clients and a willingness to provide an employee with a good bonus for filling vacancies, she believed in me and agreed to work at Lucky Hunter, for which I am immensely grateful to her.
— Why Lucky Hunter? How did you come up with the idea for the company name?
I'm lucky because I work hard.
— I'm not very good at naming projects, really. Sometimes when I look at some non-trivial names, like Apple, I think: "Wow, how did people come up with such a cool name?!" But this didn't quite suit me, because I wanted people to understand straight from the name what our company does. If we talk about semantics, then the origin of the name seems pretty clear. Hunter is because we are "head hunters". And Lucky - because I really think that I'm a very lucky person, but I'm lucky because I work very hard, take on all sorts of tasks and challenges. Therefore, it turns out that the name of my company reflects both my philosophy and our activity.
— You said that at the very beginning of your journey, you did not have a website or any information on the Net that could make your company more recognizable. How, then, did you manage to find clients?
— I did not look for them, nearly 90% of our business comes from referrals. We have a large flow of incoming clients. Even Yandex came to us by referral: someone told them that there is a small agency where the girls work very quickly and professionally. And it was true. We produced very cool results.
— And how did you manage to interest your first employee to start working for such a young and little-known company at that time? Is this your talent as an HR specialist or something else? =)
— This is still mystical for me too =) In general, even today girls refuse offers to very famous companies for the sake of working in my agency. It's very pleasant.
But in general, this is, firstly, some kind of similar mindset. Despite the fact that we are small, we are actively growing, but at the same time, we don't hire everyone. It's important that the person be like-minded. This is a certain amount of tolerance and understanding of others.
If we are talking about the first employee, then at that time she worked in a very large company and received good money at that time. I offered her a low salary but a high bonus for filling vacancies.
She believed in me because she saw that all my successes and work with cool clients were true. I showed her a list of clients, the company turnovers, and told her how much my services cost.
Secondly, I sincerely believe in my work and burn with enthusiasm. I'm sure it also somehow infects and inspires confidence.
— Cool! Thank you! If you trace the history of your business, can you identify a tipping point when you realized that your company is something more than just a small agency?
the level of our professionalism makes me a bit scared.
— One Sunday evening I was sitting and preparing myself for Monday, there were a large number of tasks, a large number of emails and requests from clients. So that I wouldn't be mired in a number of incoming messages, I decided that it would be good to sort out all the emails in advance. I sat down and began to write the replies. I sent an email to a client in Israel, another to Dubai, a third to the USA, and a fourth to Tinkoff bank. And at that moment I realized: "wow! Have I created all this?!" I realized that we are a very high-level company: our clients are scattered across the world. And these are not just clients who have Russian heritage. These are clients with international teams who live and work on different continents. It's so cool! It also showed that the level of tasks and issues to be solved has become so much higher that sometimes the level of our professionalism makes me a bit scared.
Another indicator is reaching a level where not only clients choose us, but we also choose who we want to work with.
Over the past year, we received more than three hundred applications from potential clients but signed a contract only with 30%. We choose whom to work with and in what format to work.
Tatiana Melnichuk, the Lucky HunterCEO
If the client and I have a different vision of how the recruiting process should be arranged and we fail to agree, even if it's a very outstanding client, and we really want to get cooperation experience, we still refuse, as we really value our time and comfort.
— What do you think helped you reach such a high level?
The word "partner" isn't an empty phrase for us.
Our work capacity and our attitude to work. We really process candidates very well, we interact with clients in a quality manner. The word "partner" isn't an empty phrase for us. We work with clients based on the principle of partnership: if we take a vacancy on, we feel responsible for the result, try to send the maximum number of relevant candidates, and if something goes wrong during the recruiting process, we always report to the client, tell them why and where there is a bottleneck, we show statistics from the CRM system, but at the same time, if we feel that the client is not quite right (and this happens), we will definitely discuss these points and offer solutions. If the client isn't ready to change anything, then most likely we will end the cooperation.
However, in the case when our new recruitment strategy and ideas are proper to our clients, we'll do everything to find the most ideal solution.
— It's important to understand that people always contact us to fill the most challenging positions. Therefore, it's quite impossible for our clients to navigate the market without our help.
That is why we are so loved and appreciated, and when we are told that they have never seen such a level of problem-solving and such a level of professionalism, we are very pleased to hear it.
— You've already said that only incoming requests come to Lucky Hunter, that you don't work with cold clients and choose who to work with. Is there a risk in IT recruiting to stay without clients, or given the specifics of the market, you'll always have clients?
— I see that many of our competitors have sales managers. This means that they work with cold clients. Moreover, I know that not every counterparty is as selective as we are, which, by the way, is not very good.
The reason lies in the fact that in such cases there is a risk of taking on a task that cannot be solved in the first place. That is why such agencies give false hopes to clients and, as a result, provoke disappointment in the IT recruiting industry and agencies in general. It doesn't benefit anyone.
Opening your own agency in IT recruiting is not the same as having a large number of clients.
In addition, many people think that opening your own recruitment agency is easy. In theory, in order to open an agency, you don't need a lot of resources. All you need to pay for access to LinkedIn, workspace, and laptop. However, in reality, much more is needed, and there are still significant differences in the work of a freelancer and an agency. And not everyone understands this. Opening your own agency in IT recruiting is not the same as having a large number of clients and, of course, it is not the same as filling all the vacancies in the tech market.
— Are there periods of seasonality in recruiting? If there are some, does your work strategy change somehow in such situations?
— "Officially" there are such periods. December and January are considered to be the most off-season months. Also in the summer, there is a big imbalance. Companies really need to find an employee, and candidates really want to go on vacation. Therefore, many processes are delayed.
Although exactly in our agency, especially after the pandemic (and the pandemic played into our hands in the end) there are no such periods, we always have vacancies to fill and candidates ready to change jobs.
— And if we look through all the four years of your work, were there periods when you had very few vacancies to fill? Or have you always had requests?
— We've always had vacancies. We work with many large companies, and they always have a lot of vacancies to fill. In addition, we really love working with startups from all over the world, and from experience this is mutual. This means that we always have a lot of different tasks =)
— Can you reveal what clients your company works with?
— We have been working with Avito for many years, work with Tinkoff Investments, and subsequently with all Tinkoff bank projects, work with cool startups, including, for example, a startup in which SpaceX invests. In general, we have a lot of clients, it's difficult to list them all, it's probably easier to say which clients we don't work with.
For example, we do not work with companies that have shady schemes, we don't work with casinos, and we treat crypto projects with caution. We work with them only if they have a really cool idea. If this is yet another crypto wallet, then we won't work with such projects.
— I see that only IT companies are on your list. Do you work with non-IT stories?
— Very rare, more likely the answer is "no". We have a very different mindset with such companies. It's very difficult to explain to a non-IT person what the specifics of the industry are, to be on the same page.
— Do you have clients with whom you've been working since you opened your company?
— Yes, we have a lot of regular clients. This doesn't mean that we work non-stop with them. IT recruiting is a service that is required from time to time depending on the opening of a new position, so it is important to understand that the "regular client" in our business is not the one we work with every day, but it is the company that contacts us when there are new openings.
— Cool, thanks a lot! We've talked about "ups''. Guess, it will be fair to talk about the complexities you faced during your entrepreneurship . Have there been "downs'' in your entrepreneurial career? What periods were the most difficult for you in your work?
— There was a very difficult pandemic period when no one knew what to do, and 80% of clients put the working process on hold. When I travel down this time, I still have a cold shiver running down my spine - everything was so stressful and hard. There was also a rather difficult period when two girls left the company for personal reasons in one month. It was also quite stressful because finding a new person and training him or her is quite difficult.
— It's great that you touch on the "team" topic. Tell us, please, how do you select specialists?
— It depends on what we are talking about and what speciality. We have a lot of girls who came to us without work experience and I taught them everything from scratch. Sometimes they are educated on their own, like our wonderful designer, who is self-taught and produces incredible results.
If we are talking about recruiters, then now, for example, I am not ready to take on people without work experience, so I look at their professional experience, their level of English, of course, since we work with clients around the world.
— If we talk about IT researchers, then we continue to consider girls with no work experience, and we evaluate whether this is a conscious choice, whether this candidate has done at least something to explore the world of IT recruiting.
— And if we talk about soft skills, what is the most important thing here?
— Lack of conflict and toxicity. We had no conflicts in a purely female team, despite all our "differences". Different people with different ideologies work for us, and IT is a world that is a priori tolerant, and if a person has rigid attitudes and he or she will rigidly impose any position on any issue, this won't be suitable to us.
— Is it difficult to find employees at Lucky Hunter at all?
— Yes, it's very difficult. Hiring a new employee is always stressful. Sometimes you can't find common ground with a new employee, and you have to fire him or her. As the evidence from practice shows, we have a minimal employee turnover. This is very cool, and, of course, means that I am doing everything correctly.
— Why do you think Lucky Hunter has low turnover?
— We are very comfortable to work with. On the one hand, I am a very finicky leader, but on the other hand, I'm also a loyal leader who can show understanding for any personal situation.
In addition, we have a decent salary, and there are many opportunities to be realized in a way that is comfortable for each person, to be part of the processes that you can change. I always support any improvements, innovations or ideas. I give people a lot of freedom.
— And if we analyze 4 years of your entrepreneurial activity, tell me, has something changed in your views on entrepreneurship?
— I've definitely begun to take the sweet with the sour. I just realized that stressful situations will never end, it's useless to worry about everything that happens.
I also realized that Lucky Hunter is me. I really appreciate the staff and I want us all to work together as long as possible, but one way or another, the time will come when we will have to say "goodbye" to each other. And we all should remember this. If earlier I was somehow doubtful of us and our abilities, then after 4 years of work, I realized that together we can do everything that is possible. Don't be afraid, everything is worth trying.
Tatiana Melnichuk, the Lucky Hunter CEO
If I see a door with a lock in front of me, this does not mean that it is closed to me.
I have a favourite example on this topic: when we first moved into a new office, we saw that the door to our stairs had a combination padlock. This door is always open, but people, reaching this door without even trying to open it, always call me and ask how they can get inside without even trying to pull the handle. I also live by this principle. If I see a door with a lock in front of me, this does not mean that it is closed to me. You need to try to pull it, and perhaps it will open.
— The analogy with the door turned out to be very interesting. Cool! Can you tell us about your personality? Have there been any changes in your personality during this time?
— Of course, everything has changed for me. I have grown a lot as a person. It's hard to describe it in one word. Rather, it is an internal state. First of all, I live a very cool life that I really enjoy. I live in a world of unlimited possibilities for myself, and, in addition, my professionalism has grown. I am very proud of how I've improved my English.
I can easily negotiate with clients, I have no barriers, and the level at which I have learned to understand a different mentality, interact with other clients and consummate deals is a huge achievement.
a company is a reflection of its leader, and if so, then I really like the reflection that I see.
Plus, I like the way I began to solve problems - I became much calmer, solving problems without drama. This is a very big achievement. And I have become bolder. Business tempers a person's character, changes him or her. If you are engaged in entrepreneurial activities, and your company is not just a hobby, but at the level of a company that is growing and developing, of course, you will change, because you grow and develop along with your business, and the business develops along with you. I like the phrase that a company is a reflection of its leader, and if so, then I really like the reflection that I see.
— And what does your agency look like in some ideal result?
— First of all, I want freedom, I want us to have the opportunity to shunt between St. Petersburg and England. I want us to become truly global so that employees can work from anywhere in the world. So that, despite the fact that all boundaries are closed now, we have complete freedom at Lucky Hunter. This is what I'm aiming for.
— And if we talk about the short term, what are your plans for the next year?
— The large-scale problem is to move to England, settle there, attract a large number of startups from there and just start the path to this free shunting between the two countries.
— Cool! Thank you. Do you think anyone can start a business?
— Anyone can start a business, but not everyone can keep it from falling. Business is not for everyone. I don't pretend to be unique, but running a business means facing difficulties, stress, and making difficult decisions every day. If you are not ready for this, then you better not open your own business. As they say, with great power comes great responsibility: both for your employees and for your decisions.
You have to make decisions every second, and it's very hard. The decisions can be very different: starting from "what colour to add to the site banner" and ending with "how to attract a large client and conclude a contract with him or her". It seems that this is nonsense, but in fact, the brain needs to make decisions and choose something, it's very difficult. You get very tired, sometimes you want something to be solved of its own accord.
— Tanya, thank you very much! And a quick question: how does Lucky Hunter differ from its competitors?
We are the best!
— Short and to the point. Thank you very much =) That's all the questions, thank you for taking the time.
— It was a pleasure to talk to you!
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