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Cracking the High Performance Code

Mar 7, 2023 2:00:00 AM | By


How do high performers continually reinvent themselves in fast-growth settings, and what innovative ways are today’s recruiting and people teams partnering to deliver on company values and DEI initiatives? Today we speak with Jamie Salas, who’s been promoted four times since joining ClickUp, one of today’s fastest growing companies of all time, in 2021. She's currently Director of Recruiting.



CAITLIN ALLEN: It's a common question to ask how high performers continually reinvent themselves in an environment where a lot in the business is changing rapidly. And what innovative ways recruiting and people teams can partner to deliver on fueling that kind of of reinvention, especially as it relates to values and DEI initiatives. So today, we're going to speak with Jamie Salas, who has been promoted four times since joining ClickUp, one of today's fastest growing companies of all time, and she's currently the director of recruiting. Jamie, thank you so much for being here.

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah. Thanks so much for having me.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Really excited to have you. So let's start off with something that's a little bit more personal. We ask every guest this question, what is something that your coworkers don't normally know about you?

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, I think I am, like really big into the ocean and scuba diving. So I think like, you know, outside of work, that's something that I really enjoy doing. I think it's like a whole other frontier to explore. So I think that's my my fun fact that most of them don't know, outside of that they know my secret.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Well, that's pretty good, then. That's interesting. When did you start scuba diving?

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, I started last summer, so only about a year in. But I think there's just so many cool spots I want to go to

CAITLIN ALLEN: Oh, totally. I grew up snorkeling, because my mom was raised in the Bahamas. And it's like another world down there.

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, there's some cool ones we're gonna do, I think, the Hammerhead dive in Hawaii eventually, which will be super neat.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Amazing. Awesome. Well, thank you for sharing that on a more work oriented subject. So you joined ClickUp in 2021, I believe, as the first go to market recruiter, and that was shortly after your series B unicorn valuation. And the company had about 200 employees at that point. And then since ClickUp, has become one of the fastest growing companies ever. So I'd love to hear a little bit about that journey.

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, wow, what what a journey, it's bad. I think, when I joined ClickUp, I was looking at it really simplistically. And I think I wanted to be somewhere where I could really invest in the leadership and the culture. And just like the genuine good that I thought that ClickUp could do kind of for the world, as cheesy as that sounds. And I think like what really drew me in was the opportunity to build and I've really gotten the chance to do that I've seen kind of the employee size 10x In my time here, which has been really, really awesome. And I think you know, with that I was also new to the SAS space entirely. So I had to learn to like really hit the ground running at a very fast pace, and how to just really be a sponge and mirror the pace of those around me and kind of learn how to do things as I went, which definitely meant jumping out of my comfort zone. And I think over the last couple years, I've gotten to do some some really cool things when it comes to recruiting and hiring. My first year, we spent a lot of energy just kind of building out very foundational teams, since there was only about 200 people when I started. And then through that next stage of growth, we got to launch globally. And this year, it's really all about up leveling and taking it to be more scalable as larger teams. So think kind of throughout that those those three things, the leadership, and the people have have definitely stayed the same. And it's been the best journey ever.

CAITLIN ALLEN: That's so cool. And I actually should have asked this question at the beginning. So forgive me for not doing it. But for the to listeners who don't know what ClickUp is, what is ClickUp? Do?

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, so ClickUp is an all in one productivity platform that helps you kind of customize the work to the way that you would like, it's really powerful, and that it helps to kind of centralize all the team's work in one place. So I think a great example, when I first joined ClickUp, we used it internally ClickUp had it as an applicant tracking system for recruiting where we were able to build out a whole workflow related to that. I saw, are they marketing? I'm gonna repeat that, can I do that over? Love salutely Go for it. Cool. I think clickup is a really cool all in one productivity platform that that really helps you bundle your work in one place. And you know, when you look at when I first joined clique up, we all used it internally, I within recruiting, we use it as our applicant tracking system, and we completely built it out that way. Our marketing teams use it to track campaigns engineering, for their sprints. And what was really cool is we all had the ability to really customize our own workflows the way that we needed to, but we have the ability to kind of contribute and talk to each other on the work that we're doing in one spot, which is just huge in the remote working world that we're in today.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Well said it says so much to when a company actually drinks his own champagne or uses its own product. So it's definitely a good proof point that so many teams can use the platform. Yeah,

JAMIE SALAS: it's really saves you a day per week for sure.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Well, in that case, I love it. You so tax and play growth 200 to about 2000. Let's go back to kind of 2001 Sorry, 2021, when you started your initial role at ClickUp, what was that initial charter? And then as you've gone through the last couple of years, and been promoted into senior recruiter and manager, and now director of Global recruiting, how was your charter enlarged? And how is it related to kind of what ClickUp is here to do in the world?

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, absolutely. Um, so when I first joined ClickUp, it was just all hands on deck to hire, you know, found that foundational teams as fast as we could, I think a huge focus for me at the time was good to market, I think we had to expand our team by at least 75 hires by the end of that year. And then in addition to that, I had to work alongside the other kind of early recruiters that were there with me to really build out a scalable recruitment engine for the wider click up team as we were hiring quite a few people. And I think like those first six to nine months, were just crazy. I think I hired over 130 people, which was while and was able to kind of really build out the recruiting team around me, which was something that I was really fortunate to be able to do as senior recruiter. And then from there, I think I've always just been like, very passionate about clickup. And like, what it can do. And so I've always been the first to raise my hand to try something new and like, dive in and figure it out. And so that kind of progressed into a management role. It was definitely an adjustment, just kind of shifting from that peer relationship to a more leadership focused role within the team. But I think with like how fast that clickup was growing both in our team size as well as business, there was definitely a lot of pivots, we needed to make up needed to make to keep with that velocity. And so I think, you know, I was fortunate to have a very strong team of recruiters around me that are very ambitious, very tenacious. And so this allowed me to lean in a lot more into talent operations, and really focusing on if we were doing things productive as we've scaled like, you know, is things the same are things the same across departments, and driving best practices to really make sure that we're being productive and how we're hiring. I think that in that role, I did a lot around like headcount and building out that process, kind of looking at scaling our systems and reporting, I also did a lot around just like Team enablement and cooperation, I think that kind of goes in line with our core values. And I think that some of the best ideas and how we've scaled have come directly for the team. So that was my time in the management role. And then shortly after stepping into that role, there was kind of a team wide change and a kind of a shift within our talent acquisition team. And so I stepped up and actually was able to oversee the entire team, both tech and non tech, which at the time was super scary, because I had no technical recruiting experience. But I think like the team was really behind me. And I think that they really trusted me to, to lean in there. And I think that, even though that part was only temporary, it was, it was really cool to see the impact that I could have in that leadership role as a director to enable and empower others, and really just kind of lean into more of the strategy of like, how we get talent, where we're going after things, what the market looks like, and I've really enjoyed leaning in there. And back on the non technical side, which is really fun. 

CAITLIN ALLEN: That's amazing. And I think, I'm curious to understand kind of how you've reinvented yourself so many times, and just proactively listing some of the things I heard you say there, which were really, you know, poignant, about raising your hand being surrounded by good people. And, and also a fair degree of working through fear around like new experiences, what you know, we've got our listeners are full of their HR folks, HR executives, and people, managers and people, leaders, who are keen to understand how they can support similar growth and their teams in ways that Foster High Performance, like you just basically talked about it with your career trajectory. You know, what would you say is kind of behind your ability to raise your hand and work through fear and reinvent yourself and what would you advise them as they think about wanting to do that for their teams?

JAMIE SALAS: Totally. I think what has been the most impactful for me is the culture around ownership and embodying a growth mindset here at ClickUp. I think, you know, even prior to click up, that's just how I naturally approached work and how I like to work. But I think like the way that the leadership team has really leaned in there and created that sense of trust that there is the space to do that has really changed my current career trajectory tremendously. I think, you know, the leaders that I've gotten to work with, I mean, we've hired a just world class leadership team. And I think that, you know, they take a strong degree of ownership and growth mindset and their own work as well, and have been really open and vulnerable with me and just kind of sharing the learnings that they've made in their own career paths, kind of what they would have done differently, what they feel like is going really well. And that's allowed me to really kind of take those different pieces that I absolutely love about how they leave their teams and bring that along with me. Additionally, I think that there's just a really strong feedback culture here at clickup. And I think that the way that it's always been positioned, to me by those same leaders is one of the positive message like feedback truly is a gift. And we believe in radical candor, which is awesome. And I think that that's something that I regularly sought out and like tried to incorporate and run with as fast as I could. And I think like, the biggest learning I took away is just how genuine and human all those interactions were like how it was coming from a place of like, genuinely wanting to not only helped me, but better themselves, and like, really just take clickup to the next level without any ego involved at all.

CAITLIN ALLEN: I love that. And what the things that really imagine what the ownership piece on the culture side, imagine that's it's lived out by those at the top it sounds like, what are the other kind of cultural aspects that set the organization up to be owners?

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, I think that, um, there's definitely a strong culture of if you see something that can be improved, and you have an idea to fix it, there is that freedom to like, really dive in and try things out. Definitely, like calculated risk, and like really thinking through and all the options. But I think that that has really helped to drive ownership, because I think that if you see or feel pain, pain point, you have the ability to be able to directly change that for you or your team, which is huge.

CAITLIN ALLEN: But maybe we can take a step back even wider. ClickUp has is fairly unique from a values and culture perspective. What are some of the values or all of them that you all hold, dear?

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, well, they're all near and dear. I think that as we've grown as fast as we've had, being one of the fastest growing companies ever, we've really stood firm in our cultures and values and made sure that not only that, that scaled alongside us with our team that we had existing, but how we hired as well. And I think that you know, that first core value of providing, you know, the best customer experience period, and being passionate about saving the world more time really pushes the team to like think differently about how we go about things in our day to day, I think when you think about it more from that point of view, versus, you know, numbers and metrics, which are definitely important, it definitely kind of drives a different thought process. And then I think within that it drives growing 1% And like pushing yourself to kind of grow as a person and professional, which leans into kind of our core value of normal sucks, like, I think that's essentially kind of challenging the status quo and being willing to do something a little outside the box, that isn't how every other recruitment team does it or, you know, whatever department that might be. And I think that's really created a culture of like a very collaborative, high achieving innovative team. And so I think like when you look around, and you're surrounded by, you know, 900 plus people that think that way and act that way. It's very inspiring, and it really kind of sparks passion within yourself to be like, I want to do this in my role. And I want to see how my team can do something like this. Because it just you see other people doing these incredible things with their career. And it feels so possible and tangible for you to do too. And I think there's also just like a very good sense of togetherness, and a willingness to have fun, which I think is so so important, like people here want to celebrate each other's wings, or eat hot wings in the kitchen together, like, you know, all the things and I think that kind of ties our culture all together.

CAITLIN ALLEN: That's great. And I it's almost like the right kind of herd mentality. And I think one of the things that's interesting to me about your role, so, recruiting in many ways, it's kind of the tip of the spear of the people organization, at least from the perspective of everyone that your team brings in the door right needs to, they're either going to add or subtract from the culture add or subtract from that sense of ownership and, and so the relationship between the chief people officer and the head of recruiting is quite critical. I would love to understand you know, whether it's how you ensure your team's operations support clickup values and culture or whether it's more You know, special ways that your team partners with the people team to ensure alignment? I'd love to dive into that topic.

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, absolutely. So I think firstly, our recruitment team has has been around for quite a bit, most of them joined us in 2020. Ones, I've seen a lot of the growth and scale along the way. And so I think naturally with that, they carry a sense of ownership and growing the culture. And I think like, that comes into play with recruiting when you're really it's coming from the heart where you're speaking about, you know, what the culture is like, and what that means to prospective candidate, which I think makes big difference. In terms of the people team. We have an awesome people team now, which is great. We have a phenomenal fearless leader, Jim, who definitely leads with trust and like really empowering the recruitment team to kind of take the messaging and goals that he is setting for our internal employees. And like bringing that out and sharing that out with candidates. I think that you know, in the day to day, like how that translates is with our people, partner team, we definitely lean in pretty heavily to make sure that they know what's going on or for running into roadblocks. They've been great partners and kind of brainstorming different ways we can tag tag teaming it just because humans are different, and they like it some ways, and sometimes it's more impactful, and others. So that's been great. And then the last piece, I think is like just our people operations team, we've scaled a lot really quickly while hiring very fast. And so our HR systems are definitely up leveled now. And they've been great partners and to us and to making sure that candidate and employee experience has been growing 1% alongside with with us. Fantastic.

CAITLIN ALLEN: That's really cool. What so getting more into the details of actual recruiting how, what is your team's process for assessing candidates cultural fit?

JAMIE SALAS: Yes. So I think that ClickUp, just like any team has a very high talent bar and wants to go after the best and the best. But I think where we really start is assessing culture fit through the lens of core values and how they really embody that. So I think no matter what department or what role you're hiring for, you can really dig into how they go about the best customer experience, whether that's with external shareholders, with whether it's with the teams that they're supporting. And I think that that's a great way to assess that. I think when you look at grow 1%, you know, normal sucks, have fun, you know, being under in the details, those are all very natural things that come out in an interview process that you can tell, just kind of how somebody's approaches to things through kind of asking pointed questions around those core values. And then additionally, I think we also look for a really strong desire to build. I think we've grown a lot last couple years, but there's still a ton of building left to be done. And I think that people that are really excited to just get their blueprints and be able to look back and be like I did that part of clickup, I'm so proud, do really well on our culture, and really find the most fulfillment out of it.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Really like the continuity there of all the practicality of those processes in a way that fits with the more philosophical side of the company. Maybe going more broadly, what are some of the most innovative things that you see happening in recruiting right now, whether that's at clickup itself or somewhere else?

JAMIE SALAS: Yeah, absolutely. I think more broadly in the market, I'm not sure if it's the most innovative, but it's been really awesome. Just kind of see how creative teams have gotten with internal mobility and kind of how to pivot people, and to harder to fill roles and repurpose talent. So I think that that's been something that I've really enjoyed kind of watching from the sidelines on LinkedIn. And then I think within the bigger market, there's just so many tools out there that automate parts of the recruiting process, and it frees up a lot more time to kind of dive into really creative strategies around candidate experience and kind of amplifying the voices of companies to tell the story of culture, which I think is so so powerful to hear from the employees themselves versus just a recruiter kind of telling that story. So I think like within clickup, we've done some of that. We have definitely our employee, kind of people that like, I'm going to start over. Okay. Within Glick up, we definitely have our employees that are really amplified, kind of within the market and are great ambassadors for our culture, and kind of what career trajectories can look like here, which I think has been really cool to see as well. 

CAITLIN ALLEN: What is one commonly held belief about recruiting that you disagree with? 

JAMIE SALAS: I think it's got to be application. I mean, I think that, you know, when you think about finding a new job, it's just a natural instinct to think, Okay, I'm gonna go apply to everything that I find online. But I think like, truly the most powerful thing in recruiting is your network. I think that I've seen the power of it here, I ClickUp. And I think that the people that know you well, and like can really speak to who you are, and your character are the best ways that you find new opportunities. That's how I ended up at clickup. I think I had a friend at the time, and she's like, Hey, you got to take this call, like, you're really gonna like the team, you're gonna like the values, like, just hear it out. And then we can go from there. So I think like, that's where I'd love to see recruiting shift more to, because I think there's just so much value and having a more human element versus just solely applications.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Absolutely. Well, this has been a super fun conversation as we close out. If there were one thing that you could ask our audience to remember from all the goodness that you've shared with us, what would it be?

JAMIE SALAS: I think it would have to be that everything is figured out double. Um, so just raise your hand, take the leap. You know, even if it feels crazy, I think that you know, it's very powerful to be positive and believe in yourself. And I think when you look back, it's just it's the most rewarding feeling and I hope that more people will kind of walk away feeling able to do that for themselves in their teams as well.

CAITLIN ALLEN: Love that. And to I don't know if you've read the book, Jamie, but in almost speaking to her audience, the book by Marie Forleo everything is figured out double is a book and it's a good one. It's worth a read. Well, great, Jamie, thank you so much for lending your time to us today. It's been wonderful.

JAMIE SALAS: Awesome. Yeah, happy to be here.

CAITLIN ALLEN: And to our audience, thank you so much for being here as well. If you feel so inclined, please give us a five star rating on whatever platform you're on and if you've got ideas for topics or guests send me a note at Thanks everyone.

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