How This Airline Built A Human-First Employer Brand And Hired 400+ People From Around The World

Written by
Joe Latham
Last updated:
Created on:
March 1, 2024

How This Airline Built A Human-First Employer Brand And Hired 400+ People From Around The World

Key takeaway: SmartLynx Airlines hires globally and builds its employer brand by highlighting what’s unique about them, making it easy for candidates to say yes to the process, assessing candidates holistically, using AI when necessary, and assessing all candidates for future potential. Further, the company leverages Willo to give candidates ultimate flexibility in responding to interview questions. 

Even aviation buffs may not know SmartLynx Airlines, but that’s not for lack of scale. 

Formerly known as LatCharter, the airline operates over 60 of its own cargo aircraft in Latvia, Malta, and Estonia. It also leases and maintains a further 65+ planes for airlines around the world like Morocco’s Royal Air Maroc, global shipping company DHL, and Canada’s Air Transat. 

And the company is growing quickly—the lean team of three Recruiters had to fill over 400 roles in the past couple of years.

Dace Straupmane, Talent Acquisition Manager at SmartLynx, is in charge of recruiting for business operations roles like finance, admin, engineers, and operational planners. But competition for that talent is fierce. To continually attract and retain top talent, Dace said SmartLynx invests in its employer brand, something 83.6% of leaders say is crucial for talent growth

On the Recruitment Reality podcast, Dace explained more about how SmartLynx built—and continues to build—its human-first employer brand to attract top talent. 

1. Highlight what you have

SmartLynx may be smaller than some airlines, but it has an incredibly diverse business. Because of its charter approach, Dace said employees will routinely work with more aircraft types, more diverse route planning, and more airline operating styles than if they worked for a single, global passenger airline.

“We are sort of like the Uber of aviation,” said Dace. “So we are not regular air carriers, but we are leasing aircrafts to others.”

Given the global nature of the organization, Dace said the company hires globally as well.

“We are located here in Latvia, in Lithuania, in Estonia and in Malta as well,” said Dace. “But our candidates come from all over the world, starting from the Baltics, UK, Colombia, Brazil, India, Philippines, you name it. So we are a very international organization.”

But beyond the diversity of the work, Dace also said the organization focuses on being open minded—this is not just essential for growth, but also for making its multicultural workforce feel comfortable and productive. 

“Aviation is super regulated and it's not that easy, but you can go outside the box [with company culture],” said Dace. 

2. Make it easy for candidates to say yes

Hiring all over the world would normally mean dealing with time zones and, if someone is hired, a painful relocation process.

Dace said SmartLynx is leveraging technology and process to help make both those steps easier. On the hiring side, the company uses Willo’s one-way video interviewing platform to give candidates flexibility to respond on their own time. Dace also said video interviews make it easy to assess English capacity—the language of aviation—which means candidates can sometimes avoid taking language certification tests.

Sometimes people are confused by one-way video interviews, but Dace thinks about it like filming an Instagram story or answering a FaceTime call: not only are you often already used to the concept, but you don’t have to worry about getting it right on the first try.

“We use Instagram to do Insta stories,” said Dace. “It's weird that people are still confused about such things when you need to look at the camera and talk with yourself. Don’t be scared; be assured you still have time to think and to do a retake.”

Successful candidates also have relocation support from SmartLynx, including identity verification, visas, and physically moving to wherever they need to be. 

3. Assess candidates holistically

Dace said the team routinely looks for holistic candidate-company match; if someone isn’t a fit for the role to which they applied, Dace and the team will see if they might be fit for a different role in the company. 

This is another reason for video interviews. If the team only conducted phone screens and took notes, other hiring managers or team leaders wouldn’t be able to hear a candidate’s authentic responses.

“Even if the person might not answer the questions as you would like them to, but you can sense a spark in the person and you think, ‘Okay, not for this position, but this person would be so good in that department.’”

4. AI is fine if you use it right

AI is a hot topic in business, but Dace isn’t worried. In fact, she encourages people to use AI if it helps them feel more comfortable and prepared for an interview. The key, however, is ensuring that you view AI as a preparation tool, not a way to avoid showcasing yourself in an interview. 

“Everybody's pretty open minded and welcoming in terms of technology,” said Dace. “If ChatGPT helps you to prepare for an interview, go for it. But at the end of the day, I think our recruitment team is so well trained that we will see, is it you speaking or is it actually you have learned some specific sentences [from ChatGPT].”

5. Always look for future potential

Dace is clear that you do not need any aviation experience to join SmartLynx. Further, Dace and her team regularly go out to universities and colleges to invite candidates to apply for more junior roles designed with learning in mind, so people can build up expertise on the job. 

“It’s all about what values you can bring,” said Dace. “And do our values align with your values as a person?”

This is also where Willo helps, because offering flexibility for candidates coming from diverse backgrounds—and giving them time to learn, practice, and try again—is a living embodiment of SmartLynx’s hiring approach. 

At the same time, a pre-recorded interview is not the only communication line. Dace said she wants candidates to feel they can reach out, human to human, if they have any concerns about their pre-recorded performance.

“Willo is so convenient [for candidates],” said Dace. “You can do it anytime, anywhere. And at the end of the day, if you thought you did bad, you just write an email and say, ‘This was an amazing experience, but I didn't do so well.’ Just communicate, be yourself, and present yourself in the best way [you can].”

Joe Latham
Sales Manager
LinkedIn profile

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