Driftwood Group

Recruitment in the World of Atlassian


Started by two uni guys with a $10k credit card limit in 2002.

With a dream to earn more than PwC could offer as a salary,

Little bit of help along the way…and a lot of fun!

Over 50,000 customers and counting, with many millions more users;

A 2015 valuation into the Billions…

…And rumours of a US listing – as the investment community falls over itself to have a piece of the action.

So, where do I sign up?

If Atlassian is the hottest tech software company of the moment in Australia (or on Earth), with offices across the world, values different from most, products that sell themselves, and a culture the envy of most, how do you join this dream team?

We figured we’d skip all the news articles, blogs, online babble and heresay – instead, we went right to the source.

Caitriona Staunton (@CaitStaunton) is Head of Recruitment for APAC at Atlassian, and hails from Ireland where she jumped from Google to her new digs here in Sydney – just think about that…!


Let’s ask her, we thought…and this is what she said.


DG – Can you, in your own words describe what Atlassian is?

CS – Atlassian is one of the fastest growing technology businesses in the world and pride themselves on disrupting the traditional approach to hiring. They’re ranked as the number one Best Place to Work in Australia for the past 2 consecutive years and number seven in the US.

DG – And what is your role with the company?

CS – I head up recruiting at the headquarters of Atlassian here in Sydney. She joined Atlassian just over a year ago having spent 8 years leading recruiting teams at Google.

DG – What attracted you to Atlassian when you were looking for a new opportunity?

CS – I was incredibly happy at my last role in Google, so I can’t say that I was on the look out for a new opportunity at all. But a very convincing recruiter here at Atlassian got in touch and I was intrigued by what I heard. At first I must say I was more intrigued to find out about what they were doing here vs. considering it as a job opportunity for myself – I guess I was just being a typical nosy recruiter! But the more people I met here the more I knew that Atlassian was really something special. It reminded me of the earlier Google days back in 2006 when hiring was the absolute #1 priority and there was just such a buzz about growing the company out.

DG – How did you find the recruitment process when you were on the candidate side of the equation?

CS – It was great in that I got to speak with lots of really interesting people. I met with 7 or 8 people in total but I requested some of the chats – I wanted to meet with as many of the people that I’d be working with as possible before I made a decision and before they made a decision on me. I was lucky enough to visit both the Sydney and San Francisco offices during the process so I got a really good feel for the work culture and office environment on both sides of the pond.

DG – We love the Atlassian Values. How do these values relate to the recruitment process you now work through?

CS – They’re incredibly important. In fact every interview process at Atlassian includes a dedicated interview that assesses a candidate’s fit to our Values. And it’s not about personality type or people who are similar to the team we’re hiring for, it’s about people who will thrive in our environment. We love our Values and our Culture – but we know they’re not for everyone. We ensure that our Values are front and centre of our recruiting messages so candidates can opt-in, or -out if its not for them. In assessing for Values fit we essentially look for 5 things.

  1. We look for people who can ‘Be the Change They Seek’ – that means taking ownership for solving problems and being solution oriented.
  2. We want employees to ‘Build with Heart and Balance’, which means infusing passion and urgency in everything we do, whilst maintaining a balance to make decisions with care.
  3. One of our Values is ‘Open Company, No Bullshit’. We take transparency very seriously and everything at Atlassian is open by default – you have to actively decide to switch things onto private, as opposed to the reverse. We have zero tolerance for office politics and everyone is treated as equals from their first day, regardless of their seniority. That environment can take a while for some people to adjust to so we are upfront about it in our interviews.
  4. Our business model is built around our customers and keeping them happy so when we say ‘Don’t f*** the customer’ – we mean that we need people to be willing to put the customer first in every decision they make. They need to be comfortable stopping and asking themselves ‘is this really the best thing we can do for our customer’.
  5. Our last value, ‘Play, as a Team’ refers to the responsibility of every Atlassian to keep this a fun place to come to every day. We never want to get to a place where we take ourselves too seriously or stop having fun every day. We have a dedicated team internally whose job it is to put a smile on employees’ faces every day by organising events, gifts and ‘sillybrations’, but being an awesome colleague is every employees’ job.


DG – What advice would you give to Australian businesses in regard to building and maintaining a culture like Atlassian’s? (Or any culture for that matter).

CS – I think simply putting your employees first really does wonders for any company. When you look after your employees, you increase morale and productivity. It also helps you win the best people from a recruiting perspective, which in turn makes for an even better place to work. I believe the best thing you can do for your employees (more so than free food or pool tables) is to hire well and give them great, smart colleagues to work alongside. Unfortunately many hiring managers succumb to the pressures of finding someone fast vs. hiring the best person for the role and once you compromise on hiring once, it’s hard to raise the bar up again. Apart from hiring great colleagues, I think empowering your employees to make big decisions and trusting them with a lot of information creates a great work environment. We know that our culture will evolve over time and with every new person that joins us – but for us it’s more important to maintain our core values, as they should never change over time.

DG – What fun initiatives do you use to attract, engage and retain staff?

CS – We try to stick out from the crowd with messages that grab people’s attention. Our ‘Pop-up Hiring Tour’ last December had a mission to find the ‘best in our backyard’. It was a 10-day hiring tour around Australia where we hosted networking events with a bit of a twist – we transformed local favourites (bars, cafes and even a dumpling kitchen) into ‘Atlassian offices’ for the night to bring a sense of our office space and culture to those who came along. We brought some of the magic of the Atlassian offices on tour with us; e.g. the t-shirts, games, craft beer, swag and most importantly a great bunch of Atlassian employees. We interviewed onsite and made job offers on the spot! In June we brought the hiring tour to UX Designers in Europe with the tagline ‘We’re seeking design thinkers, talented tinkerers and wannabe surfers’. We tied an Atlassian branded surfboard to a VW kombi campervan and drove it around the streets of Europe with the message that we were hiring. The hashtag #UXSurfers allowed people to follow our little hiring bus as we traveled from London to Amsterdam, Berlin to Stockholm picking up ‘UXSurfer hires’ along the way.


The benefits and perks here are great but the real employee engagement comes from empowering them, giving them impactful work and staying true to our Values.

DG – Atlassian has built a business that stands out from the crowd. How can job-seekers achieve the same and what tools should they use to do so?

CS – We love when candidates can demonstrate passion – often that’s by including something on their CV that’s outside of their work or studies. Sometimes that’s community involvement, mentoring or coaching, or passion projects. Candidates who can demonstrate a Product and/or Entrepreneurial mindset during the interviews really and out as well.

DG – Finally, where do you sit on the see-saw of work-life balance?

CS – I think I’m on the work-life integration side. Things in this industry move so quickly that the first thing I do in the morning is scan the tech news to see what I’ve missed! I love my job so I find it hard to fully switch off mid-week. But we have great classes in here like Yoga, Pilates, Bootcamp etc so I try to integrate wellness into my work day as well.

The weekends are all about down-time so I don’t find myself opening my laptop on a Saturday or Sunday very often. Mondays in here are great because the US are on their Sunday and we all have a little longer to get settled into the week! I have an awesome team here who are all incredibly supportive of each other – so we know that when we go out on leave our candidates and our customers will be just as well looked after as if we were here for them ourselves – which helps!

DG – Thanks for your time, whatever the rumour-mill spits out, we look forward to watching the Atlassian story unfold!


What we would like to see in Australia, is more organizations following suit. If two guys with a credit card can achieve all this, then what say the rest?

We’re all about putting the Human back in HR, and Atlassian is leading the way.




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Alex Kelly

Alex Kelly

Alex is a Director at Driftwood Group | Occasional Recruiter | Amateur Wordsmith | Career Interventionist