Teddy Dimitrova: “Have a hospitality mindset in recruitment”


Introducing one of our keynote speakers for Talent Acquisition Live: Teddy Dimitrova.


Teddy is originally Bulgarian and moved to the Netherlands 10 years ago to study. Although she is 100% Bulgarian, after a decade here she does consider herself one third Dutch. After several years in the hospitality industry, she realised it was way too corporate, too many layers, rules and stiffness. She got headhunted by a recruitment agency and before she knew it she was a “IT recruitment consultant”.


Three years later she can say without a doubt she has found her true calling in talent management. We interviewed her about her experience in the field.


So what is Talent Management for you?

‘Recently I’ve discussed the title with several people from the industry and some say it is a fancy name for a recruiter. On this, I don’t agree. A recruiter is a separate profession. As talent manager I help startups and scale up grow – from setting up the whole infrastructure, through recruitment strategy to the actual growth. Think about everything from employer branding, EVP (values, benefits), employee happiness, on-boarding programs etc. What I really love about it is the fact that in the startup world there are very few restrictions (e.g. budget or not enough FTE’s for the projects), but for the rest – you can be creative, think out of the box and just create something unique – what is a better challenge than that?’

Your background isn’t in HR, but in hospitality. Does the service attitude you learned there help you with your current career?

‘According to statistics, 97% of the hospitality educated people don’t end up working in the hospitality industry. One of the main reasons is that they get headhunted in their early post graduate years by many industries – for one big reason – their hospitable mindset and attitude. This is something you mostly can’t really teach someone, it is something you are born with. Characteristics you would often see are adaptability & flexibility, passion, empathy, patience, team work, great communication skills, quick minds, customer centric etc. I strongly believe that having those qualities has not only helped me to be successful in my job, but has made my approach and work ethics quite distinctive.’

‘The hospitable mindset and attitude is something you can’t really reach someone.’

‘When talking about “service attitude”, the hospitality industry has changed a lot in the past years. Every industry has recently been through influences of new generations and digitalisation. Therefore, we don’t talk about servicing anyone anymore, we are talking of giving great experience. And that’s something that has become a huge topic in the talent industry as well. Candidate experience is one of the most important pillars in your recruitment strategy these days.’

So where do you get your inspiration, how do you develop your own skills?

‘Well, I’m super proud to be part of the Recruitment Slackers Community, where I often help organise meet ups, share knowledge during sessions and also stimulate others to do so. Actually being part of this community and being so active in there is a big part of my day to day life and has helped me become a better recruiter, sourcer and overall better person.’

You moved from Bulgaria to the Netherlands during your student years. Do you think your dual perspective helps you recruit better?

Yes, I moved to study and stayed. Having the background of Eastern European and the experience moving abroad, starting my life from scratch helps me a lot. I mostly work with candidates from abroad and when I share my experience, challenges and successes with them, we manage to create quite a bond and it also helps me persuade people to move. Also, being an expat has made me aware of a lot of cultural differences between the Dutch and all other nationalities, which helps on the side of hiring people on cultural fit. For the past years, I pretty much managed to map European countries and know where to find certain type of candidates. For example: I know that it wouldn’t make sense to headhunt developers in Bulgaria, as their financial status is quite good and they don’t want to relocate. Especially in comparison with Macedonians or Serbian for example, who would rather relocate to central Europe to escape political situations in their countries.

Last but not least, can you tell us something about you most people won’t know?

‘Oh, that’s a challenge. I’m quite open about myself and pretty distinctive in things I like or don’t like and people know that. Perhaps the fact that 10 years ago I was convinced that I would be General Manager of a luxurious 5 star hotel in Rome is not very well known. Also what actually NO ONE knows is the exact number of pair of shoes I have. More than 120 for sure…’

MC Teddy Dimitrova is ready for the 3rd edition of Talent Acquisition Live: The European Recruitment Innovation Event on March 12 in Amsterdam. Be inspired how to innovate your talent acquisition strategy, processes and technology! With keynotes and breakouts from Kasia Tang, Bill Boorman (TRU), Charlotte Christiaanse-Pali (Philips), Hung Lee (Recruiting Brainfood), Yulia Bondar, Jelmer Zuidema (a.i. Booking.com), Joanne Lockwood, Marcel van der Meer (BadAss Recruiters & Sourcers), Kim Lokenberg, Bas van de Haterd (Digitaal-Werven), Akbar Karenga, Ingeborg van Harten (Mollie), Leandro Gomes da Silva and many, many more. The last week I 

Why do you have to attend TA Live?

Well simply because… I’m gonna be there. You don’t wanna miss me on stage, it’s gonna be a lot of fun. 😉

Okay let’s be serious, the line-up is incredible. I think you really wanna hear those people, you wanna hear their experiences. I find TA Live a very intimate setting. You know those big conferences where you have 900 people, you’ll end up hearing all the talks but talking with the rest of the people that come to the event, is sometimes just impossible to have that conncetion. TA Live is smaller, it’s much more introvert friendly. Personally I feel more comfortable in a smaller setting and it’s in Amsterdam. You wanna go there and after the talks you can have a couple of drinks and explore Amsterdam.

Which talks do you look forward for?

As a MC of this event, I don’t really wanna choose one. But I can say that LEGO is something that i really love. As a kid I loved my LEGO more than my Barbies.  I can’t wait to hear more from Kirsten. And the second one I really look forward to is actually Hung Lee, who is the godfather of my speaking career. I have to thank him a lot for the fact that im going to be on the stage as well on TA Live. I think what he does with Brainfood is absolutely brilliant. And having the opportunity to represent my “godfather” on stage is… Wow what else could I wish for?

What shoes will you wear and what will the color of your hair be 😉?

Since I’m having so many shoes it’s really hard to make a decision for which one i’m gonna wear. Sadly, I can’t bring all of them. I still haven’t decided which pair I’m gonna wear. So come and check them out on the 12th of March!


Register now and hopefully we will see each other on the 12th of March.