Seven Things I’ve Learned about Hiring at Growth Companies
This post first appeared on the website of talent acquisition platform LiveHire.
I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of hiring in my career – both for my direct teams as well as scaling my companies.
As an early employee at New Relic, I was part of growing a company that soared from 20 people to hundreds during our IPO – and then up to nearly 1,500 employees. As an executive at Yammer, I was with the team during the fast-paced growth from 200 employees to more than 500 before we were acquired by Microsoft and became part of that 144,000-person global organization.
Now, at Dynamic Signal, I came on as employee No. 40 and have been directly responsible for helping us grow to nearly 300 people as the COO overseeing HR and Recruiting.
With most of my company-building experience in the United States, I embarked on a new challenge this year by relocating my family to Sydney to launch Dynamic Signal’s APAC operations. Different country, but the same challenges. I’ve been struck by the similar obstacles of building and growing a team from scratch in a highly competitive talent environment.
So, here are seven things I’ve learned about how to tackle these hiring challenges at a fast-growth company as a senior leader.
No. 1: Hiring takes time, so prepare for the future now
Every business leader faces a delicate balance. You’re hiring for the team you will need in the future while remaining conscious of cash flow today.
“Future-proofing” requires that we make projections, hire to plan, and execute the business to match that strategy. But as we all know, reality rarely follows our projections exactly, and we may end up caught in a place where we’re growing so quickly that we have to double the number of our expected hires in a short time frame.
For me, establishing my hiring processes early has allowed me to remain nimble in adjusting to evolving needs. That means getting my company name “out there” (e.g., social media platforms like LinkedIn) and investing time to build a Talent Pool ahead of hiring needs. I’ve learned that the more effort I invest upfront in developing my talent pipeline, the more quickly I can scale the team.
Platforms like LiveHire support the sourcing and nurturing of candidates via Talent Pools to identify the best candidates before you even need them. That enables a recruiter (like me) to get to know potential candidates and decide if there could be a mutually beneficial fit. Also, I work hard training my staff on how to interview and hire as well as preparing onboarding and training schedules to welcome new hires.
Once onboard, an employee communication platform like Dynamic Signal empowers the HR team to continue to nurture this journey with new employees while monitoring their engagement. That creates a single employee experience between Recruiting and HR.
No. 2: Word of mouth only takes you so far
In the early days of any company, the majority of new hires are often former colleagues, classmates, or come through word-of-mouth. Although the interview-to-hire ratio can be incredibly high – nearly 40 percent for Dynamic Signal – this tactic typically changes when the business moves from start-up to scale-up. This is a pivotal gear change for leaders as they scale their business for growth.
Luckily, employee engagement and recruiting tools are now available that promote your company to effectively scale (and track!) your talent pipeline, referrals, and engagement.
Creating an organizational Talent Community with role-specific Talent Pools to track and engage these word-of-mouth candidates ensures that when a role is available, the offer-to-accept rate is high. LiveHire has found that candidates hired from Talent Communities are at least 5x more likely to be hired than those from job boards and social networks – saving significant time for hiring managers and recruiters.
No. 3: Building your business network is also about building your candidate pipeline
As a business leader, you are always representing your company. Every individual you interact with, whether it’s in-person or through your social media networks, is a possible candidate. This means always thinking about your Employer Brand.
According to LiveHire, Employer Brand is “something that stems from the combination of your internal perception (employee experience), the external perception (candidate experience) and the reality (retention, attrition and employee engagement).” The first step is building your personal and organizational network through events, blogs, leadership opportunities. The second step is to deliver, monitor, and measure impact.
Technology such as LiveHire and Dynamic Signal are critical tools for Heads of Recruitment and CHROs. They enable HR to communicate and engage with both diverse candidates and dispersed employees. Together, they enable measurement of message impact, which ignites organizational brand, culture, and purpose.
No. 4: Your employees are your best hiring allies
An employee’s social media posts generate 8x more engagement than their employer’s brand channels, according to Cisco. Your employees are well-positioned to amplify your brand awareness by speaking about the company and scaling word-of-mouth recruiting efforts to help you build your candidate pool.
A platform like Dynamic Signal helps organizations deliver memorable, brand-approved content to their employees, so they can easily share it broadly. That allows every team member to build their brand while also cultivating your pipeline of candidates to help grow the company. A tool like LiveHire enables recruiters to deliver that same content to candidates in Talent Pools to create more engaging experiences for them to learn about your company.
This way, sharing highly relevant content at the right moment ensures both candidates and employees have an accurate perception of the organization’s mission, goals, and values.
No. 5: Your future employees are today’s consumers
You never have a second chance to make a first impression. The relationship with your future employees can start with a brief interaction. For instance, it might be when they learn about you on a LinkedIn post through a former colleague.
When this happens, you’re already shaping their view of what it’s like to work at your company. They’re forming an opinion about why it might be a great place to work and what type of impact they can envision making. This broad, positive interaction is what may plant the seed about applying for a position once something that interests them does open.
No. 6: Employees are your most expensive, and worthwhile, investment
The biggest line item for every business is people. It may be counterintuitive to think about investing even more into the costly part of your business. But it pays off in the long run. Retaining employees and increasing hiring speed will reduce costs.
We would not have a business without the right people. Keeping them engaged, productive, and happy is an invaluable growth driver to your business. Employee engagement includes effective communication that allows you to connect with your employees regularly, share what’s going on at the company, how they fit in, while also giving them a voice in the organization.
Your most engaged employees are your best advocates. Your best advocates are building your brand and attracting a broader candidate pool.
No. 7: Recruiting and hiring is hard
It can be exhausting and time-consuming. But it’s also a profoundly rewarding aspect of my professional career. I’ve been so proud to identify and bring on incredible individuals early in their careers, and then help them blossom into outstanding business leaders.
It’s so special when you’re creating something from the ground floor. For instance, the idea of a true customer success team was something new at Dynamic Signal and in our industry.
Experienced SaaS customer success professionals with enterprise-level account experience were hard to find and expensive. I chose to make some calculated bets on capable, talented individuals of diverse backgrounds and took the time to train them. Certain things can be taught. But the desire to learn cannot.
Nearly six years later, the early members of that team have grown to become leaders in departments throughout the company.
That’s why I never look at this as “just” hiring. It’s about company-building – and ultimately, people-building.