Entering a period of growth is a double-edged sword. The success, whether product or investment led, which has opened up this new route will mean your business dreams have never seemed more in reach. It’s exciting!
That said, we can almost guarantee this feeling of elation will be quickly followed by a heavy dose of reality. These new goals will come with the (somewhat terrifying) realisation that you’ll need to grow the team by a seemingly impossible amount. Not only that, but you’ll need to make these hires, well… yesterday. If the success of the business depends on getting these hires right, how can you guarantee you’ll achieve this, and at serious scale?
First and foremost, don’t panic. If you are feeling a bit worried about how you are going to navigate this period of Growth Hiring, the good news is that’s normal. Talent is among the top three priorities in both growth and hyper-growth companies and the pressure to hire the right people has never been this intense. There simply isn’t time for failure.
Nonetheless, hiring the right people requires consideration, despite the urgency you feel. So before you post 300 jobs adverts in one go, sit back and check out this step by step strategy for tackling Growth Hiring.
1. Prioritise your hiring needs
Five year plans are great, but they are a fast track to acutely (and painfully) feel the current absence of staff. From a hiring perspective, this isn’t helpful. All too often this leads to recruitment based on overestimated hiring needs. This is not only wasteful of resources, but can lead to layoffs, which can damage your brand and dissuade future applicants from applying to your company.
Instead, plan your hiring timeline. Assess which ways your company wants to grow and prioritise hiring accordingly. For example, you might need to grow the product team before the sales team, or vice versa – figure out who you need first and plot it out quarter by quarter.
After a large cash investment through the sale of HipChat and Stride to Slack, Australian tech company Atlassian massively boosted their teams across several new locations, including San Francisco and Bangalore. The TA team devised a recruiting plan that also correlated recruiting capability and velocity, and so secured investment not just to hire the hundreds of new software engineers, marketing executives and revenue-earners, but also to scale and up-skill the recruiting team in tandem to deliver these critical hires.
2. Assess, analyse and address your hiring process
At the best of times, having an efficient hiring process is pretty high up on our list of recommendations. However, in a time of growth, it’s crucial. Some companies at this stage of growth have no formal processes, so as a recruiter, you’ll have to build it for the first time. One thing is for sure – as a company, you need to not only have, but be confident in your processes.
Listen we get it – It’s very easy to ignore the candidate journey in lieu of getting results. But by visualising the candidate journey like you would a customer journey, you will see the areas you need to improve. Are there long periods of waiting? Do candidates fail at the test stage? Like a sales funnel, if you can figure out where disproportionate drop offs are happening, you have a better chance of addressing, and ultimately retaining them.
Want to learn more? Check out our five tips for Growth Hiring.
3. Educate your hiring managers
A frequent offender in the hiring process assessment is the interview stage. Hiring managers want to hire the correct person just as much as everyone else, but often are the least prepped to do so. It is essential to prepare the people interviewing candidates so that they make the best use of their time. This can be done by thoroughly explaining the requirements of the role, and what criteria they should be assessing the candidate for. Without this, interviews can be conducted and won on the basis of personality – an “emotional hire” that is less likely to be successful in the long term.
If you’re dealing with a panel, pre- and post-interview meetings with all hiring managers can also help define who will interview for what, and also speed up the decision process.
Check out SocialTalent’s Hiring Manager training.
4. Hiring is a team sport
Hiring is the number one priority for a growth company, which means it needs opt in from everyone. Everyone in the company can help out, and therefore should be doing so. Creating and maintaining a positive company culture is an integral component of success in this step. Whether it’s utilising the networks of your current staff by asking them to share job postings or referring candidates, a positive and happy staff are much more likely to assist.
It’s also crucial that senior executives and leaders are on side too. They need to be on board with prioritising hiring, and appreciate the time trade-off it will take to do this. They need to understand that people will need to take 20% of their work week on hiring activities.
5. Diversify your sources
Necessity is the mother of invention. To fulfil your new targets, you will have to get creative to find the talent you need. Expand your horizons and challenge your preconceptions about great talent, too. An example of this we love is Transport for NSW, who did just that. They needed project engineers for a new underwater tunnel so re-trained scuba divers to do the job.
(A less extreme solution could be to set up an employee referral programme, if it doesn’t exist already!)
6. Look for inspiration
The specifics of Growth Hiring will change from company to company, but broadly speaking the challenges will remain the same. Look for inspiration at companies within (and outside) of your industry who have experienced growth or hyper-growth to provide inspiration or direction for your own Growth Hiring strategy. An important note here – many startups in growth fail, so look to learn from those who have weathered the storms of growth successfully, rather than those experiencing it currently. How have they evolved their processes and external communications? Look at career pages and how they write job ads, as well as selected job boards. Take the time to figure out what is, or is not working and see what lessons you can apply to your own efforts.
It might currently feel like every meeting is a crisis meeting, every decision is made in panic mode and that the growth curve ahead of you is insurmountable. This isn’t the case. There is a lot to achieve undoubtedly, but taking the time to acknowledge and strategise will pay enormous dividends. That is not to say there won’t be spanners thrown into the mix, but the good news is that most companies experiencing growth are still at a relatively flexible stage and can emerge unscathed.
SocialTalent has a library of content available, on and off our platform, to help you navigate the tumultuous waters of Growth Hiring. Get in touch to find out how our customisable learning platform can help steer everyone in your hiring process to perform more efficiently, effectively and successfully.