Scaling Recruitment: My Advice for High Growth Companies
Most of the early stage companies I work with aspire to market domination. Working hard from day one to provide the best service, develop the best products and scale with a team of outstanding people. But many find as they finally mature from early-stage start up to growth-stage company, the rule book begins to change and, ultimately thinking needs to be evolved to prepare for hypergrowth.
When I begin working with these companies it is often the case that recruiting efforts are somewhat reactive during their inception phase, either out of necessity or inexperience. Further, the initial staff base that got you this far, might not yet be rising to the leadership challenge as they ae forced to step up a gear from individual contributor to leader.
Given how important the quality of talent is in driving the success of organisational growth, if you are now seeking to mature and expand your business, it is imperative that talent acquisition and talent development is structured to scale and follows a proactive plan that will meet your business needs now and in the future.
During my time leading the HR function at a leading performance marketing company, I had direct experience of facilitating a hypergrowth trajectory, growing on average 50% YOY which included sourcing for over 100 vacancies and facilitating over 75 internal moves each year; all with lean resources – so I feel your pain! However, I wanted to share some thoughts here on some guidelines you might like to consider to super-charge your recruiting function and lay the right foundations, so you don’t end up spinning your wheels later:
Set the right structural foundation and talent-first mindset. With this in place you’ll find it much easier to accelerate recruiting activities to keep up with hypergrowth. Anticipate where potential growth areas are and collaborate with department heads to see what roles you can predict will come into play in 6–12 months, and what the financial impact might be in terms of cost and salaries. Build and evolve best practices with your sourcing platform and interview process and where budget permits, establish a viable onboarding system early that can scale as you grow.
Stay true to your Culture when you hire. Establish a record of who you are, and who you want to be, early. Document your core values with input from your founders and key stakeholders and articulate those values to candidates. Operationalise your values to add substance and ensure that people see that these aren’t just ideas, but tangible activities that drive your company. This also helps to avoid just trying to impress candidates with what I call the ‘lipstick’ – cool offices, and free perks, supplementing this with a true flavour of the deeper culture, founding principles and career mobility. I help many clients in integrating their values as a key piece of the interviewing process too, with a goal of unpacking a candidate’s mindset to see if they are a good fit. Create interview questions that focus on the “why” (not just the “what”) to see how the candidate approaches various situations. Identify the values and principles that are non-negotiable, such as providing transparency of corporate objectives to the workforce and protect those values at all costs as you expand.
Work on strengthening your employer brand, positioning yourself where you want to be in the hiring market. Begin to share employee experiences on social media. Leverage the work you’ve done around core values and incorporate it creatively into an employer brand that will really resonate with the passions of top candidates.
Set Recruitment KPIs, particularly time-to-hire. Speed powers growth, so as you look to scale towards high velocity hiring, the faster you can source and move candidates through the hiring pipeline, the more volume you can reasonably manage. Look for bottlenecks in your process. Agree max candidate response rates from your hiring managers to ensure good talent is not detracted by a lagging process.
Consider if passive applicant strategy is right for you and for which roles, when in hyper growth mode – it on average taken 4-9 months of courtship with passive candidates to get them talking, engaged and in the door, so it can be very time consuming and hard to plan around. If budget permits, sourcing pre-qualified active candidates via platforms such as Experteer or Hired may help keep your pipeline filled up quicker.
Look for broad skill sets for high demand roles. Hiring in Tech is a challenge for most hypergrowth companies, so finding innovative ways to hire in based on broader skill sets such as candidates who excel at general problem solving and elasticity of thinking may help you plug talent gaps faster. Also consider pursuing full stack engineers or DevOps who can then apply their talents up and down the product dev lifecycle to give you better flexibility to keep pace with rapidly changing resource needs.
Finally, build your bench-strength and ensure you look to develop talents internally to ensure boosted engagement and retention, and improved pipelining through succession planning. Establish a talent assessment and rewards process such as employee recognition, higher compensation and career mobility training to ensure that mature and impactful employees remain on board as you grow. You may not know exactly what roles you will need 12 months down the road, but you enhance your chances of filling them quickly when you have a pool of seasoned existing employees that may move into future pivotal roles.
If you would like any support in building a recruiting plan and infrastructure that can be pliable to scale with you as you grow; please get in touch at hello@HROptimisation.co.uk. We can help conduct a no obligation audit and support you in laying the groundwork early so you can be better prepared for tomorrow’s growth challenge.
Author: Hannah Stockley. January 2019.
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