Since when I started at RELEX (as the first ever dedicated recruiting person) roughly one and a half year ago a lot has happened. Most notably we have grown from a 270 people company to a ~470 people company. It’s actually kind of wild to think that nearly 200 people have been with the company a shorter time than what I have. Recruiting is already challenging by itself (study by the Harvard Business Review revealed that 80% of employee turnover occurs due to faulty hiring decisions) but it can be even more challenging if you’re a growth company. If you find yourself to be in the same situation, here are five things that I’ve found helpful.
1 Shout your company culture from the rooftops
Everyone seems to be talking about employer branding (or employer value proposition). It’s the buzz word at the moment but what does it actually mean?
I’d say that everything starts from the culture. Therefore the first step should be to get to understand the culture. When I started, one of the first things that I wanted to do was to get to understand the company, the product, the people and the culture (I’ve written about culture here btw: Stop Recruiting Average People; Attract Top Talent by Investing in Company Culture). One thing that I found helpful was a workshop where we discussed about our culture and tried to define the ideal RELEXIAN. I also had one-on-ones with all the hiring managers. At the end what I discovered was that we already had most of the pieces in place. What we needed to do next was to let the world know about them. Therefore, I see employer branding more or less just as a way for a company to communicate their company culture to company outsiders.
EB is therefore just a big megaphone. Make sure the culture is like you want it to be before starting any EB efforts. You can’t fix bad culture with EB nor can you sugarcoat it (also be careful not confusing EB with “traditional” branding). It has to be honest or it doesn’t serve its purpose. In essence EB is just a fancy word for your reputation. And therefore defined by how other people see your company as a workplace. Don’t stress about employer branding, stress about culture. And when you’re proud of your company culture, make sure everyone hears about it.
If you’re unsure what is meant with good culture, click here for the 7 musts: [inc.com]. Luckily for us our RELEX culture was (and still is today) something that we can be proud of. However, our company website didn’t demonstrate this too well as it was mostly directed towards the customers and not the candidates. So, in order to give everyone a backstage access to what it’s actually like to work here and what we do (e.g. spearhead research in supply chain domain, have massive amounts of data, use Haskell, utilise servers with up-to 12tb of ram, have a brewing club, dig cycling), we created a dedicated career site [career.relexsolutions.com]. Here, we don’t just post jobs but also explain why we enjoy being a part of this company (and why you might want to join). So far the feedback from candidates has been really positive.
2 Involve everybody
Often recruiting is “outsourced” to the recruiters and/or hiring managers. However, this common approach has couple major drawbacks. Firstly, however talented the recruiter might be, they do not have the same inside knowledge of the team or the role in a way the team members have, and secondly the hiring managers are always overworked with other stuff. To lower the burden often related with recruiting we introduced couple new things. 1. Hiring Manager duties are shared within the team, in essence we transformed from Hiring Managers to Hiring Organisation 2. Recruiting is now part of our induction for newbies. So, essentially from day one every new RELEXIAN has two titles, the other being a recruiter. In the induction we go through our recruiting best practises, what we look for in a candidate and how everyone can get involved. We’ve also found our people and their networks to be the best sources of quality candidates for us. And to keep things fair and to make people feel invested in our hiring process we’ve also introduced a small referral fee as a reward.
3 Keep your standards high
“It’s also important to understand what are the non-negotiable qualifications for each position the company is trying to fill. And then the company should stick to them. The thing is that this might be somewhat easy up until to the point when it starts to feel impossible. At this point it’s easy to start making compromises just to fill the position – never make this mistake. “No hire” is still always better than bad hire. “No hire” can slow the growth but bad hire can kill a company.” [villeaho.com]
Processes aren’t really our thing so our recruiting process is disguised as a recruiting best practice. Our starting point was that we didn’t want to introduce any unnecessary processes, but still wanted to maintain certain set level of quality. We tackled this challenge by introducing a simple checklist that we aim to follow. Yet, the corner stone for maintaining quality is communication within the organization. We have introduced many different ways for our people to share their knowledge and experiences regarding recruiting. One of the newest additions being a recruiting roundtable where we cover a specific recruiting related topic once a quarter usually with the help of a quest speaker.
4 Utilize technology
One often overlooked component is a modern application tracking system. This makes managing candidates, following best practices and collaboration between teams manageable. Good ATS is also really the only way to upkeep good candidate experience. If you’re hiring, you should be using an ATS, it’s as simple as that. We also try to have an open conversation with our candidates and be as approachable as possible. So far the use of WhatsApp has served us well.
5 Recruit even when you’re not hiring
The mentality that you only search for candidates when you have an opening should be thrown in the bin. Especially when you’re a growth company. If you put all your recruiting activities on-hold until you have an opening, the fight for talent is already lost. Keep your lines open. Recruiting should not be a project but an on-going process. Also be open minded and don’t limit yourself to artificial requirements i.e. keep it simple. We have basically just three core criteria for the candidates: 1. They have to fit our culture 2. They have to add value 3. They can’t be assholes. The first mistake that many companies make and especially startups, is that they focus too much on searching for the right experience. Instead focus on potential over experience.
“Look for smart people with drive and ambition – the rest will follow.”
These were just some of the things we’ve done during the last 18 months. Some improvements have been good, on some the jury is still out. Also not all of the practises have yet been implemented at all our offices and some might not even be abdicable everywhere. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that don’t be afraid to experiment. If you have any additional questions or would like to exchange thought, please be in touch.