Hiring for hyper-growth
- Hyper-growth & its challenges
- Impact hires
- Attracting across multiple departments
- Cultural fit for now vs. long-term employee
- Ideal candidate personality
- Retention & follow-up
- Skills over cultural fit?
- Maintaining culture
- Hiring manager relationship
- Role of employer brand
- Shaping hiring goals
- Resources & tactics
- Ghosting from candidates
- Dealing with mistakes
- Take-home points
Adrie Smith: Hi, everyone. This is Adrie. Welcome to another Recruitee webinar. Today, we’re going to be talking about hiring for hyper-growth. This is something that I hear about all the time from recruiters, particularly in the tech startup space, that they’re hiring so quickly to kind of, I guess respond to their own company’s growth.
Adrie Smith: And today, we have Nazy Kerr from Harver. She’s the Head of Talent there, and she’s joining us today from New York. Welcome, Nazy.
Nazy Kerr: Hi, thank you so much, Adrie. Yes, my name is Nazy. I’m responsible for growing Harver’s team here in New York and in Amsterdam. And if you guys are unfamiliar with Harver, we are actually digitally transforming the candidate selection process by removing challenges that are met with high volume hiring, like managing and vetting candidate pools, mitigating unconscious bias, and leaning on data that really surrounds candidates’ true skillsets, so that we’re able to make informed hiring decisions.
Adrie Smith: So, before we get today’s webinar started, I just want to go through some house rules. And also, I’m not sure if you guys, if you don’t know about Recruitee yet, we’re also an ATS designed to help you attract, automate, and predict your hiring successes. You can check us out at recruitee.com. I’ll give you some links at the end to some other interesting content that we’re putting out that might be relevant.
Adrie Smith: But some house rules first. We have some questions to start out with for Nazy, but we also are open to questions throughout the webinar. So if you have a question for Nazy, or you want to get really deep into a topic, feel free to leave it in the questions tab.
Adrie Smith: We also have some polls ready for you guys, so feel free to respond. It also gives you a good feeling of what other people are thinking as we go through the webinar. We will have a hard stop in about an hour, so we’ll try to get as much out in the short time that we have, but otherwise, I think we’ll be good to go.
Adrie Smith: And if you guys want the recording or have to leave early, we’re going to be forwarding the recording on the TA Innovators Facebook page. You should have received a link in the confirmation email, but you’ll also receive a link at the end through Livestorm, and so hopefully this will be a good session.
Hyper-growth & its challenges
Adrie Smith: So, to start out, one of our first questions was, let’s cover the basic fundamentals. What does hyper-growth actually look like within an organization, and what are the actual challenges behind it?
Nazy Kerr: Yeah. Great question. So, hyper-growth, as we kind of define it here at Harver is really multiple vacancies that are open across lots of different departments. So, understanding that an organization is growing not only at the junior level or the mid-level, but also senior levels. And again, across lots of different departments.
Nazy Kerr: It really requires all hands on deck, in terms of understanding what each department does and at each level, what those vacancies require in terms of skillset, and the challenges that are met with it, is that there are lots of deadlines. So urgency, in terms of time to hire.
Nazy Kerr: There are lots of different skillsets that are required and industry jargon or vertical jargon, that you have to understand and digest quickly, so that you’re able to find relevant candidates, and speak with them knowledgeably. Not only about the role that you’re hiring for, but understanding their background and really being able to understand if they’re a good fit for the role, or have the skillset or aptitude to be able to execute in the job.
Adrie Smith: And you mentioned all hands on deck. What actually happens if you’re the only recruiter?
Nazy Kerr: Yes. That’s my situation. That really means a lot of work cross-functionally, internally. So understanding not only who the hiring managers are, but what their expectations are, and then being able to manage up and sort of push back on those and give realistic timelines.
Nazy Kerr: It also means exhausting all your resources, so, specifically, yes, I know lots of recruiters out there lean on LinkedIn, but being a little bit more creative than that, stepping outside that box and using your networks. Whether that be an internal network or a professional network or an alumni network, referrals, to really not only find talent but to be able to speak with relevant people who could be what I like to call impact hires. People that are going to come into an organization and immediately have a positive effect on that organization, not only in what they bring to their job but also into the culture.
Nazy Kerr: When you’re talking about hyper-growth, you’re talking about an organization that’s really small. So it’s important to make sure the people that you bring in really not only fit into that culture but will add to that culture.
Adrie Smith: It’s interesting terminology, impact hire. I guess, like what’s your starting point for defining an impact hire within a small organization?
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, that’s a really great question. It’s interesting, because it changes from role to role. So I think at the most junior level when I think about an impact hire, it’s someone who has the basic skill set to be able to execute my job. But really, more importantly, is someone that shows a lot of opportunity and promise for growing in that role. Someone who’s charismatic and excited and has that energy and urge to learn.
Nazy Kerr: But I think as you kind of get more senior, in terms of level of experience, impact hires are really people that have industry knowledge or industry experts or market experts, who really can take a deeper dive, and will come into the role not only with a fresh perspective, but that can also offer some knowledge. I think just as important as being an eager and excited learner at the very basic level, or the more junior level, it’s really important to have high level hires as well that are excited, eager to learn and have that healthy appetite for taking on something new.
Nazy Kerr: Because with startups, it’s really important for the people to be a part of it, or for the people that are a part of it, to be excited about it.
Adrie Smith: So given a few, at least a few of these challenges within the hyper-growth environment, which would be your starting point when it comes to actually tackling some of these issues?
Nazy Kerr: That’s a really great question. So starting point for tackling issues in terms of vacancies are more in terms of like finding those impact hires?
Adrie Smith: Yeah. I guess finding the impact hires, because I think that’s one of the kind of pushing-the-needle points, when you’re hiring in such a small company that is growing very quickly.
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, I think the first thing is time. I think when I look at a lot of startups in New York especially, there’s this mass hire, mass fire sort of phenomenon that happens a lot. Just bringing in bodies to be able to do a job, because a company did well the quarter before. And now, they have this headcount expectation.
Nazy Kerr: And I know that every organization gets there, and that’s something sometimes you have to do, is bring in a lot of new folks. But I think that being as strategic as possible, and being able to manage the expectation of timeline when you’re talking about impact hires is really important.
Nazy Kerr: Because, yes, bringing people in is important and getting the job done is important. But more important than that is not losing those people. You want to retain that good talent. That’s what helps build a strong culture and organization that will see success over time.
Finding impact hires in hyper-growth
Nazy Kerr: So in terms of finding that talent, internal referrals, I think, are always amazing. I think, one, it allows and empowers people within the organization to bring on smart, like-minded people that have already been sort of vetted for being someone that could be a culture add. But on the other side of that, I would say that leaning on resources, and really being creative in your outreach.
Nazy Kerr: So in hyper-growth mode, when you don’t really have a brand awareness with your company, there’s a lot of external outreach that goes into that. A lot of headhunting. And I think when you talk about reaching out to people, especially when your organization doesn’t have a crazy, well-established brand, I think that it’s really important to be very careful with wording and how you grab people’s attention.
Nazy Kerr: So I would say that the greatest challenge would be finding those people and really getting them to answer you. And a way to do that is to be very, very creative with your LinkedIn sourcing, and the way that you knock on those doors.
Adrie Smith: So I’ve just actually put a poll live that everyone here can answer. Does your company really matter for recruitment? Of course. So what exactly are you guys doing over at Harver, in order to kind of cater to the situation? What exactly is your strategy when it comes to creatively attracting these candidates?
The importance of branding
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, I would say branding is the first step. So being able to lean on C suite or VP level executives within your organization, to have some sort of a LinkedIn presence, where they’re not only championing what your recruitment department is doing, or your recruiter, single recruiter. But also, getting other players involved, your sales team, your sales team probably has the greatest reach online. Getting them to like and share things.
Nazy Kerr: So I would say that branding really starts with, it can start like very grassroots with LinkedIn and just being active and posting things and being engaged. So that you’re able to create first a brand for yourself as a recruiter, and then let that sort of naturally snowball into your organization and what that looks like.
Nazy Kerr: One way I think is a really quick effective way to do this is to share any kind of company outings or company gatherings or get-togethers. I think it’s a really great way to show people that your organization is made up of really excited, happy people who are glad to be where they are.
Nazy Kerr: I think after you kind of lean on LinkedIn, it’s thinking about how you can leverage other external resources, like here in New York City, there is a tool that we use called Built In NYC, it’s a huge sort of hub for tech startups. So getting your name out there and getting what your organization does out there is really important. So creating a presence on LinkedIn, which is something everyone can control, and then using other external outlets, that other people in your industry are leaning on to make sure that your brand has a name, and that people are starting to get familiar with who you are and what you’re doing.
Attracting across multiple departments
Adrie Smith: So we have one question here about attracting candidates across multiple departments successfully. I think you’ve answered a little bit of it, how you’re doing it currently at Harver, but are there any particular tips that you would recommend for attracting candidates that are sales or marketing? Maybe also IT. I think we also have a question here about IT as well.
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, that’s a great question. So I think across multiple departments, we’re able to attract that talent, I would say, based on a lot of really strategic outreach. As a recruiter, you’re not going to be an expert in every different department. You’re not going to be an expert in every specific industry or vertical.
Nazy Kerr: But it’s really being able to start a meaningful conversation and understanding that sometimes that meaningful conversation isn’t going to happen after the first touchpoint. So understanding that it may take two, maybe three times to follow up with one person who you really believe in, or who you believe could be an impact hire before you get a response.
Nazy Kerr: So I would say that we are able to headhunt really, candidates, by being very strategic about what organizations or kinds of backgrounds we’re targeting, where we know people would gain great experience. And then aligning that with what the job description is looking for.
Nazy Kerr: As it specifically relates to IT, IT is a little bit different. Technical roles are different. And this is actually a question I think we get asked in the polls, but when is it okay to lean on agency resources as a recruiter? It can be sort of a hot button issue, being brought in as a recruiter, about sort of what kind of resources or access to resources you have.
Nazy Kerr: But I would definitely say with technical roles or with roles you don’t have experience recruiting for- so I have not had experience on the technical side. I’ve done just client-facing roles in the past. That’s a good time to be able to say, okay, I can try this. Give yourself a timeline for how long you want to try this, and then lean on resources if need be. Again, technical hires are just as important as any other impact hire. So making sure you get that right is more important than making sure you get a body in the seat.
Cultural fit for now vs. long-term employee
Adrie Smith: I think you kind of touched upon the urgency that happens with hiring in a hyper-growth environment. How do you balance the, I guess, like the kind of fundamental need for a cultural fit and somebody who will be a long term, kind of good fit with the company, versus somebody who will fill the role immediately, and be maybe a good hire for the next six months? How do you reconcile those two things?
Nazy Kerr: I think that you always bet on the first candidate. And there’s the caveat to the second candidate, the candidate that may be a good candidate for six months, and that’s if you see a growth potential in a different department or vertical. That’s the only way I would bring someone on who wasn’t a consultant, with a short-term goal in mind.
Nazy Kerr: I always think adding an impact hire at an organization is really important, or adding a culture fit hire. Because if they’re excited, they’re passionate about the organization, about the work that the organization is doing, I think there’s always an opportunity to maybe slot them into a different department. Or, figure out where their strengths lie and how you can align that with the job.
Nazy Kerr: Rather than finding someone who’s really, really good at executing in their job, but could potentially maybe bring down the morale or the camaraderie within an already established team. I think that that can be detrimental. I think attrition and managing that attrition from the recruitment process is really important.
Nazy Kerr: And I definitely don’t see the value investing in someone who has such a short-term opportunity to be successful with your organization. I think that’s getting into murky waters, for sure.
Priorities in hyper-growth
Adrie Smith: So when you look at hyper-growth hires, what would you say are kind of the priorities when it comes to it like qualifications, personality, cultural fit? Like are there a list of priorities that you guys have over at Harver?
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, so for hyper-growth hires, first thing we always think about is skillset and aptitude. Does someone have the ability to be able to execute in this role? Obviously, as departments change and as hiring managers change, those boxes that need to be checked, are different and sometimes more flexible.
Nazy Kerr: I think the first thing I do is sit down with the hiring manager and understand what the must-haves are, what the nice to haves are, and what the bonuses are. So really drawing out what that looks like for each candidate. And getting as close as you can in terms of resume or LinkedIn page, to that ideal candidate profile, and then executing from there.
Nazy Kerr: So from there, culture is the second part of the conversation. But really understanding the team structure, where the team structure is, in terms of level of experience, in terms of skillset, in terms of different character traits. And understanding how these potential candidates or applicants would be able to add to that, would be able to balance that out.
Nazy Kerr: So, unfortunately, I wish I could give you a black and white answer and say, hey, these are the different boxes that we check when we’re saying, we’re looking for a new BDR and this is what we need from them. But we really try to, the hiring managers and myself, really try to understand where the team is, and what the team needs moving forward, to be able to make that hire, outside of skillset, of course.
Ideal candidate personality during hyper-growth
Adrie Smith: So I think there’s a question here. What are the most important personality characteristics to look for in candidates for hyper-growth environments? Start that now.
Nazy Kerr: Personality characteristics. So I would say, we, more often than not, are looking for people that are very… I don’t want to say extroverted, but people that are able to be in a client-facing capacity at any level. Because as a startup, we realize everyone has to be dynamic and wear different hats. And sometimes, our ops person finds himself in front of our clients.
Nazy Kerr: So we really, truly believe that every person at Harver is an extension of Harver. So having everyone kind of have that cohesive, excitedness about the company, and the ability to be able to articulate that at any given time, is really important to us.
Nazy Kerr: In terms of other personality characteristics, I would say we kind of… Everyone I have brought on and thinking about the team right now, everyone’s pretty different, but just people who are open, interested in learning, interested in growing. People who are flexible, being flexible is huge at a startup. Your job is never the same, day to day, and things that are asked of you aren’t always necessarily listed on your responsibilities in your employment agreement.
Nazy Kerr: So outside of being excited and extroverted, I would say definitely eager to learn. Definitely dynamic and flexible, for sure.
Retention & follow-up during hyper-growth
Adrie Smith: So I think we have a nice question here that kind of bridges the gap between recruitment and HR. How do you manage retention and making sure your new hires are supported during a hyper-growth period?
Nazy Kerr: Yes. I’ll start with new hires being supported. So once we have someone start in the office, what we like to do is give them a really great onboarding plan for the first two weeks. The hiring managers, in conjunction with our C suite team in Amsterdam, and who sometimes are here in New York, really have come up with this comprehensive two week onboarding program that allows candidates, or excuse me, new hires to be sort of shadowing and in control of their onboarding and learning in week one, entrenching themselves in Harver and what we do and learning about how we frame our conversations with customers.
Nazy Kerr: And then in the second week, really preparing them to fly on their own. So they’re a little bit more in the driver’s seat and really ready to go. We’ve found this onboarding process has been really successful, allowing people to, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Gong, but Gong is a resource that allows our client-facing teams to record their calls. But it’s really great for our new hires, because they’re able to lean on that resource and learn as much as they can in a really short amount of time.
Nazy Kerr: So we also make sure our new hires are having touchpoints with each team here in New York every day. So usually, it’s a formal lunch that’s set up, everyone kind of brings their own lunch, and it’s a time for a new hire to really get entrenched with the organization and who the players are, and what that relationship will look like when they work cross-functionally.
Nazy Kerr: So I would say the first two weeks, one month, three months are really all hands on deck, just everyone kind of pitching in and making sure that person is okay and that person feels supported. And teaming them up with people, either here in New York or in Amsterdam, that they’ll be working with.
Nazy Kerr: In terms of retention, I would say since we’re such a small office, our office is only, right now we’re a team of 20. Since we’re such a small office, support is happening all the time. So conversations are constantly happening internally that really help new hires understand the software, new hires understand their job. We’re really, really fortunate in that things don’t have to, we’re not at a place where things have to be super, super formal, but we are getting there.
Nazy Kerr: So we have one-on-ones that are set up for our new hires every week with their hiring manager. And then we have lots of smaller team meetings that happen. So our sales team, for instance, they meet as BDRs and AEs, so by level. They also meet as vertical teams. So it’s really just making sure those new hires are totally entrenched in those meetings and are completely up to speed, and new hires are always welcome to come talk with me about anything they think we could have done better in the onboarding process, and anything that they would change in their first few days, months, weeks at Harver.
Skills over cultural fit (or vice versa)?
Adrie Smith: So we have a really nice culture fit question here. I think also a goal that’s related. So I’ll put that on already. Basically, is it important to hire a cultural fit with lack of skills or somebody with the skills but no culture fit?
Nazy Kerr: So I think this really depends on the role. I think at the more junior level, it’s okay to bring someone in who is a cultural fit, but their skillset may not be exactly where it needs to be, because you can pair them up with a mentor, you can pair them up with someone more senior on the team that can help guide them through that process and help them get up to speed and get where they need to be. But also, managing clear expectations about what their trajectory should look like, in terms of growth.
Nazy Kerr: I think that hiring someone with skills that isn’t a culture fit, it can be tricky. I think it definitely would depend on the department. If it’s a role that requires lots of work cross-functionally, internally, so they’re partnering with lots of different teams and different people, I think that lack of culture fit could be detrimental. And definitely would probably lead to attrition.
Nazy Kerr: But I think that if that person is in a role where they’re necessarily not forced or required to interact with lots of different teams, it may not be as detrimental. But I would encourage any recruiter to make sure that every person that they bring into the fold is a culture fit. Because I think long term, again, you’re going to want to sustain that growth and groom people that you bring on in your series A to B funding time, to be the future leaders of the company, when the company is at series C, D, et cetera.
Adrie Smith: So I think there’s one question about a good attraction strategy for Europe. But I think that’s a little bit outside of the scope of today’s topic.
Maintaining culture during hyper-growth
Adrie Smith: There is a really good question about a challenge with hyper-growth, and actually maintaining your company’s culture while hiring so many people. Care to weigh in on that, Nazy?
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, so I agree. So hyper-growth hiring usually means urgency. So time-sensitivity in terms of how long this vacancy has been open, why the vacancy is open, and how quickly someone needs to get in that seat. I think this is all about managing up, having conversations internally about where the team is, that has that vacancy, what they can sustain and what the market looks like. So really being a market expert, as a recruiter, about whatever that vacancy is.
Nazy Kerr: So let’s use sales as an example. If there is a need for a salesperson, let’s say a BDR, in time-sensitive fashion, but you keep coming across candidates that just really aren’t right for the role, or maybe are too junior, if you need someone who’s experienced, I don’t think sacrificing, necessarily, sacrificing that culture fit is always the best idea. Especially for a team like sales, right? Where everyone has to be charismatic, and those people are really the backbone of the company, they’re really responsible for educating the market on what your company or your organization is doing and driving.
Nazy Kerr: So I think that, again, this is always going to be something that is specific to the role, but I think that compromising culture can always be detrimental. I think that if you start to hire people who maybe don’t believe in your organization, or are just taking the job because they need a job, eventually that will end up leading to attrition. And that could be something that could grow and kind of change the dynamic of your culture. I think your culture should always be number one.
Adrie Smith: So I’ve just put another one of our polls live about diversity. So given urgency with hiring, is diversity still a priority or a consideration? Something interesting for you guys to think about as we go on.
Adrie Smith: There’s an interesting question here about recruiting efficiently. I’ll just start the slide. Sorry. So the question is, how can you recruit efficiently while enduring hyper-growth? Nina’s team is too small right now, and they often find that there are not enough hours in the day.
Nazy Kerr: Okay, so I would say I think that sometimes it’s requiring being a little bit more creative than just using LinkedIn. I would be curious to know what this person’s leaning on, in terms of resources. But there are always alternative resources, there are always… You can lean on your high school network, you can lean on your college network.
Nazy Kerr: I know even for myself, I went to school in Massachusetts for college, but we have meetups here in New York City constantly. So making sure that you’re leaning on your different networks, leaning on your personal network. I also have a network of other recruiters that I lean on. And we will suggest for different vacancies, different types of candidates, or where to look for specific types of candidates. But really making sure that you’re exhausting all your resources.
Nazy Kerr: And then if you’re still hitting roadblocks and having trouble, there is never any harm in having a conversation with an agency. Most preliminary conversations that you have with agencies, they’ll present you with the kinds of profiles they work with and you can talk through whether that’s a relevant profile or not.
Nazy Kerr: But it also will help you understand what’s in the marketplace and if what you’re seeing is actually what’s out there. Or, if there’s a discrepancy between the two, because if there is, maybe there’s something you’re doing with your sourcing or something you’re doing with your outreach that isn’t working.
Nazy Kerr: I find more often than not, being able to get people to respond to you on LinkedIn is mostly about the way that you approach them, and what you’re saying in your messaging, as opposed to blasting out hundreds of thousands of messages to lots of people coming from the same companies, because people talk. And while it may feel efficient in the moment, it definitely won’t lead to efficient results.
Adrie Smith: This is an interesting one. How do you hire for multiple roles for a hiring manager who doesn’t know much about the skillset he’s looking for? Ever experienced this?
Nazy Kerr: Only in my agency days, not so much here at Harver. Our hiring managers work so closely with the product, that they know exactly what they’re looking for, which is really nice.
Nazy Kerr: But I think with something like this, if you have a job title that you’re working with, if you have a few target companies that you’re working with, I would say present a diverse pool of candidates. I would have five to 10 candidates that you’ve spoken with, whose background information you have, that look like they’re relevant to the job as you understand it. Present that to the hiring manager, and then comb through feedback.
Nazy Kerr: Ask questions, ask tons of questions, and make sure you get really great answers to those questions so that you’re able to understand or help the hiring manager drown out what they’re looking for, if they don’t know what they’re looking for.
Adrie Smith: That’s a good one. I think, also, it definitely comes from the agency days.
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, yeah.
Adrie Smith: So we also have, I think, a little bit of a response to the diversity poll. I would assume that this is referring to a hiring or diversity strategy within hyper-growth. Is that something that you ever consider at Harver?
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think diversity is something that’s really important to organizations. And I think diversity comes in a multitude of different ways. But making sure diversity is represented is really, really important.
Nazy Kerr: We live in New York City, it’s very… Well, I live in New York City, but it’s very culturally diverse. And I think that there’s so much value in adding people to an organization that see life through different lenses, that see their work through different lenses.
Nazy Kerr: So when I say diversity, I mean, diversity in terms of culturally, ethnically, the way that people approach their work. And so in thought and skillset, but really being able to make sure that while the sales team may be filled with five people, those five people all bring something very, very different to the table when they sit down and come together, and are able to discuss the common goal they’re trying to reach.
Nazy Kerr: So, I mean, I never, ever, ever forget about diversity when I’m hiring. Whenever I try to present a candidate pool, or whenever I’m thinking of sourcing for a role, that is always in the forefront of my mind. And that’s simply because no business has ever been built on the same types of people with the same exact mindset, being able to accomplish something. Everyone brings a little bit of their own flair or their own experiences to any experience in life. And I think that’s really, really, really important in the workplace. Really important.
Nazy Kerr: We have a lot of time-sensitive hires and it’s definitely been something that I’ve tried to push here at Harver, New York, is making sure that we have, as such a small team, we are representing lots of different types of people. Women of different ethnic backgrounds, so that we’re bringing different perspectives into the workplace.
Adrie Smith: So I think we have one response here to the sourcing poll, or how you get your candidates, what are your candidate sources? How do people have the time for all the sourcing that’s needed, especially in this kind of hyper-growth environment? Do you avoid having the job posting live so that less of your time is taken up by incoming applications?
Nazy Kerr: Good question. You never have enough time for sourcing. Listen, sourcing is animal, it is animal to comb through people’s different LinkedIn profiles. And the suggestion I always give to people is spend less time on your resume, and spend more time beefing up your LinkedIn. The more you can put in that summary section of your LinkedIn, the more that you can fill out for each role that you’ve had, the way more attractive you make yourself as a candidate.
Nazy Kerr: Recruiters will find you. Recruiters will lean on you, and you’ll just have better opportunities come to you. So I definitely think, in terms of sourcing, LinkedIn is my friend. I actually really enjoy sourcing, but I wish I had more time for it. And I think that it’s really just being able to sometimes block out times in your calendar and say, hey, listen, I’m not talking to people during the hours of 12:00 and 2:00, because I’m just going to get messaging out there.
Nazy Kerr: I think, also, in terms of sourcing is thinking about times of day. Lucky for me, when I’m messaging people in the Netherlands, the time that I’m messaging them here, they’re usually on their commutes home, or they may be sleeping, so they’ll see it in the morning. But I think being really strategic about when you’re reaching out to people is important.
Nazy Kerr: Here in New York, I know people are on LinkedIn on the subways. So really creating my sourcing strategy around when I know I’m going to get responses. Holiday weekends are also a great time to send out messages, because people are on their phones.
Nazy Kerr: So yeah, I don’t think you ever have enough time. What was the second part of the question? Sorry, it just went away.
Adrie Smith: So do you avoid having the job posting live so that less of your time is taken up by incoming applications?
Nazy Kerr: Yes, so that’s sort of touch and go. And I’ve found with different departments, that works differently. So sales candidates are much more likely to apply to jobs and reach out to you proactively. And so those roles, I find that it’s better to just strictly source for them and find the people you really want, and message those people and try to engage with them.
Nazy Kerr: But for other roles, for instance, we had a product support role that was open a little while ago, and the incoming applications were actually really great, and they were really qualified candidates. So I think it’s understanding each market, understanding what those candidates look like, what they’re looking for, and if the ad links or resources you’re leaning on are actually applicable for the roles that you’re posting.
Adrie Smith: So there’s a comment here that’s kind of interesting. “I usually source through applications and just send out Calendly invites for profiles I like. It has literally been amazing for me, but you have to make sure the brand is good enough to attract the candidates to do that.”
Role of employer brand
Adrie Smith: So I think that kind of brings us nicely to one of the questions that I had for you, which was what exactly is the role of your employer brand when it comes to actually hiring for hyper-growth?
Nazy Kerr: Huge, huge. I tried to lean on our C suite about this, our VPs about this. But I think that your brand is everything. More and more, we find Millennials are attracted to working for companies because those companies are cool. And I don’t necessarily think it’s about being cool, but I do think it’s about doing work that speaks to people.
Nazy Kerr: So understanding what the landscape of our future looks like, and how your organization will be a part of that. So identifying buzzwords or how you tell a story is really important, in terms of branding.
Nazy Kerr: For instance, the HR tech industry, I think when people think HR tech, they think technology solutions for HR. So as an organization that’s supporting and speaking with HR executives constantly, while we do sit in the HR tech industry, we are really a digital solution. We’re rooted in AI and data and analytics, which I think is much more attractive to Millennials than saying that we are an HR tech company.
Nazy Kerr: So I think being really specific and careful about your branding and figuring out what kind of a story you want to tell, and what kind of a narrative and how you want to position yourself for now, but also in the future, is so important. And then just being able to have that echoed throughout the organization.
Nazy Kerr: I mentioned before, making sure that you’re leaning on different resources, in terms of how you create that brand awareness. But, for sure, I think that branding is everything when it comes to hyper-growth.
Adrie Smith: So there’s a comment here, brand credibility is also important, especially since Harver just raised a series B funding. You can now utilize [crosstalk 00:39:49] that you’re growing and have investors backing you as well.
Nazy Kerr: [crosstalk 00:39:54].
Adrie Smith: And also kind of interesting, how do you actually tie hyper-growth into your employer brand?
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, well, we talk about it a lot, all the time. But, yeah, I mean, I think whilst raising funding speaks for itself, I think that that sort of indicates that your organization is at a place where if we’re able to raise money, that means that people believe in our work, people believe in what we’re doing. And subsequently, we’re going to need more help accomplishing those goals.
Nazy Kerr: So we talk about hyper-growth a lot in the press, and we always sort of try to highlight if we’re posting on LinkedIn, or if we’re having any kind of conversations that we are growing. We’re constantly growing. And we always do that by sort of announcing our new partnerships and making sure that people understand that our presence is far-reaching and continuing to gain speed and traction, which is pretty cool.
Nazy Kerr: But, yeah, I would say it just is that we don’t ever leave growth out of the conversation. We never have a conversation about Harver without talking about growth. And I think, to my point before about identifying your story and the narrative you want to tell, it’s just being consistent throughout your messaging, whether that be through media outlets, or like I said, grassroots through LinkedIn, or in simple conversations that you’re having at networking events. Always being able to talk about the growth that you’re seeing, or to be able to keep that consistent messaging is really important when you’re building that brand.
Shaping hiring goals
Adrie Smith: So I think taking this conversation a little bit to the next level, I think we’ve talked a lot about how recruiters can impact hiring for hyper-growth, at the candidate level and at the manager level, especially with people that you’re hiring for. How can recruiters actually shape their company’s hiring goals when you’re in this environment? Are there any tactics that you could recommend to start impacting this?
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, that’s a really interesting question. I think it’s twofold. One, I would say, when you find a great candidate, even if they’re not perfect for the job, still have a conversation with the hiring manager. If they’re too senior or too junior, still have the conversation, because that definitely impacts the way you hire.
Nazy Kerr: If you find someone who maybe has a little bit too much experience and is ready for the next level, you never know. That person could end up owning a department and completely changing the way that you projected your hiring for the next quarter. And we actually had that. We were looking for a director-level applicant or candidate, and we ended up bringing someone on at the VP level, who has been one of the greatest impact hires for our organization, and who has completely changed the way we think about the department that they’re owning.
Nazy Kerr: The other thing I would say is really making sure that you’re never kind of… One of my old bosses used to say this, but never playing God. So understanding that while you’re going to be working with lots of different types of candidates, and while you have lots of different expectations from hiring managers, you may know something about the market that they don’t know, right?
Nazy Kerr: So you may establish that you’re going to need, let’s say two BDRs, but if you have a feeling, or if you have some information, that there may be attrition, like always keeping the door open for conversations with candidates, always keeping those relationships open. Because you may see things or you may notice things in your organization that other people aren’t akin to. And you may be able to kind of make an impact and surprise hiring managers by having that information or being able to tell the future a little bit there.
Resources & tactics
Adrie Smith: And in terms of resources, when it comes to kind of hiring in this environment, are there any particular resources or tactics that you could openly recommend to people here?
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, I would definitely say, and I said it a lot, I mentioned it a lot, but I think changing the way you leverage LinkedIn. A lot of people leverage LinkedIn as just a place to send mass messages or to connect with candidates. I think being really meaningful and strategic about how you create those relationships and what you’re saying to people, matters.
Nazy Kerr: I was leaning on my recruiter network yesterday, and having a conversation with another recruiter who’s struggling to hire for this one position. And I said to her, I don’t ever mass message people, it doesn’t work. And even though that’s like the exact opposite story we’re being told right now, it doesn’t work anymore.
Nazy Kerr: People are getting like 20 LinkedIn messages a day. How can you make yourself stand out? It’s really finding what you can talk about with that person and doing it really effectively and concisely. I think that’s really important.
Nazy Kerr: The second part is, referencing my conversation yesterday, leaning on your professional network. So understanding what other recruiters are in the space that are doing what you’re doing, understanding what their outreach tactics are like, or sometimes just having a brainstorming session.
Nazy Kerr: It’s really interesting, because other recruiters are also probably hiring for similar roles that you’re hiring for. They may not be coming from the same industry, but there are plenty of times where I’ve met with a fabulous candidate that I really believed in, that I really liked, who ended up just not working out with, that I was able to refer to a recruiter friend who was able to hire them in their organization. And vice versa, it happens all the time.
Nazy Kerr: So I would say make sure you’re leveraging LinkedIn correctly. Be different, be really different. I take notes from my sales team all the time. How they think about either attacking their strategic market or getting a certain VP or C level executive on the phone. I think about how I could be more impactful to the people I’m reaching out to, based on how I hear those conversations go.
Nazy Kerr: And then the second I would say is definitely lean on your peers. I’m fortunate enough that I got to come from a recruitment agency where I learned a lot, and I have a lot of connections here in New York and now reaching into Europe. But I’m still able to say, hey, I’m hitting a wall, what things have I not exhausted? What would you do? What are you doing in your day to day? I think having that network is really, really important.
Ghosting from candidates & what to do about it
Adrie Smith: So I think this is kind of an interesting question, especially if you’re kind of under the urgency pressure to hire in this kind of environment. How have you combated the behavior of ghosting in working with candidates?
Nazy Kerr: Oh, my gosh, I’m so glad you asked that. Ghosting.
Adrie Smith: I love this one.
Nazy Kerr: Oh, my gosh, ghosting, it’s so funny. I don’t think I’ll ever not take ghosting personally. I don’t know if that’s how you feel.
Adrie Smith: Yeah, I agree. 100%.
Nazy Kerr: It hurts, it hurts. I wish I could say that I combat it. But I do always make notes about it. So I think that there’s ghosting in two phases. There are your forgetful people that ghost you not because they actually intentionally are trying to forget, but life happens. But I don’t mind those people, because I’m happy to send a reminder. And listen, we’re all guilty of that.
Nazy Kerr: But there are the people that intentionally will reach out to you or after you engage in a couple of conversations, will just kind of disappear. And I think that that’s what I call my blacklist. I don’t forget those candidates, because sometimes those candidates do come back to you. And I think that that speaks to the kind of work that they’ll bring to your environment.
Nazy Kerr: And I just kind of chalk it up to a loss. Listen, recruitment is an industry of a lot of rejection. And I don’t think it’s so much about combating ghosting, it’s just kind of dealing with it, being able to deal with it.
Nazy Kerr: And I think on the other side, being a recruiter and making sure you don’t ghost people is really important. Similarly, I hope that candidates understand, sometimes things do fall through the cracks and sometimes expectations end up changing internally, and you have to manage that, and also manage the expectations of the candidate. So it can be really challenging, but I think ghosting on both sides is pretty brutal. It’s not nice.
Dealing with mistakes
Adrie Smith: So you talked a little bit about like managing expectations, because of course, in this kind of environment, especially when you’re the only one, as you are, it can get quite hectic. And things do inevitably fall through the cracks. How do you respond to that? Do you ever get criticism, internally or externally? And how do you deal with that?
Nazy Kerr: Externally, yes, of course, candidates will say, hey, we weren’t able to turn this around fast enough, I took another job. Or, I’m no longer interested. And listen, all you can do is, you have to own it, all you can do is apologize. I mean, things happen. Life happens. Sometimes hiring managers will offer people a job on the spot that you’re like, okay, I didn’t know that was in the plan for today.
Nazy Kerr: Or, sometimes you have a candidate who you think is 100% going to get the job, you’re so confident, and then all of a sudden, it’s kind of like plans completely change, the narrative of your conversation has completely changed. And that can be uncomfortable too. It can be uncomfortable for the recruiter. It is a lot of rejection. And I mean, a lot, to always have to give rejection, as well, it’s hard.
Nazy Kerr: But I think just being candid and saying, hey, listen, so sorry, I hope our paths cross in the future. And making sure that person feels like they were a value add at Harver, even if they weren’t able to go far in the process, or talk with a hiring manager. But again, I think just like those candidates that end up ghosting me, I won’t forget that. And I think that candidates never forget a bad experience with a recruiter. So I think it’s just about limiting that as much as possible.
Nazy Kerr: With that said, I hope candidates understand when organizations are in hyper-growth, it is all hands on deck. So emails fall through the cracks, notes fall through the cracks. But we try to limit that as much as possible at Harver, because we are still in a place where we’re grateful for everyone that applies to our jobs.
Adrie Smith: So I always want to end on like a positive note, of course. Hiring for hyper-growth is no walk in the park, of course. But in your opinion, what are like the biggest learnings that you’ve had, or like the professional growth that you’ve had in kind of adapting to this unique recruitment situation?
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, I think, and my CCO always says this, “In the industry that we’re in, we’re recruiting, we’re not saving lives.” So nothing is ever make-or-break. Of course, we want really good people in our team, but as much as we want those really great people, we want people who want to be here.
Nazy Kerr: So finding that balance between being passionate and excited about candidates and excited about your work, but also keeping everything in perspective. The kitchen can get really hot when you’re talking about urgency and decreasing time to hire and making sure you have the volume. But at the end of the day, like I said, impact hires are going to be far more valuable in the lifespan of your organization than a quick, qualified hire, who’s a culture killer.
Nazy Kerr: So I think that really being able to understand that and to keep things in perspective as a recruiter is really important. I think managing up is really important. Being able to talk to stakeholders about where you are in the process, and what’s working and what isn’t working.
Nazy Kerr: And I think too, just knowing yourself, knowing when you need that time to be alone, and sort of put your head down and get your sourcing done. Knowing when you need to lean on a leader, who may be like a sponsor or a mentor to you, that can help give you guidance, or maybe talk you off the ledge if you need to be talked off the ledge. But really understanding who you are and how you fit into the puzzle, how you can impact the puzzle, how you can bring value, but also how you can take care of yourself.
Nazy Kerr: Because startups grow so quickly, things change so much. It’s really important to make sure you don’t miss the ride. You don’t want to just be sort of eyes closed on the roller coaster.
Adrie Smith: Yeah, and I think it could be kind of easy to do that if you’re not ready for it, particularly.
Nazy Kerr: Totally.
Adrie Smith: I kind of want to wrap this up, because I know we have a hard stop somewhat soon. I just want to thank you so much for joining us today, Nazy. It was really great hearing from you and of course, yeah, hearing how you guys are also doing it over at Harver, riding this roller coaster, as it were.
Nazy Kerr: Yeah, we’re really excited. The past few years has been amazing, but we’re really looking forward to after announcing this series B, what the next few months, years, weeks will look like. So thank you so much for having me. It was really, really fun, just discussing all things hyper-growth.
Adrie Smith: And of course, for you guys who are still here, we’ll put on the recording on the TA Innovators group on Facebook. There’s a link on this slide here. You can request to join, but if you just let us know that came from the webinar, you will be immediately accepted.
Adrie Smith: We also have a podcast running on all things recruitment. So basically, this, made shorter into 20, 30 minutes. Question and answers type deal.
Adrie Smith: And near the end of this year on November 7th here in Amsterdam, we’re hosting our first conference on the future of hiring. So it should be pretty exciting. Early bird tickets are out. So follow that link, talentcon.co, to check it out and see if you want to join us there.
Adrie Smith: But otherwise, yeah, hope to see you in the next webinar. And thank you so much again, Nazy.
Nazy Kerr: Thank you. Have a good one.
Adrie Smith: Bye.