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The Evolution and Unforeseen Challenges of Hiring Within A Growing Startup

Whether your startup was born in a dorm room, in a co-working space, or as a spin-off from another company, eventually you’ll require outside assistance to continue growing your venture. 

Every successful startup will experience it’s own unique hiring evolution, but it’s undeniable – at some point the founders will have to decide when to begin the recruiting process and how it should operate.

It’s not an easy decision to make – begin hiring too soon and you’re spending money you should be allocating elsewhere, or begin hiring too late and you could end up a “50 million dollar company in the body of a 5 million dollar organization.” As you can imagine, neither of these scenarios are beneficial for the future of your startup.

We’ll begin this article by walking through the three distinct stages of a startup’s growth, describing how hiring needs evolve while noting the hiring challenges entrepreneurs should expect to face along the way.

Emerging Growth

In the early stages of your startup, referrals are key to beginning the process of small-scale growth. You’ll likely rely on friends, family, and past colleagues for your hiring needs, which is a very effective approach in the beginning of your venture. Referrals are an invaluable fountain of new talent and continue to be employers’ top source of hires, bringing in a remarkable 30% of all hires overall in 2016. 

However, the law of diminishing returns holds true for this practice. At a certain point in your team’s growth, the time spent combing through networks for referrals would be better spent developing other core business functions, especially when you’re working with a small team. 

At this point the primary focuses of your team should be further developing your product, working to find market fit, and attracting investor interest (which we’ve written a superb how-to article about.) These priorities leave teams with little time and energy to spend building a talent acquisition function, which is why many startups choose to outsource this process early on.

The chart to the right describes the many reasons organizations choose to outsource their recruiting function, with speed of hire being the most common motivation of all.

Organizations also commonly outsource recruitment services because they lack a strong employment brand and have difficulty attracting top talent as a result.

Most of the top reasons given are at least loosely related to time – lack of time to train your employees to become experts in the field, lack of time to devote to attracting specific talent, and a lack of time to devote to developing workforce strategy and core business functions. Allowing another entity to handle your acquisition needs can be a cost-effective method to finding the talent you require to grow efficiently.

Using your limited time wisely is important early on, which is why many startups choose to outsource recruitment for executive or specialized positions at this stage. Check out a full analysis of the SHRM study here.

Growth and Expansion

Congratulations – your venture has reached the expansion stage. You’ve secured significant funding from investors or are experiencing explosive organic growth.

Seasoned global venture investor Gil Dibner describes his view of the expansion stage succinctly in a recent Medium article.

“It’s by far the most significant stage because it is during this stage that the company must complete a complex transition: from a company with a great offering that could scale to a company with a great offering that is rapidly and predictably scaling.”

Talent acquisition is a core business function and should be treated as such – your sudden surge in hiring needs during this stage can quickly become your downfall depending on the quality of your acquisition function. If you’ve received funding to grow your business you’ll have a board of investors to report to, and they expect detailed proposals on how you plan to handle your hiring needs.

Ask yourself these questions as you begin growing: 

  • How do I continue to attract talented candidates?
  • How can I preserve company culture while hiring on a large-scale?
  • What should my interview, hiring, and onboarding processes look like?

Your hiring process should evolve to take these questions into consideration – while hiring qualified candidates is critically important, cultural fit plays a large role as you scale. Aim to hire a team that believes in the vision of your company.

Take a look at the chart above and you’ll notice that the input required to hire one talented candidate is much higher than you might first expect.

One of the challenges you’ll face during this stage is attracting enough candidates into your pipeline that you’ll end up hiring qualified talent. Keeping that volume of resumes flowing in is no simple feat, especially when you consider the time and resources that go into sourcing, screening, and interviewing qualified candidates.

To draw out an example – an average interview takes 1 hour and requires 4 employees to conduct; your company is looking to interview 5 candidates for a given position. That’s 20 hours of work that could’ve been dedicated to acquiring customers, further developing your product, or testing workforce strategy.

One benefit of partnering with a hiring firm at this stage is that they’re able to provide an informative and detailed candidate experience for your applicants. Because employees in an early startup are regularly spread too thin, many companies are unable to devote resources to crafting a candidate experience that reflects well on their employment brand, leaving candidates unsure about what a position entails or how the company operates. Allowing one entity to guide candidates through the recruitment funnel from start to finish will ensure that a promising relationship is built between the two parties.

Growth and Retention

For most entrepreneurs, the end goal of building a startup is to create a business model that’s capable of growing. If you’ve reached the later stage of development of your venture, you’ve got a returning customer base, your model is well-tested, and your startup may have received multiple rounds of funding.

Your hiring needs now differ significantly from your needs as an early stage startup – in the beginning, each team member juggles multiple responsibilities, fulfilling whichever duties are required. In the later stage, many high-level employees have one specialization only, becoming an expert in their discipline. Simply put, the hierarchy of your business is now more concrete.

What does this mean for your hiring needs?

As your company continues to grow, your need for fulfilling specialized roles will increase dramatically, as will your need for general employees.

Partnering with an outside acquisition firm is the most cost-effective approach to hiring leadership, specialized roles, and high volumes of employees during busy seasons, but at this stage it may be worthwhile to build an in-house recruiting function to handle hiring general employees – especially when your focus has shifted to retention and maintenance rather than growth.

The difficulty your business faced while attracting candidates before you had a brand won’t be a significant issue now – your employment brand is much stronger than it was, and candidates will seek your business out because of the remarkable success you’ve had growing your venture. To continue, you should once again focus on attaining candidates through referrals – the more engaged employees you have, the greater rates of retention your startup will experience.

If at any point during your journey you can use a hand growing your company, take a look at the variety of talent solutions we offer and learn more about how we can scale your business together.

 

What stage of a startup’s growth do you believe is the most difficult to hire effectively for? Leave a comment on our LinkedIn or Facebook pages and let us know what you think! 

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If you’re in search of talent consulting or recruiting services and could use help determining your business needs, contact our team of experienced talent acquisition consultants now. 

Recruitment Marketing Strategies: Using Video Job Postings to Dramatically Increase Your Ad’s Visibility

Most recruiters are well aware that posting job listings on social media is necessary to attract candidates in today’s acquisition environment.

Since you likely accessed this blog through a post on our LinkedIn or Facebook page, you too know how invaluable social media’s reach and ability to connect people really is.

As you can tell by the chart to the left, the use of social media for recruiting purposes is a relatively new yet significant development in the field.

Less than 10 years ago, a little over half of the companies polled reported using the communication medium for acquisition purposes. Though the data shows that 84% of companies used social media for recruitment in 2015, it’s safe to assume that number has increased significantly over the last few years. (source)

There are more than a few factors at play, but this shift is in large part due to the growing population of millennials entering the workforce and their tendency to use social media frequently. According to a study by the Aberdeen Group, a significant 73% of people ages of 18 – 34 found their last position through a social media platform.

The shift also isn’t surprising when you consider how effectively social media can be used to fill open positions – a formal report by iCIMS stated that putting a job position on social could boost candidate applications by 30 to 50%.

As comfortable as recruiters have grown using social media to attract, contact, and build relationships with talent, it’s constantly-changing nature requires that acquisition specialists evolve their recruitment marketing strategies in order to remain effective.

So what’s up next? It turns out that video is no longer content having only killed the radio star; it’s now set its sights on text-based job ads and descriptions.

What are Video Job Postings?

Video job postings are essentially exactly what they sound like – the hiring manager and coworkers a potential candidate would work alongside record themselves explaining the job description, requirements, and what skills it’ll take to succeed in the position.

Is producing a video job posting really worth the trouble of writing a script, recording, and editing some footage?

In short, yes – but I’ll let the statistics speak for themselves. 

Incorporating Video Job Postings Into Your Recruiting Strategy

Now that you know how effective video job advertisements can be, it’s time to consider what you should include in yours. You should begin by explaining the requirements and qualifications necessary for the position, but video job advertisements also allow you the ability to include more personal information about the position, including the following:

  • Why a potential candidate should want to work for your company
  • What professional and personal qualities make for a successful employee in the organization
  • A look a the culture of your organization, any unique benefits offered
  • Interviews with current employees working the same role the candidate is applying for
  • An interview with the manager the candidate would report to and their expectations

Despite the extra effort that may go into producing one of these advertisements, the return on investment is immense. You’ll see a marked increase in qualified applicants because you’ve given them that extra information, and at the same time you’ll be strengthening your employment brand by producing informative content for potential candidates.

Video job advertisements are still relatively rare to come across, especially for smaller organizations. Strike while the iron is hot and begin making your own today – it might just give you that edge you need in the increasingly-competitive war for talent.

 

Have you made or would you consider making a video job advertisement? Do you foresee video job postings completely eliminating text-based job ads in the future? Leave a comment on our LinkedIn or Facebook pages and let us know what you think! 

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If you’re in search of talent consulting or recruiting services and could use help determining your business needs, contact our team of experienced talent acquisition consultants now. 

Continuously Adapting: AI’s Growing Impact on the Recruiting Industry

Globally, CEOs are setting their sights on two business priorities – technology and talent. We’ve written plenty of great posts about talent, so in this piece we’re going to take a closer look at technology and it’s growing influence in the talent acquisition and recruiting workspace.

There’s no denying the fact that AI and intelligent tech are rapidly changing the market and the way organizations conduct business across industries. We’re fortunate – we’re here just in time to witness the beginning of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and as intimidating as that may be, the technological leaps that are being made in recruiting and talent acquisition are boundless.

AI and new tech is the elephant in the workplace, and understandably so. While your concerns are warranted, rest assured – AI isn’t gunning for your job, it’s just aiming to make it a little bit easier.

AI’s Application in Recruiting

IBM and HR.com’s report “How Organizations Identify and Hire Great Talent” revealed that nearly 50% of HR leaders predicted that AI would be important to talent acquisition in their organizations within the next five years. The outcomes the leaders would most like to achieve using AI are as follows:

It may seem alien to let a program handle these aspects of recruiting, but Athena Karp, the CEO of AI HR company HiredScore, doesn’t believe so. “Some employers attract more than a million resumes a year and handle 5 million to 10 million hiring decision points, and yet we’re still leveraging human instinct and manual processes to make hires.”

Maybe Karp has a point – should we rely on our intuition to make great hires when the tech is equally, if not more capable of making the right decision? She then adds that AI won’t replace recruiters or HR managers, but rather augment their capabilities so they can hire the best people and spend more time on candidate care and other strategic aspects of their jobs that require human attention. 

Today, workforce analytics are being applied in HR and recruiting through the use of assessments that measure candidate and employee engagement, skill sets, and personalities. 23% of HR leaders use those results to develop new leaders and identify high potential candidates and employees, 25% of leaders use it for sourcing talent, and another 10% use it to assess quality of hire. 

For better or worse, the intuitive nature of HR and recruiting is slowly being phased out. An overwhelming 70% of organizations are expecting to increase their investments into workforce analytics in the next few years; at the moment, it appears that big data is here to stay.

Candidate Experience Implications

As a talent acquisition specialist or recruiter, consider how much time you’ve spent reaching out to interested candidates and hiring managers without getting through. People are busy and schedules have a tendency to conflict, which is why more than 40% of U.S. companies now use chatbots to engage with candidates during recruiting. These bots are able to source and acquire talent, pre-screen candidates, and even schedule interviews. Better yet, they’re available 24/7, freeing you to focus on the uniquely-human aspects of your job, like coaching, developing, and building relationships with candidates and hiring managers.

The importance of getting the candidate experience right as a recruiter can’t be understated – nearly 4 out of 5 candidates say that their experience is indicative of how a company treats its people. The time recruiters will gain from using chatbot technology will free them up considerably, allowing them to spend more time working with individual candidates and clients.

Ways to Go

If this article has left you fearing the unknowns of the future, don’t worry too much – while AI is here to stay, the issues with its integration in the average workplace are still abundant. According to Ideal.com,

  • 30% of employers state their recruiting technologies meet their needs to a low extent or not at all
  • 24% feel saddled with outdated recruiting technologies
  • 28% lack an assessment tool to identify the best candidates

Every industrial revolution has shaken up the workforce, and this one is no different. We’re going to see a huge spike in demand for jobs that rely heavily on emerging technologies, but also for jobs that rely on irreplaceable human skills – creativity, negotiation, critical thinking, and social influence to name a few.

If you’re still in need of consolation, take it from Raghav Singh, an experienced recruiter and HRIT leader who’s worked for several Fortune 500 companies throughout his career.

“There was a time when recruiting meant placing an ad in the newspaper and waiting for resumes to show up in the mail. The main tools of an executive recruiter in the 1970s were a Dun and Bradstreet directory of companies and the phone book, and the job required hours of “smiling and dialing” every day. The profession has evolved a lot since then. Recruiters are in no danger of extinction so long as they continue to adapt.”

 

What are your thoughts on the pros and cons AI’s implementation and utility in the workplace? Do you see recruiting and talent acquisition becoming more or less effective as data begins making the big decisions? Leave a comment on our LinkedIn or Facebook pages letting us know what you think! 

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If you’re in search of recruiting services or could use help determining your business needs, contact our team of experienced talent acquisition consultants now. 

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