Managing a successful company through periods of dramatic growth is a challenge most CEOs would love to have. But when it comes to hiring, it's much easier said than done -- and can often make or break the future of the business. Melissa Hooven, Senior Director of Talent Acquisition at Cornerstone OnDemand, has dealt with that challenge first-hand during Cornerstone's evolution over the years -- and has compiled a handful of best practices for hiring managers:
Align Hiring Strategy With Company Vision
Business might be booming, but managers can't lose sight of core talent needs and skills. Don't panic. As Hooven explains, sending out offer letters in haste can backfire easily. "The minute you go through high growth, you open the door for accepting poor talent if you don't do it right," she says.
While hiring managers need to fill positions, they need a clear recruiting strategy even more -- one that's understood from the C-suite down to the recruiting team. Says Hooven: "You have to have a clear vision: Do you want to attain more specific skill sets? Do you want to move into a new region? Do you want to build out new product offerings? You always have to have an idea of what the intent of the company is and have to create a plan around that."
Add Specialists to the Hiring Team
Hooven argues that too many companies tend hire HR "generalists" instead of recruiters with industry-specific knowledge. During hyper-growth periods, hiring managers need recruiters who are masters in the areas you need to hire. "You really need focused individuals," Hooven says. "If you're ramping up technology, you're going to need technology recruiters. If you're expanding sales teams, you'll need sales recruiters. Because their expertise is more focused in those areas they're going to be able to maneuver more quickly."
Hire People, Not Skills
The people you hire will -- hopefully -- back your brand for years to come. And your latest new hires will -- ideally -- recruit the next wave of talent through social connections. Creating that type of recruiting magic, however, requires an intense focus on the character of your prospects. " In the interview process you have to make sure you're weeding out appropriately," Hooven explains. "You have to do selective hiring, but you also have to define what makes a great candidate and set appropriate standards. I always look at it this way: What's the objective now? What's the objective a year from now? And if this person were to stay, what can the company do for them in 3 years? You have to define a career path."
Promote the Brand Within the Community
Facebook's IPO in 2012 enriched untold numbers of early hires for a lifetime -- and made countless others wonder why they might have passed up a chance to join the company in the early going. One way to excite people about your rapidly growing company while it's still on the way up, says Hooven, is to promote the company's brand within the surrounding community.
"Tie yourself into local threads and put together a plan to diversify your talent pool," Hooven says. "Take a community approach. How can your company, in high growth mode, be able to pull from these talent pools and give back at the same time?"
Face time with top executives in the community -- at local universities or community centers -- can play an important role in future growth. "Your company needs to be dedicated to high growth," Hooven says. "You have to be focused on the long-term purposes of building your brand."
Don’t Forget Technology
Faced with the demands of rapid company growth, even the best hiring strategy can benefit from good applicant tracking technology. The ability to centralize the process with the right software tool can take some of the organizational and administrative burdens off your recruiters and interviewers.
Today’s top applicant tracking tools also include social recruiting elements that can drive your hyper-growth recruiting strategy by deploying social sourcing as a way to quickly draw in the right candidates.
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