Hiring in a fast-scaling business environment is always a challenge given the extremely quick pace. When you’re growing at 70% annually, with almost 200 open positions at any given time, the volume of acquisition needed to keep pace with business needs can feel overwhelming.
Adding to that, the current global labor and applicant shortage has made finding and attracting prospective employees even more difficult across every business sector. Competition for talent is extremely high right now, and companies must go beyond offering healthcare, free coffee and on-site lunch to have a fighting chance at the best candidates.
Back in the “before times,” offering a flexible work environment, including remote work, was a very attractive proposition. But in a post-pandemic world, that competitive differentiator is now standard operating procedure. Employees demand flexibility or they’ll simply opt out—more than half say they’ll quit their job if companies don’t allow them to work when and how they want.
In fact, remote work has become a double-edge sword when it comes to recruiting. On the plus side, it means HR can now source candidates from anywhere. With proximity to headquarters no longer a limiting factor, this dramatically expands your reach and talent pool and eliminates the cost of relocation. The downside is that everyone else is doing it, too. Where you may have had an advantage in your city or local region, now anyone can hire from within your neighborhood or halfway around the world. You may no longer have the home field advantage, and your competitors can cast their net just as widely as yours.
That means it’s time to get creative. Here are some tips for finding great talent to scale up quickly, even during a talent shortage:
- Craft a compelling story. Now more than ever, HR pros need to think like marketers, especially for tech SMBs that compete with the likes of Facebook, Google or Amazon, yet don’t have the same brand recognition. Approach recruiting from the perspective of your target audience: What do they want in an employer? What can your company offer to help you stand out from the crowd? At a basic level, you’ll want to tout your diversity, financial stability and investor confidence and corporate responsibility.
- Define and hire for your values. For years, companies focused on hiring for cultural fit, but that can have diversity and inclusion consequences because it means you’re often hiring people who all fit the same mold. Instead, define your core values as a company and establish that as the foundation for hiring. Assess and interview candidates based on their compatibility with those values.
- Separate recruiting from sourcing. In many organizations, the burden of sourcing and recruiting candidates falls on the same shoulders. But in a fast-growth environment, it makes sense to divide and conquer. In this scenario, rather than the same people doing it all, talent sourcers can focus on identifying candidates to fill the pipeline while recruiters concentrate on the candidate experience. This not only distributes the work, but it also puts more emphasis on the candidate experience and making sure their needs are met throughout the process.
- Hire for skills, not education. Some of the best coders and software designers in the business are self-taught, and leadership skills are built in the trenches, not in the classroom. Don’t be wooed by brand recognition — a degree from a well-known university doesn’t make a candidate a good fit. Instead, look for things like relevant skills and experience and a track record of innovation. And especially in a remote/hybrid environment, great collaboration and communication skills are essential.
- Offer work flexibility. While work from home may become the norm, giving employees the ability to choose how and when they work goes beyond the home office. There may be times when employees prefer to work in-office or from an entirely different location.
The same flexibility goes for PTO. Consider offering an open PTO policy where employees don’t have to work a set amount of time to accrue vacation time. Instead, they can take days off when needed (within reason) to celebrate personal or religious holidays beyond the typical days when the office is closed, or simply because they need a break. In our experience, when you provide an engaging, meaningful work environment, employees want to do their jobs and won’t take advantage.
- Provide proper perks. Whether they choose to work in-office or remotely, employees will expect some perks that fit the bill. For in-office staff, we offer to pay their transit fees for commuting whereas for our remote workers, we offer a work from home stipend that covers ongoing expenses like internet service and mobile phone plans. Another perk companies should consider, due to the influx in pet adoptions that occurred during the pandemic, is offering a pet-friendly workplace. Employers should also offer family wellness programs beyond health insurance.
- Offer opportunities to give back. Now more than ever, employees want to serve their communities and help those in need. Providing these as a part of your corporate responsibility will give you an edge and appeal to a generation of workers who are passionate about social responsibility. Consider offering paid volunteer time off in addition to PTO, so employees have a chance to roll up their sleeves and help with projects and organizations they’re passionate about.
In these unprecedented times, HR is under tremendous pressure to not only figure out the new workplace but to also source great talent to meet business growth goals. In addition to hiring quickly, we’re also being tasked with figuring out this new way to work and everything that comes with it, from remote work policies to appropriate perks to geographic pay differentials.
There’s never been a time when more weight has been put on the people function and, frankly, it’s forcing everyone to level up. Using creativity and innovation, it’s an exciting time to be on the front lines to embrace the challenge, lean into the limelight and prove our value to the organization.