Managing a talent pipeline in a growth environment means learning quickly, being resourceful and knowing when you’ve outgrown the status quo.
When I joined Phreesia in 2010, there were 65 people on staff. Today, we are over 500. When a company grows that quickly, recruiting is a very different game. To hire at the volume required to support growth without sacrificing quality, we needed to fine-tune every aspect of the recruitment process and pay relentless attention to our talent pipeline strategy.
Tactics that helped our talent pipeline keep pace:
Adapt and evolve
Managing talent in a growth environment means learning quickly, being resourceful and knowing when you’ve outgrown the status quo. You’ll go through many phases, each of which has its purpose and its limitations. In a few short years, we cycled through a pay-per-hire contingency firm to build up our sales team, then a pay-per-hour recruitment firm that helped us hire approximately 80 people over the course of a year, and finally, when we were looking at hiring an additional 100 to 200 people per year, we developed our own internal recruiting resources.
Different approaches work at different times, and as the HR lead, you’ll need to think creatively to make the best use of the resources at hand. Ideally, you’ll get to a place where you have recruiters on staff who live and breathe the culture and the experience, but external solutions can help you ramp up quickly and affordably so that you can eventually bring the function in house.
Create a strong foundation
Before you can find the right hire, you need to know what you’re looking for. While speed is of the essence, we spend a lot of time up front creating a detailed profile of the right candidate. Before a hiring manager can even begin the conversation with a recruiter, they need to have a job description, a scorecard and five “bullseye” candidates lined up on LinkedIn.
Job descriptions are indispensable, but often unknowingly compromise companies’ talent pipelines by being too vague or too long, or by not “selling” the position enough. Kristen Chang from LLR shares helpful recommendations for effective job descriptions in a GrowthBit here. We follow a similar approach focused on accountabilities, brevity and selling the role (more on that below).
The scorecard defines the purpose, accountabilities and outcomes of the role and connects them to the overall mission and business strategy. LLR introduced us to this essential hiring tool: you can download Kristen’s template for scorecards here.
We introduced the idea of bullseye candidates three years ago, and they have been invaluable in streamlining the recruitment process. Essentially, we require our hiring managers to find five LinkedIn profiles that capture the key criteria for the role, such as skills, experience and location. The exercise encourages the hiring manager to think carefully about what they want and find a tangible example, giving the recruiter a much better sense of the ideal candidate and helping to guide their initial conversations.
We require our hiring managers to find five LinkedIn profiles that capture the key criteria for the role, such as skills, experience and location.
Identify the selling points
Recruiting is like sales in today’s highly competitive job market. You need a clear value proposition and a compelling story to convince someone to work at your company rather than anywhere else. At Phreesia, the recruiter and hiring manager define the unique “sells” for the role during the initial intake call.
For example, when we were hiring for a paralegal role recently, we determined that Phreesia’s size offers unique opportunities for the right candidate. As a smaller organization with a smaller legal team, the candidate will be able to work on different parts of the business. And because Phreesia is growing quickly, there’s an opportunity to take on new challenges and acquire experience much faster than a similar role in a larger enterprise might allow.
Be open about the negatives.
Every role has drawbacks. You want to be aware of the less attractive aspects of the role and prepared to address objections, and you also want to be honest about the realities. We are quick to communicate to candidates in our talent pipeline that Phreesia is a high-growth organization that changes rapidly and moves quickly. If someone prefers routine and finds change distressing, it’s probably not the right environment for them, and it’s better to confront that head on rather than discover it’s a bad fit after the hire.
Continually adjust and refine
Once the recruitment process is underway, our recruiter and hiring manager meet at least once a week so that they can discuss the response to the opportunity and any feedback from candidates. If the response is lukewarm and no one is progressing along the pipeline, we step back and re-assess immediately. Why are people failing to respond or dropping off? What kind of feedback are we getting from candidates? Are there common themes, and if so, can we address them? For example, we recently adjusted the compensation structure for a particular role because we were finding the right people, but they weren’t willing to accept the compensation package offered.
Why are people failing to respond or dropping off? What kind of feedback are we getting from candidates? Are there common themes, and if so, can we address them?
LinkedIn is an incredibly powerful recruiting tool. Of the 178 hires we have made since April 2017, 76 have originated with LinkedIn, making it our most effective hiring source by far. We invest in LinkedIn Recruiter at Phreesia because it gives use access to the entire LinkedIn database and allows us to broaden our reach, use our time more efficiently and continually test and refine our approach.
Here’s how we use it to achieve hiring success:
- Granular search: We conduct highly specific searches to identify specific skill sets, titles, locations, credentials and more to find great candidates and issue multiple InMails.
- Analytics and visibility: We adamantly use data to gauge response rates for InMails from different recruiters. If acceptance rates are low, we can dig in and determine what’s not working.
- Optimization: We measure the success of every approach, then channel the learnings into future campaigns so that we can continually adjust and optimize the way we identify and engage candidates in our talent pipeline.
- Accountability: We rely on LinkedIn’s Best Practice Sourcing numbers to set a benchmark for recruiter activity and check in regularly to ensure recruiters are meeting those benchmarks.
Never sacrifice quality
High-growth companies are under tremendous pressure to hire quickly to meet demand, but it is imperative that you don’t sacrifice quality in that rush. In the long run, focusing on quality of hire will have a much stronger impact on the business than hitting your hiring number. In my experience, the recruiters need to own this responsibility by setting the bar high and not pushing candidates through if they do not meet the criteria.
In the long run, focusing on quality of hire will have a much stronger impact on the business than hitting your hiring number. Recruiters need to own this responsibility.
Here’s the bottom line.
Talent is never easy to find, and for fast-growing organizations, the challenge is that much greater. By clarifying job requirements through scorecards and “bullseye” candidates, building close, collaborative relationships between hiring managers and recruiters and continually adapting and evolving while never losing sight of quality, you can keep the talent pipeline flowing fast enough to support accelerated growth.
LLR Partners believes in sharing the wealth of experience and expertise within our portfolio companies, network and teams in order to inspire and help accelerate growth for a wider community of business leaders. We hope you find these GrowthBits helpful and share them with your network. Read more growth insights here.