7 Things I’ve Learned about Hiring at Growth Companies

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Dec 16, 2019

An Le, Managing Director, Asia Pacific at Dynamic Signal, teaches us what she learned about hiring at Growth Companies.

I’ve been fortunate to do a lot of hiring in my career, both for my direct teams, as well as, building and scaling my companies.

As an early employee at New Relic, I was part of growing the company that soared from 20 people to hundreds during our IPO – and then up to nearly 1,500. As an executive at Yammer, I was with the team during the very fast-paced growth from 200 to more than 500 before we were acquired by Microsoft and became part of that 144,000 global organization. Now, at Dynamic Signal, I came on as employee No. 40 and have been directly responsible for helping us grow to nearly 300 people as COO overseeing HR and Recruiting.

With most of my company-building experience in the United States, I embarked on a new challenge this year and relocated my family to Sydney to start the APAC operations for Dynamic Signal. Different country, but the same challenges. I’ve been struck by the similar obstacles of building and growing a team from scratch in a highly competitive talent environment. So, I thought I would share seven key thoughts on how to tackle these hiring challenges at a fast-growth company as a senior leader.

1. Hiring takes time- prepare for the future now

Every business leader faces a delicate balance. Hiring for the team you will need in the future while remaining conscious of cash flow today.

“Future-proofing” requires that we make projections, hire to plan, and execute the business to that strategy. But as we all know, reality rarely follows our projections exactly and we may end up caught in a place where we’re growing so quickly that we have to double the number of our expected hires in a short time frame.

For me, establishing my hiring processes early allowed me to remain nimble in adjusting to the business’ evolving needs. This means getting my company name “out there” (e.g. social media platforms like LinkedIn) and investing time to build a Talent Pool ahead of hiring needs. I’ve learned that the more effort I invest upfront to build my talent pipeline, the more quickly I can scale the team.

Platforms like LiveHire, support the sourcing and nurturing of candidates via Talent Pools to identify the best candidates before you even need them. This enables a recruiter (like me) to get to know potential candidates and decide if there could be a mutually beneficial fit. Also, I work hard training my staff on how to interview and hire as well as preparing onboarding and training schedules to welcome new hires. Once onboard, employee communications platforms like Dynamic Signal empower the HR team to continue to nurture this journey with their new employees while monitoring their engagement. This creates a single employee experience between Recruiting and HR.

2. Word of mouth only takes you so far

In the early days of any company, the majority of new hires are often former colleagues, classmates, or come through word-of-mouth. Although the interview-to-hire ratio can be incredibly high – nearly 40 per cent for Dynamic Signal – this tactic typically changes when the business moves from start-up to scale-up. This is a pivotal gear change for leaders as they scale their business for growth.

Luckily, employee engagement and recruiting tools are now available that promote your company to effectively scale (and track!) your talent pipelining, referrals and engagement. Creating an organisational Talent Community with role-specific Talent Pools to track and engage these word-of-mouth candidates ensures that when a role is available, the offer-to-accept rate is high. LiveHire has found that candidates hired from Talent Communities are at least 5x more likely to be hired than those from Job Boards and Social Networks, saving significant hiring manager time and recruiter screening and interview time ¹.

3. Building your business network is also about building your candidate pipeline

As a business leader, you are always representing your company.  Every individual you interact with, whether it’s in-person or through your social media networks, is a possible candidate. This means always thinking about your Employer Brand. According to LiveHire, Employer Brand is “something that stems from the combination of your internal perception (employee experience), the external perception (candidate experience) and the reality (retention, attrition and employee engagement)”². The first step is building your personal and organisational network through events, blogs, leadership opportunities. The second step is to deliver, monitor and measure impact. Technology such as LiveHire and Dynamic Signal are critical tools for Heads of Recruitment and CHROs. They enable HR to communicate and engage with diverse candidates and dispersed employees. Together, they enable measurement of message impact, which ignites organisational brand, culture and purpose.

4. Your employees are your best hiring allies 

An employee’s social media posts generate 8X more engagement than their employer’s brand channels, according to Cisco³. Your employees are well-positioned to amplify your brand awareness by speaking about the company and scaling word-of-mouth recruiting efforts to help you build your candidate pool. A platform like Dynamic Signal helps senior leaders deliver memorable, brand-approved content to their employees, so they can easily share it broadly, allowing every team member to build their personal brand while also building your pipeline of candidates to help grow the company. A tool like LiveHire enables recruiters to deliver that same content to candidates in Talent Pools to create more engaging experiences for them to learn about your company. In this way, sharing highly relevant content at the right moment ensures both candidates and employees have an accurate perception of the organisation’s mission, goals, and values.

5. Your future employees are today’s consumers

You never have a second chance to make a first impression. Your relationship with your future employees can start with a brief, first interaction. For instance, it might be when they learn about you on a LinkedIn post through a former colleague. When this happens, you’re already shaping their view of what it’s like to work at your company. What type of impact they can envision making. And why it’s a great place to work. This broad, positive interaction is exactly what may plant the seed about applying for a position once something that interests them does open.

6. Employees are your most expensive and worthwhile investment

The biggest line item for our business is our people. Although it may be counterintuitive to think about investing even more into the most expensive part of your business, that is exactly what needs to be done. It pays off in the long run. In fact, retaining employees and increasing hiring speed actually reduce costs. We would not have a business without the right people. Keeping them engaged, productive, and happy is an invaluable growth driver to your business. Employee engagement includes effective communications that allow you to connect with your employees on a regular basis, share what’s going on at the company and how they fit in, the impact the company is making and giving them a voice in the organisation. Your most engaged employees are your best advocates. Your best advocates are building your brand and attracting a wider candidate pool.

7. Recruiting and hiring is hard

But as difficult and time-consuming as it may be, these also have been the most profoundly rewarding aspects of my professional career. I’ve been so proud to identify and bring on incredible individuals early in their careers, and then help them blossom into outstanding business leaders.

It’s so special when you’re creating something from the ground floor. For instance, the idea of a true customer success team was something new at Dynamic Signal and in our industry. Experienced SaaS customer success professionals with enterprise-level account experience were hard to find and expensive. I chose to make some calculated bets on capable, talented individuals of diverse backgrounds and took the time to train them. Certain things can be taught, but the desire to learn cannot.  Nearly six years later, the early members of that team have grown to become leaders in departments throughout the company.

That’s why I never look at this as “just” hiring. It’s about company-building – and ultimately, people-building. 

An Le has been instrumental in the growth of Dynamic Signal, building key functional areas of the business including corporate sales, customer success, recruiting, HR, and facilities. Operationalizing scrappy start-up processes and hiring to scale, An is a key partner in building successful companies that are great places to work. An also built and led the team behind Yammer’s Partner Platform through a successful acquisition by Microsoft in July of 2011. Prior to joining Yammer, An served as Director of Business Development at New Relic, where she led the company’s partner strategy and expanded partnership agreements to fuel revenue growth. Previously, An worked at Mobile Money Ventures, which was ultimately acquired by Intuit. There, she was responsible for the execution of strategic partnership strategies and go-to-market sales channels. An also worked as a Consultant at the Boston Consulting Group following the completion of her M.B.A from Harvard Business School. Additionally, An holds a B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University.

If you’d like to learn more about how LiveHire can help you to source engage, and hire the best talent, be sure to book a demo with us today. Or, if you’d like to learn more, be sure to chat with your CSM.


¹LiveHire proprietary data from Jan’17 to Mar’19, including 550,000 applications and 8,000+ hires across 78 companies


LiveHire’s Employer Branding Playbook

³ https://blogs.cisco.com/socialmedia/employee-advocacy-marketing-engine-of-the-future