For the majority of companies, growth is the goal. Moving from the garage to an entire office building is the dream for many founders. When a team goes from two people to a hundred, or even a thousand, that’s reason to celebrate, and a sign that things are moving in the right direction.
“Mass hiring may be necessary when you are a frontrunner in the startup space and want to ensure no other competitors can get ahead of you,” said Charmien Fugelsang, chief people officer of New York-based engineering software company nTopology. “It may also be necessary if your company closed a huge client or gigantic deal and needed a headcount to support the new revenue.”
What Is Mass Hiring?
But making that growth happen is a lot easier said than done. There’s a fine line between scaling up quickly and staying true to your vision, and walking that line takes a lot of effort and planning.
“Most companies that go from 150 people to 1000 people don’t have processes and policies to manage that growth,” said Sean Mitchell, head of global talent acquisition at New York-based compensation software company DailyPay. “You need to make sure you’re not sacrificing things like quality of hire or culture, and that you’re not breaking the bank while hiring.”
Mass hiring is demanding, but it doesn’t need to be chaotic. Working with what you have and being strategic about your growth can ensure your quick recruiting decisions don’t become ones you regret. If scaling up is something you want, here’s the scoop from HR leaders in tech on how to hire for growth successfully.
Mind Your Budget
Hiring is expensive, even if it’s only one person. The average cost per hire is around $4,000, according to research from Glassdoor. Multiply that number by 100, or 200, and you’ll understand just how costly a mass hiring initiative can be. On top of that, making the wrong hiring choice can cost companies even more. When a company has to replace an employee that quit, it can end up sacrificing 1.5 to 2 times that employee’s salary.
Some costs, like paying for job board postings and background checks, can’t be skipped. But there are creative ways to stick to a tight budget when hiring. One of these is by sidestepping local competition and focusing on more affordable remote hiring, said Mitchell.
“If you’re a startup in New York City, and you’re competing against 2,000 companies in a 10 block radius, you’re going to spend more,” he said. “But remote work has allowed smaller companies to attract and retain top talent.”
Expand Your Hiring Channels
For those embarking on a hiring spree, a single job posting on a career website alone won’t be enough to reach your goal. There has to be a plan for outreach to passive candidates that includes posting on social media and career search platforms. Companies aiming to scale up their teams will need to research and take advantage of every channel available. Campus recruiting events, job fairs and conferences are all great places to find talent, although Fugelsang points out they may be too expensive for companies on tight budgets. She suggests that smaller startups be more strategic about their hiring channels.
“I think your number one resource when hiring is your own employees.”
“Smaller companies can do mass hiring without paying for offsite recruiting or advertising but they must invest in a team of sourcing professionals,” Fugelsang said. “This will focus your recruiters’ time on talking to candidates, not searching for them.”
When it comes to recruiting, it might make sense to look internally. There might be an employee that’s now ready to fill a role that requires more experience, and if they already work for the company that means they can get up to speed more quickly than a completely new, outside hire.
“I think your number one resource when hiring is your own employees,” Mitchell said. “Employee referral networks are hugely important.”
Streamline Candidate Screening
If you have one open role, take time to review resumes and conduct interviews. But if you have 50 open roles to fill, hiring quickly becomes an urgent priority. Companies that need to hire in mass don’t have the luxury to spend a month or two sourcing candidates for each role. They have to make their candidate screening process more concise. Tightening up the interview and screening process doesn’t mean companies have to be less rigorous.
“The thoroughness of interviews and screenings does not need to be sacrificed,” said Austin Fox, CEO of Chicago-based staffing technology platform PeopleCaddie. “Sloppy vetting during interviews only leads to wasting time with rehires due to misfires, performance issues and misunderstanding of expectations.”
When she worked at Vimeo as its VP of talent, Fugelsang participated in building the company’s enterprise solutions. This meant ramping up hiring and building a whole enterprise sales team on a tight timeline. Even though there was added pressure to hire fast, she said her team was able to streamline its candidate screening process without cutting corners.
“The first step in making the interview process more efficient was to follow structured behavioral interview techniques to limit bias and to create a repeatable process to hire the best candidates,” she said. “We created set interview questions focusing on critical competencies needed to be successful and when we hired both great and not-so-great candidates, we revised the process to be better the next round.”
Keep Track of Your Candidates
Mass hiring can be a very complicated process, open communication is the key to making it work out. Otherwise, recruiters may drop the ball with candidates or accidentally skip important screening steps, like clarifying salary expectations. A seamless line of communication between HR leaders, recruiters and managers will ensure everyone involved in mass hiring projects hit their goals.
“Being in good contact with their recruiter is essential for leaders to ensure their candidates don’t get lost in the mass hiring shuffle,” Fugelsang said. “Managers should be meeting with recruiters at least once a week and receiving weekly hiring update reports to ensure hiring transparency.”
“If you develop and document your team onboarding process early, you can iterate on it and improve it with each new team member.”
Successful mass hiring also means onboarding also needs to be successful. Fugelsand adds that, on the onboarding side, communication and documentation helps leaders perfect their talent strategy.
“Often, new hiring managers forget to document the onboarding process for their department early which means they have to reinvent the wheel with each new hire,” she said. “If you develop and document your team onboarding process early, you can iterate on it and improve it with each new team member.”
Don’t Rush Yourself
Time is crucial. Companies may need to build a new team to launch a new product, fill a certain number of roles before the end of a quarter or hire a hundred sales people for the holiday season. Under time constraints and overwhelmed by the numbers, leaders may be tempted to speed up their process and onboard people as quickly as possible. When things are rushed, mistakes are made.
“A lot of people put emphasis on doing it as quickly as possible, so they circumvent structured interviews and take risks,” said Mitchell. “Then you end up replacing [candidates] in six months because you made the wrong hire.”
Hurrying or procrastinating can make mass hiring messy. At nTopology, Fugelsang plans mass hiring projects annually, so she has plenty of time to consider which channels to focus on, what resources she’ll need, and when she should expect to fill all her open roles.
“With annual planning, there can be thoughtfulness around hiring pacing and hiring resourcing which is critical to execute effectively,” she said.
Scaling up your teams quickly doesn’t have to mean you need to make sloppy choices or sacrifice your company’s value. Company culture is still an important factor in successful mass hiring. Everyone you hire should be able to contribute positively to your culture and help it evolve and grow alongside your company. It should always be front of mind for recruiters, said Mitchell.
“Make sure that you're hiring people that want to buy into your culture,” he said. “It can evolve, but you also need to keep it intact.”