As a scaling startup you’re busy trying to acquire new customers, establish baselines, prove unit economics, please your investors, architect operational processes, all whilst trying to build a world class team. However according to a study by Startup Genome, 70% of startups fail due to premature scaling.
So, scaling too soon could in fact be one of your main reasons for failure. But if you don’t scale, you can lose a first-mover advantage, sacrifice market share, and potentially harm your relationship with investors.
Every founder dreams of growing their company at an exponential rate. But exponential growth requires them to make strategic decisions quite frequently. The rapid growth period when a startup becomes a scaleup is probably the most challenging time for the company and their management team.
With approximately 80% of your funding going into salaries, HOW you hire, and WHO you hire, are two things you cannot afford to drop the ball on. And once your startup starts to grow, you will need to fill job openings at an unprecedented speed.
Hiring too fast or too slow – both are dangerous.
In this guide, we will share 12 tactics you can use to help you scale up your hiring.
#1 Manage Compliance
One of the first challenges you will face when scaling up your team will be compliance. As you grow, you may need to hire internationally, which will bring additional regulations to comply with.
If you wish to hire internationally, ensure that you have someone on your team to manage the compliance beforehand. You can also use innovative technology to stay on top of the rules and regulations throughout the hiring process.
If you are hiring internationally, we advise you to check out one of our partners, Omnipresent, who provides compliant employment for remote teams in 160 countries, seamless worldwide onboarding, payroll, and benefits, as well as real-time support from a team of international experts.
#2 Diversify Your Sourcing Channels
During the initial stages of startup hiring, founders often hire from their personal and professional networks, but this method usually caps out after a few hires.
Once the company size grows and you dry out all your referrals, you move out from internal recruiting and expand your recruiting channels, often relying on recruitment agencies first, and then once your hiring goals justify it, building an internal talent team.
With so much activity during these early stages, founders can often begin to rely on just one sourcing channel…often LinkedIn.
Relying on a single source of candidates will limit your access to top talent who may be actively searching for an opportunity like yours. Do you really want LinkedIn to be a single point of failure for your startup hiring?
Explore new sourcing channels to tap into the most passionate candidates in the market…especially for engineering roles!
#3 Be Data-Driven
As opposed to the hiring that you do initially in a startup – you will need to back your decisions with data when recruiting at scale. Whenever you make a recruitment decision, ensure that it is driven by KPIs and relevant metrics.
Often startup teams can be exceptionally analytical when it comes to customer acquisition metrics, but when it comes to talent acquisition the numbers have a tendency to go out the window.
Basing your hiring decisions on data will ensure you are creating the most efficient hiring process you can, reducing time to hire and minimising candidate drop off and the relevant associated costs, as well as reduce all other recruitment associated costs too – this can have a not-insignificant impact on your bottom line.
#4 Keep Detecting Inefficiencies
With rapid expansion, processes will become complex with each passing day. It is essential to identify the inefficiencies in the system, locate any single points of failure, see where the system is breaking at the seams with volume, and make necessary amendments.
Detecting the inefficiencies on time will help you adapt to the changing recruitment landscape within your scaleup. Growing from a startup into a scaleup requires continuous change – driven by data and metrics.
#5 Strategic Planning for Recruitment
Rapidly growing recruitment needs you to have a strategic approach towards it. When you wish to increase your number from 5 to 500 employees, you don’t just go with the flow when hiring.
Have a strategy behind your talent acquisition, and then you can implement the specific tactics to actualise that strategy.
It can be helpful to do proper headcount plan before hiring, and then reverse engineer this number to ensure you can provide your talent team with KPIs that are both realistic, but will lead you to your desired headcount.
#6 Pay More as You Grow
When you grow to become a scale-up, you will have fewer stock options to offer. Since it is one of the most attractive factors about working with startups, you will see a decline in the number of applicants/offer acceptances if you stop offering it.
The alternative? Offer higher salaries as you grow. It will help you make your company seem like a lucrative alternative to potential recruits, and in such a competitive market, this may simply be a necessity in order to get the best talent in the market.
#7 Track Adequate Metrics
Different from being data-driven informing your decisions to hire, tracking adequate metrics refers to highlighting what are the key metrics you’re going to track in the hiring process itself.
Just some of the metrics you can measure are: # of candidates sourced, # of candidates contacted, reply rate, # of interviews, time to hire, # of offers.
Highlight the metrics you want to measure, establish baselines, and ensure your recruiters are working towards these KPIs. Comparing your team’s performance with the KPIs will enable you to identify skill gaps that you should fill.
This is where using HR tech will be very helpful (plus many of the other benefits, too).
#8 Start With Generalists, Grow With Specialists
As a small team, you need generalists to help you thrive. Initially, your team will consist of generalists who can tick a lot of boxes.
But, as you grow, you will need to hire specialists. You will want to hire people who have gained substantial experience in their respective fields and have honed their expertise. They will have worked in larger organisations but are now looking to join smaller ones where they can have a bigger impact.
#9 Be Patient
In a high-growth environment, you want to hire fast. However, focusing on the speed of your hiring over the quality of the talent coming into your talent pipeline is a mistake. Both are important, and bringing on new team members who either aren’t exceptionally good at delivery, or are a bad cultural fit, can both hurt you in the long run.
“Move fast and break things” is great..except when it comes to your company culture.
But, of course, hiring too slowly is dangerous too. If your recruitment speed is slow and your hiring time is lower than other exciting startups – the most talented and in-demand candidates will fall off the pipeline because they’ll have other offers on the table.
So, be patient, but act with urgency.
#10 Automate the Boring Tasks
As your number of openings increase, the associated tasks scale proportionately. In your startup you should aim to automate everything that can be automated that presents no downsides, and your internal talent function should be no different.
Manually managing your applications will only slow down the overall hiring process. This is where a fully fledged ATS with pre-built templates and schedulers can really come in handy.
Using AI tools to automate admin tasks is also a great idea to save time when hiring at scale. Self-scheduling for interviews and one-way video interviews are some other tools that can be very helpful.
#11 Start Thinking About Hierarchy
As a small company of 15-25 people, it is great to have a flat hierarchy. But as you grow, the flat organisational hierarchy can become more of a bottleneck – emphasis on can, because there are some scale-ups who can make this work.
If you want to scale up, establishing a hierarchy beforehand can be extremely useful when planning what roles you’re bring on in what order, as well as involve the right team members in the hiring process.
#12 The Embedded Sourcing Partner
Sourcing is paramount to the success of a startup. A dedicated Sourcer will act as a catalyst for the growth of your internal talent function, leading them to focus only on engaged and qualified candidates.
The quality of your hiring will be entirely dependent upon the quality of your sourcing – it is the single activity that determines what candidates are coming into your pipeline.
Effective sourcing requires training and a higher level of domain expertise than most Internal Recruiters have. Internal Recruiters are often spread too thin as it is, managing the end-to-end hiring process, that they aren’t continually upskilling themselves in the ever-changing area that is Recruitment Sourcing.
And, as a scale-up, it’s fair to say ensuring your Internal Recruiters are continually up to date with the most up to date sourcing methods isn’t your number one priority.
So should you hire a Sourcer? Maybe. But if you’re going through a hiring sprint, and don’t have the capacity to adequately train, upskill, and manage a Sourcer effectively, then working with an Embedded Sourcing Partner is a far better option.
Opting for an Embedded Sourcing Partner takes away all of your headaches. Instead of taking on all the added responsibilities of hiring, training, managing and retaining the Sourcer – you partner up with a company like Kandidate who will place an Embedded Sourcing Partner into your existing talent function.
And if you work with a Sourcer from Kandidate, they will be fully Trained via Kandidate Academy.
So what type of results can you expect to get working with an Embedded Sourcing Partner? Sourcing Partners will build deep pipelines of 100+ qualified candidates per role, giving your internal recruiters an extra 50-70% of time to focus on closing roles, whilst significantly reducing unwanted recruitment agency fees.
If you’d like to find out more about working with an Embedded Sourcing partner, click here and complete this short form and a member of the team will be in touch.