HR

654% in 5 Years: Five Steps to Hiring for Hyper Growth

June 29th, 2015

Credit: Warren Wong, VP, Talent & Culture at Appnovation (Vertical Bridge Advisory Board member)

I was recently interviewed by RecruitingSocial to share how Appnovation Technologies is able to scale so quickly while attracting hard-to-find talent globally while garnering multiple industry awards. I want to share some of my insights.

Appnovation is a company that has grown 654% from 2009 to 2013 and in late 2014 earned the #22 spot on the prestigious 2014 Deloitte Technology Fast 50™ listing of the fastest-growing Canadian technology companies. We are only able to achieve this growth by being agile, nimble, and super responsive to our business.

Since I joined Appnovation in early 2012, our company has more than quadrupled in headcount and in revenue. In 2014, we opened three new offices: Montreal, Cardiff, and Saint John.

Step One: Understand

In order to create and manage a global talent acquisition strategy when growth and change is constant, you need to really understand the company business strategy, requirements, and markets what is in the sales funnel what your current delivery capabilities are. Where the Talent Acquisition (“TA”) team comes in, is to fill the gap between current staff complement and what you need to deliver the work that is committed to. For example, if the Sales team has opportunities that require a delivery team of 25 people, but if the delivery organization only has 15 available, the delta is 10 new hires, either from full-time hires, contractors, or vendors.

Step Two: Be Nimble, Agile and Flexible

The headlights are only about two weeks out, maybe three weeks at best, so what you need to do is build a TA team and strategy that is highly nimble, agile, and flexible. In a global professional services model like ours, the recruitment is really demand-based as opposed to forecasted, which makes it that much more challenging for long-term planning and projections. Fortunately or not so fortunately, our hiring requirements are usually multiples of the same roles, i.e., developers, project managers, etc. However, this means we must be constantly sourcing and growing a rich candidate pipeline.

Step Three: Be Focused

Our TA team gracefully counters the challenge of short headlights by being laserfocused on defining our requirements for each role. Our first principle is to not recruit positions that we do not have an approved job description from the hiring department. We need to avoid the “wild goose hunt” scenario. Instead, we partner with the hiring manager to fully understand the requirements of the job and why would a talented individual even be interested in joining our team. With every open role our Talent Acquisition Specialists will conduct a discovery meeting with the hiring manager and really define and understand what that job is really about and the nuances that come with each unique role. We appreciate that the position description could change (and likely will), but at least it gives us a baseline to get started. This becomes our road map to find what may potentially be the purple unicorn that we are searching for.

Step Four: Be Engaged

The whole recruitment process is about keeping the hiring manager and candidates fully engaged and informed. Our TA team does an excellent job of constant communication with both the hiring manager and candidates in terms of updates, and internally updating the job requisition on a regular basis. We have a lot of communication around that. There are one-on-one meetings between the hiring manager and recruiter, but we also have twice-a-week ‘talent acquisition scrums’ and weekly reporting that we provide back to the line business in terms of who are in the talent pipeline and at what stage we are at for each job requisition. Ongoing and multi-directional communication is part of our winning formula.

Step Five:

Be Clear You need to work very closely with the entire Executive team, but also with Marketing so that the brand and the image that you are creating are compelling and consistent. As a company, you need to be clear about your employer value proposition, your “EVP”. Why would a talented individual want to work for you? What will capture their imagination and heart? Our EVP positively contributes to our hyper growth in that we have a common shared story that is communicated that helps shorten our recruitment cycle. The reality is that talent management is an organizational enabler. Hopefully these five simple steps will help enable your organization to scale more effectively and efficiently.

What do do if a key employee leaves

June 29th, 2015

Credit: Felicity Stone, BC Business ; Image by: Sabrina Smelko

key employee retention

Sandra Reder, president and founder of HR consulting firm Vertical Bridge, and Go2HR CEO Arlene Keis outline how to prepare a backup plan

1. Identify key positions
“Look at every single job, and if that person was to walk in and say goodbye, how much of an impact would it have on your ability to deliver on your programs, your services, your products or to keep your business going?” says Reder. “A lot of people think succession planning is just for leadership continuity, but it really is for critical skill and knowledge and potential technical and organizational knowledge as well,” notes Keis.

2. Assess the competencies and skills required
You also need a way to incorporate that knowledge into the rest of your organization, says Keis. Reder advises asking incumbents to put together a procedures manual, if appropriate to the position. “It’s a great way to engage them if you say, look, we want to put a procedures manual together so we really understand what you do in the event that you, say, win the lottery.”

3. Pinpoint potential understudies
“Target the specific individuals that have these skills, discuss it with them, and create a development and retention plan with them so that you’re engaging—it’s not something you’re doing to them, you’re doing it with them,” says Keis. “It’s much easier to grow from within than to have to pull someone in who is new to your company,” notes Reder, who advises using performance reviews to spot which people are promotable in all key areas.

4. Cross-train
Use cross-training techniques to ensure more than one person is capable of performing essential tasks or have the incumbent mentor someone else. “Even at the higher level that can be done to some extent,” says Reder. “Most people in a job like to learn, they like to be challenged, so if they’re being cross-trained like that, it makes their jobs more interesting, and it’s a form of engagement.”

5. Constantly recruit
“If you get unsolicited resumés, it may be worth somebody’s while to make one phone call and chat with that person and say, We have nothing available right now, but what are you looking for?” says Reder. “Just take some minimal notes.” Then if a key employee does leave, you can call back to see if the person is still interested. “You should never have to start from scratch.”

How to determine pay and benefits – Be competitive and communiate

May 24th, 2015

Author: Allen Jones, Senior HR Consultant

In today’s highly competitive employment climate it is important for pay and benefits to be in line with what is happening in your market. Staying competitive in order to attract the best candidates and retain your most valuable employees is critical to an organization’s success. In many markets compensation is rising in direct relation to high demand and low supply of talent (this is especially true in the tech sector) so knowing what you need to pay in order to find and keep your people should be top of mind for all employers. Read more

The Most Important Hiring Question You Never Asked

September 23rd, 2014

Author:  Dawn Longshaw, Managing Director, Professional Recruitment

You are a hiring manager who has identified a gap in your team, you are an in-house recruiter who has just received a requisition from a hiring manager, you are an agency recruiter who has just received a search assignment from a client, or you are an applicant in front of any of the above three.  You have a job description, you have the hiring parameters, you have the posting – you are ready to roll – right?  Not necessarily.  If you seriously want to maximize the potential that the hire will be a success, and who doesn’t; there is one question that must be asked before you can consider that you have all the information you need to make a good hiring/employment decision. Read more

Considering Expanding Your Business South of the Border?

July 24th, 2014

Guest blog post by:  Karolynn St-Pierre, JD SPHR

hr implications of canadian business expanding into USA

You’ve thought about the legal, trade and tax implications regarding expansion into the US; but have you considered the HR implications?

Breaking into the U.S. market can be a highly rewarding endeavor for many Canadian businesses.  With a population of just under 400 million and a GDP of over $15 trillion, the potential benefits of moving “South of the Border” can be great but not knowing the differences in human resources can trip up even the most conscientious business owner and HR professional.  Read more

People Assistant Offers a Fully-integrated, Comprehensive HRIS

March 05th, 2014

Fully-integrated Human Resources Information System (HRIS)

Credit: Laurie Harley (HR & Talent Management)

People Assistant is a comprehensive Human Resources Information System (HRIS) that offers integrated talent management and strategic execution for a seamless process from hiring to termination. The system is an authentically green Software as a Service (SaaS) model that is fully hosted on People Assistant servers, which means it requires no IT staff or extra expenses.

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