Companies that are growing fast can find it challenging to hire to sustain their growth. Here are some things to consider when hiring for a fast-growing business.
A few days ago, I was speaking with a friend, who owns and operates a small, but up-and-coming, company in the medical technologies industry. He mentioned some of the difficulties he was having hiring enough quality people to help maintain the growth of the business. Recruiting, he pointed out, is always important; but when things are going well, it becomes all that much more of a key strategic driver.
It’s a problem most companies would love to have – to be growing so fast that you don’t even have enough warm bodies to support the business. Yet this is the dilemma many small or mid-sized companies face, as they start to scale their operations and find that they struggle to do likewise with their recruitment efforts. Fast-growing companies often discover that their employment and hiring needs, during these periods of rapid expansion, can outstrip their existing recruitment practices. Acquiring talent might have been a breeze when the company’s numbers – both profit- and personnel-wise – were relatively modest. But your otherwise capable HR staff might be ill-prepared to dramatically ramp up hiring when business is booming.
That’s usually when recruiting firms like Clarity Recruitment are brought in to help. And indeed, as an accounting and finance recruiter in Toronto, I’ve both seen and been with companies that have experienced exceptional growth. Some had no problems scaling their talent along with their businesses; others were not quite as successful in meeting their changing staffing goals and needs. If your company is growing fast and you’re looking to acquire new talent, here are three things to keep in mind.
When your business is growing at a fast clip, you may be tempted to hire at a similar pace. That can be a grave mistake.
1. “Only fools rush in”
When your business is growing at a fast clip, you may be tempted to hire at a similar pace. That can be a grave mistake. Fast-growing companies often need to hire lots of people quickly, but while it’s important to seize on opportunities as they present themselves, there’s very little to be gained from hiring too swiftly. It’s a challenge to make even one quality hire. Recruiting a whole bunch at once, without giving yourself enough time to conduct due diligence and thorough background checks? That’s a recipe for disaster.
Rushing to recruit also precludes hiring for fit. Fit always matters, but a candidate’s alignment with the distinctive personality and values of your company is all the more important when it’s growing quickly and you need to hire en masse. Adding entirely new positions or upgrading a lot of your existing talent could well redefine the culture of your organization if you’re not careful about bringing in people who won’t upset the chemistry of your various teams. Unless you’re okay with the idea of possibly giving your company a complete makeover, you want to proceed with the same caution and deliberation that you’d bring to the process if you were hiring during a tougher spell.
You need to hire the right person for the position, not as it exists today, but as it will exist tomorrow, twelve, eighteen, or even twenty-four months down the road.
2. Hire for tomorrow, not today
Besides fit, the other major consideration that you should take into account when hiring for a fast-growing company is a candidate’s “transformability.” You need to hire the right person for the position, not as it exists today, but as it will exist tomorrow, twelve, eighteen, or even twenty-four months down the road. After all, you’re hiring on the expectation that your company’s business will continue to grow, at least over the short term. Who knows what changes that growth will bring, or what new needs and demands it will spur? The skills and technologies that your company requires for, say, a marketing position this year may well be insufficient or different for that same job next year.
Since you don’t want to have to go through the recruitment process all over again in twelve months time, you want to hire with one eye cast towards the future. Look, above all, for candidates who can continue to do their jobs as they evolve with the growth of the business. Now, I’m not going to lie: hiring for transformability is a lot easier said than done. It’s hard enough to find the right person for a job that you know needs to be filled today. But hiring for positions that either don’t yet exist or are available today but will look different in the future? That can be tough.
But before you trade in your applicant tracking system for a crystal ball, consider the critical core skills necessary for supporting the continued fast growth of your company, and make those the baseline requirements for any hire. You will also want to identify and attract candidates not just for their current skills or experience, but also, and perhaps most importantly, for their potential for growth and development. How quickly can they pick up or learn new things? Are they comfortable with there being a certain amount of ambiguity and fluctuation in their portfolio? And be honest with candidates during the hiring process: tell any potential employees that the job you’re hiring them for today might not be the same one they’ll be expected to perform in a year’s time. Not every candidate will be eager at that prospect. The ones who are alive to the idea, however, might be just the kind of people you’re looking for.
Hiring the right people to provide accurate, reliable accounting can ensure that your business has a solid financial footing, during both the ebbs and flows.
3. Pay attention to finance
Many fast-growing enterprises make the error of overlooking the finance function during their major growth spurts, loading up on their sales, marketing, operations, administration, and other divisions instead. But that can prove costly in the long run, and keep you from scaling your business responsibly. As is well-known, cash flow can be a real bottleneck for many growing businesses. When things are going well, however, there can be a strong tendency to overestimate growth rates and incoming revenue. And that, in turn, can lead to these companies saddling themselves with all kinds of new expenses and liabilities, on the belief that the money is, and will keep, pouring in.
So that you don’t only see your company’s business picture through rose-tinted glasses, you need a strong finance team in place to manage your accounts and keep a tight rein on your expenditures. Knowing where your company’s money is being spent and how much you have left in your coffers, as well as being able to project your revenues and costs in the event of further expansion – or a possible cooling-off period – can be critical to sustaining your business over the long haul. Hiring the right people to provide accurate, reliable accounting can ensure that your business has a solid financial footing, during both the ebbs and flows of growth.
Fast-growing companies face unique challenges in acquiring talent. But by giving some thought to these pointers during your recruitment process, you can make sure that you hire the kind of quality people that will keep your business growing.
For more advice, we highly recommend that you download our FREE whitepaper on Spotting the Red Flags and Avoiding Bad Hires.
Let us know what you think! At Clarity Recruitment, we’re always interested in hearing from accounting and finance professionals like yourselves, who are ready for new, exciting opportunities that can take their careers to the next level. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@clarityrecruits) for more great tips and advice!