HubSpot has become a global powerhouse software company through the productization of their Inbound Methodology. They have built an amazing platform designed to attract, engage and delight customers. It has been a game changing model for all sorts of companies looking to grow their business. Let me say it for all of us THANK YOU HUBSPOT!!
At some point, nearly everyone in our world is involved in recruiting and hiring. Whether you are a team manager and you have an open position, you are about to become a manager, or you are an agency founder - understanding how to get great people to join you is as critical to your business as acquiring clients.
The value of the Inbound Methodology goes far beyond client leads and can be applied in all sorts of interesting and valuable ways. A number of years ago, HubSpot’s People Ops team (a team that I was very lucky to be a part of) applied it to recruiting and hiring and the concept of Inbound Recruiting was born.
This blog article will help summarize why this is so powerful and how every business can use it now. I can say without any hesitation that if you take the same type of care and mindful approach to delighting your candidates as you do to delighting your customers, your business will be able to attract, hire, and retain amazing people in ways that traditional HR recruiting just can’t do.
First; credit where credit is due. I didn’t invent Inbound Recruiting. That’s all HubSpot and HERE’s a link to one of the many articles they have written about the topic. One of my favorite visuals from HubSpot’s article shows the Inbound Recruiting methodology:
Looks familiar doesn’t it? It is exactly the same strategy you are using to attract leads and convert them to customers... just focused on a different audience.
Here are what I have found to be the 5 most important and impactful ways to build and leverage an Inbound Recruiting strategy.
Change your mindset. Candidates are in the driver’s seat.
This is the most important point I can make and it is a simple one, but can be very hard for founders and hiring managers to wrap their heads around. Your candidates are driving the process. You as an employer or manager are extremely fortunate to have a great candidate spend their time in your interview process and you need to treat your candidates with the same care and enthusiasm that you would a great potential client. You need to work hard to delight your candidate with an amazing experience. It will make or break your ability to hire that person.
Gone are the days when companies can have a “you are lucky to be interviewing here / work here” attitude. It just doesn’t work anymore. Especially now in the COVID-19 times when you are competing for talent with every other super cool agency across the country that has gone remote. Great candidates have more options than ever and they will gravitate toward the employers that treat them like gold. Treating your candidates like gold is all about candidate experience (what a perfect segway…)
Be obsessed with your employer brand
Think of all the things you and your teams do to build your brand. You blog, you podcast, you put puppy pictures out on social media, you share ideas and talk about your service and why it is different and special. You do everything in your power to help your potential clients understand why you are the best at what you do and why they should choose you over all of the other options out there. Do the exact same thing for your candidate audience!
This is at the heart of a great Inbound Recruiting strategy. You need to ask yourself the following question: when we are hiring, what are we putting out to the world of candidates that helps attract, engage, nurture, hire and retain the very best and most talented people?
For too many companies, that answer is “very little." Having a careers page that hasn’t been updated in 2 years with some postings isn’t nearly enough. For a growing agency, or an agency that "thinks it will be growing in the not too distant future," this needs to be a topic in your internal marketing and branding meetings. The more you think about it, and the more often you work on your employer brand, the more likely you are to be able to make a great hire quickly when you need to.
Employer brand is just as much about content that you produce as it is your employer reputation. I promise you that great candidates will do their homework and check sites like Glassdoor and FairyGodBodd, Vault and the dozens of other employer reputation and employee feedback sites. You need to care deeply about this. This is where your employer brand becomes real world data that your candidates can see and interact with.
Be obsessed with your candidate experience
We all take some much time and energy to craft a great experience for prospects as we nurture them through our funnel to become clients. They have our time and attention. We are extremely responsive, we care deeply about their perceptions of how they are being treated. Ultimately we make our prospects and clients the full focus our of effort. I’m arguing that you need to add candidates to that list and create well choreographed, efficient interview and hiring processes to make your candidates feel like they are the most important thing in your day.
“Feel” is the key word here. Your candidates need to feel valuable and heard through your process if you have any hope of landing them. So many hiring managers and founders forget a simple truth: you are being interviewed. Your candidates are interviewing you for potential fit just as much as you are interviewing them. Go into interviews with a heft sense of gratitude and I promise you it will change the dynamic. Tell your candidates how thankful you are that they are taking time to explore opportunities at your company and that you are their guide through that journey.
Ask your questions, understand what you need to evaluate fit, and then make sure you give you interviewee equal time to do the same. Giving your candidate 10 minutes at the end of an hour long interview to ask their questions isn’t enough. Not only isn’t it enough, it shows a clear imbalance between how you value your time and their time. Remember, you are being interviewed just as much as you are interviewing.
Another critical piece to candidate experience is preparation. Wrapping up some other meeting with 30 seconds to get into an interview without any preparation is one very easy way to start off poorly. Your candidate won’t see someone they want to work with or for. They will see a frazzled, rushed, unprepared interviewer and assume that is how you operate all the time. You’ve got one shot at this. Make sure you spend at least 10-15 minutes preparing for every interview. Know this person’s profile and work experience, have questions prepared and be ready to talk about culture, growth opportunities, cool projects. Be ready to sell the position. You have to remember, this candidate is mentally comparing your team and this opportunity to the 4 other they have evaluated in the previous several days.
Work hard on your job descriptions and careers page
Let’s start with job descriptions. First, you need two descriptions for each job. The first is the one you are likely most familiar with. This is the internal doc that talks about requirements, minimum qualifications, educational requirements, etc… This isn’t for the world to see. This is an HR doc that is purely for internal alignment so that everyone interviewing candidate is on the same page and you know that you have a clear and well defined ideal candidate persona. This is never what gets posted to your careers page of a job board!
I can’t overstate the importance of this point. These documents, when posted publicly, do nothing but cause great candidates to self-select out of your process. When you say things like “minimum of 5 years of experience doing xyz” and an amazing candidate with 4.6 years of experience sees that and chooses not to apply, you have lost out big time. You absolutely wanted to see that resume and have the option to interview or not. You would never publish an ideal customer document and say “minimum of 25 employees and $10mm in annual revenue” because you absolutely want to engage with a prospect that was just shy of those numbers so that the option is your whether or not to engage. Same principle here.
The second “job description” is really more of an opportunity description. This is a great piece of content that talks about why this is an awesome opportunity and why a great candidate should choose to start a conversation. This is a piece of lead nurture content. This is designed to get people to apply, not to get people to self-select out. Trust me, you’d rather have to sift through 100 resumes to find 4 gems than get 8 resume and have no great options. Looking through a lot of resumes is part of this process and you need to have the time set aside to review a lot of people. Being ultra-specific with your posting doesn’t get you “fewer but better” applicants. It just gets you fewer.
Have a recruiting partner that you trust
I realize that this last point will probably come off as self-serving/self-promoting since it is exactly what we do at HubSearch, but it needs to be said. Whether it is us, or a more traditional staffing agency - you need a partner you can trust when you need to hire someone and there is a sense of urgency.
Everything written above is important and should be a part of your hiring playbook... but it won’t always deliver quickly. If you have three months to make a hire, you should absolutely be able to use Inbound Recruiting to get someone incredible on board. But that won’t always be the case. There will almost certainly be situations when you need someone great to join your team ASAP. We are all one conversation away from being in that position. Let me ask you this question: if the most valuable member of your team / company called you today and gave their 2 week notice - do you have a plan? A more cheerful spin on that question; if you land several major new clients next week, do you have a plan to scale your team rapidly to deliver?
This is where a trusted recruiting partner comes in. You absolutely need a partner that you know you can count on to deliver amazing people quickly. Because you will be in one of the 2 scenarios listed above at some point. Maybe both. Maybe at the same time. The ability to pick up the phone and call your person and say “I need to hire a great (insert title here) in the next 2-3 weeks” and knowing that they will deliver is a contingency that every company needs to have access to.
If you are constantly working at Inbound Recruiting AND you have a partner you can trust, there are no surprises that you and your team can’t handle.