How to know if you’re the right fit for a fast growth company.

There’s a lot of buzz, myth and speculation around what it’s like to work in a fast growth or start-up company.

I came across a lot of material around culture, but not so much about career experience. So I had a dig around to get some real insight on working for a company that’s growing pretty fast.

The experience.

Without a doubt you’ll learn heaps – A common theme from everyone that’s worked in a start-up, whether they’ve enjoyed it or not, they’ve learnt loads. By loads I’m talking more in two months than the previous five years.

A start-up forces you to adopt new skills and responsibilities to make up for the big challenges that come with building a really successful business.

The pay-off – experience in all areas of the business and much more responsibility – you can find yourself in a powerful position when it comes time to move on.

No longer a small cog in a large machine – everything you do has impact, but this means it’s time to say goodbye to having a safety blanket. Want to contribute to success or even failure? Small companies will help you focus and push yourself – helping you to become a real problem solver and thinking of creative ways to get there.

The pay-off: you’ll often get to see results first-hand and share in the rewards and glory.

Surrounded by bright sparks – Perhaps one of the most often overlooked rewards is the team that you’ve joined. How many people work with passionate and enthusiastic team players every single day? This can spark inspiration on every level, leading to truly innovative ideas that helps the business stand out against competitors in the greater industry.

The pay-off: The opportunity to work alongside an entrepreneur is a big one — they identify a problem and find a new efficient way to solve it – you’d be part of that.

It’s not forever – If you’re looking for a comfy job with routine and regularity then you’re looking in the wrong place. It’s important to think about the day to day nature of the above and think about whether it’s for you. Joining a company that’s growing quickly gives you the opportunity to start learning what it takes to be your own boss.

Joining a start-up gives you the opportunity to start learning what it takes to be your own boss.

The pay-off: Working in a start-up is the ideal place to educate yourself on how to set goals, execute strategies, take your product to market and implement strong business operations.

Knowing if you have the right skills.

So you’re still weighing up if these organisations are right for you? I spoke to some of our top talent in Australia and they shared these traits needed to thrive:

Inquisition – Explore your options to find the exact best match for you. Fast growth organisations are not all the same and often have different models and very different products – take your time to find the perfect match as you’ll need to be passionate about the job you’re about to take on.

Judgment: Chances are you’re going to be figuring out a lot for yourself so you need to like making decisions that sometimes shooting in the dark. You show up for work and can sense what needs to be done without being told, and you do it.

Communication: Email, phone, face to face, pressure, sometimes chaos – You maintain calm poise and find a way forward. You aren’t alarmed by people throwing things in your direction – you can motivate yourself and teach others to join you.

Curiosity: You like to give things a go and test outcomes outside of your (and often your teams) comfort zone. You seek out the opportunity to learn. You avoid boredom and routine. You’re willing to keep trying and failing.

Courage: You’re going to stand up for what you believe is right – if you think the company is going in a direction that conflicts with it’s shared values, you’re going to voice your concerns and communicate your argument. On the other side of the coin – you’ll also be able to push forward when you don’t always agree with a day-to- day decision.

Passion: You’ll be signed up to publications and build networks of the industry you’re working in. You’ll be out and about at events when you can and reading the latest trends reports because you want to – not because you need to. It’s this passion that will help you identify problems in your own day to day operations and inspire to create industry leading solutions.

Do you work in a fast growth or start up company? I’d be keen to hear your experiences in the comments below.

Keep yourself in the know over the coming month as we’ll be following the hottest brands launching in Australia and sharing exclusive career insights with you. Sound like your cup of tea?

Yes please. 

Content marketing and recruitment – The recipe to success?

It’s been an interesting few months.

Five months ago I made a total industry shift. It’s been one I’ve been pretty keen to get stuck into – recruitment.

With no current marketing team, it was time to come up with a plan of action.

If I’m honest, when I set out I wasn’t sure where the industry was at when it came to content marketing in the recruitment sector. A few things became clear from the get-go.

A couple of guiding principles have been front of mind whilst considering how we should be using content:

  • The power has shifted.Gone are the days of top talent trying to get a recruiters’ attention. According to Ere.net, 83% of recruiters report that the power has shifted away from where it has been for years: the employer. In a candidate-driven marketplace, traditional recruiting approaches simply stop working.
  • Employer branding can help with recruiting efforts.56% of 4,125 global talent leaders in 31 countries surveyed for LinkedIn’s 2015 Global Recruiting Trends said they believe cultivating their employer brand is a top priority.
  • Content has a huge role to play.In order to stand out as an employer, companies will need to start posting more work culture related posts and leveraging their employees to share them. 58% of people are more likely to want to work at a company if they are using social media and over 20% are more likely to stay at their companies if they are using social media. People want to work for interesting companies and when they see interesting posts that gives them a better sense of what the company is about. The recruitment industry has a huge opportunity to take advantage, tell a story and get involved.
  • It never stops. Forbes recently reported that 86% of employees are already looking for work outside their current occupations and nearly one third of employers expert workers to job hop – there’s a continuous job search and content marketing needs to take a similar tack.

We’re quite lucky here at Salient in the profile of clients we get to work for – they’re pretty hot and they grow really fast. Naturally, they have awesome stories – but every brand does – you just have to know where to look for them.

Traditional recruitment marketing is still very short sighted – filling roles for now, which just doesn’t cut it for these guys who need to plan ahead and build pipelines of talent for next week, next month, next quarter. No more riff-raffing around scrambling to fill an ad.

These are the core areas I’m going to be focusing on over the coming months because I reckon they may just make or break content marketing in recruitment.

1. Know your pipelines

I wish I had time to write stories about all the brands we work with, touching on all the areas of the business –but I don’t.

Be focused with content efforts. Pick a couple of your key industries – in our case that’s SaaS and Digital. From there look at the job roles that are in high demand and short supply and tailor your campaigns by segmenting them in a similar way. It makes it one thousand times easier to work with Sales if you’re both working on the same funnels. It also gives you a better chance of conversion.

2. Find the right stories

Recruitment content doesn’t have to be around ‘how to build your career’. There’s a huge amount of content topics to be covered. Personally I’m really interested in telling and hearing the stories of the people that work inside a company. What were the expectations when you started? How do you feel about it 6 months on? What opportunities have you been given? What’s the stationery like!? (Ok maybe I’ll save the latter for my friends).

3. Give talent some breathing space

Top talent get calls and messages from recruiters on a daily basis. Many have become cynical about recruiters as a result. Be smart with your marketing, instead of asking if you can call back in 6 months to check in, why not ask them if they’re interested in signing up to your content and keeping up to date with the movers and shakers in their industry through some weekly stories from inside those brands? Use your smarts to pick up on any changes in behaviour, then sure it’s pretty reasonable to give have a recruiter call. They’ll be much more likely to communicate with you if you can be bang on point with the time you call. Make a guided decision.

4. Use the technology and make the experience easy

Whether you use a technology product or you have a savvy product use your technology then show it back to clients. Track all your analytics then feed them back to clients – they’ll be much more keen to do more content with you when they see it’s working.

Curated content would also fit in here. There are some pretty awesome products around, from Feedly to NewsCred (free to $3000+) – you can easily keep an eye on the content your clients are publishing themselves and re-purpose them with your own brand content to provide a nice balance of stories.

5. Play the long game

Starting a new career path is not the same as buying a television – there’s often anything from 1 month to 3 years between thinking about another job and actually leaving for one. But if you’ve been nurtured for months, reading stories and really buying into the values of a brand – chances are you’re more likely to go there.

I’m looking forward to checking back in a few months to see how the results are working in practice. If you’re working in recruitment, I’d love to hear about your plans..

Is this the hottest brand hitting Australia right now?

There aren’t many growth stories quite like Qualtrics.

In January 2010 they had 37 employees, by December 2013 there were 260 employees and now (Oct 2014) there are over 550 employees. They’re going through hyper-growth and there are no plans to slow down.

The Utah-based start-up, which produces cloud-based survey software, recently secured $150 million in venture capital. The new stream of funding has been allocated to product development and overseas expansion.

In addition to the HQ in Utah, last year saw expansion to Dublin; the office grew from 3 to 50 employees in a year – next year the aim is to be around the 100 mark.

They’re now about to take on the same mission is Sydney.

Bill McMurray is the man tasked with the job.

Starting out as just a team of just three renting out office space in the Sydney CBD.

However, that’s all going to change pretty quickly.

“I’m currently in the process of securing 8,000 sq ft of office space in Sydney. We’re unlike most organisations that taper at around the $100 million mark – Qualtrics is still going through rapid growth.

“We’re aiming to be over 50 employees in Australia within 12 months and then we’ll start building out local operations in key APJ countries.” Explained Bill.

But the team aren’t starting from scratch, deployment has been years in the making and they already have an impressive 250 active customers here in the region.

Bill explained how people have been at the core of the organisation’s success and are consistently provided opportunity at the same rate as business growth:

“It’s the people that have really driven this business. They’ve been tapping away and built up a great base before we even arrived. Opportunities are passed down to the people in the organisation, I’m a firm believer in promotion from within.”

Tim’s story

The man behind the mission…. And it’s not who you’d expect.

Tim Pales was a man with a plan. It started back when he had one year left of his course studying Chinese and Business at BYU. Like most students Tim took a part time job.

It was 2008 when Tim joined Qualtrics – as employee number 29. He’d be at school all day and on the phones all night. The night calling was a very deliberate decision for Tim “My interest was always APAC. I had lived and studied in Asia and coupling that experience with my focus on business in school it seemed like a good fit. Seeing how rapidly the economies in Asia were growing, I knew there would be good opportunities there.”

“We first focused on academics and we successfully managed to land pretty much all of the major universities in Australia and New Zealand.”

The last three years have been spent managing his own sales team whilst building business in Australia, without so much as an office space here.

With continued success year on year, it wasn’t long till Tim became a senior manager. The mission never faltered “The goal has always been to create a problem so we had to come here. It got to a point where (after pushing it for three years) there was enough of a customer base in APAC. The appetite was there, the time was now – it was time to go.”

Whilst excelling quota for both him and his team members, Tim and John developed a full business plan for launch here in Australia. Part of that plan – hire an exec: “Qualtrics needed executive leadership on the ground in Australia. I have been fortunate to manage teams but I wasn’t the guy to strategically launch Qualtrics here. I found myself in the unique position of helping our executive team hire my new boss.”

Sitting with the team of three in their temporary rented office in Sydney, you wouldn’t be mistaken for thinking you were chatting to a group of guys about to start their own business. Bill McMurray jokes “We see this as we’ve just started private school and have our parents financing – we’re all so interested in this region, it’s exciting to lead the launch here.”

Coming soon…. John’s story

This was John’s first role out of university. Like most he started in entry level sales 3 and a half years ago.

Over the course of the last 21 months he’s had 4 promotions.

How? The company has a really clear development path, it’s not based on politics or people leaving – it’s based purely on performance.

Every quarter you’re given a quota. Hit the quota of the level above you for 2 quarters, you get promoted. It’s that simple.

John played a big role in developing the business plan and now as part of the landing team, is a big part of leading the roll out in the region.

Article published on behalf of Salient Group, we connect great talent to fast growth brands. If you’re interesting in hearing more about brands like Qualtrics sign up here.

Is your Human Resources team losing you money?

HR transformation isn’t a project any more – it’s a division that’s constantly looking to evolve itself to suit the needs of the business.

Many organisations are starting to realise there is a lot of transactional activity which could be dealt with in a better way, and enable HR staff to focus on the more value adding, customer-centric activity.

More is being demanded of HR as a function; both in the retention and development of talent, and the relationship with new outsource vendors. Many of the challenges currently stem from systems in place that aren’t always ready for change.

In a recent chat with Grant Baker, General Manager of People and Culture in Shared Services at Energy Australia, he raised some interesting comparisons to share around the area of talent: “If you take the top 200 employees within the company, they’re worth around $58 million dollars. Let’s just imagine for a second that figure was in a share portfolio. You’d expect a lot of robust reporting. Just because it’s humans they don’t seem to have the same value.”

Where to focus

To focus on learning, development and retention, HR will need to improve policy and processes, making self-service accessible – enabling managers to do more and reduce the traffic that comes into the HR function.

This gives HR time to look at what is core to the things which are essential to the business. Enhancing the learning and development offering is a great example – at Energy Australia they’ve been really clear on their approach to broader talent management. Grant explained the wider impact on the team: “HR doesn’t have to be the huge team it used to be; we used to have business partners doing work which could or should have been done elsewhere, either via shared services or automation.

Value in using data

HR metrics is an area which hasn’t previously been done well. Energy Australia shifted the dial for reporting, looking at things from a different point of view: “If we were to quantify the talent in the business clearly from a pay point of view, it’d be a massive number. It’s extraordinary to think we don’t know enough about the people that contribute to that number.”

You need to have a real handle on people, but also how it stacks up from a benchmarking point of view. Take SuccessFactors for example – it’s those tools to really demonstrate cost per hire relevant to the market,” Grant explained

Challenges

This rapid period of change won’t come without its challenges beyond the obvious IT change. The behavioural challenge can have a serious impact on the bottom line of the business.

Grant highlighted the two key sides to this; HR employees and employees previously serviced by HR:

“Managers will have to learn to embrace self-service and be a little less reliant on the former HR business partner for the activities that should be stopped or owned elsewhere.

“There’s a wider challenge for the HR team as well; you’ll be taking out a large part of their quick win work which is extremely valued by their business unit. They’ll now find themselves having to say no to things and really challenging that same unit.”

Join Grant Baker at the HR Transformation Summit 2014 where he’ll be delivering the presentation ‘Driving Culture And Enhancing Employee Engagement For Your HRSSC’.

Change is coming to HR… Are you ready?

Business transformation was previously driven by a focus on cost savings. It’s maturing at a rapid pace to focus on the customer, standardising functions where possible to drive efficiency and new service standards.

Any function involving transformation brings the people to the forefront – as a result, HR has become a strong voice in the boardroom.

Last week saw the return of APAC’s largest business transformation event. SSON’s Shared Services and Outsourcing Week really shone the spotlight on HR transformation throughout 2014 and into 2015.

Although we’ve seen a rapid change in the HR function of many organisations over recent years, there’s still plenty on the horizon. A few key areas stood out that I wanted to share with you. There’s also a practical look at some of the tips shared for the most common theme of the event… change management.

Process Standardisation

It’s going to be a tough balancing act between standardisation and specialisation – finding that balance is going to be critical to success.

Without standardisation it’s going to be nearly impossible to use KPIs to chart improvements as the HR function continues to become more strategic. It’s time to start thinking about:

  • How do you balance standardisation vs. specialisation?
  • What is the role of global process owners in standardisation?

Recruitment process

As it gets tougher and tougher to find the right skills to fit the right culture, organisations are starting to think outside the box when it comes to recruitment. With software engineering, energy and life sciences, mathematics, IT, and other technical skills in short supply, companies need to expand their sourcing and recruiting to a global level. That could mean locating work sites where the best talent can be found and building talent networks that attract people worldwide.

A couple of key questions are hot on the lips of many HR execs…

  • Should recruitment be kept in-house?
  • How do you select an RPO partner?

Culture

Long gone are the days when culture was just a nice add-on for organisations. Culture fit is going to have a big impact on recruitment; it’s no longer just about matching skills and salary expectations. This will no doubt be the make or break of many relationships for the organisations choosing to go down the outsourcing path for recruitment.

Enabling flexibility

There have been many studies demonstrating the focus on BYOD and flexible working. This is going to have a huge impact on HR, employees are going to get to choose how they want to work, and the business has to be agile enough to make it work.

Retention

Instead of making HR jobs obsolete, technologies will transform them, allowing HR professionals greater ability and more time to do their jobs and develop their skills improving recruitment and retention.

The key question: How can data be used to drive recruitment and retention practices?

A few of the case studies discussed how 99 per cent of the time on data has been spent looking for it, with 1 per cent left to analyse it and no time to action it. Data has some real potential to improve retention, offering insights to employees – something never before possible.. This won’t just be the fancy software; almost all speakers who have been through HR transformation spoke highly of employee surveys and implementing Employee Value Propositions (EVP).

Keeping momentum

The Hackett Group came armed with some statistics looking at where the focus was for continuous improvement over the next 12 months – talent management was a clear stand out.

Change management doesn’t end at installation; change leaders will have to embed the change principles into the day to day development of employees.

Change Management – The insiders tips.

Without doubt change management is still one of the biggest challenges any organisation faces. It’s clear to see why: process improvement, customer service, technology – it means nothing without happy staff driving it.

Here’s a summary of some key takeaways to consider in your organisation:

  • Drive it from the start. It’s a long term goal with the aim to be customer focused; all employees should respect and value each other and keep that front of mind.
  • Be firm. Don’t be afraid to send a message that if you’re not going to come on the journey for improvement, consider if it’s time to move on.
  • Culture sits next to strategy and operational excellence – build the values from the ground up and spend the time with the staff. All your service efforts are banking on it.
  • Don’t merely lift and shift when it comes to shared services or outsourcing – just because you’ve moved it, doesn’t mean the job is done. Take a look at exactly what the implication is for the business and the staff that work there. Change management and culture might be in the shared service centre, but what’s happening with the people left? The new challenge is to learn how to engage the shared service centre.
  • Be clear on the lines of reporting – your staff will get frustrated if they can’t get responses or outcomes.
  • Standardise where possible – simplify, standardise and leverage. Align the template to your own issues, take the methodology and link it to your own culture or environment. It’s about winning people’s hearts and minds and engaging them in what you’re doing. Using a template doesn’t always account for that – it’s just a starting point.
  • Look at what to use, when to use and how to use – there’s science to change management, and the art comes with how you use it.
  • Use analytics and insights – change can be hard to measure, but it’s not impossible. Use engagement surveys and indicators of satisfaction around sick leave, training, meeting participation and engagement rates. All can provide you with a benchmark to measure success – if that engagement goes up, you’re onto a winner.
  • Be flexible and adapt to your drivers – what drives your employees now might not drive them tomorrow.
  • Finally… Communicate, communicate, then communicate some more.