Image created by Yasmine Sedky (@yazsedky).
“Growth hacking is about running smart experiments to drive growth within your business.” – Sean Ellis
If you’re reading this, you’re probably familiar with the term “growth hacking”, which seems to be everywhere at the moment. Everyone I meet is a growth hacker all of a sudden. But despite a little bit of froth on the milkshake, the hype is very real and it’s here to stay. Here’s why.
First, people will do almost anything to grow their business. For a small business or startup, growth is the difference between life and death.
Second, it’s in our nature to experiment. We try different foods until we figure out what we like and we date different people until we find “the one”. By and large we live life through trial and error and we learn through our experiences.
Experimenting across different traction channels or, in “human language”, trying to find customers in different ways, is a smart way to drive growth. It’s time to take this one step further and create a culture of experimentation by applying a “growth (hacking) mindset throughout the entire business.
The obvious place to start is people – building and growing teams – because there is no better growth engine than a great team.
It’s A People Game
“Great vision without great people is irrelevant.” – Jim Collins
Ask any investor about the first thing they look for when making an investment decision. It’s the team.
Ask any lender what will always be a deal breaker, regardless of cash flow quality. They’ll say management.
What’s the single biggest factor in job satisfaction? Quality of co-workers.
We’re just humans building products for other humans, either to ease pain or give pleasure. Everything else is a means to an end.
Yet, while we use words like “obsessed” and evangelist” about getting customers, we don’t tend to think of hiring people in that way. We use very sophisticated methods to find and win customers but tend to be stuck in neutral when it comes to building teams.
At Vervoe, we’re changing that.
Just like experiments have proven to drive growth, they will also help you hack hiring. You just need to cast aside any long-held views and embrace experimentation.
Here are four dead simple ways to apply a growth (hacking) mindset to hiring and immediately make your business more valuable.
Four Easy Hiring Hacks You Should Start Using
Hiring Hack #1: Ditch the Résumé
Ditch the résumé. Résumés are not required to make a hiring decision.
“I think, to me, reality is better than being fake.” – Ice Cube
Hypothesis: Résumés are not required to make a hiring decision.
Still asking candidates for résumés? Go résumé-free for one role.
Résumés are typically used to decide who to interview. Instead, don’t decide, just give everyone a chance. Sound like a waste of time? Actually, it’s faster if you use automated interviews.
This delays the first impression we form about people to after we see them perform. It allows us to focus on what people can do and who they really are, as opposed to what they’ve done previously, which school they went to or how weird their name sounds. Because, honestly, who cares about that stuff.
After you pick the best performers in the interviews, go over their backgrounds and ask yourself whether you would have picked those people out of the résumé pile. Then go over the ones you rejected and see if any of them have fancy résumés that would have made you choose them for an interview.
Hiring Hack #2: Don’t Outsource Your Most Sacred Activity
Don’t outsource your more sacred activity.
“Social media is the ultimate equalizer. It gives a voice and a platform to anyone willing to engage.” – Amy Jo Martin
Hypothesis: There is no value in outsourcing your recruitment.
Do you use a recruitment agency or a headhunter? We’re going to put an end to that and see if it makes any difference.
External recruiters, like most brokers, are the product of information asymmetry. You assume that they have access to better information than you so you pay for that information.
But the internet has made the world flat, we just need to know where to look and how to make it easy for people to find us. You can share your job ad on every social network and ask your own personal and professional network to refer people. Reaching people has never been easier.
If you incorporate hiring hack #1, you won’t need to worry about deciding who to interview, a service traditionally performed by recruitment agencies. All you need to do is get your job in front of enough eyeballs, which is pure marketing.
Now, here’s the real hack. Work out the commission you would have paid the recruitment agency. Let’s say it’s a 20% fee and the role pays $100,000. Now spend every cent of the $20,000 you saved on promoting your job on every major job board, industry board and social network.
Is it money well spent? How many applicants did you get? What about for $2,000? What about for $200?
Sound insane spending that much money to get access to candidates who will all automatically be interviewed anyway? There’s your answer.
Hiring Hack #3: Expert Questions Are Better Than Yours
Expert questions are better than yours.
“The art and science of asking questions is the source of all knowledge.” – Thomas Berger
Hypothesis: Other people ask better interview questions than you.
If you’re running a business, there is a good chance you’ll have to hire someone into a role you’re not an expert in.
Next time you’re trying to hire someone, use interview questions written by an expert instead of your own. To learn more about how to hire for a role you’re not an expert in, read this.
If you want to do it all online, you can easily choose an interview script from Vervoe’s library.
But the concept is equally applicable offline. Call a friend who’s an expert and pick their brain on how they would hire for the role. Then create a process that aligns with the expert’s recommendation. If the expert thinks the best way to hire a chef is to spend a day in the kitchen together, then that’s what you should do. Speaking of cooking, here’s an omelette story that illustrates this exact point.
You can A/B test within the role itself by randomly interviewing half the candidates using your own questions and half using an expert’s. But I suspect the benefits will be evident even before candidates do the interviews. You’ll know from the quality of the questions whether the expert is improving your approach.
Hiring Hack #4: Don’t Ask People to Fit In
Don’t ask people to fit in – cultural fit is overrated.
“Culture is the widening of the mind and of the spirit.” – Jawaharlal Nehru
Hypothesis: Cultural fit is overrated.
Talking about your company’s vision, values and culture in your job description is a great way to proactively qualify candidates.
However, instead of asking people to fit in with your culture, look for people who will add to your culture. Ask for cultural contribution and look for people who can improve your team’s cultural fitness.
The result of this experiment can only be verified after several months of working together. But you’ll see glimpses during the hiring journey. Encourage candidates to tell you what they’ll be bringing to the table. Get creative with your interview questions. And more of all, be open to being challenged.
Time to Start Experimenting
What you do with the results of each experiment is up to you. But I guarantee you’ll learn a lot about hiring and gain insight into the mindset of your candidates, and perhaps even your own.
Let me know how it goes.