Spotify’s secret sauce of recruiting in hyper growth

When a company is scaling up its workforce at a fast rate, just as Spotify has done over the past 15 years, it means that every single employee needs to continually be in a recruiting frame of mind. And this only comes from a strong relationship between TA and the broader HR team, and across the entire business.

To be able to build depth within these partnerships enables the talent acquisition team to reach higher levels of efficiency with better hires, faster. This is increasingly relevant and necessary in a more widely distributed world, and especially in a world where talent competition is more fierce than ever before. 

Having a talent acquisition team that understands and works across the business, and a business where all employees understand the talent acquisition objectives and approach, means that the company can increase the flow of talent by working smarter (together). Not harder. 

It may sound logical, but many businesses don’t think about recruitment in this way. For us it’s a no-brainer. We whole-heartedly believe that there needs to be a refreshed way of approaching the practice of talent acquisition, across the industry.

Lay the foundations to accelerate faster

We always start by asking what we’re trying to solve for, as hyper growth can mean different things for different companies. We hear the term so often, but do we ever stop to think about what it actually means. Questioning a demand and really considering the impact and value that the talent acquisition strategy can bring to a business is necessary for alignment. For example, in some cases hyper growth means high volume and more high volume. While for other companies it’s much more about how you optimize for both volume and niche recruiting at the same time. 

We insist that our talent partners invest time with our key stakeholders so that together they can define their needs. This compass means that everyone is pulling in the same direction – an essential ingredient for the hyper growth journey.

This work lays the foundation of our talent strategy.  Relevant for any organization, but a lack of foundation and alignment on your objective (other than “hire lots of people, quickly”) is a show-stopper for any business aiming to hire at speed. Hyper growth tends to be driven by speed, however your ability to accelerate depends on the quality of the engine you’ve built.    

What is your talent acquisition capability?

Sticking with the road tripping theme, in order to know where you are going, you have to have a clear understanding of how you will start your journey. We know where we want to be (what we are solving for), but before we set off it’s important to check the car. Do we have enough gas, how is the brake fluid or is the battery fully charged? This is the time when we make an assessment of our team’s capability to support the business needs.  

At Spotify we take this quite literally: we evaluate what we consider to be the three pillars of everything we do within talent acquisition:

  1. The people on our TA team – how versatile are they?
  2. Our process – how flexible is it?
  3. Our recruiting infrastructure – does it also scale with the demand?

We’re not looking to carry out a performance review or evaluate with professional development in mind. This is much more about us challenging whether what we (as a talent acquisition team) did yesterday, still works today and whether it will work tomorrow. To be able to get to our end point, do we need to put some more air in the tires?

The secret to this art being successful is being brave. We are not afraid to challenge everything and we don’t hold back. We all understand that scaling means shooting for the moon, and so this bold approach has worked for us.

Aligning strategy to business goals

We believe that any talent acquisition strategy must absolutely 100% align to the goals and vision of our business. A lot of talent acquisition teams start and finish by aligning themselves to the jobs they are filling i.e type of engineer, location etc.  

We never stop there. To be a consultative thought-partner and best support your business, we recognise that our talent team needs to be fully embedded within the business. This is non-negotiable for us. 

How do we approach it? We craft our goals so they directly connect and impact the business’ goals. Why? Our connection and understanding of the business strengthens our capability while heightening the probability of placing the right people into the right roles. We see our talent acquisition team as business people who wear a recruiting hat, not the other way around.  

In addition, over time, our talent team has become more fluid with the business, so anticipating their needs and pivoting with them rather than afterwards has become much more intuitive, and is a great plus. 

People versus and Technology

There was once a time when technology’s role was feared. Will it replace people? What does that mean for me? The unknowns created anxieties.

However, this year digitization has accelerated, and many anxieties have settled. There’s more insight into the fact that when used properly in functions like talent acquisition, technology is an enabler of better experiences and results.  

When recruiting in hyper growth, investing in tech helps us to work more efficiently and effectively. For us, it forms the basis of an infrastructure that gives us time back. With that time, we focus on what only humans can do – creating that world class experience in an increasingly competitive talent market.

We never just throw tech at a challenge and expect it to be solved, but using it to streamline processes and making our pipeline more manageable, has been invaluable to us.

The relentless pursuit of accelerated talent acquisition

Hyper growth is unpredictable, similar to the ocean. The waves of hiring ebb and flow and the conditions change on a moment’s notice. A key takeaway is never allowing yourself to get comfortable. The secret is embracing it – ride out that wave and see where it takes you.

Staying naturally curious and being a student of the talent marketplace is a part of our secret sauce. We keep our eyes on trends, and never fear trying new things and accept when we’re wrong.   

It’s simple logic really – when your business is rapidly growing, you cannot allow yourself to get stuck. So those of you in this situation: build strong partnerships across HR and the business so that the whole company can take an all-in approach.

Recruitment should never be looked upon as “it’s their job”. It’s all of ours. That’s the key ingredient – and as you can see, it’s not so secret, it’s just logical. 

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