As we enter 2022, it’s impossible not to notice that the talent market is more competitive than it has ever been. In such a competitive market where top talent has many options, it’s important to reflect on what’s worked in the past, what hasn’t worked and why. This will help you to better understand the talent flows and to draw conclusions about what you want to continue doing, stop doing or to do differently.
At Spotify, we’re embarking on a big hiring year. As a company that’s been in hyper growth for some years already, our 2022 targets are ambitious even by our standards. And of course, it means things are likely to be challenging, but we are audacious, and embrace controlled chaos, igniting our adaptability along the way.
So, how are we approaching the task? By concentrating on the starting point. We’re certain we’ll learn as we go and are aware that we might land somewhere completely unexpected. That’s part of the fun in taking big bold steps forward. Like the popular saying goes, it’s not the destination – it’s the journey.
Our preparation started in 2021, positioning us to hit the ground running now, in January. When you have ambitious annual targets you don’t want to lose time with your preparation.
Our 2021 preparation involved three major elements:
1. People (the TA team who are doing the work),
2. Process (how we work), and
3. Infrastructure (supporting the people and processes).
When it comes to the people, we looked at historical productivity matched with performance expectations going forward, and the business need (the hiring goal). This provided us with an outline of where our gaps are and from there we put a game-plan in place to effectively source, hire and onboard new talent acquisition (TA) band members. Onboarding of the new TA band members was revamped to cover more content, more quickly, with the aim of the team understanding Spotify’s culture and by doing so becoming productive sooner.
Alongside our People Analytics team, we analyzed our interview stages (process) to align on what our business needs to commit to for both interviewing capacity and onboarding. Hundreds of band members were trained to become interviewers.
Lastly, we continued to evolve our TA tech stack (infrastructure) with the goal of working smarter vs harder and giving all teams more time to focus on the people and experience we are creating.
Hire Faster and Better The First Time
Hiring faster and better the first time should always be an objective, however it becomes even more important when you are hiring more and more after that. To put it simply, get it right the first time (quickly). Why? Logically speaking and quite bluntly, it’s less rework. If you are placing the wrong talent into your roles, it creates a negative experience for those people and for your business. This adds to attrition, and as a result, adds to the total number of hires with additional backfills you will have on your plate.
Assessments continue to gain traction in the TA world, and they will become increasingly important in 2022; they can improve your chances of hiring success while simultaneously helping you hire faster (keeping the bar high as you grow). They allow you to find your candidate’s superpowers, and if used correctly they can further remove bias from the process and provide an additional data point that leads to longer tenure. Getting assessments right can also mean coming to a decision faster, and providing a starting point for your new employees’ development, even before day one.
Skills based interviewing training is another tool to be more efficient at hiring faster and better the first time. If your interviewers are trained to ensure candidates are proficient in their field, it creates a more positive and meaningful experience for the candidates. The conclusion of whether they are offered the job or not is more objective versus subjective, leaving the candidate with a clear reason as to why, or why they were not selected.
The best tip I can give in this area is to invest the time to deep dive into your process and don’t be afraid to challenge the traditional ways you have interviewed and placed talent in the past. As an example, reverse engineer the process. Don’t paint by numbers. If you are overly methodical it can slow you down and cause you to lose awesome talent. Look at a given team and list out the skills needed, then start recruiting for those skills. As you identify them – hire them. Don’t wait for 1, 2 or 3 to happen first, just crack on with it and eventually, you will look up and your masterpiece is complete.
Separate Yourself From The Pack
With such high competition for talent, and in some cases a more level playing field than it’s been before, providing as unique a hiring experience as possible is a good tactic for differentiation. And let’s be honest, differentiation is essential in this environment. There is not just one well-established company aiming to hire hundreds or thousands of people this year – companies at all stages of maturation are looking to add talent to their workforce. This adds up to more competing interviews and offers.
To compete you should deploy unconventional experiences that will differentiate yourself. Think about further personalizing and enhancing every interaction with your candidates. Partner with your internal brand experts to execute communication strategies that create meaningful and lasting connections. Leverage any insights you have (whether that’s through your careers site, chatbots or social media interactions) to drive content creation for candidates that better nurture your pipeline. This will increase engagement with both passive and active prospects. Taking these steps will decrease your candidate withdrawal rate and strengthen your pipeline of engaged talent.
TA Tech Stack
Spoiler alert – you will never be at your best if you only invest in the people and the process. Your infrastructure matters. A lot.
If used properly, your TA tech stack can be a competitive differentiator. Strengthen your capability to better scout the workforce (enabled by technology) and focus on the user experience. You should consider implementing tools such as candidate resource management (CRMs) that scale your sourcing efforts and strengthen relationships between candidates and recruiters. This will give you a holistic view into your talent pool to more seamlessly discover candidates across all of your recruitment channels.
Also, look at how your team currently works and identify opportunities to automate where possible. Automated workflows will simplify your processes, in a busy world help ensure recruiters and hiring managers are taking the right actions with the right candidates at the right time.
Strategic Diversity Recruitment
Strengthen recruitment through diversity. We’ve seen a lot of companies make progress, investing in inclusive hiring initiatives. Let’s all challenge ourselves to take those results from good to great. No matter how high targets are and how tough competition is, diverse recruiting is something that absolutely, 100%, must not take a back seat.
Execute strategies to recruit where diversity thrives, making inclusive hiring itself the competitive advantage. Partner with your Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging teams to identify and initiate top of funnel partnerships that expand your reach to connect with diverse communities of talent. Accelerate your talent mapping exercises to support strategic decisions on where you source and place talent.
There is often chatter about narrow talent pools. We create narrow talent pools. The talent exists – it’s up to us to put ourselves in front of that talent wherever they may be around the globe.
Never stop learning and keep striving to be better, especially as you grow your teams that are on the front line driving the work.
Don’t Forget to Have Fun
All of this can seem daunting. Does more hiring and more competition just mean more stress? Only if you allow it to. I am a huge sports fan. It doesn’t matter what the sport is – I love observing how teams work together to achieve a common goal and how that common goal brings those people together. And watching these teams highlights that adversity challenges us and acts as a mirror, showing us our true character as a team. Essentially, pressure defines us.
As I reflect on winning teams I’ve watched over the years, one constant always stands out. We should appreciate that the individuals in the teams are skilled, they work hard, they are focused – that is all important. However, they are also having fun – they are enjoying the ride together.
Team chemistry is important and often underrated. So, as we carry out this next year the challenge is real, and we appreciate that a big hiring year will be no small feat, but we remind ourselves why we continue to hire with such speed at volume – we are doing well and we are continuing to grow. And what a fantastic position to be in.
We also remind ourselves and each other not to take ourselves too seriously and to enjoy the ride with the people to our left and right. And that’s how we will meet our targets, and love our work too. It’s challenging, it’s undefinable, but bring it! Happy hiring everyone!