This is a guest post by Igor Gorbatko, co-founder at Growth Engineers, a company helping businesses hire full-time and freelance growth marketing talent. In this post, Igor discusses best practices for attracting and retaining top marketing talent.
We see startups struggling with hiring growth marketing talent all the time.
Competing with larger and better-funded businesses for top growth talent isn’t easy, and hard hiring decisions often have to be made. With every business fishing in the same marketing talent pool, how can a company without a big brand or deep pockets attract the best candidates?
Many startups, especially those that have achieved product/market fit and raised funding, go into the recruiting process mistakenly assuming that everyone would be excited to work there.
But let’s face it: growth marketers you would love to hire have a ton of opportunities coming their way.
There are established companies and other startups out there just like yours vying for their services, so you will have a hard time attracting top growth talent if you can’t differentiate yourself in the market. It is essential to form a unique value proposition to potential candidates and communicate it in a way that compels them to answer your call.
So how can you make your opportunity stand out?
Throwing more money and benefits at the candidate is not really an option because you still won’t be able to match the packages that larger companies are offering.
Increasing the incentive component or the equity stake as part of your offer can help, but it’s unlikely it’ll win the day because financial compensation is only a piece of the puzzle.
Forget about throwing lavish perks at the candidates – they are overrated. In fact, being lean and not wasting money could be a strategic advantage for you because smart growth marketers don’t want to work for companies with a massive burn rate that may go out of business in six months.
As a startup, your biggest competitive advantage in the hiring process lies in all the intangibles and non-monetary benefits that make your company and the role you are offering a must-grab opportunity for top talent.
Run your recruiting process just like you would your marketing: go both inbound and outbound.
Inbound is a good way to promote your employer brand at scale and ensure that great candidates can easily discover you. Research has proven that organizations that invest in employer branding are three times more likely to make a quality hire.
Most proven growth marketers are passive, though, so you have to go outbound to convince them that this is the best opportunity out there. Whether it’s your employer brand or role-specific attributes, here are the things that you want to highlight in the selling process in order to break through the noise and get great growth talent in the door.
When growth marketers consider new opportunities, quality of the team often plays the most important role. In the words of Brian Balfour:
Studies have shown the two most important factors people consider when deciding on a place of employment are actually team and culture. Always sell your team first, your culture second, and your product and vision last.
Great talent wants to work with other great talent, so you have little chance of hiring a great growth marketer if you don’t have an outstanding team.
If you have been deliberate about bringing A+ players on board up to this point, you have a tremendous asset that gives you an advantage in the hiring process. Not only will they help make your employer brand more attractive, they can pull the best people from their network to join you.
What else makes for a strong team that gets the best results and attracts the best people?
Diversity of excellence.
Having a talented team of people who bring different perspectives to the table gives you an edge in business and creates a more engaging work environment.
It is not surprising that, according to Glassdoor, 67 percent of job seekers say that a diverse workforce is an important factor when evaluating companies and job offers.
It’s crucial to manage the external perception of your team. Every team is now visible through LinkedIn and your website, so make sure their profiles shine and it is easy for interested candidates to understand what a high-performance team they would be joining.
Culture & Values
To attract A-level growth talent on your team you need to have a great culture they can relate to.
What makes your company a great place to work? Don’t look for the right answer. Be genuine about who you are and what you stand for.
Scrappiness, integrity, openness, collaboration are all too often cited culture attributes at a startup. And work/life balance is an elusive concept for an early growth company. Dig deeper to give potential candidates good reasons to consider your opportunity.
Is your company the kind of place where people are encouraged to challenge the status quo and take intelligent risks? Or maybe you have embraced transparency to the degree of Buffer to foster trust with your customers and employees? Or do you believe in causes bigger than yourself and give back through community outreach?
Make sure that values are not just words – your values must be evangelized from the top and you need to embody them in every aspect of your business. If you don’t, it’ll quickly become apparent, leading to employee turnover and a bad buzz. As David Rose, author of The Startup Checklist, points out:
For a company to survive and thrive, its culture needs to be authentic, universal, and consistent.
Put your culture and values front and center as you communicate with the outside world. Blogs, videos, slide decks, and other forms of content help you get your story out there.
Employee testimonials, past and present, also provide emotional color and insights for those growth marketers that may be considering your company as a future employer.
Showcasing your culture has the added benefit of creating a built-in filter for every hire, enabling those that don’t fit with your values to self-select out of your hiring process.
Hiring people aligned with your values increases your chances of retaining them and is foundational to the long-term success of your business.
A top-notch growth marketer wants to work on a business that is tapping into a large addressable market and can reach scale, so highlight the market opportunity. Is this something where they can see themselves spending the next few years scaling and growing professionally with the business?
What if your industry isn’t cutting edge and you are not doing artificial intelligence, machine learning, or virtual reality, for example? It doesn’t have to be the latest trend in tech to be interesting. Outline your vision for how you want to change the industry you are in and the growth potential.
Mission and Purpose
Today’s growth professionals increasingly value the “why” behind what the company does. They want to know that they will be doing something meaningful, innovative, and exciting. They want to know they’ll make a real impact with the work they do for your company.
Showcase how your company is making a difference to the world and why people are a part of your team. Getting a compelling narrative out there will help you attract the right candidates who share your purpose and believe in your mission.
You have a much better chance of hiring your dream growth marketer if your mission and purpose are genuine and resonate with a potential hire. And if you’re able to drive that passion, it becomes more than just a job for a hire. That is exactly what you want when bringing growth talent — or any talent for that matter — on your team.
A stand-out employer brand is also about the quality of your leadership team. Having a visible, charismatic founder that creates a strong following in the community can create a multiplier effect on your hiring process. The same goes for the rest of the leadership structure, especially on the marketing side.
It becomes much easier to attract top growth talent because the candidates will know who they are going to be aligning themselves with. And customers start looking at your company as a place where they would love to work as well, as Russell Brunson of ClickFunnels attests to in this interview.
The trend towards flexible work is defining today’s workplace. Many talented growth marketers would trade higher compensation for more autonomy and flexibility. Companies that have adopted remote culture, such as Automattic, InVision, and Zapier, use this advantage as much as possible to attract and retain top-tier growth talent.
Decide whether remote is the right approach for you. Lots of great companies have proven that remote growth marketers can work successfully if you hire the right type of person, set up the right processes, and put an extra effort into communication.
Remote gives you increased optionality in terms of seeking out the type of passionate growth talent that fits your needs, but if no one else on your team works remotely, this is probably not a good idea.
If you are not able to offer full-time remote work, think about other flexible options. Take Creed Interactive, a web design and development agency out of St. Paul, Minnesota. It structured its weekly schedule so that on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday its staff can work remotely and can immerse themselves in work that requires deep thinking.
Role & Career Path
Talented people want to advance in their careers and top growth marketers are no exception. If they don’t see a path to growth and development in the role you are offering, they won’t be interested in joining you.
How do you get a talented growth marketer excited about your role? By challenging them and by giving them an opportunity to solve bigger problems than they have in the past.
Studies have shown that 70% of today’s workforce is not engaged at work. This usually happens when things become too easy and monotonous.
So, when you’re reaching out to a growth marketer with a position at your company, find out what challenges they are looking for and what gaps in their experience they are looking to fill. If you tailor the position to meet those interests, it’ll be easier for you to get them on board.
What are those things? Opportunity to own your growth strategy and execution and having an appropriate budget and full responsibility for it are some of the things that a growth marketer who wants to make a big impact will be looking for.
To help people achieve their goals and grow professionally you need to invest in them. Companies that carve out resources for professional development reap long-term dividends in the form of higher employee retention.
And with growth marketers in particular, it is absolutely necessary to set budget aside for workshops, conferences, and other learning formats to help them hone their skillset and stay up to date on the latest developments in the space.
Failure to address this area in your hiring process will deter strong candidates.
Entice your potential growth marketing hires with an opportunity to work on side projects during work hours. Having a playground for out-of-the-box ideas enables your growth talent to nurture their curiosities and may lead to valuable discoveries on the product or marketing front.
Experimenting with new ideas and techniques can have a long-term positive effect on the company and its ability to deliver greater value to customers. It also enables growth talent to grow professionally and advance thought leadership to the industry.
Top growth talent is hard to attract and even harder to keep. Even before you are out there looking to hire a growth marketer, be intentional about building a company that the ideal growth marketer would be attracted to. This starts with a strong culture, high-quality team, and a work environment that enables creativity, managed risk-taking, and professional development.
When you are on the hunt for a growth marketer, you need to sell your company just as much as the role. If you have a strong and visible employer brand and a role where a talented growth marketer can see themselves making an impact and developing, you have an opportunity to compete with the best of the best for top growth talent.
Grow your business without the guesswork.