Hiring as a Transformation Strategy

Celeste O’Brien
Celeste O’Brien
Aug 18, 2022

You’re in the process of evolving. Perhaps you have a new brand name, updated values, changes in strategic direction, or an INCREDIBLE, inspiring, clear new vision. As a leader who’s been part of creating the new version of the company all along, you’re totally bought in. You’re extraordinarily excited. And yet, you’re a bit unsure of how to bring the rest of the organization along. One of the best places to start is with hiring your newest (and even yet-to-be-hired) employees.

Get your head in the hiring game

Hiring is one of the most overlooked, and yet most powerful, elements of transforming your company. Why? Because inviting your existing team to join you in ushering in the next era of your business is HARD! Necessary, but a longer game. You have some people who are wired to quickly accept and implement change. You have some people who will resist or even sabotage. And then you have those who are apathetic, and nothing you say or do will get them on board.

With new employees, you have a clean slate. The only company they know is the one that’s described and demonstrated to them during the hiring process. However, you’ve got to put in the work to make sure their experience matches the company you’re becoming. Many leaders we work with fail to see the connection between successful transformation and employee attraction and hiring.

Won’t HR feel like you’re stepping on their toes? Possibly, but it’s your job to make this feel like a team effort. Transformation requires extraordinary creative collaboration, and the best ideas can and should come from anywhere in your organization. When you’re looking for results you haven’t been able to achieve before, it’s time to take action you haven’t taken before. That goes for the rest of your team, too. Hopefully you have the level of trust needed to shake things up a bit, and that begins with spending some time with the person in charge of hiring.

Make sure the human accountable for hiring “gets the vision.”

Prospective employees are prioritizing culture (which includes vision) in their career search, so they have to be sold on what you’re trying to create in order to consider making a leap. The good news is, many will prioritize this over money, so it’s an extraordinarily powerful strategy.

So, does the person who does the hiring know your vision? Do they believe it? Can they describe it in a clear and compelling manner?If the answer is no, it’s time to get creative. How can you earn their buyin? And if you believe they are motivated to come along with you, consider getting more actively involved in hiring until they’re comfortable embodying the future. Consider that YOU, as the person clearest on the future, might potentially be the best person to be the first touch with certain prospective new hires, until your lead hiring manager can describe the vision as well as you can. If you don’t believe they’ll be bought in, you may have a new number-one hiring priority.

Dive in on the hiring experience.

Hiring experience is extraordinarily important. Take a look at these statistics from Zippia for a quick deep dive into all the things that can get between you and the right next hires. For example, did you know that 79% of candidates use social media when job searching, or that 40% of job seekers drop out due to poor first interaction?

How are prospective employees learning about your company? Is the information they’re getting in alignment with the future vision? What kind of impression do you think they’re getting when they look up your company online? No matter what is going on in your company today, many people get excited by the prospect of helping turn things around. They are willing to deal with short-term pain in order to feel part of something bigger. You can sell them on your company’s potential (as long as you are willing to follow through at every level), and their role in helping reach it.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Look for opportunities to shift brand messaging to help reflect your vision for what’s to come. Take a look at your company’s online presence, especially what you can control. The hiring page on your website, your LinkedIn page, the landing page of your applicant tracking system, if you have one. Are there hints of the future version of your company? Would a person feel excited, or self-identify as a fit, from looking at your online content?
  • Write job descriptions that are accurate and inspiring. Look at your job descriptions. If you were reading this description, would you feel compelled to apply? Would the person you’re looking for start to sense the alignment between their needs (skills, experience, and personal goals), and the listed needs of your company (the role you need fulfilled)? If not, make some edits.
  • Find out what happens during your company’s hiring process, and look for opportunities to help candidates feel and experience the type of company you want to become. Sometimes the “marketing” is great, the job descriptions are great, and then applicants get bogged down in the process. Perhaps their first contact is culturally misaligned. Perhaps they don’t get the proper amount of communication throughout the process. Perhaps the process is so long, they can only imagine what kind of cumbersome bureaucracy may await them when they actually start their first day.

Be open-minded about your talent

When you’re engaged in a transformation effort (or really, at any cycle in your business!), you need great people. You can’t take a single step forward without them. When considering new talent to meet your hiring needs, adopt the attitude that you WILL find the right-fit talent. Even if you can’t pay top dollar, the right people for you are out there. Many leaders we talk to express a defeatist attitude before they even try to find the “needle in the haystack.” The truth is, the only guarantee you won’t find them is if you don’t even try.

  • Write down what kinds of competencies the person needs, not just skills and experience. Ideally this is also in the job description. But, once you confirm skills and experience, make sure you spend time in the hiring process looking for evidence of what is most important for you. For me, I always wanted to make sure they had their own compelling reason for applying for this particular job, at this particular company. I wanted to see evidence of curiosity - what questions did they have about the job and the company? I wanted to see evidence of creativity and drive in overcoming obstacles. And that evidence could be found not just in work experience, but in educational, volunteer, and personal experience as well. This leads me to my next point.
  • Many people have a track record of success and accomplishment that is hard to put on a resume, or would never show up there. Remember, a drive to achieve shows up in many ways, not just at work. If a candidate’s resume meets the minimum bar you’ve set, and you decide to take a call with them, prod around for what they’re truly passionate about. Find out how they tackle obstacles in their life. For example, I once spoke to a candidate who was doing pretty standard operational tasks at work, and didn’t have many “work achievements.” But I got into a conversation with her about her hobbies and found out she enjoyed “life hacks.” I learned more about how she was optimizing her daily life, reading articles and watching videos, and setting goals for herself to achieve. She didn’t have a role where she was able to do that in her work, but I was 100% certain she’d bring that skill set to my company. And she absolutely did.

There are so many nuances to hiring, and to empowering your existing team to support your transformation effort. Hopefully, you’ve seen at least one idea you hadn’t previously considered. Hopefully, you’ve got one new tactic to try that can move the needle for you. Did anything in this article pique your interest in particular? Email me - I’d love to talk about it!

Discover More Viewpoints

By clicking “Accept”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.
Cookie Icon
Pointing up lcon