Herson Santos and Takuya Hirata from Thrillworks.
Herson Santos and Takuya Hirata from Thrillworks.
Herson Santos and Takuya Hirata from Thrillworks.
Chris Madge, People Operations Manager in Human Resources.

Jan 13

Chris Madge

Jan 13, 2024

Lessons learned from the 2021-2023 hiring frenzy

It’s not exactly a “hot take” to say that 2021 to early 2023 was an absolutely wild recruiting market as companies aggressively expanded their teams in response to a white-hot economy. It spurred the evolution of in-house recruitment methods and the creation of many boutique recruitment firms ready to assist companies with these high hiring demands. Here at Thrillworks, a dynamic digital acceleration partner, we were not immune to this frenzy, and grappled with a more intense “war for talent,” even quicker hiring, and balancing business and hiring manager needs.

War for Talent

The war for talent has always been around. However, it intensified immensely as large corporations began providing well-above-market salaries and perks to attract new talent, and start-ups took advantage of record low interest rates to build their dream teams. This can build a team quickly, but not necessarily one that will fit the organization’s mission and goals. So, we focused on emphasizing our culture, values and environment to attract the right people. Ensuring we found people that fit with a highly collaborative culture who would be highly supportive of one another was key. It was easier to do this when we ensured our interview process was partly values-focused, making sure to hit on Thrillworks’ values of unity, courage, curiosity, and passion. The environment we worked in was key, and ensuring people had worked in, or preferred to work in a smaller, start-up-like environment that focused on exciting, life-changing projects was key to ensure those who joined our team fit in.

Speed of Hiring

There has always been a need for speed in hiring but not to the fever pitch it got to during this time. There were many stories on LinkedIn and in my professional circles of people having a screening call on Monday, signing an agreement on Friday, and even some starting on the following Monday. Can someone be properly vetted in this time period? Maybe, but your processes have to be optimized and adapted, not just cut or rushed. At Thrillworks, we prioritized the meticulous planning of the process, crafting the employee profile, and creating the recruitment journey. This, along with combining interviews with hiring managers and other members of the hiring team led to higher quality interviews. This way, all major decision-makers are involved together, able to play off of each other’s questions, and most importantly strengthen each other’s perception of a candidate by covering each other’s blind spots on skills and experiences.

The other important aspect of this was of course ensuring times were blocked off ahead of time so that we knew everyone would be available for the interview. Obviously, there were times when the candidate was unable to interview at those times, but these were few and far between. This was an essential step to managing the time of busy hiring managers and decision-makers for roles.

Balancing Hiring Needs with Hiring Manger’s Expectations

Since the dawn of time this has been the struggle between recruiters and hiring managers. I imagine in the earliest days of humans some poor soul was tasked with finding a stone toolmaker who could expertly craft spearheads and meat-cutters after only having two years of experience. With more promises to deliver and increased pressure to build teams quickly, finding the perfect candidate became crucial in a condensed timeframe. Thrillworks addressed this by ensuring our recruiters, in-house and external, became true recruitment partners to hiring managers. In-depth knowledge of roles, required skills, and a keen understanding of the existing team allowed for informed conversations and the ability to push back respectfully when necessary. This partnership approach enabled the discovery that the ideal candidate might already be within the organization, expediting the hiring process, or allowed us to craft a plan to address an incoming employee’s areas of improvement in the short-term.

Looking Ahead

I am unsure what will happen in 2024, but I find it highly unlikely that things will be as intense as they were before. However, the lessons we learned during this time will still be applied to our practices moving forward for when things inevitably heat up, making us prepared to find highly talented, perfect fits for our Thrillworks team!

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