Ready to jump on board the growth hacking train? These days, plenty of smart companies are bringing on growth-oriented individuals in the hopes of achieving the same type of rapid success as companies like AirBNB, Dropbox and Square.
But before you dive into growth hacking with a new hire, there are a number of different things you’ll want to consider. Making sure that you’ve thought through the role a growth hacker will play in your organization, as well as how you’ll find the right candidate for your specific needs, before you begin the hiring process will ensure a successful fit from the start. Here’s everything you need to know to find and hire a growth hacker:
Consider your company’s needs carefully
Every company is different – which means that one of the worst things you could do when you begin your candidate search is to simply pick the nicest looking resume that says “growth hacker” as your new hire. Let me give you an example that shows why that’s a bad idea…
Right now, I’m working with a new startup called Bridge.US that aims to revolutionize the immigration process. Because we’re young and because the product we offer is somewhat complex, the challenges facing our organization are improving initial brand recognition and educating consumers on what our service has to offer. These needs are substantially different than, say, those at my former company – Single Grain – a more established agency whose primary needs are more likely new customer acquisition and churn rate management.
If we hired a growth hacker who specializes in reducing churn at Bridge.US, we’d be wasting his skills from the start, as that particular metric isn’t as meaningful to our company at this stage in our growth. In the same way, hiring a growth hacker with more of a branding background at Single Grain might lead to some growth, but wouldn’t produce as significant a result as hiring somebody better aligned with the company’s needs.
Only you know what your company needs to grow, so take the time to ask yourself the following questions before you post your first job listing for a new growth hacker:
- What stage of growth is our company currently in?
- What particular metrics would lead to the most growth for our company?
- How exactly do we expect a growth hacker to improve our business’s results?
- How would we determine the “success” of a growth hacker’s work?
- What does sustainable (versus unsustainable) growth look like for our company?
- What weaknesses does our company have that a growth hacker could help address?
Another thing you’ll want to consider is the specific employment structure under which you want to hire a growth hacker. Growth hackers work in a number of different ways, including as full-time, regular employees hired for an indeterminate amount of time or on a contract or consulting basis for a set period. These two distinct groups may have vastly different expectations of working environments, so be sure to think through whether you need somebody in the office from 8-5 every day or if you’re open to the more flexible style preferred by most consultants.
Really, there’s no universally “right” or “wrong” type of growth hacker. What matters is that the person you ultimately hire is the right fit for your company, based on your unique needs and expectations.
Consider new applicant sources
When it comes to hiring the candidate that will best meet the needs you identified, you can always post your growth hacker job posting to traditional sources like Monster.com, Craigslist or local job boards. But because growth hacking is such a niche industry, you might have better luck with the following sources:
- Twitter – Look for people whose tweets mention growth hacking and follow top influencers who have growth hacker lists. Engage these people with casual conversations before reaching out to see if employment might be an option.
- Growthhackers.com – Follow the top submitters to this popular site and then engage with them on Twitter using the guidelines above.
- LinkedIn – Use LinkedIn’s search features to find people who identify themselves as growth hackers or that list growth hacking as a skill. Just be careful to do your due diligence on these candidates, as the phrase “growth hacking” tends to be overused on the site.
- Local startup or marketing meetup events – There’s no substitute for meeting people in real life, so make it a point to get out and engage with your local community to find potential candidates.
Using these strategies might help find your next growth hacking employee, but keep in mind that you might also have luck searching out established hackers to hire on a consulting basis. Doing so could give you the opportunity to test a candidate – or the growth hacking process in general – before committing to it fully at your company.
Look for a proven track record
Now that you have a better feel for the type of growth you’d like to achieve and how a growth hacker might fit into that picture, you can begin the hiring process by interviewing any interesting candidates you find. But how do you separate the wheat from the chaff?
Easy – look for a proven track record.
When you evaluate a growth hacker candidate, numbers are just about the only thing that matters. If, for example, you’re looking for an employee to help manage your company’s churn rate, narrow down the applications you receive by first considering those who state on their resumes that they’ve reduced this metric for other companies by a particular percentage. Or, if you’re looking for a candidate to help you increase sign-ups, look for growth hackers that claim this specific type of experience on their applications.
Certainly, you’ll want to follow up on any claims made, as well as be wary of those that seem unrealistically high. Any growth hacker worth his salt will be open to providing the proof you need to be sure he’s legit, so don’t be afraid to ask for references from past employers who can validate his numbers. Doing your due diligence is important with every new hire, though it’s especially critical in the case of growth hackers, who will have extensive access to your company’s business systems and processes.
Ask for referrals
As the idea of growth hacking continues to take hold within the business world, you shouldn’t have any trouble attracting applicants or finding consultants for this type of position. But if, for some reason, your normal job posting strategies are coming up empty, one of the best ways to find the growth hacking candidate that’s right for you is to ask fellow business owners for referrals.
Of course, you’ll want to keep in mind that the best referrals will come from companies in circumstances similar to your own. As discussed above, “growth hacking” is not a universal skill set. Therefore, taking recommendations from companies with significantly different needs and objectives may not result in qualified candidates for your own growth hacking initiatives.
Set very clear expectations
If you took the time to carefully map out your own company’s needs, you should have a pretty good idea of how a growth hacker will fit into your organization (although you’ll certainly want to remain open to any ideas qualified candidates bring to the table). So as you begin to interview potential new hires – whether traditional applicants, consultants you’ve tracked down or referrals – make it a point to set clear expectations from the start.
For example, if you have set metrics goals or timelines in mind, share them during the interview process. Doing so helps you to identify any mismatches between a given candidate’s skills and how you expect the work to proceed. Remember, prospective growth hackers that look great on paper might still be the wrong fit for your company, based on personality, preferred working style or ability to meet stated objectives. By being upfront about your expectations in your interviews, you’ll weed out these poor fits before you invest in hiring and onboarding them!
Finally, consider that the right solution for your company’s needs might not be a single growth hacking individual, but a team of people – made up of either existing employees or new hires – who are able to identify and improve multiple pathways of growth. You may even have an employee in house already who has the insight and skills needed to transition into more of a growth hacking role – but you won’t know unless you ask around!
“Growth hacking” isn’t a singular, defined process, which means that there’s no one process that can be used to find and hire a growth hacker for your company. Keeping all of the above principles in mind as you begin your search will ensure that your ultimate goals of quick and affordable growth are successful.