SmartRecruiters Hiring Success Journal

Tough Questions: What Companies Need to Ask to Get Serious About Scaling

Growing organizations sustainably starts with trade-off choices. Here’s how one TA consultant builds forward-facing recruitment strategies that mean growth for years to come.

Executive leadership make important business decisions every day, but one of the most critical moments for any organization is deciding when and how to grow as a company. The focus on sales and financial growth may feel like top priority, but a solid foundation of growth culture, a strong team, strategic processes are what give organizations the means to scale successfully. Of course, a little help from experts is always useful, which is where Anna Brandt, a 12-year recruiting veteran, steps in to guide businesses as they expand.

Brandt’s primary focus is how to make strategic TA a central tenet of business growth, and how to prepare recruitment teams to navigate this transition. “Everything that recruiters pride themselves on will be automated soon,” says Brandt. “The real strategic and impactful discussions on how to grow the team is what every recruiter needs to start doing to stay in this field.”

In 2017, Brandt launched her own consultancy, Brandt Talent Solutions, and currently works with Backbase and N26, two major players in fintech. Before that, she worked across multiple industries, running the gamut from information technology at TomTom to e-commerce at Zalando.

Brandt’s experience may be varied, but the one constant has been helping tech organizations scale, whether by coaching global recruitment leaders, offering workshops and training, or providing interim management during this transition. To speak more about the processes that allow companies to grow in a sustainable way, beginning with the requisite questions that align company leadership, business objectives, and your TA strategy, we invited Anna Brandt to speak at our upcoming Hiring Success 18 EU conference. Read on to learn more about her session and the importance of making your recruiting function a top-down process.

Can you speak more about your session talk?

I want to focus on the criteria needed to grow as an organization. Namely, how you align the board with a TA strategy, and what it takes to grow your organization successfully. This starts with asking questions like: What does it take to drive successful TA strategy on the senior level? What tradeoffs do businesses need to make in order to grow fast?

You’ve made several leaps—from information technology to ecommerce to fintech—what kinds of TA strategies remain successful across different industries?

What TomTom, Backbase, Zalando, and N26 have in common is the general strategy of what it takes to grow very rapidly in a complex market. Each of these companies makes decisions on how much time to spend on production—the core of the business—versus growth of the business. Every hour you spend on delivery of product is an hour you don’t spend on your organization’s capital growth.

Why is it important to align everyone on the company’s TA strategy?

When the management team, the board, and company founders understand the time and effort it takes for organizations to hire the best people, that is a great starting point. If that’s not happening you will always negotiate with individuals on time spent on recruitment versus production, and you’re not going to be successful. The decision to make recruitment a priority is a top-down process.

When designing a TA program, what is involved and how do you start?

The first step is to understand the business strategy, as this will be leading your people growth strategy. Then you need to ask the right questions so the right decisions are being made. In many cases, questions like — When do you need which people? What happens if you don’t find them? What is the biggest tradeoff you are willing to make to find them? — are not being asked.

There are often pain points around hiring, mostly because the right questions were not asked at the outset. Strategic TA that actually drives business growth is about asking what would you like to achieve from the business side—what are the business objectives—and how do we make sure that the recruitment plan or TA strategy will support the delivery of those objectives? It sounds simple but it doesn’t happen a lot of the time.

How important is building culture in this process?

Forward-thinking organizations ask “Is the culture that exists right now the culture that will serve our growth and output?” If your business has ways of working, decision-making processes, or strategies that don’t serve the growth of your organization, or where you want to be, you need to change it right at the start. Otherwise, you will hire people who fit into your current culture and not the culture you want to establish to be successful.

Scott Wardell