4 Lessons From the Senior HR Manager of a Hyper-Growth Startup

The early stages of a company are the best time to consider a career shift. When you join a hyper-growth startup that’s actively growing, like Esper, you have access to many different opportunities. You’ll have chances to try different positions and find the department that is the best fit for you. 

One of my favorite things about the work I do is how I get to help our staff members. I work with them to find them the right position, the ones they’re most passionate about. 

As we grow, I get to learn their strengths and weaknesses. I help guide them to their perfect role within our company. I can help them elevate their personal and professional development just like Esper did for me. 

At Esper, we surround ourselves with like-minded and passionate individuals who bring their knowledge and life experiences to the table. We’ve created a culture that I’m proud of — a culture that is highly collaborative and full of diversity.

Our people-first culture makes all the difference to our companies’ continued success and our environment sparks creativity.

The pay-off for adopting this mindset and culture is huge. We wouldn’t be a hyper-growth startup rising in the ranks, despite the current pandemic, if we hadn’t operated our business this way. 

I’m going to share with you the top 4 lessons I’ve learned during my time working as the Senior HR Manager for Esper — a hyper-growth startup.

Lesson #1: The Hiring Process is Different for Different Types of Companies

To be honest, one thing I’ve learned is that each company is different. All companies seek candidates that fit within their cultures. They want employees who connect with the values of their organization.

But from there, their hiring processes are very different.

Hiring in a Multinational Corporation (MNC)

A multinational corporation (MNC) has more structure to their interviews and it takes a long time to complete the whole hiring process. 

You also don’t get to meet or communicate with the other teams. You only get to meet with their HR manager and your potential team leader or department head. They look for someone who is a team player, who falls in line and doesn’t ask too many questions.

Hiring in a Hyper-Growth Startup

With hyper-growth startups, the hiring process is fast-paced. You get through it within a week or two and you meet the other teams while interviewing.

Startups are looking for individual contributors — people who are natural problem solvers.

It’s also about finding the right talent at the right time. They look for the right skills but also for the right attitude. 

In a hyper-growth startup company, it clicks naturally if a prospect is positive and has the same values as the founders. We want people on our team who will help us maintain a purpose-driven culture through open communication with our leaders.

Lesson #2: Potential Candidates Get the Same Things Right—and Wrong When Applying

When it comes to getting your interview just right with Esper, you want to consider all the interview tips that almost everyone already knows. Be on time, be professional, prepare your resume, consider your answers to common questions ahead of time, etc.

But that isn’t all I want to see from you. 

Show Your Background, Passion, and Values

I also pay attention to your interests and your background. At Esper, we want to hire people who share the same passion and values. We want you to show up at your interview and be ready to showcase who you really are. Don’t be afraid to be inquisitive, ask us questions too. 

Companies want to hire people with varied backgrounds. It adds diversity to our culture. Come show us what you can bring to the team to help us stay well-rounded.

Think About How You Present Yourself

Another tip I’ve picked up along the way includes customizing your resume cover letter based on the company you are applying for. Don’t just use a generic cover letter for every position. Show that you’ve researched our company and talk about how and why you think you’re a good fit.

I also want to see your LinkedIn profile, so make sure you include a link and take the time to update your profile before submitting your resume. It’s also good to engage with the company’s posts — this shows that you’re doing your research on us too.

Provide a Correct and Updated Resume

When it comes to mistakes, I see a lot of the same ones repeatedly — such as the structure of your resume is off or I find too many typos. 

You also need to avoid long resumes with too much information and fancy words. Don’t bother adding outdated skills, like Microsoft Suite. 

Some people feel the need to add a lot of experience — leaving irrelevant stuff on their resume. This makes them look overqualified or like they are trying too hard. 

The best thing you can do is to apply for fewer jobs. Don’t send your resume out to every company. Focus on the ones that you actually want to work for, but leave the door open for freelance projects. 

Lesson #3: Exceptional Recruits Have The Same Traits in Common

I have come across some exceptional candidates. In fact, I work with most of them. 

An exceptional candidate is someone who shows me their ability to learn and grow within our company. I’ve seen some of them get promotions in short times, especially those who show up each day with a positive attitude. 

Exceptional candidates go above the call of duty to make changes that impact the company. 

In my experience, the most needed characteristics of a candidate for a startup are dependability and curiosity. When we know a recruit will meet new challenges head-on and without fear, it’s always a positive. 

We also look for someone adaptable and a problem solver — or who is at least willing to try. 

A self-motivated worker who also motivates their peers is always welcome at Esper. We love surrounding ourselves with people who know how to work independently as well as within a team. 

Lesson #4: Growing a Startup During National Pandemic Presents Some Unique Challenges

Of course, COVID changed things in terms of our hiring process, but honestly, it’s worked in our favor.

Since we can’t do physical interviews during these lockdown periods, I’ve been doing them virtually. Because of this, I’m not restricted by travel, and I’m readily available — speeding up the whole process. 

Industries like ours and other E-commerce or E-service companies maintain stability and see growth right now. We can operate and practice social distancing. 

But one of the things I’ve learned during this pandemic is how important it is to create a sense of belonging, especially for new job candidates. We don’t want them to feel isolated. 

I help them understand company culture before they walk into their first day on the job. I make it a point to send new recruits an itinerary of what they can expect for the first few days. It helps ease any stress about the onboarding process. 

And then we start onboarding — I can’t stress enough how crucial that first impression is. We’ve already focused so much on our culture before they show up, now they get a chance to see it through our people. 

I connect them with the team, mentors, and introduce them to our founders. Then we sit down together to discuss expectations and goals. This ensures there’s no confusion or surprises down the road. 

It doesn’t stop there, either. I reach out routinely to check in on new employees — at one week, one month, and 3 months. I like to make sure they have the resources they need for any problems they might be facing. 

How We Hire the Best Recruits

The best advice I can give anyone looking to work at Esper is to show up with an open mind and be yourself. We are looking for people with varied backgrounds. Surprise us with your knowledge and experience. 

If you are an experienced candidate, we will set realistic expectations right off the bat so that no one gets confused or lost.

If you are eager to learn and ready to put in time and effort for people new to the field, we will ensure it’s a smooth transition for you. 

Our HR leaders work on creating a culture that makes people a priority. We use clear communications, and we are highly collaborative.

Does Esper sound like a fun place to work? Find out what positions we have open by visiting our careers page.

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