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Discover key insights into hiring for the right roles at the right time.
How can organizations recruit when they’re not hiring? This question may seem contradictory, but so much of recruiting has nothing to do with hiring. Recruiting is selling your company’s brand, understanding the availability of skills and talent on the market, and relationship building to expand your company’s network.
The last calendar year saw countless layoffs (91,000+ as of mid-December 2022 according to Crunchbase News) and hiring freezes in the tech space. The healthtech industry, where so many companies have had to dial back from the rapid and unsustainable hiring seen throughout the pandemic, was hit particularly hard.
Hindsight being what it is, it’s clear that these mass layoffs never should have occurred in the first place. These layoffs weren’t due to lack of ability on the employees’ side, but from lack of true need and planning on their employers’ part.
“Need” vs. “could use” are very different things. Every company “could use” a number of things — for example, additional funding, newer equipment, additional headcount. Not every company needs those things. At an early-stage startup, knowing how to identify the difference between these two categories can be key to the company’s survival and success.
Through 10+ years of hiring across varying tech and engineering roles, I’ve helped to build successful teams in the startup space, specifically within Digital Health. Here are my key takeaways for organizations to ensure they’re hiring for the right roles at the right time:
The oft repeated phrase “wearing multiple hats” is saddled with negative connotations and not just because of the ridiculous mental image it provides. The phrase implies a disorganized workplace where roles and more importantly careers are not properly defined. It might very well be the case that an employee will have to don a variety of figurative headwear. However, organizations of any size and stage should be setting expectations with each candidate hired. And this is even more critical for early stage companies, where there may be significantly more ambiguity, to set these expectations.
In the early growth stage, a business may not be ready to build out formalized teams but they might have engineers step in occasionally to work as Product Managers, Sales can double as Customer Success, and so on. This effectively fulfills the needs of a function while meeting the capacity of the business. Surely, most businesses could use those teams, but do they need them? For individuals who want a strict job description in a permanently defined role, this may not be the stage of the company for them (at least not yet). The flip side is ambiguity can be a positive selling point to a candidate that is excited by the opportunity of expanding their skillset and stepping outside their usual career comfort zone. Businesses would be wise to think of how existing and prospective employees view their career goals.
Evaluating bandwidth, skill capacity, and what interests each team member on an ongoing basis can lead to a number of positive outcomes: a more highly engaged team that feels invested in the overall company, a greater skilled workforce, and a more flexible organization that can adjust resources more quickly based on customer needs and market conditions.
Tracking this can be done in a number of ways, and luckily many of them are business as usual.
During a candidate’s interview process, evaluating their ability to perform a given role can also provide insight to a potentially broader skill set. For example, most view their colleagues as having the skill set to perform the role they sit in, but they may have spent time working in another position prior to joining their current company or even taken courses in another field outside of work. Documenting this in an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is key.
Once hired, regular use of 1-on-1’s between managers and team members should glean information on individual’s interests and track skills employees are developing within the organization. This can also be accomplished through annual surveys of skills to build out a database. Weekly events like daily stand-ups, sprint planning, and retros should provide consistent insight into bandwidth availability.
Understanding the professional interests of team members should be a given, but doing so with more intention can have a big impact. This can help speed up decision making while also demonstrating that a company cares about career development and employee satisfaction.
When considering new additions or changes to an organization’s tech stack, knowing what employees are comfortable or interested in using can be beneficial. Additionally, offering employees the opportunity to shadow other teams, participate in speaking engagements or volunteer work, or having events that push cross-functional learning — for example, lunch & learns, science fairs, and hackathons — can surface interests and professional skills people may not have been aware of otherwise. At Capable, we host monthly lunch & learns where employees share their work or interests with one another.
When businesses dig a little deeper into who is hired, they can augment the collective knowledge of their team by understanding an individual’s audience experience. Many Sales roles have clear buyers, but Engineers, Product Managers, Marketers, and Data Scientists might have different perspectives when building for diverse users and customers. For example, if your product is a clinical tool, Sales teams may be selling to CEOs and CIOs at hospital systems, while Engineers and Product Managers are building for the practitioner experience. And at the end of the day, patient and business impact of the tool may be tracked by clinical and finance teams.
Being intimately familiar with the audience background may help to build a workforce that can knowledge-share both hard skills and industry or vertical backgrounds. At Capable, it’s encouraged that every employee participates in a sales call and be part of user interviews with every user and customer, including practitioners, patients, and developers.
Building and growing a company is incredibly difficult, so it’s important to shore up the right processes for hiring and developing your team.
If you and your team are looking to grow your digital health business without wasting resources, learn how you can build your solution in 80% less time, money, and code. Discover what you can build with Capable today.
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