A Conversation on Culture and Hiring with Erin Stephenson and Jamie Savage

“I think that for recruitment to be successful, and to have repeated success, it is important for organizations and companies who are hiring to remember that successful recruitment is equal amounts of probability and urgency.” – Jamie Savage, The Leadership Agency. 

Successful hiring needs to be repeatable, it’s how teams grow. Although, for so many entrepreneurs and their businesses, the search for talent is a gargantuan challenge. When it comes to team culture, it must be both intentional and iterative. Hiring and culture might be an entrepreneur’s finest balancing act – a dance that involves making value-based decisions and adjusting processes and shifting our behaviours as we need to. HR and Hiring is about finding what works for your business, but most importantly what works best for the humans who help you build it. 

 In April, our Startup Women Podcast host Kayla Isabelle sat down with two incredible women, Erin Stephenson (COO and CMO of DOZR) and Jamie Savage (Founder of The Leadership Agency). Together, we uncovered how to define your culture, identify your business values and map out how to find the best talent for your team. 

“Hiring for culture is probably the most important factor that we consider when we’re bringing new people onto the team, it’s that X factor. It is the element that makes the difference between somebody surviving and thriving in the organization.” – Erin Stephenson, DOZR.

So, how can founders recognize when it is time to hire and what might that look like?

Jamie Savage (The Leadership Agency): I think the simple answer is that if you are thinking about it, it should have been done yesterday. One of the best decisions I ever made as a founder was that I hired from day one. I think the cues to look for or the data to support the decision you are trying to make is to reverse engineer, ensure that you have the revenue to support that role. As an early stage founder and as an early stage company, I think the answer is yes, go ahead and make that hire and it will pay off. 

Once you realize that you need to hire, how do you communicate the role you want to fill and begin the search for talent?

Erin Stephenson (DOZR): I think founders can think of a job posting as much more than a list of skills and experience you are looking for. As startups, we can’t always compete with other companies on salaries. You can use your job posting as a place to set yourself apart, sell your vision. At DOZR, we always have a section at the top of our job descriptions where we describe our company and what we’re doing, how big the market is and how what we are doing is changing the world. We are always trying to sell that vision, and get talent excited about the potential that coming to work for DOZR has.

It is also important to look beyond the job posting itself and ask yourself what is your employer brand? What is the experience a candidate will have once they apply? How can you speak to the elements of your company culture to help build excitement and momentum within the candidates that you are attracting. 

Are there certain cues or green flags to look for while hiring and when engaging in the interview process? Can the interview phase serve as foreshadowing?

Jamie Savage (The Leadership Agency): The green flags are exactly what will determine what happens next. There is no magic formula when it comes to recruiting, I wish there was, it would be so easy. I look at interviewing like a sales process, and an engagement. In that first five to ten minutes, look for those green lights because what is going to happen next is you are going to commit time and you are going to invest in the candidate you want to invest in.

Erin Stephenson (DOZR): I think also make sure that you are selling your vision, your brand, what that role looks like, what they’re going to get out of it. What is the value beyond the paycheck, that they’re going to get coming to work for you, that is hugely important. So definitely, in that first interview, you have to make time to share that with the candidate. And also make sure you give time for them to ask questions as well, it’s an interview process on both sides. So it has to be a fit for them, it has to be a fit for you

Want to continue learning from Erin’s story and experience, and Jamie’s expertise? Listen to the full episode to continue hearing why HR and Hiring  is so important for women entrepreneurs.

Resources from this Episode:

The Leadership Agency: The Juggle Is Real article Jamie Savage: Navigating The Uncharted Waters of Human Resources Post-Pandemic article
Startup Canada: Business Owners Toolbox: Module 6 – HR
MaRS: Hiring Roadmap for Startups article
BDC: 5 Essential Steps: How to hire a new employee article
Scotiabank Women’s Iniative: What makes a great woman leader? article