Optimizing the hiring process: How Talkdesk climbed the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity curve (part one)

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By optimizing the hiring process, your company takes a vital step to achieving your business goals today, tomorrow and beyond. No matter what effect 2020 has brought about for your company – whether it’s an increase in hiring, low or slow hiring practices or perhaps a pause altogether – developing a strong hiring foundation should always be top of mind.

But becoming great at hiring isn’t instantaneous. In our work with thousands of talent teams the world over, we’ve seen companies move through a maturity curve as they get better at hiring over time. Following this framework, we’re using the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity curve as a model to help companies understand where they are and what they need to do to get better.

One such company, Talkdesk, moved from the bottom of the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity curve to the very top in just one year. Their talent team forms the backbone of the org, translating leadership’s strategic vision into operational strategy and executing against it. In our recent webinar, Jon Stross, Co-founder and President of Greenhouse, asked Shauna Geraghty, SVP, Head of Global People and Operations at TalkDesk, how the cloud-based company achieved hiring success using a structured methodology – and how other companies can, too.

Below are some key takeaways from the first part of that conversation (we’ll continue exploring this topic in part two, coming soon). But first, let’s touch base on the motivation behind Greenhouse Hiring Maturity.


Understanding Greenhouse Hiring Maturity

In researching this framework for great hiring, we observed so many teams get stuck in the weeds doing the tactical work of making today’s hires. They’re so busy executing on urgent activities that they don’t have the time or capacity to create an effective hiring process. Yet transformational success only comes when you take the time to step back and figure out how to build new, lasting capabilities. To understand how to get better at hiring, it's worthwhile to see where your company currently exists on the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity curve.

Moderator Carin Van Vuuren, CMO at Greenhouse, kicked off the webinar by asking Jon to provide some background information on Greenhouse Hiring Maturity, how it was ideated and why we use it as our methodology to enable success for our customers.

“Greenhouse Hiring Maturity is a concept we've been talking about since before we even started the company,” said Jon, “Greenhouse is mission-driven. We're trying to help every company become great at hiring."

Now more than ever, companies are realizing hiring is a strategic business function.
Jon Stross, Co-founder and President of Greenhouse

Jon explained that most companies follow a learning curve when optimizing their hiring processes. This journey, in essence, is mapped by the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity curve.

The four stages of the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity curve:

Customer data supports this methodology, showing the many benefits of making improvements in hiring across the organizations we serve. For example, Greenhouse customers see a 27% average reduction in their time-to-hire and a 31% average improvement in cost-per-hire. On average among all the companies we serve, Greenhouse has a 94% customer retention rate.

“Climbing the curve isn’t about the size of the company, or the amount of funding they have, or how great their brand is – it’s really just a function of how that talent acquisition operation is run,” explained Jon. “Our job is to help our customers reach the Strategic stage and stay there.”


How Talkdesk began climbing the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity curve

Next, Jon and Shauna discussed Talkdesk’s unique hiring journey from Chaotic to Strategic in just one year. So how did Shauna put the foundational pieces into place at Talkdesk while juggling all the day-to-day requirements of her role? It started with a leap of faith.

“I was the first US employee at Talkdesk, hired in the middle of my doctorate career in clinical psychology,” said Shauna. “I initially started out on the marketing team and quickly realized that this was that once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me to get in early to a hypergrowth organization and grow a team at scale.”

One of my favorite parts of this whole experience in working with Greenhouse was the ability to build and customize where I saw fit.
Shauna Geraghty, SVP, Head of Global People and Operations at TalkDesk

Shauna shared that from 2014 to 2016, she scaled Talkdesk’s marketing organization and team. During that time and because of her background in clinical psychology, Shauna was also actively helping Talkdesk hire.

“After scaling the team to about 120 employees globally, we still didn't have anyone in talent or HR, but we were looking for a leader of both,” said Shauna. “And I remember after an interview, our CEO looked at me and he said, ‘Hey Shauna. You could do this. Pair what you know about inbound marketing with outbound prospecting, merge that with your expertise in establishing standardized processes, and layer in what you know about clinical interviewing.’ And I said, ‘Okay, I'll give it a go!’”


Talkdesk’s hiring process moves to a new stage

“I know when you started your hiring journey, you had very aggressive hiring goals,” said Jon. “You were probably relatively low on the maturity curve at that moment. What happened next?”

Shauna shared that she agreed to take on this new position with one caveat: “I asked for one month before we made the internal announcement about my new role.” Why? Because Talkdesk’s hiring processes were still in the Chaotic stage. Every hiring manager was running their own process. Some had agencies, some didn't and there were no recruiters. “I knew as soon as we made that announcement, I would just be inundated,” said Shauna.

Instead, she used that month to study the talent acquisition landscape and learned from leaders both internal and external, from sales teams to talent teams. In that first month in her new role, Shauna developed a full talent acquisition process and strategy, to be revealed to the company as a new Talent Plan:

  • Build structured interviewing
    Shauna created a standardized interviewing and recruitment process so that each individual within the interview process would fully understand their role. The process at Talkdesk also involves an unbiased vote and debrief from all interviewers involved while discussing candidates.
  • Set up structured assessment criteria
    With concretely defined constructs tied back to core values, the candidate assessment addresses the criteria that Talkdesk needs to predict a good fit within their work environment.
  • Support the candidate experience
    Not only is Talkdesk assessing whether the candidate is going to add value to the organization, the candidate also needs enough data from the interview process to understand whether the benefit goes both ways.


“We created everything, from building out our scorecard constructs, to interview kits, stages, approval flows, permissions, job descriptions and more,” said Shauna.


Talkdesk’s structured hiring process moves to Strategic

This global undertaking was no small task when building an entire talent acquisition team, but Shauna saw it as an opportunity to create something from scratch, with the software to support whatever she and her team needed along the way.

“We literally spent the next 12 months training the entire company to adhere to this process,” said Shauna. “It took us one year to make it from the bottom of the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity curve to the top of the curve.”

Jon pointed out that, in the field of recruiting, so much time and energy goes into managing day-to-day noise. The key, he said, is to be able to step back and build the underlying capabilities to get great at hiring so that recruiting teams can continue to put out fires while continuing to move toward an optimal process. That’s why Shauna’s journey, and that of Talkdesk, stands out to Jon as a unique and interesting example of great hiring.

“The thing I hear the most from people is that they’re just so busy,” said Jon. “That they’re so underwater, there's so much pressure to hit today's hires. That, yeah, obviously they’d love to do all of that, but they don't have the time to do that. So what's your advice to somebody in that situation – how do you carve out the time or space to rebuild the process and retrain the team?”

Shauna acknowledged that as a critical question, because without the infrastructure that allows a company to scale and execute on core business needs, introducing a whole new process is extremely challenging.

“What I would suggest is to first understand the business needs and then pair that with a critical assessment of what's currently working and what should be optimized within your recruitment organization,” said Shauna, “Aggregate data from tools like the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity assessment, hiring manager surveys, candidate surveys, new hire onboarding surveys, performance evaluation criteria for your recruitment organization and performance metrics – to understand where you are and where you need to be.”

Shauna went on to suggest prioritizing your initiatives based not only on what is most impactful to the business, but also on what you can actually accomplish given your current environment:

  • Do I have the budget to execute on this?
  • Do I have the resources available to me?
  • Do I have the bandwidth?
  • Do I have the authority or the buy-in?


“Decide how you're going to prioritize to make those changes,” said Shauna. “The most important thing after that is to track progress. In other words, make sure that you're actually achieving what you set out to achieve and then iterate on your approach as needed.”

In part two, we’ll explore how Shauna got executive buy-in within her organization to support Talkdesk’s strategic vision from a talent perspective, as well as how to sustain a strategic level of hiring into the future. We’ll also ask and answer some compelling audience questions from the live broadcast.

To access the full webinar and gain insights into these topics to improve your hiring strategy now, visit Climbing the Greenhouse Hiring Maturity curve.

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