On the topic of recruiting, there is no limit to the amount of think pieces, practical tip-laden articles and musings on the internet to help grapple with the changing world of work. But on the subject matter of recruiting at the executive level, there’s still a lot to learn and share. Which is why we connected with HubSpot’s Head of Executive Recruiting, Celeste Narganes, to learn more about what it’s like to be on the hunt for senior-level candidates.
We talked to Celeste about all things senior-level talent acquisition, diving deep into the areas of Candidate Experience, Onboarding and more.
It’s time for a lesson in executive recruiting.
Greenhouse: When it comes to executive recruiting, how successful is inbound recruiting?
Celeste Narganes: At HubSpot, we have an amazing Inbound Recruiting team dedicated to building HubSpot's global employer brand with the goal of attracting top candidates to our funnel. It can’t be underestimated how valuable employer brand recognition is to the recruitment process.
Simply said: people want to work at a company with an award-winning culture, as well as strong reviews on Glassdoor and Comparably. This is just as important for evergreen candidates as it is for experienced professionals.
That being said, when it comes to our Director-level and above open roles, we do lean more heavily to passive sourcing. As a result, many of the prospects I connect with, may not have heard of HubSpot. The good news is that once they look us up, our Top Workplace Awards speak for themselves, and it’s then up to me to sell them on the role, the people, and the opportunity. We are also investing on building our network of talented leaders through content sharing and events, with a dual goal of building community and having a ready group of passive talent we can tap into for referrals, or as potential candidates.
GH: How do you source people, go after the pros you want, and most importantly, get them excited about the opportunity?
CN: I spend a lot of time at the start of the search with the hiring manager and other relevant team members learning about the needs of the team, the dynamics at play, as well as getting really clear about what the ideal candidate needs to bring to the table to be successful. We brainstorm all the various experiences candidates might have that would be valuable in the position. We also talk about what diversity means to that specific team and what varying perspectives can do to elevate the team. At HubSpot, for our Director-level and above roles, our hiring managers have each committed to putting out a piece of external content to help generate interest in the role and to sourcing their own networks. I then reach out to key people and relevant organizations for referrals, map the talent landscape, and reach out to folks we hope to talk to.
GH: How do you get prospects/candidates excited about the opportunity?
CN: Getting someone excited about the opportunity is a team sport, and as much about the prospect as it is about HubSpot and the specific role.
It’s important to take the time to understand what’s important to someone in their next potential role, and what would need to be true in order for them to consider an opportunity (e.g., flexible work environment, high visibility, global focus, etc.).
Assuming there’s a fit in this regard, the next step is to craft a value proposition that will resonate with the candidate based on what HubSpot and the role can offer, and ensure that each interviewer can speak to this throughout their interactions.
GH: At HubSpot, how is diversity & inclusion playing a role in the recruiting team? Especially on the executive recruiting level, is that a consideration for candidates?
CN: The research is clear that diverse teams are more innovative and help make their companies more profitable. At HubSpot, inclusion and diversity is a top business objective that starts with our leadership team and is embedded throughout all parts of the company. We believe that a more inclusive company will attract diverse candidates, and I have definitely found this is something senior-level candidates care deeply about. I’ve talked a lot about recruiting being a team sport, and our commitment to diversity is no different. The goal is always to hire the best people into open roles, and we are doing that across all our roles, no matter what the level, by ensuring our interview process is as fair and objective as possible. Ways we are doing this include, inclusivity trainings for interviewers, updating our process playbooks and focusing on ensuring a great candidate experience throughout.
For us, it’s not just about hiring diverse candidates and checking a box. It’s about creating an inclusive workplace people want to be at, an environment and a culture that excites people and at the same time makes them feel safe, supported, respected and heard.
GH: How does candidate experience differ between executive Talent Acquisition and recruiting at other levels?
CN: The experience a candidate has throughout an interview process is an essential part of employer branding. Regardless of whether a person receives an offer, it is important to leave them with a positive impression of the company -- these people are now a part of your network, and potentially a future customer, partner or employee. The goal is to treat each candidate as if they’re going to get the job. This holds true for candidates at all levels.
With executives, the process often takes longer, there is more selling involved, and as a result, there is more opportunity to really get to know candidates. For executives, a high touch approach that moves beyond just the transactional, is essential.
A few ways we accomplish this includes: Ensuring we have regular communication with candidates and that they are well prepared and informed throughout the process; Ensuring hiring managers and interview teams are well prepped and have a clear understanding of who the candidate is and what matters to them; Really getting to know candidates and what motivates them in order to tailor the candidate experience, ensuring we focus our conversations on making our value proposition clear to them, and sharing content that is relevant to the things they care about.
GH: How are you thinking about onboarding at the executive level at HubSpot?
CN: Studies show retention is directly related to a positive onboarding experience, and this is something we take seriously at HubSpot. Our new hire and product training is extensive, and is required of all employees. With increasing numbers of senior-level hires, we are also exploring ways we can make this onboarding period offer the best way for leaders to get up to speed. In addition to a tailored 90-day onboarding plan, we are also doing this is by pairing all Director-level and above new hires with an informal mentor who is also a member of the leadership team. The mentor is purposely in a different org as the new hire, in order to truly be an unbiased third party who can share the lay of the land, be available to answer questions through a non-judgemental relationship and to provide an opportunity to learn a different side of the business. The goal is to continue to develop a program that sets all our leaders up for success and allows for a more seamless integration into the company.
Executive recruiting shouldn’t be an enigma for Talent pros. With the right mix of curiosity, testing, and with strategic efforts to tap into your team’s executive networks you can hire senior staff that will take your team to the next level.
HubSpot was, and still is, on a rocketship trajectory in the world of tech. When the company was at the precipice of growing beyond its scaleup size, the team was searching for the right recruiting solution to help them grow as fast as their business needs required. Read about their experience using Greenhouse in the case study here.