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Hire calling

By Diane Jermyn | March 29, 2015
Hire calling
Ambrosia Humphrey

The challenge

Hootsuite Media Inc. understands that its market is everybody. A pioneer when it launched in 2008, the Vancouver-based company makes cloud-based software that helps organizations manage and measure their social media presence. Between early 2012 and late 2014, Hootsuite grew from about 70 employees to more than 700; by January 2015 it had hired 100 additional staff, mostly in sales and software engineering.

An emerging global business with some 10 million users in 175-plus countries, the company has offices on three continents. Hootsuite aims to build a diverse workforce, so it can appeal to the broadest possible client base, serve people in their own languages and tailor its product to local markets.

For Ambrosia Humphrey, Vice-President of Talent, that’s an ongoing challenge. “We’re in 16 languages now, so we need to make sure we have somebody quarterbacking a holistic view, as well as having a global mindset and team,” Humphrey says. “In every region, it’s really important to us to create a balance of cultures, gender, race and age. It doesn’t help us if everyone at the table is 25.” 

The strategy

Humphrey describes Hootsuite’s talent acquisition strategy as “no rock left unturned.” The company focuses on being a global employer brand with local appeal. As Hootsuite hunts for top prospects in Europe, Asia and elsewhere, making a good impression is crucial. “We’re spending a good deal of time on social media and doing lots of community events,” Humphrey says. “We’re definitely focused on a strong social advocacy.”

At Hootsuite, everyone is a recruiter, including Founder and Chief Executive Officer Ryan Holmes, who devotes about 20 per cent of his time to sourcing talent. Through the Twitter hashtag #hootsuitelife, employees reach out to potential hires by sharing their workplace experiences.

At head office, Humphrey and her 10-person talent acquisition team work with management in all departments, so everyone is aligned on measuring candidates’ skills and ensuring the right cultural fit. Having a multigenerational workforce is crucial to Hootsuite’s long-term success. That includes people in their 50s and 60s with 20 or more years of executive experience, who use social media differently than their younger peers. “We need to be diverse and inclusive,” Humphrey says. “Otherwise, there’s a whole market sector that we’re missing.”

New recruits receive tutorials on social media and the company’s vision, culture and values; at the 30-, 60- and 90-day marks, they meet with managers for feedback on how they’re adjusting to life at Hootsuite. When it comes to retaining talent, employees of all ages appreciate having the freedom to decide when and where to work. “Our flexibility in working hours really helps us connect with the Millennial, but also helps with remote employees and people with kids in daycare,” Humphrey says.

The results 

The average age of Hootsuite employees has risen from 28 in 2013 to 31 in 2014, reflecting the company’s emphasis on more-experienced workers. “As we’ve grown over the past three years, so has the social media space matured and the practitioner,” Humphrey says. “We have people across the organization who are at various stages of their lives. Everyone at the table makes us a better global organization.”

Recent hire Jaime Stein, Senior Manager, Social Media, likes working at Hootsuite because his colleagues are a “mash-up of people” from a variety of backgrounds. “You never find yourself sitting around a meeting room listening to groupthink,” he says. “Solutions are often innovative because each person is tackling a problem from a different perspective.” 

The future 

Hootsuite, which currently has international offices in Boston, Bucharest, London and Singapore, plus a shared location in San Francisco, plans to be on the ground in 12 countries by the end of 2015. In countries where the company doesn’t open new offices, it will have remote workers. To that end, Hootsuite intends to hire several hundred more employees over the next few years. 

“Great talent comes in every shape and form,” Humphrey says. “Each one of these people helps make our product much more user-friendly and intuitive for all people, not just businesses and Millennials. Our intellectual capital is everything to us.”

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