How One VP Hired 23 Reps in 100 Days (and Lived)

Posted by Matt Bertuzzi on Tue, Aug 19, 2014

 

zrZipRecruiter’s VP of Inside Sales, Kevin Gaither, was tasked with hiring 25 inside sales reps in just three months. This is his story.

Kevin joined ZipRecruiter in the summer of 2013. By January 2014, he’d grown the inside sales organization to a dozen reps, proving out both the concept and model.

With greater than 8K inbound leads per month, it came time to scale.

Four months and 700 candidates later, Kevin hired 23 reps (and lived to tell the tale).

Kevin shared three things he did right.

1) Approach the hiring process like you would a sales process.

Kevin’s ‘hiring funnel’ included:

  • 7 ‘stages’
  • A 4.5 hour process per hire
  • Starring roles for himself, his Managers, and Reps
  • 3.5% conversion rate from candidate-to-hire

gaither-hire

Kevin’s advice:

Utilize your sales process mindset. Think specialization, conversion rates, and scale. Just like you’d coach your reps, ‘avoid the temptation to settle (bad breath is better than no breath).’ Stay true to your process from beginning to end.

2) Aggressively disqualify at the top of the funnel to save cycles at the bottom.

If you've reviewed cover letters and resumes, you well know there is no standardization. With hundreds of applicants, you need a mechanism to make a side-by-side comparison possible.

Since Kevin’s process involved his Managers and Reps as interviewers, diligence on the front-end was key to not overtaxing them. 

We used our own technology (ZipRecruiter) and asked every candidate 4 open-text questions. Their responses served as a litmus test of sorts and directly influenced whether they made it on to the initial phone screen.

3) Referrals are your best source of candidates.

To hit his target, Kevin used all the tools at his disposal (i.e., recruiters, network, social, etc.). His best source was his current team and wider network. In fact, nearly 25% of new hires came from just a handful of his reps. Kevin’s advice:

Our hire rate on referrals was double all other sources. But you have to actively seek these out. The key is effectively getting in front of your network and fueling their referrals.

Advice for other leaders on the same path.

Kevin shared that this process was exhausting. He made himself available 7AM-8PM for three full months. At the peak, he was conducting 12+ interviews a day. Kevin’s advice:

Having someone in a talent acquisition role to help with screening is key. But you must make sure they understand the most important characteristics of a good candidate. Take the time to get them up to speed on which characteristics predict future success in the role and how to identify them early on.

Final thoughts

For me, the bit that stands out is the rigor that Kevin and team put into the front end of the process. Only 1 out of 5 candidates made it to Stage 4 (the DriveTest assessment). If you’re going to commit your team’s effort and energy to interviewing, you have to make sure you're only passing along the best.

Any thoughts or questions for Kevin? Please share in the comments. (Also if you’re local to Santa Monica, he’s still hiring.)

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Matt Bertuzzi

About Matt Bertuzzi

Matt writes about inside sales metrics & trends. He is co-author of The Outbound Index.
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Topics: inside sales management, metrics

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