How Shiftgig’s Team Scaled: Lessons from a Corporate Recruiter
Shiftgig’s Corporate Recruiter Justina Strnad has watched the Chicago-based company grow from a few dozen to nearly 180 employees across 12 cities in just two years. As part of the recruiting team she’s been instrumental in implementing processes for onboarding, sourcing, and hiring candidates as the startup, which has raised $36M, continues to scale.
Shiftgig is the smartest and easiest way for the hourly workforce and businesses to connect through a mobile app. Founded by Eddie Lou, Jeff Pieta and Sean Casey in 2011, the company has made an effort to maintain a people-centric approach since day one. Justina and the Executive Team make sure this approach extends not just to Shiftgig’s users but to their own team and culture.
With a background in sales and agency recruiting, Justina’s found that attributes of a successful salesperson translate well to recruiting – she counts an insatiable curiosity, for instance, as a requisite for her position. “The discovery questions that happen in a sales process also happen in recruiting,” she says. “You have to understand what each specific role means on its own and within the context of the organization, dig into what motivates the candidate, and also build trust with them.”
Justina draws from her experience at Shiftgig to advise on some key approaches for recruiters at quickly-scaling startups:
Build Out HR Early
While early teams are often laser focused on building, iterating on, and selling a product, it’s important to implement internal structure early on, Justina notes. “Once a company begins structuring departments, especially with multi-person teams and office locations, it’s time to build out internal HR.” This team (or person) will keep a quickly-growing company aligned on culture and maintain a pulse on morale and motivation. The energy should be inspired by the CEO, who will work with the team to develop internal HR and external recruiting strategy.
Assess Culture Fit
Justina assesses each candidate for culture fit. It’s not a checklist, she says, but a mindset and motivation that’s an essential character trait for employment at a startup like Shiftgig: “We look for people who are genuinely excited about our mission and not just looking for another job. We want people who want to make a business and social impact and are hungry for learning opportunities,” she says. While young startups may not be able to compete on cash compensation, they can win by offering opportunities for learning, doing, and making an impact.
Because there’s no definitive checklist, assessing a candidate for culture fit is difficult, Justina admits. But she credits diverse and honest perspectives from the leadership team, which spends time getting to know candidates, to gauge how well a person embodies Shiftgig’s culture. “Most people at the company work across departments, so aside from that curiosity and drive, we gut check that they will be able to work and communicate well with a variety of different people in varying roles.”
“We’re growing so quickly that change happens all the time,” Justina says. Priorities around specific open roles, for instance, shift often. Justina and her HR counterparts meet with the Executive Team every other week to discuss priorities, sharing their pipeline and updating the process as they go. These shifting tides can affect candidates, too. “Honesty is key in recruiting. I always follow up with candidates to set expectations and keep them updated on where we are,” she says.
At any given time Shiftgig has about 20 interns working in different teams at every office. From graphic design to finance, these interns help fill the gaps in departments that need extra help. Justina recommends recruiting from local universities which will help build a pipeline for future talent.