So you want a job at Hootsuite: A Q&A with Ambrosia Humphrey, VP of talent

#HootHire | BCBusiness
Last year’s #HootHire

Here’s what Hootsuite is really looking for

Hootsuite is growing fast. So fast it’s hard for anyone outside the company’s HR department to pinpoint its headcount on a given day, as Hootsuite hires roughly 10 new employees a week. (Current staff is somewhere north of 600, south of 700). What’s more, following a massive $165-million cash injection last August, the Vancouver social media company has begun adding bodies abroad.
In charge of all this is Ambrosia Humphrey, VP of talent at Hootsuite. Humphrey is presently neck-deep arranging #HootHire, a semi-annual recruiting event that last year attracted 1,500 people. On Wednesday, August 27, Hootsuite will open its doors once more to hopeful job seekers, both literally and figuratively, as interested candidates are invited to drop by its recently opened second office to mingle (and hopefully stand out).

A look inside Hootsuite’s sweet second office
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BCBusiness chatted with Humphrey about the HR challenges of scaling so quickly, and what applicants should keep in mind before applying. So if you were thinking of dropping by next week, keep reading.
What are some of the challenges of expanding so quickly?
We focused on this conversation even when we were 20 people growing to 100 because at each stage of your growth, the challenges and repercussions are different. Right now, the analogy I make is that we’re awkward teenagers. We’re extremely proficient at some things and just figuring others out as we go.  
I don’t think [CEO Ryan Holmes] or myself or any of the executives here believe that headcount makes the business. We would rather make sure everybody here is happy, that their plate is full and that they’re working on things that give them value and purpose. Hiring is half of the equation, but retaining is where I spend most of my focus.
When we say we’re hiring an extra 100 people, we actually need these people. It’s a lot of work to bring someone into an organization.
Are you mostly hiring locals?
Still 90 per cent of our hiring takes place in Vancouver for North America. We get some people from out East, especially in the developer and sales areas of our organization. And we do get some people from the States as well. We talk a lot about building a landscape of head offices here where we can self-sustain. We want to make sure we can get senior talent in Vancouver and have them stay here. 
What about international hiring—is that a new kind of challenge?
There was a huge culture difference going into Singapore. It’s a very different landscape. The values stay the same, in what the business hopes to get out of it, but how they operate is very different. We need to stay agile enough that we retain our vision and values as an organization, but also allow the regions to have their own sense of identity because not every country does business the same way.
Overall, how many applications do you receive each week?
Anywhere between 300 and 500.
That’s a lot. Of those, how many would you say are strong candidates?
On average, about 60 per cent, the people who we would interview, the people we think would be really interesting. Our challenge right now is targeting our audience to the roles that are currently open and that we need. With the new CTO coming on, our heavy focus is on product and engineering. Those guys are harder to find. 
Sixty per cent of applicants are qualified? 
That seems pretty high.
Yes, it is pretty high. 
How many interviews do you conduct weekly?
About 150 to 200 between phone screens and in-house interviews.
And how many people get hired each week?
About 10.
With all that growth, how has Hootsuite changed demographically, in terms of who works there now versus five years ago?
Our demographic has shifted as part of our growth, being now over a 600-person organization and moving into 750. What you need is to make sure you have people who’ve been there, done that and scaled to a 5,000-person organization. Someone who has chops, who’s been around. 
But I don’t think it’s changed our Fridays: there’s still beer, there’s still stuff going on. It’s not the kind of shift where all of a sudden the suits walk in and everything is different.
Has the average age at Hootsuite shifted?
It used to be 28 and now it’s 33.
So, #HootHire. How useful is the event? 
Half my HR team was actually hired at #HootHire. So that’s a good sign. #HootHire is much more of a networking and talking event. It’s not very often that we can just open our doors and say, “Come and talk to us about hiring.”
We’re still hiring people who came to #HootHire last year. It might not be an instant hire, but it’s definitely a very effective talent acquisition strategy for us.
What advice would you give someone applying or dropping by #HootHire?
It’s less about your résumé and what you’ve done and more about what you want to come here to do. So it’s best to lead with, “Here’s the opportunity I see at Hootsuite, and here’s how I think I can make an impact.” It shows you’ve done research on the company and you understand where you fit. That helps anchor you in the hiring manager’s mind. 
Also, we’re really focused on diversity right now. We need people who speak Portuguese, who speak Mandarin, who speak German. It’s difficult to find.