We’re kicking off Small Business Month with the inside scoop on how leading Canadian PR firm Jive Communications (Jive PR + Digital) handles hiring for growth. With public relations being a competitive, fast-paced industry that’s had to keep up with a major increase in client demands for strong digital and social media marketing PR strategy, Jive has managed to establish a sound team of professionals. We spoke with Almira Bardai, who received Business in Vancouver’s Forty Under 40 Award last week, which recognizes the city’s top entrepreneurial talent. Almira and Co-founder Lindsay Nahmiache were also recognized as “Women of Vancouver” in 2014.
Their services are, as per their website, described as “Part art, part science” – made possible by a team of passionate and educated women that come together every day to ensure their employees are growing and learning. They’re definitely doing something right, with offices in Vancouver, Toronto, and Santa Monica, and a client list that includes Virgin Radio, TELUS, eOne Films, and many more.
Workopolis: As a smaller business, how do you approach hiring when you’re looking to support growth?
AB: Our success has stemmed from growing most of our employees from the ground-up and identifying soft skills. We believe in carving out a path so that employees understand our culture and ethos before they are placed into a senior role. During busier times, we hire contractors to help support our growth. This ensures we’re hiring people for the right reasons and that it is a right fit for our team.
What do you look for when you’re using social platforms to get to know people from a professional perspective? How are you gauging competency?
We look at professionalism, experience, and writing style on LinkedIn, as well as the level of engagement on social platforms. It’s not a be-all and end-all, but if we’re hiring for a social media or digital role, our expectation is that the individual is very social savvy and at a minimum utilizes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
Do you incorporate formal HR practices when you hire, or have you done away with that completely?
We still conduct interviews, writing and planning exercises and tests, and provide a formal letter of offer. We do a one- to two-week on-boarding process from the basic orientation package and systems on day one, to cross-training with other employees. Because it’s so labour intensive, we try to optimize the time for both the new hire and our employees.
How do you approach employer branding and has it been a priority for Jive?
We place the utmost importance on embracing the Jive brand and making our employees feel comfortable with promoting our culture. We make sure they feel proud in updating their LinkedIn employment status and Facebook and Twitter channels to show that they work for Jive. On the other hand, we know social media is a personal space for our employees, so we don’t make it mandatory to share employer-branded news if it’s not a part of their personal brand.
What do you look for in people to propel your company forward?
We look for passion and enthusiasm first and foremost. We can teach hard skills, but it’s so hard to teach soft skills and work ethic. We’ve been so fortunate that the whole team gets along and supports each other no matter how busy it gets. It’s an egoless environment.
What are some of the hiring lessons you’ve learned over the years?
Trust your gut. Don’t rush the hiring process because you need to fill a void. It’s costlier to have a bad hire than prolong the hiring process to find that amazing gem who will fit with your organization.