In Recruiting, (Company) Size Matters

Many hiring managers look outward when evaluating potential candidates: Does this person have the skills or experience I need?

While this is an important consideration, it's only half of the equation. Finding great talent is about identifying the right match. Not only does a candidate need to meet your requirements, but your company also has to make sense for them.

One of the most important factors in the talent-employer match equation is your company size. Working at a 10-person company is a very different experience from working at a 1,000-person company. Each poses a very different value proposition for a candidate, and candidates need different sets of personal and collaborative skills to succeed in each setting.

How Roles Differ Across Company Sizes

Let's take the role of UX designer as an example. In a 1,000-person company, a UX designer is a member of a design team. They work with 20-30 fellow designers, and they are generally assigned to a particular product feature. This feature team will also include a UI designer, multiple front-end and back-end developers, and product and project managers to support the entire process. If the website goes down, the team can rely on dedicated engineers to fix the problem and a robust customer service organization to address user complaints.

Now, let's take that same UX designer and drop them into a 10-person company. In this environment, they are the only designer on the team. Their purview includes the whole product, and they probably have significant influence on brand as well. The product manager in this case is also the CEO of the company. The development team has 1-2 full stack developers to support the designer, but they have to balance design support with company-level priorities. If the website goes down, the UX designer needs to be there to troubleshoot and likely also has to help answer customer complaints.

On the surface these two individuals might look very similar. They may both have 3-4 years of experience, degrees in UX design, and solid portfolios of 4-5 projects. However, in these unique environments, how each designer works becomes the determining factor in their success.

In the large organization, a UX designer must know how to collaborate with other designers and should be able to work within a broader organizational style. If every project in a UX designer's portfolio was completed 100 percent independently, there is a risk they won't take direction well or collaborate within a broader team.

In a small organization, a UX designer needs to be independent and comfortable owning the style of the company. They need to be flexible and ready to deal with the risk that one adverse business or economic event could cause the company to fail.

How to Take This Into Account in Recruiting

When looking for candidates, many recruiters want to understand each potential hire's story. The same concept applies here. You have to ask yourself, "Where does my company fit into this person's story?" For example, if someone just spent two years working for a startup that failed, they might be more likely to consider a job at a larger company for the additional security.

When hiring for a larger company, test candidates on their ability to collaborate with larger teams to make collective decisions.

When hiring for a smaller company, target people who are ready for that stage. Ask about their salary expectations, their benefits expectations, and whether or not they fully understand the risks that come with working for a small company. These might be tough questions to ask, but they are the only way to make sure a candidate is truly aligned with your company.

There is no "best" candidate to hire for a given role – only the right candidate for you and your company at a given time. The person you hire now may be very different from the person you hire six months from now. Embrace this fact. Any company that does will have the right team at the right time, and each person it brings on will help propel the organization to the next stage of growth.

David Sokolow is the Founder and CEO of WeFind, a talent acquisition tech company.