Hootsuite Culture

How To Make Social a Part of your Company’s DNA: Q&A with Ambrosia Humphrey, Hootsuite’s VP Talent

Ambrosia is one of Hootsuite’s speaker candidates for SXSW 2015. Vote for her talk here and see her in Austin next spring.

Vote to see my session at SXSW 2015!Growing Hootsuite from a team of 20 people to over 600 employees worldwide is no easy task. Such rapid expansion wouldn’t have been possible without the social web, not only as a recruiting tool, but as an essential part of Hootsuite’s DNA. And it doesn’t stop here—we are looking to hire over 100 new Owls. Want to know how? Hootsuite’s VP Talent Ambrosia Humphrey shares her tips on building a digitally savvy organization.

What is the role of the Talent team in building and maintaining a workforce with social as part of its DNA?

We’re here to facilitate, educate, and help empower employees to continue building the company with that strength as a social organization. While talent is not always out there leading the charge, we’re here to create a framework and an environment where people feel empowered to take action.

At #Hoothire today the Talent team is looking to hire another 100 new Owls. How do you find the people that you think have social in their DNA?

Using social to source people feels very intuitive to us. People are social creatures. And recruiters are social. For us, it’s that discovery process through LinkedIn or going on community forums, or wherever—it’s important to bring in people that have social as a passion for them, because that’s what we’re building. We’re part of that revolution and we want to hire people who can get behind that. But retaining those people and giving them more skills to build upon in emerging technology is just as important.

How can a social-savvy Talent team support social DNA in other departments?

I think HR is actually sometimes one of the last departments to adopt social. Recruiters used it, and in many organizations those people live under HR/Talent. But in other companies, like some tech companies, recruitment was under a completely different department than HR. So HR is evolving. While your recruiting team can go out and find candidates who really understand and care about social, the bigger challenge is often training and empowering your existing people. To remain competitive in today’s digital landscape, organizations need to foster a socially-savvy workforce by implementing and supporting a social and digital training program for all employees.

You’ve said you’re less interested in what a candidate has done, and want to hear more about what they aspire to do at Hootsuite. Do you have any advice for prospective employees about that?

We need people who care about the space. And I ultimately believe that you find the space you love and the job you love to do, and the company you wanna work for is kind of secondary in the discovery process for the candidates. So if your passion is travel, find a job doing accounting for a travelling company and find the best company to do it. I see a lot of people thinking, “That’s a great company; I want to work there, so I’ll just do whatever, to kind of get my foot in the door.” I think the ‘I’ll just get my foot in the door’ approach is not a good idea anymore. You come to the table with a value set, and a skill set, and you come saying, ‘This is what I can offer and this is what I want to get out of it.’ It’s much more of a partnership.

Is it obvious when you’re interviewing candidates who have social in their DNA?

Yes. Hootsuite is a great company, but it’s not for everybody—no company is for everybody. What’s really important is knowing what you want. And we can tell really quickly in the dialogue because we ask a lot of vetting questions for it. They’re simple questions, like “Why do you want to work at Hootsuite?” If the answer is, “Because it’s a cool company,” that’s kind of a red flag. For our culture, we want to see that they have an entrepreneurial spirit and a kind of egolessness. These things manifest in our values, and so it gives us an ability to evaluate talent to see if they’re here for the right reasons. And, of course, it shows when they’ve done their homework.

Hootsuite’s has a social-savvy senior leadership, but that’s not always the case in big organizations. How can HR model and teach social to senior executives and let it cascade through the company?

I’m lucky that I didn’t have to fight for buy-in on social. I think the role that HR and Talent can play is not being the risk-averse one in the room. And often what we find is, maybe the leaders aren’t socially savvy yet, maybe the company hasn’t matured in that direction yet, or maybe they have other stakeholders that doesn’t really allow for the #hootsuitelife hashtags. But you know your company, know your audience, and you find ways of bringing social into your company that make sense. So something like a social performance management tool, or something like Yammer for internal conversations—these are areas where HR can take the lead.

What challenges do large enterprises have in using social that small enterprises don’t?

I think large enterprises have a lot of challenges. They have complex structures and a lot of stakeholders often in the conversation. And they don’t have the ability to make a lot of mistakes. Some small companies can have a few mess-ups that fly under the radar and nothing really happens, but if you’re a large company and your employee tweets something inappropriate—that can end up on Mashable, and all of a sudden you’re a PR disaster and have an engagement disaster. So I think that the big enterprises, the companies with ten thousand employees, what they do is they find ways to make social internal and part of their culture. They get it to the point where it’s comfortable and part of the routine, and then they can start having the conversation about external things. Social is really about the business case, what are you trying to do with it.

If you think you have social in your DNA, and your heart and career paths are set on Hootsuite, come join us for this year’s #HootHire.

When: August 27th, 5 – 7pm PDT

Where: Hootsuite HQ2,111 East 5th Ave, Vancouver, Canada

We’re welcoming applicants for all roles on our careers page, with a focus on sales and development teams.