Recruiting for potential: Tim Barker speaks to Ideagen COO, James King

2 minute read

By Tim Barker

In the face of AI and tech-enabled recruitment becoming the norm, Ideagen has set themselves apart by taking a counterpoint view.

In my capacity as co-lead of the Hg Growth team, I recently had the opportunity to sit down with James King, COO of Ideagen, and delve into their unique approach towards recruitment and talent development, balancing tech and human approaches when building the future of your team, recruiting for potential over AI CV screening, and how employers need to adapt to the needs of the incoming generation.

Ideagen is a rapidly growing SaaS technology business, serving 12,000 customers globally and employing approximately 1500 people. The company's growth trajectory is impressive - doubling in size every two and a half years. This growth, however, brings its challenges, particularly in hiring and retaining the right talent.

To address these challenges, Ideagen has implemented a distinctive recruitment program, focusing on hiring individuals straight out of university or transitioning from other careers. The key to this approach is not necessarily the recruits' work experience, but rather their potential. The attributes that Ideagen focuses on are communication skills, teamworking skills, coachability, and grit.

Think back to yourself when you came out of university. What did your CV say? It probably said "Duke of Edinburgh Award" or, "I did this," or, "I played football". But you really don't have any real work experience at that point. So one of the things we're doing is to look at potential, and it's difficult to find that with just technology. 

This approach allows Ideagen to train and develop these individuals in-house, a strategy that has proven successful. Currently, 40% of the company's quota-carrying salespeople have come through this graduate entry program.

Supporting this program is a structured training regimen that combines on-the-job learning, coaching, mentoring, and self-analysis. Technology plays an essential role in this process, with recruits having access to a learning management system and call monitoring software. The company also collaborates with the Institute of Professional Sales to provide external programs for professional qualifications.

One crucial element of this program is the provision of a clear and structured roadmap for career progression. This approach is particularly engaging for Gen Z recruits, who are eager to understand how they can advance within the company. Furthermore, Ideagen promotes early within the program, a strategy that brings integrity to the program and demonstrates the company's commitment to these recruits.

Overall, Ideagen's program has been highly successful. The company has been able to maintain a high retention rate, contributing to a lower customer acquisition cost. Additionally, the program has fostered a strong company culture, with recruits becoming deeply embedded in Ideagen's mission and values.

In conclusion, Ideagen's recruitment and talent development approach, focused on potential rather than experience, has proven to be a successful strategy for the company. By investing in the growth and development of their employees, Ideagen has not only been able to overcome talent acquisition challenges but also foster a robust company culture.

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