There’s a closet at Chicago-based Hireology filled with lab coats, each embroidered with the name of an employee on the pocket. Once employees hit the three-month mark, they receive a personalized coat during a company-wide ceremony.
This kind of bonding tradition is one reason Joanne Denenberg, manager of the implementation team, and her colleague Corey Fein, strategic account executive, speak highly of their experience at the company.
Another reason is opportunity. Since joining Hireology in January 2013, Fein has been promoted six times. Denenberg, who joined in 2014, has been promoted four times. Each promotion came with a new title, responsibilities, opportunities and a pay raise.
We recently met with Denenberg and Fein to discuss how Hireology engages employees in creating a vision for their careers — and then helps them realize it.
YEAR FOUNDED: 2010.
EMPLOYEES: 100 in Chicago; 30 remote in multiple locations across the U.S.
THE COMPANY: Hireology, a hiring and talent management platform, helps companies address their human capital needs through the hiring journey, from sourcing candidates to automating onboarding to managing payroll and more.
HIRING: People in sales, customer success, project/program management, engineers, product.
IDEAL CANDIDATE: Flexible, accountable, positive
MEET THE CEO: Employees meet with CEO Adam Robinson for 30 minutes while interviewing.
FIVE CORE VALUES: Pathological optimism, own the result, eager to improve, create “WOW” moments, no assholes.
MOTIVATION: Leaders once told a struggling employee: “We’re so proud of you for the effort you’re putting in every day. We just know that the rest is going to fall into place.”
Describe your role — what’s a typical day-to-day?
Joanne Denenberg, manager, implementation team: From the moment we have a new client, my team of seven makes sure that the software is implemented correctly. We ensure that all of our new clients understand how to use the system and truly understand the value of partnering with Hireology. For my part, I spend a lot of time meeting with other teams, focusing on big-picture issues or urgent customer issues.
Corey Fein, strategic account executive: I’m a quota-carrying rep. Each month I have a quota specific to our automotive business. I help dealerships understand the importance of better hiring practices, and then help them implement those practices through Hireology. I manage all of our dealer partners across the northeast, from Virginia to Pennsylvania through Maine. I’m probably on the road about 50 or 60 percent of each month, traveling to dealerships.
You’ve been promoted multiple times. How did Hireology help you advance?
Denenberg: I started in 2014 as a sales development manager. I would basically make 100 cold calls daily to get someone on the line, hopefully, who would, hopefully, set a demo for my account executive. I did that for four months. At that point, Hireology was creating a new role for an account representative. I was asked if I wanted to do it, and I did.
Julie [Rodgers, COO] gave me great advice. She said that the way to get promoted is to do really well in the job you're doing now, ask what’s next and make life easier for the people who have the role you want. I followed her advice. I did really well in every job I had. And then I asked for something new based on the needs that I saw in the company. None of the jobs I’ve had here really truly existed until I helped create it.
What is the impact on you when you realize you’re the one who’s going to create your next opportunity?
Fein: It’s endless. I also started as a sales development manager. I was fresh out of college with no sales experience, but they were willing to take a chance on me. I grew from there.
Truthfully, you can approach anyone here — our CEO, COO or a direct manager — and say, “I understand there's a gap in our business. Here’s how we need to fill it. I want to take that spot.” That’s the opportunity. If you see that opportunity and you're willing to step up and put yourself out there, we’re going to give you that chance.
If you see that opportunity and you're willing to step up and put yourself out there, we're going to give you that chance."
Can you share some company traditions or activities that foster team spirit?
Denenberg: We have a lab coat ceremony to celebrate the moment you become what we call a “Hireologist.” Once you've been here three months, your manager presents what looks to be a biology lab coat with your name on it. In a company-wide ceremony, your manager says something nice about you in front of your peers. It really builds camaraderie. Everyone is excited to get their coat.
Fein: We also have an all-company offsite event in St. Charles, Illinois. For one of the team-building exercises, leadership names a problem that needs to be fixed within the company. It’s up to your team to decide how to change it. The winning team gets a $100 Amazon gift card and their idea is implemented throughout the year.
But we also have fun — we do karaoke, we get to know each other, we have our meals together.
What adjectives would you use to describe Hireology’s culture?
Denenberg: I think it’s a culture of honesty, transparency, collaboration, empathy and flexibility. We have our core values, which really dictate our culture. Our culture really is just abiding by our core values every single day. It’s ingrained in you.
The message is always: Learn from your mistakes — and never be afraid to try something new. "
Are the core values real or are they corporate catch phrases?
Fein: They’re real. The first time I saw them in action was three months after joining. We have what we call activity metrics, which is defined as, for instance, the number of calls you make. We also have hard number metrics, which would be your rate of success from those calls. You can control your activity metric — meaning, how many times you pick up the phone and call a potential customer. But in terms of those hard number metrics, you need that other person to say yes. I had three straight weeks of 900-plus calls each week, and I wasn’t seeing results.
Adam Robinson, co-founder and CEO, and Kevin Baumgart, VP of business development, approached me. Instead of blaming me, they said, “We’re so proud of you for the effort you’re putting in every day. We just know that the rest is going to fall into place.”
It made me want to do more in order to make them proud — just to keep making them happy because they took a chance on me. And within two or three weeks at the most, I was successful.
It made me want to do more in order to make them proud — just to keep making them happy because they took a chance on me."
Denenberg: Yesterday, I was getting my coffee. Adam had already gotten his, but he waited for me and we walked upstairs. I thought, you know, that was nice. He’s the CEO, you know? I just really respect him. He’s transparent to the entire company and has an open-door policy. He embodies every core value. You want to do well for him.
Fein: The leaders bring a team-first, family-first atmosphere. If I make a mistake, there’s no reprimanding. The message is always: Learn from your mistakes — and never be afraid to try something new. That’s what we, as a company, want to foster.