The Clarus Hiring Process: How We Identify The Right Workplace Superstars

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As a Human Resources Director, I’m often asked what HR professionals look for as we sift through dozens (or, more commonly, hundreds) of résumé submissions in search of the prospects who merit an interview.  To give you an idea of how Clarus Marketing Group pares down its list of potential employees, let me share a story from my own experience with the Clarus hiring process.

When I interviewed here two years ago, I was also interviewing at a solid but very “corporate” (i.e., somewhat stuffy) company. I had years of experience in an environment like that, and I knew I could succeed there, but the possibility of working for a smaller, more energetic, and forward-thinking company truly interested me.  Beyond that, there was no official Human Resources function (much less a department) at Clarus then, and while Clarus’s management team was doing a great job covering many of the necessary components, the opportunity to build personnel policies, processes, and other elements from scratch was very enticing.

What particularly impressed me in the recruitment process was an honest, frank comment that Tom Caporaso, our CEO, made at the start of my interview. “Let me tell you why I’m afraid to hire an HR person, even though I know we need one,” he said.  I instantly found his approach both refreshing and intriguing.  Tom explained that he knew Clarus had to build a structure and establish certain guidelines as it grew; regardless of how big the company might become, though, he didn’t want to lose the employee-friendly, fun culture that his team had created and nurtured.  While attracting and retaining talented people was obviously critical to his long-term vision, finding good “cultural” fits was and would remain equally important.

HR_interviewingWhen it comes to recruiting Clarus staff, I’ve tried to fulfill his goals in several ways.  For starters, we don’t chase subscription commerce talent per se.  Knowing that we have a deep bench of experience in that field, we can expand our search to look for experts in the specific disciplines (e.g., finance, IT, or customer service) we need to staff.  Once new employees come on board, we’re confident that they’ll quickly pick up the industry-specific knowledge required to address our particular needs, and we’re thrilled that they’ll share their own particular expertise with our existing workforce.

Yes, we’re looking for superstars, people who aren’t afraid to wear ten hats and work really hard, but we’re also looking for experts who “get it.”  We interview candidates for personality and fit as well as for skills.  We’ve ruled out prospective candidates who didn’t seem to have that passion we constantly seek — that “Clarus thing” that’s so difficult to describe.  We need folks who are focused and hungry, but who also have a great sense of humor — and not just because we tend to be a fun-loving, goofy group.  The online subscription commerce field is relatively young and still evolving, so new challenges are always popping up.  Therefore, we’re always shifting gears as a company, and humor is a requisite part of building and sustaining an environment that can accept and adapt to swift changes successfully.

One way we find suitable candidates is through targeted want ads.  Consider a January 2013 job posting we placed on, seeking “an experienced Senior Software Developer with deep knowledge of the .Net 4 Framework, including Visual Studio 2010, C#, ASP.NET, WCF, and ADO.NET …[plus] experience in interoffice warfare with computer-controlled missile launchers and other ‘weapons’ and an obsession with sports, music, Apple products, movies, technology, or food.”


That posting caught the eye of James Kerr, who was then in the process of writing The Executive Checklist, a primer for how executives can set direction and manage organizational change.  I recently spoke with Mr. Kerr about his book and the 21st-century model for successful corporate workplaces, and I asked him why he included that want-ad in his book.

“I was working on a chapter about staff engagement and how to prepare for Generation Y workforce participation,” he explained.  “I thought that posting was a clever way to reach the people you’re trying to attract and to help people self-select when they’re searching for a job.  It was also a great way to promote your culture.”

I can’t take credit for that classified ad — it was the brainchild of our talented IT staff — but I’m proud of what we’ve all done to fulfill Tom Caporaso’s vision of maintaining and enabling a vibrant, productive, fun Clarus workplace.  Toward that end, we’re always on the lookout for engaging and qualified experts in different fields, so feel free to send us your résumé.  We may not have a position available at the moment, but you never know when an interesting opportunity might come along.

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