Rapid Fire with Rapid7’s Ed Nathanson

March 19, 2013

Ed Nathanson's team’s ability to hire the right talent through a period of fast growth has helped make Rapid7 the best place to work in Boston*. We sat down with him for a quick rundown of how he built a highly efficient recruiting function from the ground up.

Your current recruiting budget is 10 percent of what it was when you worked at larger organizations. What’s similar about your approach to sourcing and branding? What’s different?

In the ‘similar’ column, I’d say we are a proactive recruiting team with a “sales” mentality. I’ve brought that wherever I’ve been and now at Rapid7 we hire goal-oriented, numbers-driven people.

In the ‘different’ column, there’s a whole lot. We’ve taken that sales mentality and dialed it up to 10. We’ve redesigned the entire comp plan for our talent scouts. And we’ve heavily infused our candidate experience with our strong culture, which we’ve built an external brand around.

How would you describe Rapid7’s culture?

Passionate, energetic, hard-charging, fun… and definitely not for everyone.

Is that last part incorporated in your talent brand?

You bet. We have a very unique culture. When we built up the employer brand, we wanted to be polarizing and alienate some people, so there’s healthy self-selection in our candidates.

The key to effective talent attraction, especially at a small company, is not being everything to everybody. We put our belief system out there in all its glory - or hideousness, depending on your point of view. If your candidates buy into your belief system, they have the potential to become raving fans. Take our parody videos: they’re cheesy, but they have our core values in them.

I see you have quite the video collection on your LinkedIn profile! Which is your personal favorite?

It’s a tie between “Rocky” and “Flashdance”. As I say on my profile, “It’s awkwardly obvious that we did them ourselves.”

What are you proudest of at accomplishing in your 18 months at Rapid7?

My team of talent scouts has become trusted advisors. At larger organizations, the recruiting team can sometimes feel like a drive-thru window: ‘I’ll take a Java developer to go’. At Rapid7 we do everything from consultatively building out a job description that captures the essence of our culture, through advising all employees on an effective LinkedIn profile, to training our hiring managers.

You’ve invested fully in our services. What’s the sleeper hit in the LinkedIn Talent Solutions portfolio?

The Company Page/Career Page. The Recruiter seat remains our biggest and best tool, but the Company and Career Pages allow us to take our message to a broad audience while maintaining control. They’ve enabled us to partner with the company beyond recruiting. As a result, we’ve taken the interaction between current and future employees to the next level.

If you weren’t in talent acquisition, what would you be doing?

I’d be a rock drummer.

Color me not shocked. What’s your favorite song of all time?

‘In my Life’ by the Beatles. I’m a Beatles nut, borderline obsessive.

Complete the sentence: talent acquisition is…

Evolving, and needs to consistently push beyond being order-taking.

*Rapid7 was named the Boston Business Journal’s #1 Best Place to Work (midsized company) for 2012.

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