What To Look For In A Growth Hacker

Now that you've decided to hire a growth hacker, you have to deal with the question of finding the right one. Where should you look? What skills and qualifications should they have? Should you hire and individual or a team? We're going to answer these questions for you.

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Through careful consideration, weighing of options, and extensive deliberation with your team, you’ve come to the conclusion that your company would benefit from the services of a growth hacker.

Gee whiz guys, we could have told you that!

Well, now that you’ve made up your mind, let’s recover those weeks you spent deciding and address the question of finding the right growth hacker. You’re probably wondering the following:

  • How do you know if he or she has the right skills?
  • What traits should you look for?
  • Where should you look?
  • Should you take an individual on board or hire an agency?

Now that you’re on the on-ramp and have your blinker on, we’re going to help you with these questions so you can smoothly merge onto the busy highway towards exponential growth. (If you’ve read our blog before, hopefully you’re used to the cheesy analogies by now.)

(By the way, if you’re still floundering in indecisiveness, check out our previous post When Your Business is NOT Ready For Growth Hacking.)


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Look for Mindset + Skills

Growth hackers are in high demand, and so finding one can be tricky. According to Melinda Byerley from Growth Marketing Conference, there are 7 vacancies for every growth hacker out there.

That doesn’t mean, however, that you should hire the first bloke you meet sporting the title. There is no certification body for the field, and anyone who has read a book might try calling themselves a growth hacker.

And so you need to have a vetting process. Hiring the wrong guy (or girl) could cost your company dearly.

A growth hacker needs to have the right combination of mindset and skills (not to mention a proven track record). Checking for these is crucial, and so here are some tips.

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The Mindset A Growth Hacker Should Have

Growth hackers are focused on growth like a laser beam. Their relentless pursuit of the most efficient and effective ways to grow a business gives them a narrow focus, but also enables them to take a broad approach.

They tend to ignore departmental boundaries, moving around as needed, doing whatever it takes to achieve their goals. They are unafraid to ask for favors, and you might find them ordering your developers around before they have even been formally introduced.

This aggressive tendency to take initiative (which we usually refer to as “hustling”) comes from growth hacker’s extreme sense of ownership. They invest all their efforts in achieving their growth targets, and take full responsibility for outcomes.

This often results in overdelivery and exceptional results.

On the other side of the coin, growth hackers are extremely data-driven. You might hear them say that data is their only real boss. They do what the data dictates. Through rapid experimentation and testing, they focus all their efforts on the solutions that are proven to be effective.

They might try a dozen different things, carefully measuring and tracking just to see what works. They formulate hypotheses, run experiments and make constant adjustments based on their findings.

This data driven approach means that assumptions and guesswork are eliminated from the decision making process--potentially saving you lots of money.

How Do You Look For This Mindset?

The Growth Mindset© developed by Dr. Carol S. Dweck is a good framework for identifying the right characteristics in potential candidates. You can use this framework to help you craft the right interview questions and get inside your candidate’s head.

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The Growth Mindset means:

  • You are confident in your ability to learn new skills. You have the attitude, “If I don’t know how, I’ll figure it out!”
  • You know how to harness frustration and convert it into fuel for overcoming challenges and difficult tasks.
  • You don’t let failures set you back. You know they are part of the learning process and you internalize the lessons learned.
  • You realize that your attitude is more important than your abilities. Your will to succeed drives you.


The Skillset A Growth Hacker Should Have

The function of a growth hacker is a fusion of 1) creative marketing, 2) data science and 3) computer programming.

They are proficient in many skills and techniques like:

  • A/B testing
  • Landing page optimization
  • SEO and SEM
  • Data analytics
  • Heatmaps
  • Link building
  • Marketing automation
  • CRO
  • Copywriting psychology
  • Web scraping
  • Retargeting
  • ...and more

Of course, not every growth hacker is an expert in every one of these things. Growth hackers have a T-shaped skillset where the horizontal bar represents breadth of knowledge and the vertical bar represents depth.

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The typical growth hacker has a general understanding of a wide variety of tools and techniques, while specializing in only a few. This is one reason why growth hackers like to work in teams.

A good growth team knows how to leverage individual members’ knowledge and strengths.

At RockBoost, for example, we have people with a pretty diverse set of backgrounds including business, marketing, finance and design. We also have a whole team of hardcore programmers. This enables us to not only use existing tools to help clients grow, but actually build any custom application a company might need.



There is actually some disagreement between top growth hackers as to whether programming skills are really necessary.

Andrew Chen (the growth guy at Uber) says, “Growth hackers are a hybrid of marketer and coder, one who looks at the traditional question of ‘How do I get customers for my product?’ and answers with A/B tests, landing pages, viral factor, e-mail deliverability, and Open Graph.”

Patrick Vlaskovits, on the other hand, says, “Contra Andrew Chen, growth hacking has absolutely nothing to do with if one is able to code or unable to code.”

Aaron Ginn writes, “Growth hacking’s goals are based in marketing but driven by product instincts. A growth hacker lives at the intersection of data, product, and marketing. A growth hacker lives within the product team and has a technical vocabulary to implement what he or she wants.”

Part of the reason for these differing points of view is the emergence of many easy-to-use tools over the last decade that allows growth hackers to measure, analyze, test and optimize with very little technical knowledge.

Programming may be less essential today than it was 6 years ago. However, even the most basic tools need to be installed and set up properly. A growth hacker needs to know how to make maximum use of the data they collect… and this requires some technical acumen.

And when it comes to creating custom tools and applications that are very specific to a business, programming is a non-negotiable.

The skills you need a growth hacker to have depend largely on what skills are already in your organization. Do you already have a strong backend team? Then programming might be less essential.

The bottom line is that a well-rounded growth team is always going to deliver better results than an individual. Their expertise will be both broader and deeper.


The Bare Necessities

It’s not necessary for a growth hacker to have a background in marketing, but they should have a strong understanding of the basics. They need to know how to understand, acquire, activate and retain customers.

They should have digital marketing skills, and they should be familiar with things like SEO, AdWords, social media marketing, email marketing.

It is essential that they know how to use analytics tools like Google Analytics and UTM links. They should have a strong grasp of A/B testing and building landing pages.

They should be familiar and comfortable with major CMSs like Wordpress and Joomla--ideally whatever your company already uses.

They should be able to navigate your online assets without having to ask for much help.

How Do You Look For This Skillset?

The best way to ensure a potential candidate has the necessary skills is to ask about their past work.

What are some innovative hacks they have come up with in the past? Can they give numbers regarding growth results they helped produce for previous companies? What are some of their greatest growth achievements?

Ask them about some of their favorite growth hacks others have done (there are quite a lot of famous examples). Ask them if they can think of a growth hack they might implement at your company. Ask them what blogs they follow and who their influencers are.

An important thing you should do is craft a job description based on your company's unique growth objectives. Make it as specific as possible so that applicants reply with details.


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Where To Find A Growth Hacker

Places like LinkedIn jobs are the most popular way to find high quality candidates nowadays. You can expect a good growth hacker to have a strong online presence with a top LinkedIn profile and most likely their own website.

Their ability to market themselves online already says a lot about what they will be able to achieve for you.

AngelList is a great way to find people as well. Much like Tinder (and I’m assuming you use Tinder), it allows you to scroll through people quickly. Companies can express interest in candidates and vice versa.

Another channel is Growth Hackers dot com. It is a useful growth hacking community with many articles, questions, AMA sessions, growth case studies, videos and job postings.

You should also try monitoring the hashtag #growthhacker on Twitter to find potential candidates.

Finally, you can consider hiring a growth hacking agency. There are many and they should be easy to find (if they know how to optimize their marketing channels!). Check their websites to see what they offer. As with individuals, looking at which other clients they have worked for will give you some idea as to their legitimacy and level of success.

RockBoost is a growth hacking agency of course, and one of the unique aspects of our value propositions is the fact that we don’t only do the growth hacking work for you, but we also train your teams so they can do the work themselves.

Hacking Your New Growth Hacker

How do you get the most out of your new growth hacker?

After hiring a growth hacker or a growth team, it is important to set them up for success by removing as many obstacles as you can so they can do their job.

A couple things to pay attention to:

  • Like we talked about in a previous post, sometimes marketing people can (needlessly) feel threatened when growth hackers join the team. But we’ve found that the best growth hacking implementations happened when we worked alongside a company’s existing marketing department. You should do your best to facilitate a good working relationship.
  • You need to show that you are willing to pivot and adjust in response to a growth hacker’s discoveries--not only in regards to your marketing channels, but to your product offers too. Nothing is more demotivating for a growth hacker than to find a breakthrough solution and then run up against internal resistance to change. They will likely want to go elsewhere.


Final Words

We hope these tips will serve you well in finding the right growth hacker or growth team for your business. These are the same things we look for when hiring new members for our team.

If you’ve hired a growth hacker, we would love to hear how it worked out. Leave a comment or send us a message!


Happy hacking!

Chris Out Chris Out
follow me: @chrisout

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