Startups are hard. Really hard. Working in a startup is more like mastering the science (and art) of perfectly balanced ingredient ratios expertly blended at the right time and temperature to create a stunning souffle than it is the comfort in knowing that the various sized chunks of butter you left in the dough while it chills for a bit will actually result in a deliciously flaky pie crust.I know this because I love startups and cooking, and while I'm great at hiring for startups I've not mastered the souffle. I realize I could probably use help from a pro. So I'll share with you my thoughts on Talent Acquisition for a startup and you can feel free to send me your tips on the perfect souffle. Deal?
Here's five simple ideas for startup founders to support recruiting:
1. Make sure your door is open.
Some of the best hires I've seen companies make have happened when the right person was introduced at the "wrong" time. The timing isn't always perfect, but whether it happens that week or six months later, it tends to work itself out when the fit between the company and the candidate was meant to be.
Share high level information about what makes a great team member at your company and make sure that information is easy find on your website. Include an option for folks that fit that description to send their resume and cover letter, even if you’re not actively hiring. Be transparent when you don’t have a specific opening, but let it be known that you’re always interested in hearing from talented people who share your values and are excited about your mission and vision. Hold onto those applications: you can reference them for future openings, to build a database and even for referrals. Don't miss out on the chance to learn about or meet great talent because they thought you "weren't hiring."
2. Be a social butterfly.
Many of the startup founders and leaders I’ve worked with aren’t known in the sectors they’re hiring, or going to be hiring, from. Sure, your product solves problems for healthcare, where you’ve got experience and a network, but do the software engineers or sales pros you’re going to need to build your company know who you are?
According to CareerArc’s 2017 Future of Recruiting study, today's job seekers say social media is the number one resource they turn to for information during their job search (over job sites, ads, postings, employee referrals, recruiting events and GASP! even agencies). Even more importantly, don't just post an open position on your company’s social media pages and expect it to be seen. Do a few minutes worth of research and find the sites and groups that your future workforce is likely to frequent and make sure you’re sharing your mission, values, vision and exciting news in places where they’ll have a chance to get to know you...before they see your job posting.
3. Have (another) elevator pitch.
As an entrepreneur, you’re more than comfortable with elevator pitches to get you funded or sell your product. In today’s market, you’re fighting as hard for signatures on offer letters, or even applications from qualified candidates, as you are anything else. Ask yourself what top talent in your field cares about? What would they want to know about your company if they could ask you anything? And, since most of us don't trust what those people with those C-level titles say about their companies, don't be the only one with the proverbial bullhorn here. Ask your team to share with you, and everyone they know, their version of a pitch on what it was that made them pick up the pen and sign on with you.
4. Wax poetic about the opportunity. Or at least try being really positive.
Phrase the job postings you do use as “opportunities” for potential team members, rather than the traditional approach worded around responsibilities and expectations.
For example, try saying, “our new, wildly successful Vice President of Business Development will leverage the existing list of local prospects and his or her enviable skills and impressive experience to develop a well-qualified network of soon-to-be clients who 1. value our product and partnership and 2. are converted 50% faster than through our previous sales cycle, thus helping our new VP garner the position of legend/hero/champion among our ranks.”
5. Authorize your recruiting contacts to be true partners.
Really good recruiting partners do more than send resumes that match job descriptions when you're hiring. Make a call or grab coffee with the recruiters and consultants you know and trust before you need them (if you don't have consultants you know and trust that recruit for what you need, let me know and I'll happily put you in touch with the best of the best).
Empower those agents to make introductions when they meet someone they realize you’d want to know - even when you’re not hiring. You’ll have to spend some time helping them understand “who” is top talent to you, not just what a resume would look like, but it's worth it. This small investment will pay off by expanding your network and giving you a head start on critical hires, but also because reviewing and/or meeting passive candidates will improve your perspective on who to hire and what it will take to bring them on board.
Have other ideas to mix in? I'd love to hear your thought. And to get in touch about food or recruiting or this post, you can find me at firstname.lastname@example.org.