For the past year we have been in a high growth stage and hiring has become more and more important (and taken more and more time). In trying to attract top talent to our company, here are some of the things I have learned along the way.
Step 1: Clarify the Role
The first step was getting a really clear idea on who I was looking for: I think this is a critical step — really clarifying the job description, but more importantly, the character attributes of the ideal candidate. Are they a hustler or a relationship builder? Do they talk more than listen? Do they want to build a company, or just their resumes?
Step 2: Build a Persona
Thought experiment: who is the ideal candidate? What is their name? What are their hobbies? What are the first three things that jump to mind? How do they dress?
We have given our vacant positions names…like “Heidi” or “Ted” so that we can have conversations internally about what “Heidi” will do, how she will act, etc. It seems basic, but this one step has really helped us both clarify and also develop a deeper understanding of what we are looking for from that position.
Of course, this is all fantasy fiction-land until you start to validate these hypotheses with some real information. We have found two primary sources of information: conversations with real people, and LinkedIn. If you can’t find anyone on LinkedIn with the combination of experience and skills you are looking for: they may not exist.
Step 3: Understand Motivations
Now that we have an idea of who Heidi is, the next question is: what is next for Heidi? One thing we have learned early on is that people don’t apply for jobs they are already completely qualified for — they apply for jobs they want to be qualified for…these are like stretch goals: goals that you can hit if you are on your game and things go well.
That’s fine. But it’s probably good to expect that.
So the question may not be, “Is this person where I want them to be today?” but rather, “Can this person grow to that position in a very short amount of time” (and hopefully continue on that trajectory well past the original goal)?
We have found it useful to think about why people would want to move from their current situation to join our company. Why would you do it? It’s probably not for the pay — as a startup, most large organizations will win that battle pretty much every time. Stock options? Sure, for your key hires, but as a company grows, it follows that the ability to win talent over on options alone will lessen over time.
Team? Culture? Well, I’m sure it varies a lot from person to person, and company to company, but the combination of a great culture that offers people meaningful work is hard to beat.
The more you can drill down on what exactly is causing your candidate to want a change in their career, the better you will be able to align their goals with that of the company’s.