5 Tips for Startups Hiring in Today’s Job Market

Source: Workable

News headlines are sending our heads in a spin from stories of a red-hot job market to the recession and what that could mean for job-seeking individuals.

One thing is for sure, the hiring market remains competitive. Lisa Davie, a recruiting professional who has managed talent pipelines for Salesforce and Airbnb, shared five things to know to help you recruit more effectively and land top talent to help your company grow.

#1: TO HIRE QUICKLY, SPEND MORE TIME UPFRONT TO DEFINE THE ROLE

We have all heard the phrase, “hire slow, fire fast” but what does that mean in practice? You need to spend the majority of hours putting in work on your organization planning, job description, and on-boarding before the job post is public. A few questions to help you get started:

  • ROLE DEFINITION: Outline the responsibilities of this hire in the first month, quarter, year etc. The clearer you can be in scoping the role, the better chance you have of finding a candidate that is going to stick. This includes outlining what they will own, their partners and how they will work together.
  • CORE COMPETENCIES: Determine the personal characteristics and operating practices this hire needs to have to be successful (rather than specific experience). Each person you bring on early will be critical in defining the culture of the company so make sure they are going to be set up for success.
  • BUDGET: What is your budget? Think about if you need to hire one senior role or if it would serve you to have two-three entry level positions filled first.
  • MISSION CRITICAL: What is the most important thing you need someone to do? For example, if you are a technical person you might need an expert at go to market. Another way to think about it is what do you need to do, but should not be doing? What do you hate doing, but have to do?

#2: GO BEYOND YOUR NETWORK TO SOURCE TALENT

PHASE 1: YOUR NETWORK

There is value in your early hires being known entities. There are often hidden gems in your network, but the big con is bias and lack of diversity. If you don’t build diversity into your team at the beginning, it can become difficult to correct later

PHASE 2: YOUR NETWORK’S NETWORK

Go out to everyone you know with details on the position, a few of the highlights, and ask them if they know anyone.

PHASE 3: COLD OUTREACH

Don’t forget the power behind you, the founder, reaching out to someone. Cold outreach takes a bit more work, but can yield great results. A few ideas on where to post include: University job boards (especially for candidates a few years out of school), social media groups and forums.

#3: INTERVIEW AROUND CORE COMPETENCIES RATHER THAN EXPERIENCE

To start, a rule of thumb is generally no more than 4 interviews. Each interview should be at least 45 minutes, there isn’t much you can learn in 30 minutes. Get your interview team together and go through the role, then remind them of the core competencies they should be interviewing for. For example, if one of your core competencies is speed, interviewers can ask, “How have you delivered a project from start to finish in a short period of time?”

Following the interviews have a structured feedback process with everyone writing and submitting their feedback separately. Provide a template or questions people can use. For example:

  • How did they demonstrate ______ competency? Give specific examples.
  • Overall would you recommend this person to move forward?
  • Any areas and/or competencies that need to be dug into further?

#4: IN THE EARLY DAYS, TRY TO FIND AN ATHLETE

We don’t mean a person who is proficient in sports, but someone who can grow and shift in a role. Startups often combine roles, which should be clearly articulated in the interview process, but can also give candidates something interesting and exciting to grow into. How do you find the athlete? Focus on behavioral questions around grit:

  • Can you share an example of things you’ve overcome?
  • Can you walk me through a project you have taken start to finish?

#5: USE REFERENCES DIFFERENTLY BASED ON STAGE OF CANDIDATES CAREER

References can be great way to learn more about a candidate, but they can also be a colossal waste of time. They should be managed differently based on the phase of the candidate’s career journey. For someone early in their career, the conversation with a reference is less about how they’ll do at the job and more about how you can help this person be successful. For executives it is important to do a lot of references. These are much deeper and more nuanced than someone starting their career as they have more experiences. The conversation with a reference should be focused around areas or competencies you have questions on.

Remember the only thing more frustrating that hiring is re-hiring. It is critical to take the time in the upfront to define what you need, competencies you are looking for and how this individual will grow. Then ensure you have your interview process planned out, candidate experience matters so much.

At January Ventures, we’re committed to demystifying venture capital. This workshop was part of our Founders Workshop Series and aimed to give insight into the state of the job market and how to hire effectively. Thank you to our partners Oracle for Startups and AngelList for their continued support and for making this event possible.

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January Ventures

January Ventures

January Ventures (previously known as Jane VC) invests early and opens doors for the visionary founders of the future.