Recruiting the right IT talent can be daunting. Larger firms have the benefit of pools of HR managers who like anyone, bemoan their station having to sort through the mountains of resumes, the hours of interviews, and passing the information to the right people for their input. But what about a smaller firm without the endless supply of HR managers? Hiring for IT in a small tech startup needs another word, something between north of daunting but just south of impossible. Luckily there are a growing collection of start-up / entrepreneur veterans with advice to give. Michael Overell has compiled a few pro-tips and is the CEO and co-founder of RecruitLoop, an online recruitment marketplace based in San Francisco and Australia. He is a former McKinsey Consultant.
Although hiring is difficult it can be extremely challenging with startups that have little information about market conditions but are compelled to be competitive for critical talent. Some are guilty of looking no farther than what is on the resume only to be shocked with a bad culture fit. Startup recruiting has therefore fallen into a rut of hiring people that are “similar” in work culture but now face a lack of diversity. Overell claims the key is looking past the shortcoming every startup has by realigning their outlook at the talent market to accelerate your growth curve.
The first key is understanding the role that you need to hire for – what exactly do you want someone to do and what specifically does success look like? Too many startups look for senior software engineer then expect them to do mid-level duties. Or posting for an office manager when they are really looking for an HR coordinator.
Often times this mismatch is from the simply misinterpretation of a job title and the associated responsibilities. Hiring someone to lead a sales process with the term “lead hacker” will get different results from a “sales hacker”, startup language but very different job descriptions. Beyond job titles, the most critical factors to finding and keeping the right talent is having a comprehensive list of what you expect them to do.
Overell also advises to hire for team strength, not just to fill a talent vacancy. Prioritizing hiring and hiring for strength means you have to take a hard look in the mirror honestly identify your team’s own weaknesses. Identify the holes in your team’s abilities, or what are is your cofounder doing that they really hate? What is no one doing because no one has any idea where to start? What’s falling off people’s plates because there isn’t enough time to complete them? Hire to fill the gaps and strengthen the team
Finally, you must know the hiring market you are competing with when you are calculating someone’s salary. Where is your firm located? Consider you will have to pay more for a developer in Seattle than Boston because you are competing with Microsoft, Google and Amazon. As always, supply and demand apply, “the fewer candidates there are in comparison to the number of companies hiring for that kind of role, the more you’ll have to pay.”