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Michael, the founder of ACELR8, kicked-off stating the uniqueness of getting the first hires on board. He met his first hire at a train station, started a conversation, and saw them growing in his company — today, this person is one of his strongest employees. The only problem is that this approach is not scalable - you need to introduce structure for scalability. On the other hand, he stated the true cost of a bad hire:
Later, Michael divided recruitment into its different stages::
The second part of the workshop was about data in recruiting. Grant explained how to build your recruiting pipeline, comparing it to a sales one. Your early-stage sourcing efforts come from networking, social media outreach, and events. Considering that your startup may not have a strong brand yet, being active in building relationships is important to attract quality talent and find them in a competitive market.
A few known channels for sourcing candidates are LinkedIn, StackOverflow, GitHub, Twitter, Facebook, and specialist forums. Some best practices:
Once you have done the work and delivered your messages, you want to look at the conversion rates — how many replies have your received, how many are positive, how many moved through the stages? This makes it possible to plan for the future, by setting your total hiring, calculating your conversion rate, and measuring your time per stage. You will get insight into the number of candidates you have to speak to per hire and your total time per hire and stage. See where the bottlenecks play up and where you can bring in more productivity and efficiency.
But what do you do if you do not have any data?
The third part of the talk workshop focused on evaluating candidates. Joyce started out as an Engineer, but loved the people side of her work and prepping Engineers for interviews so much, that she moved to a headhunter role.
'Hiring Good People is the #1 concerning issue for early-stage founders, even above revenue, growth, and acquiring customers, but three out of four founders spend less than 20% of the time in hiring.'
As time and resources in a startup are limited, getting the evaluation right is of high importance. Not only to identify talent that nobody else identifies, but also to get the right talent on board for your company with its challenges.
Think about how to use your time during an interview. Are you evaluating hard skills? Soft skills? Motivation?
Divide your interviews in evaluating the Know-How, Can-Do and Want-To. It is important to get it right, as the first ten hires are crucial and they have a huge impact on the next 100 hires.
When you are pitching/selling the company you should be aware of the three most common reasons why talent join a startup:
Make sure to understand their motivation and/or career fit. What is the challenge they are looking for? Do they want to be a manager, an expert, or an individual contributor? Ask them what they want. Make them talk, make them tell you what they want.
After you understand their story, you can start creating your own. Build it around your mission and exciting problems that need to be solved. Make the candidate the hero in that story. Tell them how they can solve those challenges and the impact they can make:
The fourth part of the talk focused on forging and maintaining relationships, with a view to close the candidate. One of the most electric feelings throughout the recruitment process is sending an offer out and potentially getting your talent onboard. In contrast, one of the most disheartening feelings is having that offer rejected. If you are not converting, nothing else matters.
Closing starts from the first touchpoint with the candidate, it is not only understanding their professional skills and hopes, but gaining a full picture of their lives. One must always check-in and understand all objections, worries or concerns at each touch point.
Bringing your first employees on-board requires a deeper level of connection. Getting deeply personal will only solidify your relationship, and create a level of comfort whilst fostering an open forum to ask any questions. All of this adds to the likelihood of the candidate saying yes upon receiving the offer.Being completely sincere and allowing yourself to be vulnerable to the potential candidate will ensure that they mirror that sentiment creating a more honest process.
Some typical conversion mistakes come from:
Make sure to set expectations for the first 6-12 months, allowing the candidate to see what they need to achieve or complete within that time frame. Communicate candidly regarding any changes that are made over time, do not sugarcoat the realities of the challenges ahead. It is imperative to lay all your cards on the table, share without censorship and give considerate and lengthy feedback.
Be aware of counter-offers, and mentally prepare the candidate for it. In the end, the deal is only sealed when the candidate shows up on the first day. But the biggest tip, is really listen to them, their concerns, and pain points. Take them into account and don’t oversell — focus on what’s important.
Hopefully, this article made you about 10% better at hiring.
ACELR8 is a recruitment startup based in Berlin and London. We work with startups and scale-ups, hiring the first person in the team, up to helping companies to enter the stock market with the right talent onboard. Years of experience gives us insight on how to build high performing teams. Get in touch.
ACELR8 is not only looking for a matching technical profile, but also for people who fit us and our values.