Guide to Startup Hiring
After years of ogling pictures and driving other people’s Jeeps, I finally took the plunge and bought myself a Wrangler. Most people want Mustangs or Ferraris, but for me, the dream has always been the Wrangler. It was a happy day.
The process of buying the vehicle, on the other hand, was less than enjoyable. In between the salesman telling me for the 6th time he was going to get my keys while in reality coming back with another bad offer, it dawned on me that navigating a vehicle purchase is not all that different from the startup hiring process. Naturally, I am sharing what I’ve learned with you to lessen your hiring headache and make your next auto purchase a breeze (you’re welcome).
Find Something That Is You
I have wanted a Jeep Wrangler since I can remember. Some people want Mustang Cobras, GTs, Z-1s and other sports cars, but the pinnacle for me has always been a Wrangler. And yes, I could have checked out some of the nicer trucks and SUVs out there, and was nearly sold on an FJ Cruiser instead (I gave it serious thought). In the end, I knew what I had always wanted from the beginning was right for me, because those other options didn’t fit my needs, personality and lifestyle like the Wrangler.
When it comes to hiring for your startup, you are fishing from a pool of hundreds, if not thousands, of professionals. Yes, you will find many qualified people for the job, but if they don’t fit your company, its culture and team, then you haven’t found the right person for the job.
Check Out The Reviews
I’m an amature mechanic at best, and have little authority when it comes to rating cars. I checked out Edmunds, Car and Driver, Kelley Blue Book and Cars.com, and also peeked inside a few forums just to see what the enthusiasts and haters had to say. I know what I need it to do, but can’t necessarily say whether a car will be able to do it.
Check your references. Then execute your due diligence and find other references. Too many companies skip this step. Due diligence is a pain and will never be easy. But past performance and behavior is often a predictor of future performance and behavior, and the observations and opinions of others are your best records of both. So, please…Find your own references to check.
Realize That You Will Get The Good And The Bad
The Wrangler is not a perfect vehicle by any means, and I was well aware of that. The gas mileage isn’t great; the highway ride is not the best, and I know the day will come when I run into the classic soft top issues of rain water and rough car washes. Like any vehicle, it’s going to need maintenance and will probably throw me a repair bill worth an arm and a leg every once in a while. I did my research, and although something else might creep up and surprise me, for the most part I know what I’m getting into.
There is no such thing as the perfect hire, so don’t try looking for one. The best thing you can do is gather as much information as you can, paint an accurate picture of your potential hires so you know what to expect and match up your needs with what candidates can offer. Get the person you need, and be prepared for both the good and the not so great.
Define And Stick To Your Non-Negotiables
The number of features, options, upgrades and modifications available on vehicles today means that, even with the make and model narrowed down, you have literally hundreds of options from which to choose. Ultimately, there were just a few things that were non-negotiable for me. It had to be an Unlimited four-door, be a 4×4, be a low mileage vehicle (I considered used cars as well) and have cruise control. Anything else, I could take or leave depending on the price.
You will come across people with a wide range of experience and talents, but when it comes down to it, you will have to pay for every aspect of your hire. Define your non-negotiable needs and leave everything else as a nice-to-have. This will allow you to focus on your core needs, walk away from candidates outside of your price range and find a Goldilocks hire for your team.
Take It For A Test Drive
I would never buy a car without taking it for a test drive. It could be the coolest looking car out there, but if it’s a poor driving experience, I won’t buy it. I took the Jeep I eventually purchased out for an hour-long test drive, and was sold halfway through.
When you look at hiring from the car buying perspective, trying out candidates before you hire them makes a lot more sense. Many of today’s forward-thinking companies are adopting this approach already, whether it’s bringing them on for a project as part of the hiring process or giving them a contract-to-hire opportunity to test the waters and see if they’re a match. One of the biggest issues with hiring is you never know what you’re getting until you have it, making this a stellar approach.
Don’t Go Over Your Price
Ultimately, it didn’t matter what my non-negotiables were or how much I loved that car if I couldn’t get them to match the price I needed. My budget was my budget, and as hard as they tried to get me to compromise, I knew better. In the end, I ended up at the top range of my number, but it was still within the range.
For all of the talk about offering market compensation to attract top talent, every company knows that the resources you have are the resources you have, regardless of what you need. You must be competitive in your compensation, but if the market demands more than you can offer, it’s time to find another solution; consider less expensive options, reevaluate your core needs or go raise more money. But don’t stray from your budget without serious evaluation or consideration of alternatives.
Hang In There!
I spent 8 hours (yes, you read that right) dealing with the dealership and negotiating. Nevermind the time I spent researching before I ever drove up there. I had to fight for what I wanted, and was ready to walk away quite a few times. Had they not reached my parameters, I would have left a sad, Jeepless man.
Hiring takes work and time. Ask any Fortune 500 company, and they will tell you that their highest priority is hiring. The time, effort and money that companies put in is well worth it because the impact of a good hire and the value that the right talent brings to a company is enormous. So put the time in, get the resources, speak with recruiters and don’t stop until you find the right people.
I’m a few months into Jeep ownership, and I love it (I’m writing to you about it, so obviously). Follow the same guide to startup hiring, and you will be loving your sparkly new employees in no time, too.