Startups: Hire the Right Recruiter from the Start

Startups: Hire the Right Recruiter from the Start

Hire the Right Recruiter

Mid-level management and individual contributors are the lifeblood of an early to mid-stage startup. These employees are critical resources because they are the most hands on in developing the product. It is essential that they be in place as quickly as possible. If they aren’t, they are not creating, they are not doing, and your startup is not moving forward.

Avoid Subpar Recruiting

The case has been made for the value of a recruiter to a startup. The challenge is to hire the right recruiter to bring the best talent through your doors. It is not uncommon for me to be tasked with the role of “The Cleaner” by prospective clients who already have a recruiter or a variety of recruiters in place working on a search. They are coming to me because they are frustrated with the lack of quality candidates who do not fit the job’s profile. They look to me to clean up the mess, start fresh and get the role filled yesterday because time has been wasted. How can a startup avoid such an enormous waste of time and precious resources by selecting a higher caliber recruiter from the beginning?

You Get What You Pay For, If You Even Get It

There are recruiting firms out there playing in the startup space who focus on price point, which allows them to keep their fees low in an effort to do volume. When the focus is on volume, the quality suffers because volume generally requires the low hanging fruit approach. The job gets posted in a few places and there may be time for some superficial sourcing, but most results come from job boards. This means that primarily, they are left to sift through candidates who are likely out of a job or trying to make a move; Not normally the crème de la crème. Exceptional candidates can be found this way, but not normally. Quality really comes from how the candidates are recruited.

It requires superb sourcing skills to be effective, and knowing how to source is not effective unless the candidate can then be engaged. When you pay a low fee for recruiting results, it can feel as if the recruiter is throwing resumes against the wall to see if they stick. To meet their volume approach, they send a lot of resumes to you so that you will feel they are actively working on your search to get it filled. But if they are not good resumes and they are not good candidates, then you are wasting that fee payment, as cheap as it may be, by spinning your wheels as time passes you by. That is time that your startup cannot afford to miss.

Source Your Recruiter

Although getting a referral to a recruiter is always a good start, you still need to do your homework before entering into any agreement with them. Find out about their results. This tells you the most important information. What clients they have worked with? Talk to some of them to gauge their experience. Look at the recruiter’s recommendations. Check out their web presence. Are they an active thought leader? How big is their network? What is their background? Are they a seasoned executive or seasoned professional who has been doing recruiting for quite a long time? Do they have experience within your industry? Your research will help you evaluate their quality as a recruiter. Then, the only way that you can actually experience it is to give it a shot with an agreement that allows them to prove their value and for you to receive a great return on your investment.

What a Quality Recruiter Will Deliver

If you are actively engaged with your recruiter and provide them with a detailed profile for the role, you should expect them to deliver quality with swiftness. If you hire the right recruiter, they will be capable of honing in on the right profile once they get the attributes from you. They can then do the deep sourcing to find passive candidates and engage them as quickly as possible. They will then filter and deliver a short list to you in a very quick period of time. If you don’t have candidates to speak with within two to three weeks of starting a search who aren’t resonating with you relative to the profile, something is wrong with your recruiter’s process, experience, and abilities.

The Bottom Line

Startups are focused on the bottom line. It is vital for you to preserve cash, but if the several thousand dollars you save on a fee ultimately leaves you with sub-par candidates months into the process, the work isn’t getting done. Is it worth it? It is easy to take that chance initially, to rush into an agreement with the recruiting firm offering the best rate, and skip diligent research. Sadly, startup after startup seems to require a failed recruiting experience before learning these lessons. In my experience, once a startup experiences quality recruiting, they recognize the true value that fee provides.

Put the right recruiting team in place from the start. You can’t afford not to.

Sandy Bleich is Senior Partner at Millennium Search. She has seen success in both large corporate and startup environments, with over 25 years of experience as a technology executive. As a recruiter, clients and candidates have consistently recognized her as an excellent communicator and valued partner.

Capturing Top Talent in a Competitive Market

Capturing Top Talent in a Competitive Market

Capturing Top Talent

There are still some people out there who believe the market is not competitive. Everybody thinks they have the best new, shiny object. And they just might, but the reality is that for every one shiny object, there are another 200 that are not quite as shiny. It is essential to recognize that the market for unique talent sits with the ability to make an object the shiniest of all, and is still incredibly competitive. Once the environment is recognized, hiring executives then need to focus on three key pieces to lure and place that talent with them.


Successful hires are born from openness to compromise. Companies must establish their role’s core non-negotiable skills. These cannot be everything in the job profile. Target the three or four things that will instantly exclude a person from consideration if they don’t have them in their arsenal. Once that is established, hiring executives need to be very open and willing to think outside of the box. For example, if years of experience is negotiable, companies need to be flexible and understand that if more experience is desired, they have to pay for it; if less experience is acceptable, that provides more flexibility on cost. Have levers and a level of realism that finding perfection is challenging. Capturing top talent is passive, meaning they are currently employed and are being approached by numerous new opportunities at the same time.


Regardless of how one of those candidates is discovered, whether via a recruiter or independently, engagement is critically important on the part of the company if there appears to be a strong fit for the role. While the candidate has to sell themselves to the client, it is vital in a competitive market for the hiring executive to engage early on in the process and continuously sell the company to the candidate. Once an interest is expressed, companies cannot just shut down. They need to stay engaged with the candidate to keep them warm via ongoing emails, requests for more materials and setting up a follow-up interview. These create opportunities to constantly re-qualify the candidate’s interest in the role as well to determine what other opportunities they may currently be considering. And when a real star surfaces, it is time to make a move. Forget about the other fish in the sea or the fact that a quota pool of candidates hasn’t yet been fully presented. When a candidate looks like “the one,” get it done.


Recently, when the market was less competitive, early to mid-stage start-ups in particular could get away with paying less salary for high quality because of options and upside. In this competitive market, in order to attract the same level candidates, market compensation needs to be paid in addition to options and generally, a bonus. Preparation is key while working on capturing top talent. Recognize that they are likely to receive counter offers from their current employer. And within that context, it is important for hiring executives to constantly re-qualify talent throughout the process. This ensures that when the hiring executive makes their offer, the candidate is prepared to resign, no matter what, and be in place at their new company to make new, shiny objects brighter than all the rest.

Sandy Bleich is Senior Partner at Millennium Search. She has seen success in both large corporate and startup environments, with over 25 years of experience as a technology executive. As a recruiter, clients and candidates have consistently recognized her as an excellent communicator and valued partner.

Why Nine to Five Workers are Things of the Past

Nine to Five Workers

As the song goes, “ nine to five workers ” in an office used to be the norm, but now it is a thing of the past. Around the world, one in five workers telecommute frequently and 10 percent work from home every day. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in the United States, 24 percent of employed people worked from home during work days in 2010.

The world is evolving as technology grows, and soon the standard will no longer be physically going into the office. The future of work is exporting business internationally, but 34% of firms say the biggest obstacle in expanding is setting up a physical office in a foreign country. Welcome to a new age of the business world, where people are conducting business virtually.

The virtual business world is linked by technology. Teams of workers from various locations across the world can now collaborate in real-time to work on the same projects. Advancements in social media and other Internet applications, such as Skype, allow for deals and transactions to take place between businesses in various parts of world.

Virtual business has many advantages:

  • Unlimited Talent
    • Companies are not limited to hiring local employees in their area; instead, they can hire the best talent from around the world to create a unique team.
    • For example, the base of IBM’s business strategy is to unite cultures, languages, professions and perspectives. As a result, they have designed a program specifically for the hiring of international students, giving them ideal opportunities to make career advancements with IBM.
  • Cost and Time Effective
    • Businesses save time and money because they do not need to invest money in office space and commutes. Video conferencing and other collaboration tools significantly reduce travel times and costs.
    • Alternatively, companies can use flexible workspaces such as Regus. Regus has offices you can use all over the world whenever your company requires that presence, a secretary who will forward your calls to your cell phone and conference rooms you can use as needed.
    • A study conducted by Corporate Executive Board discovered Volvo reduced travel costs by 50 percent for their engineering team and by 45 percent for their product support team meetings through strong utilization of virtual tools.
  • Easing the Language Barrier
    • According to a Regus study, today only 48% of firms demand local language fluency. Translation services ease language barriers. While these do not match being able to communicate in a client’s or co-worker’s native tongue, they permit communication at a high level.
    • Language translation companies offer many services such as document translation, website translation, multilingual publishing and software localization. Large companies such as Marriott, Compaq, The Home Depot and HP use language translating services.

While face-to-face communication is still important, people need to learn to adapt to global competition and a more dynamic marketplace. To avoid falling behind, businesses and their workers should step up their efforts to expand their virtual horizons.

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