To Capture Top Talent, You Have to Move Quickly

To Capture Top Talent, You Have to Move Quickly

Capture Top Talent

Capture Top Talent

In the tech market, talent is a hot commodity; technology companies are constantly looking to fill positions, and hiring managers must move fast before their competitors swoop in. Yet, some managers don’t seem to make recruiting top talent their top priority, or at least don’t act like it is. Many managers are slow to move through the recruiting process, and miss out on capturing top candidates for open positions because those candidates have taken positions elsewhere. As a hiring manager, you need to do more than adopt the attitude that swift recruiting of top talent is important. You need to act on it.

Why Managers Procrastinate

Most hiring managers aren’t slowing down their hiring process because they think it’s unimportant. Rather, they allow other things to get in their way, sabotaging their chances to capture top talent.

  • Perfectionism. The ultra-competitive nature of technological startups makes it important to hire the right people when you come across them. However, some managers are too eager to find perfection in their new hire. These managers insist on seeing more candidates even though they are nearly certain about a candidate they’ve already interviewed.
  • Fear of mistakes. Similarly, some hiring managers fear that hiring the wrong person will lead to disaster. These managers won’t hire anyone if they aren’t 100 percent sure the candidate will work out; a scenario that no expertise in recruiting and hiring will ever completely mitigate.
  • Too busy. Taking charge of a startup means putting out fires all the time. No matter how high a priority you place on hiring new talent, you might not have time to do it because of all the other concerns demanding your attention.

Procrastination Kills Opportunities

Being slow to hire is a poor marketing decision that can put your startup far behind the competition. If you take weeks or months to get back to interested talent, they’ll question whether you have your act together. Your top candidates may lose interest in working for your company or come across better opportunities if you do not move quickly on hiring them. And since top talent often network with other high performers, their extended network may not bother to apply either.

The Bottom Line

Top talent knows it’s valuable. If you don’t move quickly to hire the most talented candidates you run across, your competitors will. If you want talented people to help your startup rise to the top of the market, you need to hire top talent as soon as you encounter it.

How to Speed Up the Hiring Process

  • Improve your process. Analyze your process to determine where you hiring pipeline is dropping off. Take note of what you focus on, what activities are involved in hiring and how long it takes you to hire candidates. Ask yourself which activities and thought processes are vital to hiring new candidates. Eliminate the ones that aren’t.
  • Reduce hiring criteria. Often, managers waste time looking for candidates that match a detailed ideal candidate profile. Examine your candidate checklist and decide which items are essential, and which are nice to have. This helps broaden your search so you can more easily find your ideal candidates.
  • Get assistance. Don’t try to do all the hiring yourself, especially if you have a full plate already. Find help screening initial resumes and share the load with your existing team for the first round of interviews. That way, you only have to be involved with the final three to five candidates and can more easily make your decision. And of course, a talented recruiter always helps.

Millennium Search is an executive search firm working with emerging startups and technology companies to capture top talent across technical, business, sales and marketing functions, from the C Level to individual contributor roles. In working with top technology companies in today’s marketplace, we have seen time and again the importance of making smart hiring decisions quickly, and the impact a lack of urgency can have on building a talented team.

The Healthcare.gov Website & Why Startups Need Top Talent

The Healthcare.gov Website & Why Startups Need Top Talent

Why Startups Need Top Talent

Why Startups Need Top Talent

Healthcare.gov just missed another deadline. The administration set its own deadline of November 30th to get the troubled website fully operational but it is now obvious that even that was too ambitious. Since the October 1 launch the site has been plagued with outages, account creation failures, bad information returned to users and incomplete information sent to insurance companies. After a series of Congressional hearings, the federal government has hired top tech talent to try to patch the system together in what they call a “tech surge,” to borrow military terminology. It’s still unclear exactly what went wrong but there were several problems that experienced tech talent could have seen coming a mile away, such as:

  • Inadequate testing IT execs told Congress they didn’t have enough time to test the system before launch. They ended up beta testing, sometimes alpha testing, the software on the general public. They insist that it wasn’t their call to stick to the launch date but there was no explanation why testing wasn’t done earlier.
  • No backups or monitoring tools It’s not that uncommon for a business to go live once with software that has no backups and no monitoring tools to see how it’s doing. Only once, because either they learn their lesson the hard way or they are out of business. Essentially it amounts to closing your eyes and hoping it works. Monitoring tools have just been added now and backups are in the works.
  • Virtual servers Accessing unused space to run low priority programs whenever system resources become available is efficient. Depending on that for mission critical services with vast amounts of traffic is an amateur move. Dedicated servers, storage and databases are now being added. Deploying cloud services correctly takes highly skilled and experienced talent.

Politcal analyst Andrew Sprung spoke for many who now believe that Healthcare.gov could actually become obsolete before it becomes fully operational. “Purely informational comparison shop sites ValuePenguin and HealthSherpa provide all the information that’s supposed to be available on HealthCare.gov,” he pointed out on Xpostfactoid. Naturally, this begs the question, “Who built those sites and why weren’t they hired in the first place?”

There’s no question the healthcare exchange was an enormous undertaking and there were bound to be complications. Perhaps the government did the best they could given 55 independent contractors trying to coordinate 112 complex systems spread out across the country. The fact is though, that Google and Yahoo also operate vast and complex system with huge spikes in traffic and they deliver it around the world for free everyday.

What makes the difference? Top talent. Tech giants like Google and Yahoo can afford to offer the best salaries and perks to attract the best programmers and executives from around the world. Princeton University recently incorporated into their tech courses a white paper called, The Talent Wars: Today’s Toughest Startup Challenge. The takeaway from the study was that top talent are absolutely essential for launching and maintaining new ventures. The paper clearly states the critical nature of the issue; “For startups, winning the talent wars may not be easy, but it isn’t optional either.”

Something good may yet come of this debacle, as long as tech startups study the failures here and recognize why having exceptional people and experienced management is so important. As the old saying goes, “The fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.”

Millennium Search is an executive search firm helping emerging startups and technology companies find and secure top talent for their executive, technical, marketing and sales teams. With a broad network of VC relationships, an extensive pool of talent and a veteran recruiting team, Millennium Search consistently creates results that outperform the competition, from the C-Level down to individual contributor roles. To learn more about our executive recruiting solutions, contact us today!

The Series A Crunch and Startup Hiring

The Series A Crunch and Startup Hiring

Startup Hiring

Startup Hiring

In 2012, early stage companies, investors and analysts began to take note of a slowdown in Series A financing for companies in the technology space, particularly for early stage companies with a consumer internet focus. With less A-round dealflow continuing throughout 2013, speculation continues about this pattern being due to shifting preferences by investors. More conservative opinions suggest that, because seed capital is so much more accessible, the volume of seed funded companies is on the rise, while the number of firms providing Series A funding remains constant, resulting in the number of Series A funded companies remaining fairly static. And with the emergence of newer options for seed funding like Kickstarter, the recent loosening of fundraising laws and the soon to be legal crowdfunding options, the number of seed funded companies is sure to increase. But like all situations, the cause of the crunch is most likely a mixture of many aspects, both known and unknown.

Regardless, the data tends to point towards a sustainable level of seed fundings but a flat level of Series A dealflow for today’s high-tech startups. The impact on these companies is felt in many ways, and most certainly impacts their ability to acquire talent. Seed round funding typically goes towards product development, early customer/user acquisition, marketing, and compensation for the initial startup crew. Series A funding tends to become a possibility when the concept is proven, revenue or traction is established, and the company appears to not only be sustainable, but presents the opportunity for growth with the right resources. Once these companies acquire their Series A, they go into expansion mode, which equates to startup hiring. Thus there is a huge impact that a decreased availability of Series A funding has on a startup’s ability to hire, let alone attract and acquire the top talent they desperately need. In turn, this hampers their ability to begin scaling the organization and take growth to the next level.

What should early stage startups do to wade through the tightening Series A funnel? Amish Shah, CEO of Millenium Search and Managing Partner at Sierra Maya Ventures, weighs in with some advice for these companies:

1) Focus on Revenue: “Today’s early stage technology startup needs to develop a strong revenue model early on. The freemium model sounds great, but to move towards the next level, you need to begin earning, grow your customer or user base, and create a strong proof of concept for revenue and profitability. Furthermore, the early generation of revenue can help prolong your need for the next level of funding, which can give you more time to wait, along with more leverage in negotiations.” That is not to say that companies, such as Twitter, can’t become successful despite this advice, but then again, most companies are not Twitter.

2) Run Your Company Lean: “Nothing new here, but it’s a good reminder. Prioritize your needs, and solidify the basics to launch and operate. And don’t pay for premium when you can get it for free or little to nothing, unless it’s really important. And no, not everything you want is important. You wage wars with the army you have, and not with the one you want.”

3) Unify Your Current Staff: “Make sure that your current team falls in line behind you (the founder), your vision and your passion. Conversation and debate is important during development, but at this stage, every person and every resource must be working towards a singular objective. There must be cooperation and singularity.”

4) Get to Know Your Future Funders: “You may not be looking for funding now, but for most companies, the need to pursue Series A is inevitable. And naturally, the people who can give you the best advice and criticism on getting successfully funded are in fact the people who will be potentially funding you. So go network, find ways to meet these investors, get to know them and get solid advice directly from the source.”

Millennium Search is an executive search partner to emerging startups and high growth technology companies. We help our clients achieve growth and success by creating relationships between the right companies and the right talent. To learn more about how we can help your startup, contact us today!

Your New Hire Just Quit! What You Learned and Moving Forward

Your New Hire Just Quit! What You Learned and Moving Forward

New Hire Just Quit

New Hire Just Quit

Poor hiring decisions can be detrimental to a startup’s growth. A recent article by Hootsuite CEO Ryan Holmes highlighted the financial impact of a poor hire as equivalent to 30% of the employee’s starting salary. For startups, the financial impact is clearly greater, and even more so from a productivity perspective. Yet the reality is that no matter how thoroughly you prepare for interviews, grill and vet candidates, and define requirements and responsibilities of the position, there will always be unconsidered factors, overlooked job responsibilities, unexpected future pivots, and uncontrollable external circumstances. And as with every aspect of running and growing a startup, the only way to move forward from this situation is to in fact, move forward.

So your great new hire just quit? The fault will not always be yours, but the only course corrections that you can make will be on your part. Here are some things to think about when recovering from a departing recent hire.

Was your hire really passionate about the work?

Why it’s important: Startups are often more demanding, time consuming, and stressful than other jobs. Passion for the work, for the product, for the company and the startup philosophy are essential for an employee to survive; without it, it can be difficult to justify the demands of the job after the initial onboarding, despite the long-term opportunity.

Why you overlooked it: Top Talent with the experience and skill sets you need is already difficult enough to find. So when you run across a candidate with the experience and skill sets that match your needs, it is easy to rationalize the pitfalls or overlook the candidate’s level of interest and excitement around the company, product and work.

How to move forward: When you find the experience and skill sets that you need in a candidate, don’t stop there. You may be hesitant to do so, but make them aware of the challenges ahead, of the problems they will encounter in the short and long term, and of the demands and stress of the job. Past experience and work history will also be a good indicator. You have already found a candidate with the skill sets and background that you need. If they stick around after hearing the challenging reality, you know that there is more than just opportunity and a decent job driving their decision.

Did you hire someone who could handle startup pace and pressure?

Why it’s important: Again, startups are notorious for demanding environments, large workloads, and high levels of stress. And while passion is a great tool to help candidates handle these pressures, everyone has their limits. Make sure your demands fall within your hire’s threshold.

Why you overlooked it: You already found the skill sets, the experience, AND the passion?!? On paper and in interviews, candidates can demonstrate all three of these. But knowledge base and interest mean nothing without the ability to execute. So ask yourself, ‘At what point did they demonstrate that they could get things done quickly and efficiently?’ Did they answer your questions correctly? In vetting for doers, words rarely provide an accurate indication of this trait.

How to move forward: Doing your research on the candidate’s work history is essential. Speaking with former employers and managers about their work history will build a story about the candidate, and uncover their true nature. If that doesn’t have you convinced, try giving them a pre-hire assignment with a slightly impossible deadline. How they react, approach the assignment, and communicate with you will give you an idea of how well they execute under pressure.

Did they perform their due diligence? Did you help them do so?

Why it’s important: Top Talent is tough to come by in the tech world. This leads many founders to try painting a rosier than reality picture and scenario of the company, the role and its responsibilities. Founders in search of talent may leave out unattractive aspects of the organization that may cause a candidate to pass on the opportunity.

Why you overlooked it: Although candidates are also responsible for doing this, it is ultimately the company that is harmed by a bad hire, so in the end, it is on you to make sure that they have done their homework. Did you take steps to ensure that they researched your company, asked the right questions; the tough questions? Did you give them the true answers? Were they really prepared for reality, or were their expectations set by an inaccurate description of the organization?

How to move forward: Be as honest and forthcoming with candidates as you can. Yes, you have to sell the company, the product, the perks and the payoff, but you must also make sure they aren’t scared off by the hard truths, struggles, and downright ugly aspects that every startup deals with. And the last thing you want is a new hire who is anchored to rosey expectations that will inevitably lead to dissapointment.

Are the responsibilities of the position too much for one person?

Why it’s important: Again, everyone has their limits. More so, there is only so much time in a day, and there is only so much that one can focus on with expertise. Startups need and demand dynamic individuals, and they should. But stretching someone too thin and into areas that they aren’t focused or familiar with, on top of everything else, can be too much, and can damage the work that they should be focused on.

Why you overlooked it: Let’s face it: startups are strapped for resources. Money, time, people, help, advice, exposure, customers, data… There is never enough. This is especially true of the human capital element, especially in the technology space. Startups must run as lean as possible nowadays, but that doesn’t mean that one person can do an impossible amount to work just because the company needs them to.

How to move forward: Run lean, hire smart, and be realistic. You can get someone to work 80 hours a week, but if the workload is too much and too broad, you are ultimately setting your hire up for failure. This can be difficult to correct sometimes, because you have to find the balance between giving too much responsibility and hiring someone that can handle the expected startup workload. In the end, this may simply be the pains of scaling a company, but putting focus on managing it correctly can go a long way.

Was the hire really competent enough for the position to begin with?

Why it’s important: Your employees must be competent. That doesn’t require much explanation.

Why you overlooked it: Let’s face it; we are only as good at judging potential hires as our own perspective and biases allow us to be. Some people can see right through others, and others struggle to accurately assess the candidates that walk through the door. And even more difficult a task can be objectively evaluating those individuals that we like a lot.

How to move forward: Don’t rely solely upon your own judgement, especially when you like a candidate right off the bat. Getting several perspectives on a candidate will help paint a more accurate picture of who you’re talking to. And what looks like Top Talent to one person may look unqualified, incompetent or uncultured to another (perhaps not to that extreme, but you get the point).

Are there internal issues within your company that need to be examined?

Why it’s important: Every company has its own issues to tackle. From management structure, to operations and systems, to the overall strategy of the organization, there will always be something that gets overlooked or swept under the rug. Talent will know this going in, but if there are severe problems that become obvious when a new hire starts, it can be a huge red flag that such large issues have not been addressed or mentioned.

Why you overlooked it: You’re busy. Your hire is busy. Your other employees are busy. Chances are, everyone already has enough to do without dealing with internal issues. And it can be easy to dismiss glaring problems as just the growing pains of scaling a company, regardless of whether they are, in fact, just growing pains or are rooted in more severe problems.

How to move forward: Get feedback from your employees, from your new hires, from past candidates, from whoever will give it. Of course, take everything with a grain of salt, but if you speak with enough people, the true issues will emerge through repetition. And aside from uncovering problems at the company, your employees, both new and old, will feel heard and valued. Win win.

The bottom line? Choose your hires carefully to begin with. Accept that no matter how much you prepare, there is always the chance that you made the wrong choice, albeit a chance that is minimized by thorough preparation. And when the unfortunate scenario of a bad hire falls upon you, learn what you can from the experience and move forward. We all know that every startup hits roadblocks, but actually living through the journey is a different story. Live, learn, and move on.

Millennium Search mantains a great track record placing top talent in executive, technical, sales and marketing roles for today’s emerging and high growth technology companies. As a guaruntee, we offer protection against the early depature of the placements we make. If you are looking to take your talent aquisition efforts to the next level, contact us today to discuss our solutions!

Strategically Hiring the Right Talent For The Short and Long Term

Strategically Hiring the Right Talent For The Short and Long Term

Strategically Hiring

Strategically Hiring

Finding talent is a tough ball game nowadays. So difficult in fact, that many technology companies end up overlooking critical factors when strategically hiring the talent they find. After all, a position left unfilled means the work that needed to be done yesterday is still left untouched. And when filling such critical roles, especially early on, speed and efficiency in hiring is everything. But what about the future? What does the perfect candidate for today’s needs look like a few years down the road? What needs will you have after your company has gone through shifts in direction, moved on to the next phase or even a new project altogether, evolving overall, as most technology companies do and must? Does your hire for today align with your needs for tomorrow? Yes, I know. Hiring was tough enough before introducing yet another aspect to consider. But along with everything else, if you consider the impact of today’s hire on tomorrow’s needs, you will set yourself up to get past present hurdles, and remain successful in the future. With that said, what does the right candidate look like for your company’s life cycle?

Considerations In The Short Term

When considering your hire for the short term, focus on what is needed “now” to move towards the next major milestone. For ex: If you need to finish the product to launch, then you need that developer or tech guru in place to get that product completed. This person would be crucial to finishing the code and backend details before launch can occur. As the decision maker, you probably know what your immediate needs are, and know what the appropriate talent looks like to help achieve your goals. After all, without a significant focus on the “present,” and what is vital to resolving your immediate needs, today may be lost. And there may be no tomorrow if a hiring mistake is made.

Considerations In The Long Term

Startups move fast, and the right person today has to be the right person tomorrow. Things that are important to knock out today may not be the same as tomorrow’s demands. The talent you add today must be aligned with your “Vision.” fitting in place with the bigger picture. If you don’t see a candidate aligning with this vision, then the answer is simple; don’t hire them. This is why it is so much harder for startups to capture the right person. At a larger organization, where the environment is not as fluid or as dependent upon a small sector of their employees, the blend of present and future fit is not as imperative. For your startup’s success, it is critical.

What a Good Hire for Both the Short Term and Long Term Looks Like?

Hires made in an environment early on need to understand their roles and how they will evolve. All things aside, a good hire that satisfies your short term needs and fits into your long term strategy is one who buys into the founder’s vision, believes in the work and product, and recognizes what needs to be done to get there, both today and tomorrow. They should share the same passion, and be prepared to roll up their sleeves early on. And when the needs change, they must be willing and able to adapt and evolve into the next role. And what’s more, they need to have the attitude that you want in your culture. Candidates who have previous experience in high-growth startups understand this and are generally the best fits for these roles. Those who may have been part of high-growth spurts or startup divisions within bigger companies can also understand what it takes in the short term to survive and succeed over the long term.

How to Hire a Good Fit for Today and the Long Term

No one has the “Perfect” solution, because everyone’s background and presence is different. However, one of the best recommendations for strategically hiring at a startup is to seek out talent that comes from a startup pedigree. They will have experienced failures along with victories, giving them the experience to know what it takes to survive in the startup market. They should also know that nothing is perfect, but they have to dig in and be flexible with severe changes of direction at a moment’s notice without frustration. Ideally, if a candidate comes from the same sector/space as your startup and has contacts which add value to their background, they will have a better chance at being solid in the short term and stellar in the long term. Be sure to perform your due diligence with the startups they were involved with. Speak to the founders they reported to, the customers they worked for, and the partners that they supported. This will give you insight and clarity to help you hire the right talent for your present role, and the role it will transform into as they contribute to your startup’s future success.

For startups, finding talent is challenging, but finding the RIGHT talent is critical. Are you a startup looking for strategically hiring help. Partner with Millennium Search, the premier executive search firm for technology companies, today!

When Recruiting Top Talent, Quality Intel Is Key

When Recruiting Top Talent, Quality Intel Is Key

Recruiting Top Talent

Recruiting Top Talent

Even the best recruiters are only as valuable as the information they have. Our team spends a great deal of time understanding not only the position being filled, but the industry, the company as a whole and the hiring department. Well-rounded knowledge about the client is critical for a recruiter to understand their needs and paint an accurate picture of the company’s ideal talent. Executive recruiters go to great lengths to collect, absorb and understand this information up front, and put even more effort into data collection for mid-search course corrections. The key to making the right course corrections relies on getting the right information and feedback from the client, which can be a major pain point for the client-recruiter relationship. Yet without good intel, even the most straightforward search can fail.

The Knowledge to Execute

It may seem that the following is irrelevant to the opening that you are trying to fill, but for the technology startup in today’s market, every aspect of your company and industry can have an impact on your hiring efforts. We speak with our clients about their business plan, and try to understand their current position in the market, including their strengths and weaknesses. We especially dig into both the short and long term goals for the startup, including plans for business and revenue growth, funding, exit strategy, team growth and the vision for market position.

We also go through the structure, needs and goals of the expanding department in order to relate the open position to the goals of the group and company. Understanding the dynamics of the current team is a key aspect of this data, and is helpful when understanding the needs of the team in place and how the opening relates to those needs. Uncovering the cultural aspect of the team, as well as the company, is paramount. There is no shortage of literature and data around aligning a company’s culture with the personality and style of a candidate. And of course, we thoroughly discuss the opening itself, considering the work that the hire will focus on, the skills needed to complete the work, and the experience needed to reinforce those efforts.

When executing, we rely heavily on the information we collect. We target and source candidates based largely on all of this knowledge. It allows us to focus on a very narrow window, and zero in on candidates that match this criteria. We thoroughly qualify the potential candidates that we locate, based again on this information. And then we send them off to our client. Gathered intelligence is present every step of the way, further demonstrating the need for its accuracy.

Continuing Education and Re-Calibration

After interviews, we follow up with both sides of the table to get feedback. This part of the process is key to a successful placement. Sometimes, we deliver the right person the first time. But on other occasions, the first round candidates we deliver are found to be off course in some way. When this is the case, good feedback is paramount to making the right course corrections. Tell us where we failed! Was there a missing skill set, or did they lack the caliber of skill? Not enough experience, or not the right experience? Did they lack passion? Has the interview process resulted in a change in expectations? Or maybe a few interviews have led to realizations around what you actually need versus what you thought you needed.

Many times, the feedback we receive is pretty straightforward, and a simple adjustment will put us on the right track. But problems arise when the feedback lacks substance, or overlooks subtle nuances that end up being the root of the problem rather than just a side note. This can especially come into play when the cultural fit is lacking. A good recruiter can filter through this information to uncover the deeper issues, and will work hard to do so. But again, any successful course correction is dependent on feedback and its quality.

Ongoing, Accurate and Detailed Intel is Key

The bottom line is that poor intel and a lack of quality feedback results in poorly calibrated deliveries, eventually leading to a breakdown in the recruiter-client relationship. And in a market where talent is scarce and moving fast, companies must also adjust and move quickly . Making quick course corrections during your internal or external recruiting top talent efforts is crucial. It doesn’t matter if you are working with the best recruiter in the industry, or the absolute worst. If you don’t provide quality intel and feedback to your recruiting partners, your hiring efforts will most likely continue to fail.

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