Attracting Startup Talent
A world of its own, the technical job description is a difficult beast to tackle. This is the transitional gateway that allows tech talent to go from understanding your company as a whole, to considering employment with you. There is a lot of literature out there on crafting great job descriptions, a lot of contradicting ideas, and a bunch of talk about how they’re ineffective and a thing of the past. While there may be newer ways to go about attracting startup talent, in most cases, we still presume that job descriptions are a critical component of the hiring process.
The written job description can be truly challenging. In a recruiting role, you want to share enough information to target the people you’re looking for, but not to the extent potential candidates on the fringes are excluded. It can be frustrating from a recruiter’s perspective when great candidates decline the exploration of an opportunity because they don’t match the written job description. Many times, a recruiter knows that the hiring party would still want to speak with such candidates. Great care must be taken when crafting position descriptions; though it may not be the case, descriptions appear to be written in stone, even when they are really written in sand.
Taking the above into consideration, job descriptions are crucial to the success of most hiring situations. Effective job descriptions are made up of three main components: the company’s information, the position’s description, and the requirements for that position.
1) The Company Information: For company information, clarity, brevity, and realism are essential. For instance, to boast your company as the “best something-or-other” ends up being little more than a soundbite among a vast ocean of other company descriptions. If you have a solid, well known brand behind you, then that changes things. For the rest of us, a more effective solution would be to craft a deeper description with more factual points. What is your product? Your industry? Your market? Where are you in your development? Have you launched? What are your company’s greatest strengths? What are your top priorities over the next year? How about the next three years? The list can go on.The point is that, so long as you don’t let it go out of control, details are more valuable than sound bites.
2) The Position’s Description: This can be a tough one, as many companies are making a technical hire to address important solutions that they themselves don’t fully understand how to accomplish. How do you capture essential high caliber tech candidates when you aren’t quite sure what the job will look like or what your company needs in its entirety? Rather than fumbling through an inaccurate description, you can just as easily describe what they will be working on, the challenges you’re currently encountering and ones that they will in the future. A level of brevity, honesty and bluntness can go much further than an elaborate montage of detail. You won’t scare anyone off. On the contrary, high-quality tech talent will have gone through this situation before, and will probably expect it again.
Remember, the point of a job description is to accurately inform the reader about the job at hand. A successful job description will attract a broad group of qualified (being the key word) candidates, while at the same time provide enough ambiguity to prevent the alienation of those qualified individuals. In the end, you will be better off attracting a diverse group of candidates and vetting them yourself, instead of getting too specific with a narrow and ultra specific write-up of the position. After all, some of the more important aspects of hiring cannot be tackled in a job description, such as chemistry, cultural fit, personality, mindset and work philosophy. There are hundreds of thousands of developers and programmers out there who will match your needs on paper, but only a handful that will meet your skill requirements and also match the soft aspects of your company.
In the recruiting industry, we hear the phrase ‘Top Talent’ thrown around quite a bit. Synonymous with industry leading talent, these are the professionals that we continuously seek out for our clients every day; searching through resume after resume, uncovering every nook and cranny to find them. Many professionals strive to get to this point in their careers but, much like myself at one point, they end up wondering what this top talent did to get where they are today in their respective industries and fields. After looking at case studies of the people we place, several dialogues with the executives that run the startups we work with, and hundreds of hours of conversations with the executive recruiters at Millennium Search, I have found myself revisiting a few simple, yet powerful qualities. What does top talent do to become so in demand?
They work, a lot. And they work hard.
Despite the variation among job functions, this characteristic stands out well above the rest. Regardless of the path they take in their careers, these industry leaders don’t get there by taking it easy, working 40-hour weeks, and watching the clock. They pour their time and energy into what they do, dedicating themselves to pushing beyond the requirements of what is in front of them. They move to the head of the pack by outworking their peers. This isn’t the only characteristic of top talent, but it carries great importance by being their most common thread.
They learn. They learn some more. And then they keep learning.
They aren’t always the brightest, the smartest, or the most experienced individuals, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to be. They don’t have all of the answers, but they also won’t stop until they find one. And as the world changes, they make efforts to stay ahead of trends, learn new technologies, and stay up to date. There is always something new to learn, and top talent will find out what it is and absorb it, whether they have help or not.
They organize their lives, but not the way anyone else does.
Whether it’s their morning routine, the way they set up their workspace, or their hour-by-hour process, these top professionals seem to always employ systemization into several facets of their lives, whether at the office or outside of the workplace. Structure and routine tend to simplify their lives and eliminate the stress of the smaller, more trivial details the day, giving them more capacity to focus their energy on more important things. Most importantly, they find out what works best for them and run with it.
They say no. A lot.
I’ve heard this from Day One, and when I think about it, I have heard it my entire life. I probably hear it so much because it’s so hard to do. Focus is key. There is only so much one person can do, and that means selectively choosing what you work on, and passing on 99% of the opportunities that come your way. This becomes more important as time goes on, because by rising to the top, the demand for their time and work increases.
They embrace absurdity.
From their starting points, many successful companies begin with what is perceived to be a crazy idea or ridiculous concept. That is not to say that there aren’t bad ideas floating around out there, but success for these individuals often means giving thought to what looks to be crazy, and trying to be objective about it.
They stay positive.
I remember being in school, and seeing those dumb posters on the wall proclaiming ‘Attitude: It’s all about you’, or some such nonsense. Well, it turns out those silly motivational sayings couldn’t be more true. Keeping a positive mindset is critical, because so much can and absolutely will go wrong, in whatever you do. And without the right state of mind, you will be destroyed, with incredible swiftness. That’s not to say that top talent walks around smelling like rainbows and unicorns all day everyday, but you would be hard pressed to find an A-player without a positive mindset and a can-do attitude.
They make good decisions. But they also get lucky along the way.
Top talent puts thought into what they do, the choices they make, and the risks they take. Yet no matter how prepared you make yourself, how intelligent and confident you are, or how unbelievable an opportunity sounds, there is always an element of chance and a hint of luck that drives their success.
Millennium Search helps today’s emerging and high growth technology companies find top talent across technical, business, marketing and sales functions. Speak with us today to learn more about the professionals that we work with!
Value of a Recruiter
Executive Recruiters are a valuable resource for today’s startup. With the level of startup competition and the demand for today’s top performers, getting the right recruiter on your side can make a huge impact. But many startups do not leverage all that they can from their recruiting partners. Because of the nature of their work, a recruiter’s value goes much further than acquiring talent, as important as that is. In fact, working with the right recruiter can open the door to a wealth of information, years of experience and observation, and a vast network that reaches beyond potential employees.
So what can recruiters do? You know, I mean besides recruiting?
Recruiters Are A Source of Market Intelligence
Every month, executive recruiters speak with hundreds of professionals, from prospects and candidates, to founders, managers and HR professionals. Recruiters are constantly collecting data, adjusting their search parameters, and analyzing conditions in an effort to find the right people for clients. They are at the front lines, keeping an ear out for the word on the street. The resulting information is extremely valuable for effective recruiters, and helps them advise clients, manage expectations, and present realistic options. But its value also extends beyond talent acquisition.
So what kind of data can a recruiter provide? Salary data, of course, but we also collect data points around the market supply and demand for talent. Along with this information, recruiters keep their fingers on the pulse of the industry, and keep a close eye on the emergence of new sectors and the decline of established ones. They stay up to date on new technologies and innovations in an effort to determine their impact on their clients. And let’s not forget the information collected around fund raising and investing. Top talent will demonstrate an interest in this type of information when considering opportunities, making it necessary information for recruiters to collect. The application of this data can be broad, impactful and valuable to today’s startups.
Recruiters Can Advise on Business Planning and Scaling
Along with the collection of this data, startup focused recruiters have worked with companies from their very beginnings, and have seen them grow from conception to profitability. They have also seen them make mistakes, fail to act, and ultimately fizzle out and die. Some companies have tried to scale too fast, and others did not try fast enough. There are hundreds of factors that come into play when building and growing an emerging company, and a thousand mistakes that can cause that company to fail. Startup focused recruiters have been integrated into the strategies of these companies, and have a unique perspective to offer these organizations on what works, what doesn’t and what can make or break a startup.
What can recruiters advise your company on? They can help you organize your team efficiently. They can help you create and define new roles within your company, and give you realistic expectations. They can advise you on scaling your company, and help you determine what you really need at a given time. And beyond building your team, recruiters can offer experience-backed advice on product development, attracting funding, branding your startup, and so on. Search professionals can do this because the acquisition of top talent so often requires significant integration with companies with which they partner, and have been privy to the actions, successes and challenges across multiple organizations.
Recruiters Maintain a Vast Network Beyond Top Talent
Recruiters connect the right people with the right people for a living. Yes, they have an extensive network of top talent across several industries, sectors and geographies, and they utilize this network to get clients the right person for the job. But their conversations are far from limited to just potential candidates. When recruiting top talent, you talk to people to find people. You speak with founders, investors, advisors, analysts, managers, HR pros, and the list goes on. These relationships are a valuable asset to search firms, and are essential to keeping their candidate network up to date.
I don’t think I need to explain the value of these relationships. For starters, I have never met a startup who wasn’t concerned about funding early on. So any VC or investor relationship is of high value. Startups also spend a great deal of time locating advisors with the right backgrounds, expertise and experience. And of course, they have a great network of top talent. You know, just in case you are hiring and were curious about the value of a recruiter.
The Millennium Search team is a diverse group of seasoned executive recruiters. With a focus on technology recruiting, our team has worked with hundreds of successful startups, and has witnessed both successes and failures in the technology industry. We help top startups with VC backing find the talent they need, serving them as a trusted partner in both recruiting and growth. Speak with us today about your needs, whether recruiting or otherwise!