Attracting Startup Talent: The Technical Job Description

Attracting Startup Talent: The Technical Job Description

Attracting Startup Talent

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.

3) The Job Requirements: Getting your requirements down on paper can present the same challenges as well. An easy place to start is with the programming languages. Even if you have no clue what Java looks like, chances are you do know whether or not it’s necessary for the role in question. You will probably know the bones of your technology, what framework is being used, what technologies are incorporated and what your data needs look like. In most cases, there will be some incorporation of HTML, CSS and Javascript along the way, although unless the position is specific to front end development, their inclusion is generally unnecessary. As an exercise, list out the programming languages that you think will be utilized at some point along the way. Then pick the 3 or 4 that are absolutely essential, and treat the remainder as nice to haves. THEN, do this with all of the job requirements. Most of the thigns that you think are essential end up being nice-to-have’s that ultimately have little impact on the work at hand.

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.

Advantages of a Boutique Executive Recruiting Firm

Advantages of a Boutique Executive Recruiting Firm

Boutique Executive Recruiting Firm

There are a lot of big dogs out there in the recruiting world. These organizations hire hundreds of recruiters and staff, and work with many of today’s prominent organizations, driving talent acquisition across the country, and in many cases, across the globe. Many of them have been in business for decades, and have thrived through shifting labor markets, downturns, and the emergence of new sectors and technologies. Yet time and time again, we have heard from businesses about the difficulties and subpar results that have come out of partnerships with larger recruiting firms.

Millennium Search operates as a boutique firm, keeping our numbers small, our staff senior and our solutions flexible. We have been extremely successful focusing on recruiting for emerging startups and high-growth technology companies, and believe that a large part of that success is thanks to the boutique firm’s natural structure.

Advantages of Being a Boutique Recruiting Firm

The largest advantage of being a boutique firm is that we are a small group, requiring a team comprised of experienced, well seasoned, knowledgeable and elite recruiters. Our smaller numbers result in a focus on the quality of our work and building long term relationships, rather than achieving a higher quantity of placements.

Every client works directly with a highly qualified, capable and successful executive recruiter, with no room in the organization for entry level or amateur recruiters and account mangers. This leads to a very tight and open line of communication between our clients and our team, with a single point of contact to access the entire team’s resources. We also maintain a high level of communication internally, amongst the recruiters as well as with the management team. And should a client need access to the CEO, there is high level of availability to clients. Better communication leads to a more accurate picture of the perfect candidate, a higher rate of success and a better mutual fit between clients and candidate.

Perhaps the most key element for our clients is our flexibility and agility as a boutique firm. We are better suited to closely integrate with our clients, respond and pivot according to their needs and constraints, and tailor our strategies to them. Because of fewer management layers, open and direct internal communications, and streamlined client communications, we do all of this with speed and efficiency.

The Difference Between a Boutique and a Larger Firm

So how does a boutique firm compare to the larger recruiting companies? For starters, larger recruiting firms have experienced recruiters higher up, but often also utilize entry level recruiters with little tenure and a shorter reach to talent. This can result in broad search tactics with few parameters, uncovering an abundance of candidates, few of whom are qualified and even fewer matching clients’ more specific needs.

Larger firms deal with a larger degree of separation between the recruiters and management, and with good reason. Like any business, the larger the staff, the more management and organization the company requires, with more layers attached. For their clients, this leads to less communication, multiple points of contact and a less integrated experience, all of which can lead to the presentation and placement of less specific, subpar or downright inferior candidates.

Larger recruiting firms are also notorious for cut-throat competition internally, especially in the technology space. The business often turns into a numbers game, and coordination amongst recruiters tends to be minimal. Such an environment will attract hungry, hard working and motivated individuals, but also leads to less cooperation internally, and the potential for good candidates to be overlooked. Because of the competition, recruiters can also get boxed in by parameters set internally, such as region, scope and reach. Ultimately, it means an individual recruiter working towards a placement goal, rather than the entirety of a team working towards the same objective.

Who Benefits the Most From Using a Boutique Executive Recruiting Firm

In a competitive market for talent, locating professionals that are both available and a good fit for companies can be extremely difficult. Boutique firms such as Millennium Search have the advantage by nature due to the volume and quality of the relationships they have built over time within their network. Because our team is a group of seasoned pros, we also have a track record of successfully recruiting beyond our own networks, using outbound tactics to recruit less visible and passive talent. Because boutique firms are smaller with fewer layers, our flexibility allows us to offer better options to clients, tailor searches more succinctly based on client needs, and leverage our counterparts’ networks with greater success.

In today’s market, the organizations that benefit the most from a boutique firm partnership are technology companies, early stage and emerging startups, and organizations with very specific needs. It’s no secret that quality tech talent continues to prove difficult to acquire, with a shortage of top talent compared to the demand for it. The spirit of cooperation present at smaller, boutique executive recruiting firms is essential when locating technology talent, giving individual recruiters access to relationships developed by the entire team.

Emerging startups benefit tremendously from a partnership with a boutique. In today’s startup climate, the need for agility, flexibility and efficiency is paramount, no matter the business aspect being discussed. Hiring appropriately is challenging already, and the speed at which startups must acquire the right talent only increases the level of difficulty. Boutique firms have the same flexibility and agility that these startups require, and can move and pivot to match the speed of startup organizations.

Outside of technology companies and startups, any organization with specific or particular needs, or any type of urgency around a hire, will see a better result by engaging a boutique executive recruiting firm. This also goes back to the agility and flexibility of the boutique because of its smaller size, simplified infrastructure and workflow. The presence of senior level recruiting professionals at boutique firms such as ours also lend themselves perfectly to such situations, allowing clients to leverage a wealth of experience and knowledge for more difficult and obscure talent searches.

The next time your company is seeking a recruiting partner, consider the benefits of engaging a recruiting boutique firm like ours before signing on with a larger executive search firm.

Amish Shah is the CEO and Founder of Millennium Search, a Boutique Executive Recruiting Firm focused on securing top talent and scaling business and technology teams for today’s emerging startups and high-growth technology companies. Shah has built his firm as a boutique in an effort to better serve startups and the technology industry, resulting in a track record of consistent success throughout its 10 years of operation. Learn more about how a boutique recruiting firm can get you the right talent for your needs. Contact Millennium Search today!

The Road to ‘Top Talent’: Characteristics of A-Players

The Road to ‘Top Talent’: Characteristics of A-Players

Top Talent

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!

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.

The Value of a Recruiter… I Mean, Besides Recruiting.

The Value of a Recruiter… I Mean, Besides Recruiting.

Value of a Recruiter

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!

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