Journey of a Serial Entrepreneur


How to get from where you are to where you want to be

Sourcing for talent

“Time spent on hiring is time well spent.” Robert Half

Sourcing for quality talent at a startup is not an easy task. The obvious reason is that we have to convince candidates about the future prospect of our organization and how they are going to benefit by being part of the process. These candidates usually have other offers through the corporate world and are, in my experience usually tempted to stick with the tried and tested path. However being an entrepreneur you need to be out there convincing just about everyone about the growth and prospect of your organization. It could be to a potential customer, a potential employee, your core team and friends and family. You have to have your selling mode always on to create a buzz about what you are doing.

Since we have a prepared job description, we now need to spread the message. There are many options available to you depending on your budget.

1. Advertising in Schools: If you are still based in university advertise your openings on the university job posting boards, if they have any. Attend as many entrepreneurial networking mixers and ask for the opportunity to pitch your company and openings to the audience. In my first couple of ventures on campus I found these to be effective mediums to get the word out.

2. Social Networks: We have recently started using Linkedin and facebook to scout for potential talent in the core teams network. We have had more success using facebook by advertising positions on dedicated company pages. These networks are powerful mediums to get your message across to your second and third degree networks which are difficult to reach otherwise.

3. Corporate site & Blogs: You should do your best to allow your website to post job openings and accept structured resumes to help you continue to grow your resume bank. This will help you to minimize the time it takes to fill positions in the future. If you or your company have a regularly updated blog I would definitely use that medium to attract talent as well.

4. Referrals: This is how we carry out most of our hiring. When we have the job description ready I send it out to friends in the industry to get it to individuals who they feel may fit the role we are looking for. My friends realize how we work and are able to scout intelligently for talent.

5. Job Boards: Whether you use paid ones or free ones, in my experience, the selection process takes a lot longer using this medium. Firstly there is much sorting to be carried out, the quality of candidates is not the best and without any references it is more of a risk. However if the options mentioned above are not available to you this medium has the capability of getting your message out to a large number of individuals.

6. Head Hunters & Executive Search: This is an expensive option which becomes necessary sometimes if you are looking to fill a key role in your team. This is used as a last resort and only for very critical job roles. Selecting the right recruiter is a subject which I will write about in the coming weeks.

This is a preliminary list of tactics that you can implement to start your talent search. Avoid making rushed decisions and do your best to find talent through referrals and references whenever possible.

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Job Descriptions

“It is all one to me if a man comes from Sing Sing Prison or Harvard. We hire a man, not his history.” Malcom S Forbes

Once you have developed a framework for your organization, you are now equipped with the knowledge needed to develop a simple job description to help attract the talent that you need in a more focused manner. Job descriptions are often overlooked or not given enough attention at younger organizations. Since growth is organic and structure is often not in place  this is often disregarded. Say you are looking for an associate web developer to help support your core team of developers with some flash developmental work. In your mind you are perfectly clear about the sort of resource you require. However, later on if you tell the individual to help you out in your php developmental cycles and other administrative functions there may be unpleasantness. 

First we need to map out the main areas of a standard job description. 

Position: The title of the opening at your organization. Keep the title simple and avoid fancy titles which only cause confusion about what the role actually entails.

Responsibilities: This is where you outline in detail all the tasks which the resource will be responsible for. At startups, this should include a broad spectrum if your team is small because we all have to wear multiple hats at the beginning. If you are already at an established stage and are taking on a specialist then you make sure you have covered all the areas of responsibilities. 

Division: You will need to outline which department the resource will be under and the departments main role and functionalities. This will help put the responsibilities into context and bring clarity to the actual job requirement. You can also include details covering who the person will be reporting to and working with.

Education and Experience: Depending on the level of candidate you are looking for, you can fill this category likewise. Any relevant industry experience that may be required should be highlighted here.

Workplace environment: You can refer to the framework list to gather details to fill in this section about the working environment of your organization.

Personal Attributes: If you require any particular attributes which you think will be critical to succeeding at the job then this is the section where they should be highlighted.

These points will help you create a short job description which will help convey your message effectively to potential candidates. It will also help you benchmark performance against responsibilities assigned for the future , making it a critical document in your hiring and talent management process.

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Hiring Revolution: Job Descriptions

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“Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.” David Oglivy

Your startup is growing fast and you need more helping hands to take you to the next level. Congratulations on reaching this far on your journey as an entrepreneur, it is going to get a lot more exciting from here on . Hiring is perhaps one of the most critical as well as the most difficult functions that any company has to undertake. There is a reason why Jack Welch has stated that Head of HR should be at the same level as the CFO at a company. What a lot of startups end up doing when things are in a tizzy with growth is to hire the next guy who looks good on paper. We did the same in a couple of ventures earlier on  and suffered as a result. This is not a process you want to rush, each hiring decision you make is going to have a impact on your business and the smaller your organization the larger the impact. 

The entire objective of hiring is to find a resource who possesses the skill sets, abilities and personality traits which match the opening position. To identify skills sets and abilities is relatively straight forward. If you are looking for a web developer you will require proficiency in certain programming languages and cognitive abilities which can be gauged through the applicants resume, portfolio and ability tests. The tricky part comes when you are looking for specific personality traits. Not every web developer will be suited for your team. If you are a highly structured and analytical team and you find a brilliant developer who however has a strong preference for unstructured working environments you are most definitely going to have a problem very soon.

When I am consulting clients on hiring these are three factors that I ask them to identify prior to the development of a job description ;

1. Work place preferences: Some workplaces thrive in unstructured environments while others require a routine to function in. Other places value team work more than solo operations. You need to correctly identify what preferences have been put into place by your current team. This will allow you to define and clearly communicate to the applicants the environment they are going to be working in.

2. Intellectual capabilities: This is where you identify what sort of intellectual capabilities you are looking for in the designated role. Will the resource have to be involved in creative development work or heavy research position or in a position where he/she needs to be making many decisions. Each will require you to keep a look out for particular characteristics.

3. Personal Attributes: If your position requires the resource to motivate and energize teams then you will require someone who has high levels of energy and the capability to energize. They will require them to have immense passion and the ability to infuse it into the organization. If your position is research heavy and it doesn’t require the individual to be in such a position this attribute will not be necessary. Other attributes such as personal drivers are very important. Some individuals are purely driven by monetary compensation while others require less and more personal satisfaction. 

Formalize your list into a framework and you will be clearer as to what sort of individual you need to succeed at your organization.

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