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Recruiters from one of the largest venture capital firms share tips on finding talent for startups

Finding talent is hard enough. Finding talent, if you’re a small business you’ve never heard of, is even more difficult.

“The entire recruitment process has many challenges,” said Tammy Han of First Round Capital, a leading investment firm that has helped companies such as Uber, TaskRabbit, Warby Parker, Square, Looker and Planet Labs. Tammy’s job is to recruit people to the list of undergraduate start-ups, many of whom are too small to have their own internal recruiter.

“They compete [with talent] with other startups,” she says of the small businesses she works with. “And they compete with big business with a lot of capital and resources.”

Competition with known names is a challenge for anyone trying to find talent for these startups or start-ups.

How do you like talent if you are a small unknown company trying to break through? Tammy shares some recruitment tips that startups and new businesses from all sectors can use:

1. Go with what you know – mine on your network

If you are a start-up, your source of the simplest and best talent is the one you already know. “Most of the time, the founders do not think about looking for them,” says Tammy. “They can come from a big company, big schools, big professional networks [it’s a good place for preliminary exploratory discussions.”

People in your network may be more willing to listen to your area of ​​recruitment because they know you. As a bonus, they can also provide an honest (and free) insight into your recruiting efforts. “I hope your friends will be honest with you,” she says. They will tell you if your recruiting goals are too ambitious (“You can not expect to hire a marketing director who will have 20 initiatives,” she says).

So, if you’re a startup with limited resources, it’s important to start with people who are already in your area. “So often, there are people who are not immediately obvious, but they are in sight,” says Tammy.

2. have someone who devotes at least 50% of their time to recruiting

Many startup companies do not have recruiters. Tammy says that for many of these organizations, this is another work of founding directors of companies that tend to be exaggerated.

“Between product development, sales, customer development, fundraising and all that a budding CEO and founder needs to highlight, we found that it was not an official task. That you have a great team, “says Tammy.

She says every company must have someone – be it the CEO, the company manager or an internal contract and / or recruiter – who spends at least 50% of their time researching and recruiting candidates.

“You can not expect talented people to go through your business by magic or luck,” she says. “You need to take the time to do it, whether it’s writing these outreach e-mails or accessing your network – if you do not spend the first few days in advance, you will not get good results.” “.

3. Do not meet everyone interested in your business

By focusing on your talents, be reasonable with your time – resist the urge to meet someone who speaks to you and express your interest in your business.

“Sometimes, if you do not move from someone who knows you, people are suddenly interested in talking to you, that will be a big part of your time,” she says. “If you spend 50% of your time meeting people who are not suited to the needs of your business, today or in the future, it’s a waste of time, better product construction or rights.” could be used as a candidate for a long term adjustment in your company. ”

Be selective at meetings you meet. “For the founders, time is their most precious resource,” says Tammy. “You should have meetings with the right people.”

4. Be open with candidates about the unpleasant realities of work

It’s no secret that working with start-up startups involves a significant pay cut (against equity), a chaotic and timely atmosphere and a stressful workload, assuming the responsibility of several people. Tammy says it’s important to talk about these issues early and directly.

“I think the founders and hiring managers do not reveal unpleasant issues in advance,” she says. “The worst thing you can do with a potential lease is to outbid them once and let them in the first day and have something else.”

So, says Tammy, honesty is the best policy.

“You have to be aware of your current reality and see how they react,” she says. “It shows early if you have to continue investing time to deal with this candidate.”

5. And be particularly honest about the salary

For example, suppose your start-up can only offer a base salary below the market rate, but is ready to offer a generous equity package. Like other difficult topics, Tammy suggests that she be known to your candidate early enough.

“People who value stock-based compensation are the best fit for start-ups,” says Tammy, noting that these candidates are more interested in creating and maintaining the long-term success of the company. prepayment. “They are aware that this is a situation in which they must be flexible to have the opportunity to achieve this effect in order to retain the property they seek.”

Yes, there will be candidates who will focus on maximizing their salary. If it’s a dream candidate, you may be tempted to beat your planned budget just in time and agree on a higher wage than the market price in the hope of achieving it.

Tammy does not recommend it. “I encourage companies to be cautious about paying for talent,” said Tammy, adding that the overpayment for a candidate could lead to equal treatment with your existing employees who signed up for less pay high. This suggests that you stick to a formal pay system and that you pay the market rate – or maybe just a little more if there is a competing bid. “I do not think you should lose a candidate on a nominal amount,” says Tammy.

But if you can not win a candidate without ruining yourself, you may have to accept that it is not planned.

“If money is the main thing, this candidate is not good for you,” says Tammy. “[Recruitment] could take several more weeks, but it’s better to invest in the person who is there for the right reasons and who believes in your long-term vision.”

She adds, “The right people will join your company for the right amount of money.”

6. Do not quit your recruitment process

Because of the time and competition constraints that start-ups often face, they may be tempted to bypass their selection process to get into an available dream candidate before being caught.

“Never give up on your process,” warns Tammy. Yes, when this dream candidate becomes available, you can speed up this process. But Tammy advises to avoid shortcuts.

“If you hire an excellent technical manager, that person has to earn the respect and trust of his colleagues,” she says. “If you do not study them technically and that person does not have the right kind of problem you are looking for, get ready for failure, make sure you have 100% determination before moving forward. and bring him into your team. ”

7. Recruit only the candidate; recruit their loved ones as well

If you are a start-up, Tammy suggests involving your candidate’s spouse or partner in the decision-making process – especially if you are a small, unknown company after being courted by a larger and better person. known rivals.

“The candidate may have quotes from companies like Facebook and Google and [you] are in Stealth [a startup that has not publicly announced its existence],” says Tammy. In such situations, you need to address not only the concerns of the candidates, but also those of the spouse.

How can you do that? Tammy suggests asking if the candidate has spoken to their wife or husband and what they think. Sometimes spouses may express concerns: “How can you give up the education of our children for this business? “To ensure that spouses of candidates have the right data points to make a decision, startups should invest time.”

The spouse or partner could be the deciding factor to find out if your dream candidate is signing up with you. “They are part of that emotional decision and will listen to their partner when that person makes a decision,” says Tammy.

8. You can not afford a bad candidate experience

Of course, any company, regardless of size, must ensure that each candidate interviewed has a positive experience.

But it’s important for startups. After all, if you are a little-known business, you do not want the first thing you hear is that their friend had a bad experience during your interview.

“Every point of contact should be more meaningful, thoughtful,” says Tammy. “The candidates’ experiences with your business should be better suited to your needs.”

For example, suppose you have a candidate who has a family and all members of your business are younger and younger in their career, as is often the case with startups. “[The candidate] may be hesitant at first because they may not know if they can spend their nights and weekends with their families,” says Tammy. You must therefore be particularly careful to show this candidate that your culture is a culture that embraces and considers the situation of each individual.

A good candidate experience also means that you agree to accept your offer, but before you start. “There are so many things between them that they accept their offer on the first day,” says Tammy. “As soon as they come back to quit their current job, or they will update their other prospects,” Hey, I’m going to join this company, “everyone will try to sell them to you.”

You must make sure that you stay engaged with them, remind them why they have decided to take a chance on you. “You have to do everything you can to keep them moving and inspiring,” says Tammy, “and moving forward with this dynamic until they come to your door on the first day.”

9. Never stop recruiting

Once you have reached the start-up phase and settled, you do not have time to begin your recruitment efforts.

“Recruitment should always be a priority because, as your business grows, you need different people and different talent pools,” she says. “Always recruiting” is something we promote in all our businesses. This is your future and you should consider it one of your priorities or you will not have the organization that will support you in the long run. Your success is your people. “

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