As a Chief Business Hacker, one of the top things I love to do is recruit talent. The exhilaration I get from finding a team member who is going to help elevate everyone is like winning a race. Recruiting is hard; it is very hard. In my experience, recruiting the right team with culture and longevity in mind is even harder than finding a product-market fit.
But I do have a confession. I used to HATE recruiting. I thought it was a massively mind numbing process more fit for paper-pushers. I used to dread sifting through piles of resumes filled with endless clichés and small (or at times, large) lies. However, the process I just described is old-school recruiting; the kind of garbage still taught in many outdated HR programs. It took some major advancements in technology and moving to Boston, with its robust and vibrant entrepreneurial scene, for me to realize that recruiting can be exciting. Rubbing shoulders every day with people who make me feel like I have decades of learning to do before I will be on par with them, having coffee with talent I put on my list of “if I build my own company – hire at any cost”… well it is these experiences that make it darn hard for me to keep my excitement down. So if you spend enough time around gold nuggets, you will get the gold fever and go prospecting. I got the gold fever!
Time, mistakes, and learning opportunities have made me realize that talent recruiting is no different than what I learned as a talent agent (yes, I have a degree in Entertainment Talent Management and Record Label Management). Recruiting talent for your team is like prospecting for gold! You HAVE to look for “pay dirt” in the right places, you HAVE to be in the right place at the right time to be lucky enough to find your huge gold nuggets, and you HAVE to have “multipliers” who help you scale your prospecting operations.
So, with the pun intended, here are my top golden lessons:
Tip: be genuinely interested in what people you meet do and what skills they have, even if you will never need them at your company. Why? If you become someone who always “has a guy/gal for you”, your connections become your currency. I always know at least a dozen open positions my friends are looking to fill, and I actively send candidates their way. In return when I need someone, getting the word out becomes a piece of cake. My network sells for me!
Tip: buy your top candidates this StrengthFinder 2.0 book and ask them to take the test and show it to you. To keep things fair, if they agree to show you their results, then give them a copy of their future manager’s test report. You will be amazed what you will get from people when you are fair to them.
Tip: “hire slow” is the first part of the hiring process. Carefully build the definition of the job and skill-set requirements, work through the iterations of the job spec, and perform sourcing and pre-screening diligently. Get all the info you can, call back-channel references (if you can find them) and then reach out to your top candidates. Recruiting is no different from the sales process – proper preparation prevents poor performance. All the info you garner will help you close the right candidates (it is no different from closing a sale).
While prospecting for different types of talent requires certain specialized techniques, the basics I have covered today don’t really change. I hope these tips help you catch the “gold fever”.
Photo credit: Daniel Brunner