Top Talent recruitment isn't just a startup problem. It's an everyone problem.
July 21, 2015, 12:00 AM Coordinated Universal Time
In the startup world, hiring top talent is a full-time job. For a founder, for an HR person, or for an HR team. Recruiters scour LinkedIn profiles, Github repositories, Stackoverflow user profiles, just to find the golden talent-nugget that has yet to be tapped; however, increasingly, startups aren’t just competing with themselves for top talent (and, if you don’t think you’re competing with fellow startups for the same talent, then you’re not hiring aggressively enough) – with the rise of the Chief Digital Officer in corporations lacking digital DNA, hiring the best tech talent is going to be on everyone’s mind: the Forbes 100, the CAC 40, all of the top companies are looking at the Internet and thinking “how can I get a piece of that?” and if you think they aren’t willing to shell out the big bucks and provide bigger resources than your Series B round allows you to, then you’re wrong.
HOW DO YOU CONNECT WITH TOP TALENT?
Whether you’re Orange or OpenDataSoft, the key to connecting with Top Talent is two-fold: 1) They have to know that you exist (and are hiring), and 2) You have to be in their face, at least a little. Getting your name out there – on job boards, on social networks, at events like Paris Startup Job Fair isn’t just about recruiting from those particular communities, it’s about planning 6 months out for when that engineer will start looking around for a new project.
BE WARY OF TOP TALENT LOOKING TO JUMP SHIP
One of the worst parts of Silicon Valley happens to be one of the things I love most about building a tech company in Paris… or almost any where else for that matter. That is, loyalty. Engineers are still genuinely motivated by the prospect of seeing of a project through to the end, which means that when you have an engineer leaving a startup that even you’d love to work for – Blablacar, Algolia, etc. – you have to be a little wary. If they’re willing to cheat on Blablacar with your startup, you can bet they’ll cheat on you, too, when some other sexy startup meets their eye.
You can’t recruit blindly – you need to be aware of what else is out there, which startups are getting engineers excited, so that you can keep your eye out for mercenaries looking to jump startup to startup looking for the highest bidder.
SALARY LEVELS ARE CHANGING, WHEREVER YOU ARE. WHAT’S TOP TALENT WORTH TO YOU?
Google pays the same job title different salaries based on their contributions to the company – in other words, they will pay whatever it takes to keep the top 10% of their staff around, and they’ll motivate the other 90% to be better by doing so (in theory). Sure, you’ve got a job to fill and budget to do it with; however, Top Talent can be worth 5 other team members, not because they are 5x as efficient, but because they make the rest of their team better just by being there. So if the perfect profile comes a long and is 20% more expensive than you expected, you have to ask yourself: are you looking for talented engineers, or are you looking for Top Talent? The two are not the same.
BEYOND THE SALARY: GETTING TOP TALENT EXCITED ABOUT YOU.
This applies to big companies and startups alike: if you have to explain for an hour what you’re working on in order for them to decide if they want to jump on board, you’re already at a disadvantage. Top Talent read the Rude Baguette, they read Re/Code, and they read LeFigaro’s Tech Section. Making noise about your startup, your ambition, and your little successes along the way, is key to getting Top Talent excited. If you’re building out a tech team inside a large corporation, you need to get Corporation Communications to put an announcement together about the company’s digital ambitions: you want engineers coming to you because they heard about you. A great team hires only from within their active community (that’s true for Rude Baguette – we’ve never hired someone who hadn’t attended our events and read our articles prior to reaching out).
CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT TOP TALENT WANTS TO WORK AT
One of the best articles I read was called “My Job As A Pre-Launch Startup CEO Was To Buy Sandwiches,” and it described a CEO’s job as making life for Top Talent as easy as possible – going as far as delivering lunch to them on a daily basis – so that they could do what they do best: build. This applied post-launch, and this applies for established companies as much as small Startups. If you’ve got a great environment, get your team writing reviews on Glassdoor. If you’re doing team-building activities, post them to your blog or social media (or both).
In general, the key to hiring Top Talent is already having Top Talent, and having them happy where they are. Create an environment people want to work in, and others will flock to you.