Looking for a new team member for your startup can be hard. Especially when it comes to senior-level positions. Ideally, you want a perfect candidate with great experience who loves your product, and is a perfect fit to your team. Everything at a reasonable cost, of course. Heaven!
There are two ways you can go. Either, you do it on your own, or talk to a professional. Well, there is also a third option – to read the tips by David Bizer, former Google recruiter and Founder & CEO at Talent Fountain.
We had a chance to speak to David at the FutureNow Conference in late October in Bratislava and covered some of his best hiring tips.
Now being a seasoned recruiter, David started his career as a student working for AIESEC in New York. He wanted to be a part of something ground-breaking and fell for a company called Netscape.
“I called them, and they offered me a job in International Marketing so I said yes, of course. After that, they called me again and said the job is already taken, but they have a new position open in Recruitment. The job was to recruit graduates, and I said yes again. I just didn’t care, I really wanted to work in the company. “
Twenty years ago, David moved to Paris and started working for an American software company. In 2001, after a technology bust, he proceeded the career of an external hiring consultant. After a few years, he was recruited by Google.
“This was another dream coming true. I worked there for a long time and gained a lot of experience. Today, I can say with confidence that I’m good at finding talented people.”
He used all his skills and started his own company called Talent Fountain, a talent management consulting firm for early-stage startups.
David, how come that you are so good at finding the right talent for companies?
I have this developed skill of profiling CVs and people very quickly. It must be based on the volume of CVs I have looked at during my career.
As a recruiter, you’ve got to really understand both the company and the candidate, engage with them and challenge them. Otherwise it’s very hard to finish the hiring process, to give the offer, especially in this very competitive talent market.
What I really like is when I do the right match, and both the company and the candidate are excited that it happened. Those are the moments I look back at and say “Wow, I did something really valuable for this person and this company.”
In Talent Fountain, you help early-stage startups hire talents, usually after their first investment. Does it take a lot of time to explain to them to use this money on talent?
I can help them to understand the reality based on what they are looking for and what they’re expecting. A lot of startups want to find candidates that are not expensive because they don’t have enough money.
Then they need to understand and be aware of what they can get for that money. There are people who are very good and have relatively low salaries, and there are people who are not that good but have extremely high salaries.
In the ideal world I would say – pay what it takes – which is not always possible but you’ve got to somehow make those decisions. I have seen companies going up and beyond because they see the value of the person.
Let’s have a real case scenario: a startup is hiring a new sales manager. They either look for someone with experience, but that means higher salary and costs, or for someone more junior. What’s your tip?
First of all, giving opportunity to people with less experience can be very successful if you can truly identify the qualities you believe will make the person successful.
However, when it comes to sales, it’s difficult to bring in your first sales person a junior. If your task is to bring a lot of traction and selling, you need a person who can come in, put the process in place and build the team very quickly. The person who can do that is the one who’s done that before.
When advising startups about how to attract the right people, do you promote finding their own business culture? Are candidates interested in the culture of their future employer?
It’s amazing that startups put so much time and energy into putting together their pitch for investors but they put zero time into putting together a similar pitch for a candidate. Ninety percent, or even more would not be capable to sit down here and in 60 seconds tell you why it would be exciting to work with them.
You want to do that or else you cannot attract people and certainly not the kind of people you think you want. You need to sell an opportunity. People want that. We’re working with the very high level, and if you want to attract these kinds of people, you have to get their attention.
What are your tips to do that?
My best tip would be: Be recruiting all the time. Whether you’re recruiting now or just thinking about it for the future, you should always be talking about it. Everywhere – conferences, parties, summits, events. You don’t know when the person will be interested or they’ll know someone who’s interested. Startups have a really hard time getting out there as they are so focused on building their product but, trust me, networking is the key.
If you need to hire some good senior people because you’re growing, it takes time. If you have the time to build such a relationship, that can be really helpful.
This probably comes back to having the pitch ready for a candidate, not only for investors.
That’s right. How you pitch to people matters. How you show that you’re really interested in them and you think it could be really great for them to be a part of your company, matters too. There is a whole process behind. You look at what does this person like, what drives them, what motivates them. Then, make sure they get to talk to people from your team who may have a similar interest so that they feel the connection.
At the end of the day, people are making the majority of their decisions based on the connection they feel during the interviews. You don’t want them to say “They’re paying me a ton of money so I’m definitely coming there”. No, you want them to say “I want to work with these people.”