Startup Recruiting

The world of Community Management is least ours is.

The title Community Manager didn't even exist 5 years ago, well it did but in a totally different industry.  Anyway, the world of online, digital, or "inbound" marketing is evolving everyday, every hour, and even sometimes within minutes.  One of the ways we try to keep up with the trends is by having the best people working on the things they enjoy the most.  In this case we're speaking of Community Managers.  Not just social media managers, but true authentic "Community" Managers.  It's a true DNA match for a PeopleOps Community Manager to be architecting and maintaining talent communities.  Here's a graphic describing the difference. 


4 HR Solutions for one man HR teams

Many early stage & hyper growth companies do not have the luxury of having an army of recruiters, HR business partners, and coordinators to help your company create a world class HR Department.  This doesn't mean the Founder, Hiring Manager, or office manager turned designated HR person can't pull off a really good HR Solution without breaking the bank or working 24hrs a day.  Here are a couple steps that can help:

  1.    Choosing an applicant tracking system.  As an early stage company you have a couple low/no cost options to implementing a pretty robust job board.  If you have a budget of $100 a month you can utilize options like The Resumator or my new personal favorite to build a pretty great page for candidates to apply.  The Resumator gives you more of a traditional applicant tracking system on the back end while gives you an awesome front end candidate experience.  
  2.   Create demand around your brand.  Simply get a camera or your iphone and create video interviews with your current employees.  Compile these videos on a blog (you can set up a Tumblr in 5 minutes) so potential employees can understand more about your company and team. 
  3. For quick on-boarding, check out signmypad ipad app.  This will allow new hires to digitally sign all HR related documents that you can easily store on a secure company cloud platform and send copies to the new hire.  Eliminate paper and saves time. 
  4. Hire slow, fire fast.  Its always difficult being objective when hiring.  Its best to hire by committee and allow your team to help select the next hire.  Use a 4.0 grading scale and only go to offer on candidates with a collective 3.5 or higher.  This will help reduce turnover related to new hires OR BECAUSE OF new hires. 


My recent post on Blogging4Jobs: 10 Common Social Recruiting & Internet Sourcing Myths BUSTED

Talent Acquisition Services

Starting in 2012, PeopleOps will begin to build out several distinct services that will work in concert to provide a comprehensive approach to talent acquisition services.


Our core service, candidate sourcing, will be called PeopleOps | DNA.  We thought this name was appropriate as sourcing is truly the building block of all we do.  PeopleOps | DNA provides dedicated candidate sourcing for companies of all sizes.  Our fee structure changes to reflect the needs of startups, mid-size, and enterprise level customers. 

We also have an emerging passion to architect scalable communities around brands and departments.  To combat the rising cost and increasing ineffectiveness of paid job advertising, we have created a crowd recruiting solution called PeopleOps | ACA (Authentic Community Architecture).  Our ACA team will work with companies of all sizes to build sustainable social assets that will decrease the need for paid job advertising while increasing candidate quality. We do this by creating real social media communities utilizing numerous platforms to create a candidate pool of highly targeted passive candidates that are directly or indirectly engaged with a clients brand or department.

PeopleOps has also long been a proponent of concierge level executive search.   In 2012 we are recommitting ourselves to this service.  Our now called PeopleOps | CXO will cater to business critical searches with a salary level of $250k and up.  In this search, an unmatched level of attention is provided to the search, the hiring manager, and to the candidate experience. 


Understanding the Context of the Candidate

   Why there is such a disconnect in understanding that the consumers ARE the candidates.  If you want to know the best way to reach candidates, look at what the best consumer companies are doing.  

   Take for instance, Apple.  They are among the top brands in cult-like following and Apple is the king of subtle disruptions.  This past March (2011), I was at South By Southwest (SXSW) when Apple was launching the iPad2.  SXSW brings together some of the most forward thinking social media and tech companies. They discuss cutting edge and even sometimes barely existing technologies.  Apple did not have a booth or a logo at SXSW.  What they DID have is a pop up store in downtown Austin ,about 4 blocks away from SXSW.  So, the day the iPad2 launched, guess where a ton of people were? You got it! They were not in breakout sessions that they or their companies paid hundreds, if not thousands of dollars for them to be at.  Rather, they were standing in line, a hundred people deep, tweeting away about the iPad2.  Apple won SXSW without even being there.  


  Alright, so what is the connection to this anecdote and the consumer and candidate?  Priority.  Keep in mind, the people waiting in line at the pop up mac store were not just run of the mill consumers. These were the normally passive candidates within the social media space that recruiters fight over on Linkedin and other online platforms.  So why were they in line?  Because they wanted an iPad2.  Apple knew there ultra-targeted customers would likely be at SXSW so they made it easy for them to get there hands on one.  Consumers crave authenticity, relevance, solid actual results, and low barrier’s of entry.  That same consumer is also your next great hire.  

How do you create a recruiting context that matches this culture? 

  1. Be Authentic:  Kill the corporate vomit that is on the job requirements.  Write what you would want to read.  Why your company is cool, why you have good people, what you are really looking for, and why YOU think they should be interested.  Couple that with a quick YouTube interview with the hiring manager talking about the requirement... unedited.  
  2. Is it a Good Job:  If you are trying to pitch a mediocre job then go back and make it not mediocre.  You do not have to pay top of market to win the day but if you want the guy at your competitors, you need to ask yourself why would someone leave to come to you.  If your answer is, because my company is better, then you have lost.  It HAS to be because my job is better, and if it's not, you need to make it better.
  3. Lower the Barriers of Entry: Does your Applicant Tracking System suck?  The answer is most likely yes.  I understand that due to compliance laws, we have to have some forms of applications.  However, you should make the application process, at least on the front end, something they can do with a simple email or maybe logging in to use their Linkedin resume-like profile.  Oh and while I am at it, please start taking LI profiles as resumes, its good enough! 

5 Must-Have Characteristics of a Recruiting/Sourcing Vendor

Sourcing and recruiting for businesses are critical, hard to find skill sets that takes time. It also takes a lot of domain knowledge. It can be hard for businesses to find the necessary time or internal resources to learn and/or implement winning passive sourcing efforts and authentic social media messaging (to name a couple) for themselves. In these cases, businesses can reach out to a third-party agency to manage their candidate development efforts. Consider these 5 must-have characteristics when evaluating an agency partnership.

1. The Right Services

Saying "agency" is really a disservice to the Talent Acquisition industry.  The question is what is your need?  Do you need to hire lots and lots of standard qualification employees? Then a U.S. based RPO might be right for you.  Do you have one critical hire you need to make but have a super strict budget? Then a contingency agency could be the right call.  Maybe you have a fairly consistent need for a tier 1 candidate pipeline for a specific business group that complains a lot? That could be when you tap the services of a tactical sourcing team like PeopleOps.

2. A Clear Process

Project results on whitepapers and company case studies are great, but the real value of an agency's involvement will be in how they put, not only how they fill the business critical roles, but the additional added value of how they work with the hiring authorities.  Recruiting or Sourcing agencies should be able to clearly lay out and explain the candidate development methodology for prospective clients. Being able to clearly show you the order in which things need to happen and the amount of time and resources required at each step. This will indicate that the agency has delivered ROI to clients before. Thus, you will also be able to infer that it has the game plan to do it again for your company.

3. An Emphasis on Measurement

Words like "metrics", "benchmarks" and "analytics" should be peppered throughout your prospective agency's pitch. Progress made toward your goals should to be measured at every step of the way, and a recruiting agency worth its weight will be able to track all campaigns, direct sourcing efforts, candidate flow and report on performance regularly. You have goals. You are trying to meet those goals by hiring the agency. Therefore, it should be as focused as you are, charting success in an undeniable, data-driven way. 

4. Strong Project Management Skills

Recruiting is fueled by the creation of remarkable content aimed at your ideal candidates, compelling direct sourcing initiatives, and authentic messaging. In order to be successful, good recruiting/sourcing agencies will need to get inside your hiring managers head to build that content and learn about that dream candidate. Do the agencies you're considering have the process and communication skills to make you think they will make reasonable and realistic requests of your hiring authorities? Also, have they set clear expectations around what each step in the candidate development and attraction process will require in terms of time and resources? Do you get the impression that they can manage campaigns with lots of moving parts? A good agency will make your life easier; not the opposite.

5. An Online Presence Optimized for Top Talent

Does the agency you're considering blog regularly? What is its own internal recruiting initiatives like? Are there optimized landing pages and premium content offers throughout its site? An effective recruiting or sourcing agency should be its own best case study. Think twice about engaging with a recruiting firm that doesn't make the services it sells a priority for its own business.


4 ways to use Twitter to find great candidates

73% of Staffing Leadership believe using consumer focused social media tools like Twitter or Facebook has little effect on increasing their organizations' top line candidates or filling positions with adequate talent. Only you can change this misconception. Using social media to bring in great talent isn't a cost center, it's a catalyst for growth.


Here are 4 easy ways you can use Twitter to start getting better candidates:

  1. Listen:  From my perspective Twitter is often miss conceived as a content distribution tool.  In my opinion it is far more useful as a listening tool.  Your recruiters or sourcers can set up live searches around specific search terms, like "ios developer" OR "flight dynamics" or "objective-c".  The more specific you can get the less 'noise' you will have to filter through.  Using free tools like Tweetdeck, you can quickly set up numerous searches that will alow you to engage with people talking about your specific topics...odds are these people are candidates.
  2. Be Authentic: If you are looking for Computer Science engineers, Accountants, Management Consultants, or whatever it may be... do not populate your tweets with endless news feeds and other spammy garbage.  Interview your hiring managers, engage in industry blogs, and tweet relevant information about your open role, about the department it reports to, about the people in the department, etc.  The more authentic you can be, the better the chance of you landing the passive candidate that sees you but has yet to respond.
  3. Leverage the hashtag #:  If you want to take a little more of an aggressive approach, you can used paid Twitter tools like TweetAdder3 that can search all profiles associated with a hashtag.  Why is that imporatant?  Most confrences use hashtags to organize so if you want to find alot of social media enthusiasts you could use #sxsw for South By Southwest...or any other conference.  Great way to troll for solid candidates. 
  4. Respond to everyone:  Everytime someone follows you, everytime someone Re-Tweets something you said, any activity at all ... make sure you engage.  Even if its just to say thank you, engaging with your fledging community will make those new found connections strengthen.  Keep in mind, your search may end, but that community you are building (if done right!) will remain to help you when you need it again. 

Context Sourcing

  If content is king then 'CONTEXT' is the Kingslayer and about to overthrow him.  As social media is becoming more like a 1938 style "my [virtual] handshake is my bond", so too will the way organizations recruit talent. 


   Context within Content. is content...Iphone User Group, that's context.  Context is the layer that makes data valuable.  If 50% of landing a job is 'who you know' what happens when everyone knows everyone?  When job referrals are plentiful?  Context is what is going to make it manageable.

   In corporate America, no recruiting tool has even been able to stand up to the employee referral.  The problem is that too many companies cannot manifest enough employee referrals so they have to rely on external staffing resources.  I for one, am personally happy about this, but none-the-less, the 'context' evolution of social media is about to spill over into this area as well.

   Context is organic targeting.  This means that the right kind of information organically finds the right audience for that information.  Software engineers will hear about opportunities from their open source communities like Forrst or GitHub.  Account Executives now get the latest product ranking for Gartner's Magic quadrant from their Linkedin news feed (that shows who they know at the organization).  Every professional group has pockets they huddle in...pockets that provide the context ...not content...they are seeking.

Here is one quick tip to increasing your Context right away:

Lower the barrier of entry:  Sometimes Context is not always about whether or not your candidates are reading your message but WHAT they are reading it on.  Majority of email is now consumed via a smart device... but most devices are currently not smart enough to store a resume.  So if you try to get a slam dunk on a cold email odds are they are going to either delete your email or simply forget to get back to you.


The Method Startup

Even though by profession I am a Talent Attraction Consultant, I am also a business owner, Angel Investor, and serial Cofounder.  I understand the difficulties that comes with recruiting your own team.

startup sourcing, early stage sourcing, startup recruiting

It's been said that accountants own taxes are often terrible, a financial advisors portfolio embarrassing, and a Chef's personal diet uneventful.  The same goes for me when hiring my own staff.  Here I am providing razor cutting strategies for global enterprise, executing war for talent competitive intelligence with such speed and accuracy it would make the NSA do a double take...but when I am staffing for my own consultants, project managers, developers, programmers, and all the other support staff that make what I do scalable and possible I am posting on craigslist.  I guess this is as much of a personal manifesto as it is explaining the method. 

The point is for a startup CEO recruiting top or just good talent if fucking hard.  It's unfortunately about to get even harder.  Why?  I firmly believe that soon we will see the rise of mega companies and startups.  What is so profound about that statement? Notice I did not say mid-size.  In the coming years after the glutton of mid-sized companies get snapped up there will be a far gap between companies.  Small companies will not be able to compete with the size, scope, and purchasing power of mega corps and the mega corps will not be able to match the creativity, authenticity, and speed to market of startups who thanks to the combination of private capital, social collaboration tools, and glut ten of talent will be able to form a concept, raise capital, develop a beta, and launch in less then 30 days.... In some cases maybe even 2 or 3.  

So why does this matter for staffing?   Because a great divide is going to occur in talent.  First there will be a preverbal line in the sand between talent.

1) the mega company employee.  These candidates are pro big businesses and the perks that simply can't be duplicated by a startup.  Sure other companies can adopt a free food policy like Google, but you would be hard pressed to find a startup that can match Google's facilities with over 8 chef ran food places...Not to mention the cafe's and other perks like doing your laundry onsite.  There is real value to that.  These employees will be ever mindful of there resume as recruiting tactics become more transparent.  Employees now watch their profiles like they watch their credit.  Making sure they have good tenure, promoted every couple years, and are very careful about lateral moves.  The war for talent in this space is about to get viscous.

2) Hackers.  Code, drink beer, repeat.  Put that in your job description and you will attract a lot of hackers.  What is a hacker? It's the new age of the Entrepreneur.  Often they are programers, designers, or product managers.  They come up with cool tech iterations and applications.  VC's love them because from a business perspective they are teachable.  If you are a startup these are the guys you want. Your IKEA furniture in your not so big office won't scare them off.  They are just fine with red bull and hot pockets as apposed to a gourmet onsite food spot.  Often they will forgo the big base for skin in the game options.  Here is the problem... They also often come with a form of business ADD.  It's extremely difficult to get one to solely dive into your firm...and if they do even harder to keep them.

As a business owner you are thinking I don't really want either candidate.  Yes, I know, that's why I wrote this...there is a way to blur the lines and get the best talent that will stick long term.  I will show you some of the best kept recruiting tricks used by the elite enterprises and executive search firms for years.

Tactical Tip:  When searching for corporate talent focus on volume.  Make sure to get a list of the top 10-50 competitors in the space.  Then use a tool like Linkedin, Twitter Search, or Xing (UK) to find the targets.  Don't call them...don't send them a description...just reach out free hand and introduce yourself.  Then you can naturally take it from there.

When searching for startup guys, they are typically visible in communities.  Check Tumblr or Wordpress for industry related blogs and start participating.  Trust me they are lurking and checking you out before you even see them.