"If you don't take hiring seriously, nobody else in your company is going to." That was the advice of Leah Scanlan, operating partner at venture capital firm Khosla Ventures, to startup founders at a recent RocketSpace event about startup hiring and talent management.
If you’re looking to hire tech people as an early stage startup, the first question that you need to ask yourself, “why would anyone join me?” Push your business as far as possible before taking on a developer.
The more progress that you can show, the more serious that you'll look, and the more attractive to a new founder/technical employee. If you can't show something for yourself, but you want to get the majority of the up-side, why should anyone join you? Your early employees will be enticed by your idea, but you need to set an example by doing all the legwork.
It’s all about how you position your product, position your vision, belief and sometimes your own pedigree, before the relevant candidates. Follow the 6 tips to get a head-start in the process of building a star development team,
Leverage on the Founder credentials
If you’re the founder of an early stage startup, you can safely assume that most of the developers out there would not have heard of your startup. They are going to have lot of queries even before they acknowledge your request. This is a good time to talk about yourself.
Our sourcing team did a little survey recently, where they had two sets of candidates let’s call them A and B. Candidates in both the sets were pitched for the same growth stage startup, but one of them was given the founder information while the other group was not. The alumni background was pretty interesting. The result was that, the positive response rate was almost 40% greater in the set who received the founder information. The candidates agreed to have the initial call more readily while many expressed the desire to know about the founder and the startup.
If you're online, it's great to have a section - "About the Founder", and you can share the same with the candidates while pitching them.
Following is a great example to do it,
State your mission & goals
Quite often, a new startup founder as well as the early employees will believe in certain things which forms the company mission later on. Most of the times these intricate details will be all in the head and not on paper. Mission of an early startup is not only the set of points the team members believe in, it is a way of life.
For example, you aim to change the fintech landscape and wish to help the novice investors in making the correct investment decisions. Your initial product has been launched and has received good appreciation and stable traction. You are a team of 10 people who strongly believe in innovation and have “get it done” attitude. Your product roadmap includes capturing the personal finance landscape and then diving into B2B corporate segment. On the tech part, you might have some interesting work coming up on AI.
These are the information a person looking to join you will seek for. Your business plan and your product roadmap are two of the most important things defining a tech startup. Don’t fail to communicate any one of these to the candidates because they are indeed a deciding factor.
Also, The experience you create when candidates come in and meet with others is very important. If your teammates lack passion or are off-message about what the company does, it doesn't leave a good impression on candidates. Make sure that your present employees are motivated and they believe in similar things like you do.
You must have seen airbnb's mission statement, doesn't it make you feel special?
Check out some inspiring mission statements from here.
Have a dedicated tech-careers page
If you’re relying on inbound candidate applications for driving your hiring pipeline, you need to have a proper page for attracting developers. Our team had conducted a research with almost 575+ developers regarding what are the parameters they are looking for while searching for a job. You can read more about the research from here. What they found was that you cannot have a common careers page for the technical and the non-technical roles.
The technical people are looking for something very different like information about your tech-stack which you cannot include in the common careers page. You need a page dedicated to and focused on your engineering team only showcasing different engineering events happening in your office, the engineering blog etc.
Ask relevant questions that reflects passion
As a founder taking the initial call with a tech candidate, it becomes very easy to be swayed by great communication skills and technical jargons. Very often, you’ll see that passion can be faked as well. Always go through resumes carefully and if required, try to look beyond it.
For someone who has mentioned his Github or Stackoverflow profiles in his resume(with good scores or karma), it shows that he is into some serious open source contribution and that’s a very very positive thing for any startup. These are the people you want and shouldn’t bargain too much with while deciding the CTC. Appreciate the serious folks who are ready to take a step down and join your startup. If a developer is good, there won’t be a dearth of jobs for him and for getting these people, you need to put yourselves in their shoes and decide what can you offer them for the kind of talent and passion they are ready to bring on the table. Start the communication accordingly from Day 1.
Here is an infographic which gives a basic overview to build a tech team,
Research before putting out an offer
Since you are new into the hiring stuff and probable have just started, deciding on a good figure for CTC often becomes a major challenge. Even before putting up the job, talk to your peers experienced in prior tech-hiring or reach out to people over LinkedIn who are specialized in tech-hiring and discuss about what the market is ready to offer. No hiring is perfect, and in the case of startups there are compromises made maybe you got for a 80% guy and not the 90% guy since you can afford the 80% only. It happens, don’t fret over it, just put out an offer after weighing all the factors carefully like your requirements, your budget, candidate skills, market conditions, the long term value etc.
Have an identical hiring process
Follow the identical hiring process with identical hiring team for each candidate for a given role. This is an important point. It’s possible for an interviewer to get maybe a little biased at times. That’s why have a dedicated hiring process for a given position. The questions in the interview can change depending on the candidate profile,but try to have a common coding exercise. Also, it works best if you do the initial round of screening with the help of experts who have been doing it for years and then pass on the selected ones to your own take it. Saves a lot of time and bad hires.
In case you have a dedicated tech-interview team, try to have 2-3 levels of interview and don’t reveal the opinion of one interviewer to the next one. Many big tech companies follow this procedure which removes errors like biasness, false positives etc.