This might seem a little crazy to some, but with the Covid-19 pandemic in full swing the talent pool is rich with some of the best talent out there.
You have the opportunity to pick from an amazing talent resource pool that will enable your business to grow quicker and successfully by having the best people in the top jobs.
Many companies have been hit hard throughout this pandemic and some have pivoted their business to adapt to the new circumstances we find ourselves in. There have been some shocking announcements of companies that have been the backbone of British business for years that have collapsed or had to make significant redundancies to survive. There is also a high number of graduates that are looking for work, the talent pool is ripe with experienced, highly educated candidates that are immediately available to start work.
Yet amongst all of this, there are those business leaders who are able to seek out the opportunity and make investments into their business for the longer-term gain.
One of the most significant opportunities is the chance to hire great talent who are either unable to keep their current role or looking for stability somewhere else. Tapping into this pool of talent right now means that you are ahead of competitors and can make serious inroads into building your business and meeting the objectives required to grow.
How can you tap into finding great talent?
Above all else, create a great candidate experience. Attracting the best talent takes some work so you need to give a compelling reason and benefits of why they should join you. Ensure the job description is clear so they know what the role is that they are embarking on.
There might be people you have been watching for a while or your senior team might have a list of people they consider to be great hires. Seek out these people and see where they are right now and if they are looking for a new position.
Have a look internally. Are there people already within the business who are ripe for promotion or need to be nurtured so their development is enhanced? Look after the talent you already have, they are not only the backbone to your business success but also ambassadors for your employer brand.
This pandemic has been truly awful for many and has changed so many ways in which we socialise and work. We have been told that it will not last for ever, and with a vaccine so close it gives many the confidence to focus on the long-term goals for their business and these are the business leaders who are most likely to survive and flourish in the new landscape.
If you would like to talk to us for help with your hiring and onboarding please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the key objectives as an entrepreneur will be to grow your business and a large part of achieving this might be to secure investment. To do this successfully you will need to ensure that you have the right team of people, with the experience, skills and long-term interest to stay in your company.
Following the success of securing funding, your plan for growth will now become a reality. The type of people you hire will be the difference between good success and great success.
Why is talent important?
Having top talent within your organisation can propel you forward; they are more productive especially within highly complex roles.
Steve Jobs advises that you “go after the cream of the cream….A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.“
It is not easy to find great talent, and many managers often say that this is one of their biggest challenges. This is one of the reasons why The Talent Hackers exists, to help growth companies to attract and retain great talent.
How to find great talent
The job description…
It is not as simple as putting an ad out there and waiting for lots of CVs to arrive on your desk or in your inbox. This might happen but the quality of those applications are possibly not right for enabling you to successfully grow your business. Consider exactly what it is that you need that person to do and ensure that your job description clearly defines the role they are applying for. This is really important to ensuring that you are attracting the right level of candidate with the expertise and experience for that role. It also helps in retention, if the job description does not match the role that they end up doing, then you risk losing them fairly quickly.
Using your brand as the foundation of your candidate experience improves the likelihood of you attracting and retaining great talent. Your employer brand needs to show candidates that you are a company that helps people to advance their careers, who invest in people and give them opportunities to learn whilst taking on new challenges. Cultural fit is more important than ever, especially where everyday life and work are becoming increasingly linked. Matching the organisations core values and culture to a candidate will help to identify those who are more likely to stay working for you long-term.
The final stage of the recruitment process is onboarding. How well the onboarding is carried out will impact candidate success and organisational effectiveness. A successful onboarding process should be your priority and can still effectively be carried out remotely during these homeworking times.
Things that you can do to onboard in a remote environment:
To get the expertise required for finding and retaining great talent that you need in your business, get in touch for an initial chat.
Over the last decade the recruitment sector has experienced vast changes. Gone are the days of exclusive databases; today it is all about transparency in the market with companies forced to battle it out for the best candidates.
Inhouse direct recruitment vs external agency recruitment has long been a widely debated topic by many. Whilst some companies find it beneficial to capitalise on the experience and network of outsourcing recruitment, we firmly believe that investing in direct recruitment is the best way for startups to hire.
We identify five benefits for bringing your recruitment back inhouse...
1. Offers a better return on investment
Rather than paying out money to a third party each month, it makes far more sense to invest in your own brand. Building up a strong employer brand will have a positive PR effect on your company and will get people talking about you for all the right reasons.
In competitive recruitment markets, a strong employer brand will help you stand out and give job seekers compelling reasons to join your company over one of your competitors. It will help you to market your values and culture to candidates, which will result in increased engagement, something that contributes to greater productivity and higher retention rates.
2. Acquire quality candidates
By conducting direct recruitment, you stand a much higher chance of hiring quality candidates that are a perfect fit for the job. With recruitment agencies, there’s always a risk of them sending through a ‘closest match’ rather than a candidate that has the ideal skills, experience and personality for the advertised role. Acquiring quality candidates first time round can save you huge financial implications, as well as creating employee motivation when bringing in a good fit and someone who will stay long-term.
3. Control over the recruitment message and experience
Investing in your own direct recruitment will give you greater control over the recruitment message and candidate experience. You will be able to represent your company accurately and craft a recruitment process that will allow you to find the best talent for your advertised roles.
Recruitment agencies tend to use a one size fits all approach to hiring and this process doesn’t always churn out the right people at the end. The more control you have over recruitment, the more likely you are to end up with great candidates who go on to become loyal members of staff.
4. Build a talent pool for the future
One of the major downsides of using a recruitment agency is that you have no communication with the candidates that just miss out on the role. This means there’s no opportunity for you to build a talent pool or pipeline that you can source from in the future.
By doing your own direct recruitment, you can effectively build a talent pool for your startup. This basically involves keeping in contact with candidates who missed out on previous roles, as well as graduates and other talent, who you may be able to use to fill job roles that come up in the future. Having a talent pool at your fingertips can greatly reduce recruitment costs and allow for a far more efficient process.
5. Outsourced direct recruitment
It’s important to remember that just because you choose direct over agency recruitment, doesn’t mean you have to do it all yourself.
The work can still be outsourced and done remotely by companies like The Talent Hackers. We work closely with businesses to conduct direct recruitment, using our expertise of hiring for startups and growth companies along with our wide talent pool and top of the range recruitment technology to help you find the right candidates to enable your business to grow.
We are Talent Specialists, innovating recruitment for companies that are growing. Interested in finding out more? Contact email@example.com
I have read numerous articles that have been published regarding the recruitment of Paul Flowers at Co-op, George Dymond at Morrisons and the hiring of numerous football managers who were not a right fit for the business or left extremely quickly. In many of these cases the use of psychometrics are quoted as a key reason for the hire. So what went wrong?
Recruiting a Chairman of a bank with no previous banking experience on the basis of his leadership and previous board credentials might be seen as foolish, especially following the numerous reports into the financial crisis which stated that one of the key drivers was that the leadership did not understand the products or risks within the system. It begs the question - was the job description too people and behaviours focused, rather than domain experience?
Bringing in people who subsequently leave within 3-6 months because the job was not what was envisioned demonstrates a lack of desire by the organisation to fully understand what their needs are at the outset. Failing to outline the role or environment in which candidates will work - of course this can be contributed to being blinded by one of the many recruitment fallacies such as halo, mirror, PLU - or their background, can also be reasons why the wrong person is hired.
What this overlooks is the key reason for hiring a headhunter or recruitment specialist to advise, design or oversee the hiring process. A key part of their role will be to challenge either the board or the leadership team that they hire the right person for the role by using a proper selection process. Given the scenario at Sunderland with Di Canio, one does wonder whether they assessed him at all in their selection process or just went with someone who they thought brought credibility?
This brings us onto the other crucial role of a headhunter, fully referencing candidates both through the formal side of their CV but also by talking to others who have worked with them to understand their work style and limitations is imperative. Coming back to the Di Canio situation, one feels a couple of quick phone calls to Swindon might have influenced the decision to Sunderlands benefit!
The recruiter brings expertise to the table
How boards and leaders design the assessment of the hiring process is something where the recruiter can bring a great deal of experience both through their structured interview technique, arranging testing, role plays and case studies through to advising on the decisions that they take.
Having a panel involved in the interview and assessment process can overcome shortcomings associated with having the same person making hiring decisions, however for this to be most successful the panel needs to be balanced and not subject to groupthink or influence by the most senior person.
While psychometrics will have a key role to play in hiring, especially when the team fit and motivations are key to ensuring that a person will be able to lead a group of experienced leaders and personalities, the focus of a recruiter should be on making sure that both sides are aware of the opportunities and constraints around the job. The assessment must be accurate and competently carried out, and the expectations should be clear for all when decisions and offers are made.
Psychometrics and aptitude tests have long been used to set benchmarks and give board leaders and hiring managers a good reason to rule people out, but they should never be used as the only reason to hire without all the other checks and balances of a proper assessment exercise.
If any football clubs or banks wish to engage the services of The Talent Hackers in the search for their next manager I would be happy to talk to them - firstname.lastname@example.org
Recruiting locally has many advantages but there are also a few disadvantages that possibly need to be considered, which I will address here. One important reason for hiring locally can also be the goal for companies who have a contractual requirement to hire locally for certain types of funded projects. I was talking with an HR manager recently about their hiring practices and recruitment when we touched upon the topic of localism and CSR, not your usual recruiter speak I know, so I thought I would pen some thoughts that might be of use to other HR managers.
1. The Benefits of hiring locally:
1.1 Reduces Greenhouse gas emissions and improves health for the workforce through the promotion of walking, cycling and car-sharing. Hiring locally can also reduce stress in employees with long commutes.
1.2 As mentioned in Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community each additional ten minutes spent commuting leads to a 10% decline in all areas of civic engagement; if you are a small village or town this can have a major impact.
1.3 It keeps money invested in the local community. The salaries you pay are likely to have a significant impact on local businesses; a multiplier of 3-4 would not be uncommon. When Longbridge in Birmingham shut down overnight, so too did many small businesses.
1.4 Fosters an engaged workforce through social activity. If a significant number of your workforce live close to one another they are likely to develop more engaged social networks.
1.5 No relocation costs.
1.6 Reduced turnover of staff. One of the key reasons people leave a job is that they are “fed up” with the commute, and whilst the age of homeworking is still developing even more so since the lockdown measures were put into place, hiring people locally who are committed to the workforce and area will have a key impact on attrition.
1.7 On-going attraction. Referrals and attracting former colleagues are key factors of hiring in today’s economy. Hiring local people means that they are more able to do this (unless you are a football manager and able to bring whole teams with you!).
1.8 Locals job-search locally. People often begin their search for work locally resulting in the lower search costs on both sides and consequently, a greater chance of success in hiring and finding a new role.
There are lots of positives for companies here to hire locally, far more than I had initially thought, however before I get too carried away with the localism agenda, perhaps some thoughts on the disadvantages first.
2. The Disadvantages of hiring locally
2.1 It can restrict the supply of workers to the organisation. This can be especially important if you are in a service or creative industry using skilled workers that are hard to find.
2.2 May mean the local community are too reliant on one employer, as seen throughout the North of England when coal mining was shut down in the 1980's.
2.3 The costs of hiring may increase as the supply of labour within a radius goes down and employees bargain for greater salaries or rates. This can certainly be seen in London currently as salaries rise for particular skills sets especially in programming or programme management.
2.4 Settling for the available talent and missing out on the best talent. Research has shown that recruiting top performers has a greater than expected impact on company productivity and growth.
3. The impact upon your recruitment options
The type of job. If the job is a permanent hire then going locally may be the better option; conversely contractors and FTC or temps may be able to travel more if the rate is higher.
The skill set needed. If a job requires a particular skill set or expertise then you may need to look further afield, particularly if the role holder is a very rare skill.
Commuting. Have you looked at travel time? What would you call local? In London local may mean within a 1hr commute which can be as far as Brighton. However, for somewhere like Worcestershire this might mean Central Birmingham to Bristol? Use tools like www.Mapumental.com to work out what are realistic commute times - you may be surprised!
Location. What is your location? Do applicants have to drive? Could they walk, cycle, take the bus or train? This may have a major impact on whether you are able to go further. Recruiting in city centres may be a deterrent to drivers given the traffic delays yet may also attract more candidates as they will be better served by public transport.
What is the competition? If you work in a particular market or industry segment that requires specific skills i.e. optoelectronics or software programming, do you know where to find other sources of talent?
What is the level of the role? The more senior the role the more likely you are to have to widen the search area unless you are in a major city. Even then I would argue that the more important the hire the less location matters and the more the emphasis is upon getting the right candidate.
To discuss your local hiring strategy, please email me email@example.com
Does cost and quality of service hinder your recruitment?
After 16 years of working in recruitment, I typically hear the same observations from HR managers, Directors and hiring managers about the issues they have with recruitment and the biggest of these is generally cost and quality of service. Comments such as “recruitment companies cost us too much and we get poor candidates from them” so I thought I would outline a few helpful hints as to how you can save money whilst still maintaining a healthy staff requirement within your business.
Firstly, understanding how recruitment agencies work can give a good insight into what drives some of the behaviours that can be found out there. Most recruiters work on a contingency basis, that is you pay them if you find a candidate. It's low risk but you pay a huge premium for this.
As a result of this recruiters often have little confidence in you as a client, they also own the candidate IP rather than you so can sell them to other clients - after all they are only interested in making a fee so will show little loyalty to you if a better role or bigger fee comes up.
1. Do you need to hire?
Often hiring is a reactive process, somebody has left or been performance managed out or in the worst case been dismissed and the immediate response is quickly ‘find me a replacement’. Companies should spend time evaluating whether they need to hire someone that is exactly the same and what the role will cover before starting the recruitment process. Often the role may change, somebody else internally may fit (see point 9) or the role can be covered by the existing team.
2. Promote somebody and hire an apprentice (succession planning)
Do you have a succession plan in place? If a key member left, do you have somebody ready or wanting to take on the role? This could mean that you can hire a less experienced or qualified person and motivate your existing staff through promotion or job challenge.
3. Write a good job spec
The recruitment process starts with writing the right job spec, which includes company brief, person profile, skills, and competencies. This will help make sure you recruit the right person. This is something that I am very passionate about and have written about previously - read about writing a good job description
4. Do it yourself
There are a plethora of options available for companies to recruit themselves for value. The issue for most companies is the time to do this, which is why we exist - to help founders to find the best talent without the expense and time taken out of running their own business.
In local markets, odds on, somebody in your company will know someone who could do the job you are looking to hire from. How do you approach them, how do you get staff members to recommend people they know? A referral system put in place can be really effective for your future recruitment.
6. Careers Page
It always amazes me how many companies still don’t have a careers page that is up to date or allows candidates to add their CV’s to a talent pool. Particularly in areas where there might be a smaller pool of people, building up a talent pool of the local market that you can approach when you have a job is essential to reducing your recruitment fees.
7. Negotiate your fees
Most agencies are willing to negotiate, it’s a competitive marketplace out there.
If you are going to work with an agency, offer exclusivity in return for specific returns such as exclusive ownership of candidates, lower fees, free advertising or research.
9. Contract management
Companies that use lots of contractors can often make savings through better contract management, either through an Recruit Process Outsourcer, standardisation of rates or volume rate negotiation. This all starts with an audit internally to capture the current start of what you have.
A good process to follow is...
The Talent Hackers specialise in providing recruitment services in a fully transparent manner for SME companies. We offer an initial consultation to discuss key challenges you might be facing, how you might overcome these and how we can help you to move forward - email firstname.lastname@example.org.
One of the hardest things to do as a Non-Technical Co-founder is to recruit a CTO who can join the company later but still share in the passion that you have for the product.
With the rise of accelerators, hands-on investors and easy options to build an MVP and launch, many CEOs are finding that they have so much to do in running the business and looking after the client end of things that they are in difficulty when it comes to dedicating time to finding the right CTO to fit the business.
The need for a CTO
Launching by having your product built by a third party or a friend is great and is a really cost effective way to get to MVP however, it creates a legacy of technical debt and potentially difficult code or technology stacks that might not be right to scale the product. This is where the CTO or Lead Developer is really key to taking you through to the next level.
At this point the CEO or COO will be heavily engaged in running teams, working with clients, mapping feature sets and reporting to the board. Their main constraints will be time as well as funding the hiring of a new CTO. Using agencies can be costly, 25% of salary is not a small amount, trying to find someone suitable through friends, referrals and networking can take forever, whilst the board will be increasing the pressure to hire every month.
The reality of hiring a CTO
I recently worked on a project for a client to do exactly this and thought it might be useful to share our experience.
The total amount of time to hire was 55 hours. This included setting up job postings, reaching out through LinkedIn, searching job boards, tele-screening candidates, organising technical screens and skype interviews with the CEO, COO, investors and finally closing the deal with the candidate. All of this was delivered by a professional recruiter, used to hiring at this level for this type of business.
That’s probably the average week for a CEO, ask one you know if they could afford the time to do this! I very much doubt it.
How can we help?
We reached out to over 250 candidates directly, managed over 80 advertising responses and had over 10 direct referrals across multiple sources.
We posted across Europe, headhunted, networked and drove the process on, keeping our candidates in the process during August when everyone was on holiday, giving consistent feedback to candidates and managing communications.
What did the company gain?
Using our process we believe that candidates get a better view of the company, have a better experience and due to implementing a workflow system called Workable, our clients are able to build a talent pool that will be receptive to them the next time they hire.
The learning points from this were:
For under 30% of the cost of an agency, a slick process and the opportunity to build an ATS, we hired a great CTO, did it in a reasonable time frame and the CEO spent less than five hours in actual interviewing. Now that is a good result!
TheTalentHackers.com is an in house recruitment service for startups and fast growth companies in the Technology, Bio and Mobile world. To find out more visit www.thetalenthackers.com
As a founder or senior leader within your startup, have you asked yourself some of these questions and got answers you are happy with? If not, from my experience it is worth making the time to work through them, you could regret it later down the line especially when you do finally get investment.
Here are my ten top tips that you need to work through and be satisfied with before moving forward in your hiring process:
1. Are there staff available in the local area?
It might be obvious but it is amazing how many startups will go with the latest technology like Scala, paper.js, Clojure or Slate, Faust or Squirrel and build an amazing new product but then when they try to recruit the extra programmer they really struggle to hire. Spend some time thinking about where you can find the skills locally or will you have to cross-train or relocate talent. Even languages that are becoming more mainstream like Ruby can be difficult to obtain. Resources like IT jobswatch can give you an idea of demand, a quick search on Linkedin might give an indication of supply.
2. What are the rates for permanent/contract staff for your technology stack?
Assuming you are going with your favoured technology when you are preparing your cash flow and hiring plans, take a look at salaries/contract margins. Many startups are amazed at what they might have to pay to get that right skill set, especially outside of London where the assumption is to pay less, but competition is really hot for tech skills right now.
3. Where are the big technology companies that use your skill set?
One of the reasons that clusters grow especially around technologies is that there happens to be a large employer of that skill set locally. The reason there were so many startups in California was Xerox Parc, so many embedded software companies in Cambridge were because of Acorn and networking technologies in Scotland was NCR and 3Com. Have you looked at the local big tech employers and their tech stack to see if it's easy to get people from there?
4. Are you part of a community already?
Have you joined and are active in the local User Groups, Meetups? This will give you an idea of the quality and depth of local talent.
Have you made links with the local universities, especially the Computer Science courses? One reason for successful startups around York was the quality of their C Science course, especially around AI and Vision.
6. What happens when you get funded? Do you have a plan?
One of the key bottlenecks for startups is planning. From building and launching a product, creating great customer service and doing the investment rounds when you finally get that magic funding - typically a lot of it will go on hiring. If you have not pipelined and thought about how to do this it can create a major challenge.
7. It's OK, we will just bring in overseas candidates!
Think again, the average time to hire, process and gain a work permit is likely to be around 3-6 months especially if they are not in the country already. On top of which, Visa's are becoming much scarcer now under the new legislation. Yes, you can still hire from within the EU, but the competition is fierce and most candidates want to live in London as that is the area they know.
8. Beware the unicorn!
While research suggests that recruiting the top 5% of programmers will have a disproportionate effect on your productivity, the reality is they are few and far between for a reason and you have to pay disproportionate salaries and benefits to attract them and present them with the right challenges otherwise they will move on swiftly. A good solid team to start will pay good dividends and if you see one them make a decision then otherwise you could miss delivering whilst you wait for the unicorn!
9. Are you attractive compared to your peers?
Have you undertaken a review of your hiring competition? Not just the local startups but major employers too, to see how you stack up on benefits, culture and salaries? Also look at Startups within one-hour commutes, which if you are in Nottingham, Birmingham or Manchester could almost be London.
10. Do you actually tell people you are hiring?
A common issue for startups is to focus on their product and sales and not have their website telling people they are hiring or what they are looking for in the future. The key is to make sure that it's very visible on the front page of your website to attract the best talent from the get-go.
If you would like to get a review of hiring practices at your startup or just advice on where you might be able to improve, email me.
One of the common mistakes that SMEs make when hiring is to base their criteria on what they think they need without first spending time to analyse and review the role in more detail. This is mainly done for reasons of time, lack of knowledge or simply ‘I know what I want when I see it’.
As someone who has worked with over 50 small businesses that are looking to grow, doing the initial research and analysis to write a clear job description is one of the key pieces of advice we give.
The job description is what you want from the job, it should be a working document that enables you to quickly and accurately measure the outcome from hiring someone for the role. This is more than a simple skills list or a price point.
Here is a list of 10 areas you should consider when writing a job description - download a more detailed template for free HERE.
1. What are the key job details
a. Role title, this is really important as it not only describes clearly what the person will do in detail but helps them to find your job. To help you write your role title look at other jobs in the market; what will people search for online, does it describe the role in detail, it is great hiring a marketing ninja - but does that describe what you want, would someone describe themselves like that?
b. Reporting line
c. Salary guide - stretch guide for the ideal person
e. When they need to be in place
f. Who is responsible for hiring
g. Location - remote/multi-site, onsite
2. Why does the role exist?
3. What are the key drivers for this role, what does someone need to have accomplished in the first 6-12 months?
4. What are the measures for the role - What will success look like?
5. What are the key skills someone will need to deliver this? - These are likely to be qualifications, level of education, background experience, hard skills like systems or processes - Be careful to avoid discriminatory language here, asking for xx years of experience is bad.
6. What are the behavioural traits that would fit this role? - Be sensitive to the words you use, energetic, challenging, focused, ambitious may not be how you want to portray the role, try to use clear simple words.
7. How will someone fit into your company culture? - Do they hold your values, what are they?
8. What will this person need to be onboarded into the company?
9. Who are their peers, stakeholders, key people they engage with?
10. What are the opportunities for this role to grow? - Training, career development and progression.
Once you have answered the above points, then collate it into a document and ask a few colleagues to read it and rate it on the following:
You can then turn this into an effective job ad, but that’s a blog post for a different time, or you can call me 0330 133 2097 or email directly on email@example.com to chat.
While we are all on lockdown, I thought it might be useful to outline some of the things we can do as growth company leaders from a talent perspective that will help us on the other side.
There are a hundred and one things that we all have to manage at the moment that we see as much more urgent, such as ensuring we have business longer-term and revenue in place!
However, taking a step back and thinking about hiring is still something that we need to do. There is potentially a really good pool of talent that is waiting to return to work with gusto and being the first to grab them will set you apart from your competitors.
Here are my eight steps to getting your hiring processes in order, now:
We, at Talent Hackers, have been doing all these things both for ourselves and for clients at different points and hope that we can see opportunities where we can live our brand by improving hiring practices by making sure that we are ready when we are ready to hire again.
Need help with reviewing your hiring process? Please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org