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
In January 2015 it was reported that Birmingham, UK, will be receiving a new incubator that would come in handy in support of start-ups in the city known as iCentrum and would be operational by March 2016. In the process, it would create over 400 jobs and give back to the Birmingham community about £25 million annually. While such great news might not be very unique to Birmingham only, it is already official that Birmingham is great for start-up tech companies, especially if iCentrum and other key tech developments in Birmingham are anything to go by.
In 2013 alone, the city of Birmingham was top of the new list of start-ups outside London with 16,281 companies having been launched in the city more than in any other city in the UK apart from London.
Birmingham is famous as the home of heavy metal and tennis but the most significant of all these is that of any 4,000 inventions taking place annually in the United Kingdom, over 2,800 come from this famous city in the UK and Europe. Here are a number of reasons why Birmingham is great for start-up tech companies today.
Home of great talent
Birmingham back in the 18th century was heralded as the first world manufacturing town and led in the global advances in economic development, technology and science. As we speak, Birmingham is a major UK digital hub with over 38,000 people employed in about 6,000 technological firms. In the city are thousands of business and computer science students. Hiring top talent is very easy considering the cutthroat competition manifested in London by such corporations as Facebook and Google is not there.
Birmingham as a city with great talent is not a secret anymore. For example, BufferApp, which allows users to schedule Facebook posts and Tweets and post them later is a Birmingham creation with other immense start-ups having come out of the city already such as Hobyz.com for crafters and hobbyists, Soshi Games, WHISK that allows users to purchase entire supermarket recipes, CrowdControl that appealed to the Leeds' City Council and others with dozens of social media accounts that need management. Others include Poikos, Mynaweb.com among others that are in the works currently. The Innovation Birmingham Campus is a flourishing technology community with open work spaces of 38,000 sq ft promoting mobile operations for start-ups.
Cost of living is low
The low cost of living in Birmingham improves the quality of life while making wages low in a very unique balance. For instance, while renting a flat with two bedrooms is about £1,500 in London, with just £670 you can get the same in Birmingham, if not better. This is why ASOS among others have opened new offices in the city after claiming that tech talent costs in Birmingham are 50 percent lower in contrast with the English Capital's.
Without a doubt there is some tech event taking place in Birmingham almost everyday, making the city to have one of the most vibrant ecosystems in the world of tech. There are all kinds of investors, office spaces, large companies and diverse start-ups in the city at any given time with top companies claiming that Birmingham has the vision, talent and space every tech talent is looking for with the city's unique tech culture and its great potential to be a top e-commerce hub making it irresistible.
A good example is the Silicon Canal, a major tech community that seeks to create an international tech ecosystem right in Birmingham by helping tech companies, events and people find one another, communicate globally about the great tech stuff taking place in the city and attracting top talent from elsewhere, run events and projects where there are opportunities to lend a hand and events and projects to support and run.
Location and transport
Birmingham is also in a central location while the High Speed Rail 2 project that will reduce the Birmingham-London train journey from 74 minutes to just 43 minutes would be operational by 2026.
Research and development
Investment in the region have made the city a top hub for research and development in tech and science, such as the biomedical hub worth £6.8m and opened in 2014, offering office and lab space to the science sector in the city and hundreds of jobs.
Birmingham is also a very liveable city with some of the most affordable food prices. Outside London the city has four restaurants that are Michelin starred and lots of farmers markets and independent restaurants particularly outside the city centre such as Moseley, Kings Heath and Harbone. The property price average by July 2014 stood at £114, 713 with 69 crimes reported per a thousand people in the city and a stable average broadband speed of 20.7 mbps.