The ability to effectively scale your business operation following venture capital funding is crucial. Increased headcount and tactical hires will no doubt be crucial to meeting ambitious revenue targets promised to investors. This scaling process should not be taken for granted, as the modern talent ecosystem is plagued with skill shortages, making it hard to find and keep talent. Effective talent recruitment in the modern climate requires a solid go-to-market strategy.
Know your target market
The marketing skills that you used to sell your product, and win your funding can also be used to help attract talent. Start by analysing and defining your target market for talent, developing a typical candidate profile for each of your key positions – so you know how to pitch your employer value proposition.
Employer Value Proposition
Without a strong employer value proposition, your fast-growth start-up will struggle to attract and retain talent. However, start-ups can’t reasonably expect to offer the same joining incentives as blue chips enterprises, so play to your strengths. For example, qualities such as: fresh and energizing start-up culture, opportunity for rapid promotion, varied/non-silo working, pioneering projects, and flexible hours are features which are intrinsic to start-up environments and which blue chips can’t easily replicate.
You’ll also be competing with venture capital funded start-ups too, so head on over to their websites to see what you can learn from how the start-up competition are pitching themselves. Look at their careers page, job descriptions, benefits, advertising channels, and their employer brand image to understand their talent recruitment strategy and match or even better it.
Uber and Lyft were perhaps the two highest profile venture capital driven start-ups who were built on the gig economy. This new flexible talent ecosystem is arguably the fastest way to find highly skilled resources. It typically takes 3 days to hire on gig-work sites like Upwork, versus 2-3 months through typical jobs boards channels. While the gig economy is good, it’s not a magic wand, it is best suited for hiring temporary freelancers in a virtual capacity, and so should be deployed as part of a diversified talent acquisition strategy.
Linked-In research shows that the number one way that people discover a new job is through a friend referral. You can set up an employee referral bonus scheme if you like, but research shows that just 6% of employees refer friends for money and recognition and most do it to help their friends and the company. So, build a great company culture and employer value proposition, then solicit your staff for referrals, and it could be a great channel for talent recruitment.
Jobs boards remain an effective way to find talent, but, increasingly, candidates are looking for jobs via alternative channels such as friend referrals, social recruitment and the Gig Economy. Jobs boards may work well for some roles and not for others and you’ll need to experiment with multiple advertising channels to see what works best in each circumstance.
Talent Acquisition Companies
For hard-to-fill roles you may need to engage the services of a talent acquisition company. Such specialist companies come with fees, but they normally offset their costs due to their unrivalled speed-of-hire which leads to reduced empty-desk time.
Assessment is necessary
Avoid recruiting based purely on informal chats, because although a commonly adopted approach, it’s the least reliable form of assessment, and much less reliable than a standardized, structured interview based on identified key competencies for the role.
Evaluating previous work samples is a very effective and reliable form of assessment, and generally more reliable than formal skill tests.
Far from being overkill, personality assessment is a worthwhile endeavour in a post-venture capital start-up environment. You can either buy in third-party assessments to ascertain behavioural tendencies or you can do it yourself using behavioural interview questions. For example, the universal behavioural qualities that fast-growth start-ups tend to require are adaptability, flexibility and an ability to take on more responsibility when needed. Knowing this, you could ask candidates to give examples of when they have shown these specific behaviours.
No matter how you recruit, it’s vital that you properly background check your staff as research shows that nearly a third of UK workers are willing to lie on their CV to get a job. You need to conduct candidate reference checks of all your new hires, (even if it is a referral), as you cannot automatically trust what you see on a CV.
The reality is that after venture-funding the stakes are raised and you probably can’t go about hiring in the same way you have up until that point. Your investors will expect to see increased levels of professionalism in the way you go about finding, hiring and retaining staff.