Business & Investment,  Startups

How to beat the big guns when hiring leadership for your startup

Most startups are powered by their founder’s passion and drive, with support from a few partners and some internal resources. But there comes a time when the founder and/or CEO can no longer be involved in every part of the business and must expand their team and hire for specific skills in order to grow. 

For any company to reach its full potential, it needs to have the best talent available. But in a growth economy, the competition for talent becomes even tougher. More than $1 billion in venture capital was invested across 105 deals in the first quarter of 2018, which means that in addition to companies that have been actively recruiting, 105 additional businesses now have the funding in place to grow their teams. 

Here are a number of actions entrepreneurs can take to win the war for leadership talent.

Approach recruitment as a business strategy

Without the right people in place, you cannot deliver results in any

area of your business. For this reason, recruitment must be approached as a business strategy. 

As finding and engaging top candidates can be a struggle, consider why any sought-after candidate should invest their time, talent and career capital in your organization – a company they may not have heard of. In my experience, recruiting for more than 3,000 North American companies, most B2B brands are largely unknown to the public. Great leadership talent often overlooks opportunities in unknown organizations, so consider what you can do to elevate your brand and compete with more well-known employers. 

Next, determine who you need to hire – what kind of leadership and skills will fuel your growth? Evaluate job candidates based on how much actual building they have done, whether teams or new revenue streams. Look for a proven ability to deliver results.

Choose a recruiter who understands leadership

It takes a leader to hire a leader. Do you know how your recruiter plans to pitch the company and employment opportunities to the market? Recruiting leaders is a strategic sales process; the recruiter’s job is to let potential hires know what makes your business unique and how you’re improving the lives of customers and employees. 

In essence, to be a leader, your recruiter must understand the talent market, the wants and needs of top leadership candidates, and how to sell your company as an employer of choice.  

Build transparency and diversity into your recruitment efforts

Be transparent with your recruiter about candidates you previously connected with or interviewed, along with information on why they weren’t a fit. The recruiter should first identify the right profile for the candidate and provide a list of the top 25 people who meet your criteria. You’ll know your recruiter is on the right track and can eliminate anyone previously contacted.

Then, throughout the process, your recruiter should provide an analytical report outlining your brand perception in the market and their conversion rate. If the majority of candidates show no interest, you need to understand why and take immediate steps to adjust your recruitment strategy.

Diversifying your recruitment efforts is important to help you attract a wider pool of potential candidates. This means, for example, having current employees promote open positions; it doesn’t mean doubling down by hiring multiple recruiting firms as this can cause confusion and result in a poor experience among the candidate pool. 

Leverage the language of investment in hiring practices

Real leaders want the opportunity to build. They must see joining your organization as an investment in their potential, so use the same language with candidates you would with investors. 

Like investors, top-level candidates won’t sign up for anything if they don’t have all the information. Be transparent about the state of your business, market opportunity, challenges you face and your strategy for tackling them. Your recruiter must also deeply understand your challenges, the technical skills required of new hires, and the values and attitudes that will make them a good addition to the team. When you can’t compete on brand name or salary, compete on other attributes. Pitch your company as mission-driven, rewarding results, flexible and impactful – something bigger brands may not be able to offer.

• Jamie Hoobanoff is founder and CEO of The Leadership Agency, specialists in leadership and sales recruitment. 

First published at http://business.financialpost.com/entrepreneur/heres-how-to-beat-the-big-guns-when-hiring-leadership-for-your-startup

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