In June 2013, Mario Laudi, founder of The Laudi Group and Red Canary, and I, presented as part of the MaRS Best Practices series for entrepreneurs.
We discussed the hiring and selection process and shared some tips on how to assemble a high-performance team.
In a room full of entrepreneurs, it was clear that typical recruiting methods were not leading to ideal results for these lean enterprises. Check out the video below to learn about what’s preventing you from seeing and hiring the best candidates.
See the Hot Tips Video:
Selecting the Right Candidate: Five Hot Tips for Startups from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo.
Watch the Whole Presentation
Hiring and the Art of Selection: How to hire employees who drive results, innovation and profit - MaRS Best Practices from MaRS Discovery District on Vimeo.
(as published on RedCanary)
I’m going to share the secret to success in recruiting. It’s the one thing that makes your message stand out. It defines a great recruiter. And it’s really quite simple. Maybe even too simple. Are you ready? It’s… excitement.
That’s right, excitement is the difference maker. Now, it’s possible that I have the luxury of working with companies that are worthy of excitement. Or maybe, because my clients are smallish tech companies, every job is critical. But, I’m genuinely enthusiastic about every new search assignment and eager to find the lucky person to take on the role.
I’m not talking about tail-wagging, squirmy dog kind of excitement. This is about genuine, authentic enthusiasm. It needs to permeate everything you do and everything you say, and it needs to be real.
Here is what excitement looks like:
1. Your Company is Exciting
Are you doing something that is truly innovative? Are your leaders extraordinary? Is the mission inspirational? Your recruitment message needs to convey this, with credible and tangible excitement.
2. This Role is Exciting
If you don’t really NEED to hire someone to do this job, why are you bothering? How does the role impact your company’s success?
Understand who is going to love this job and what will fuel their passion.
Make sure your actions reflect your words. Act with urgency and send a clear message that you are on a mission to find the best person for this important role. Your actions must speak louder than the words in your postings.
3. You are Excited about your Candidate
Start by understanding what will make a great candidate stand out, and show your enthusiasm when you find it. The best applicants want to know why you think they will fit. Give them some positive feedback. Sure, Negotiating and Interviewing 101 recommend a poker face and little else. But, if you mask your emotions with indifference, that indifference will come right back at you. Good candidates will most certainly lose interest and find an employer who sees their true value. It is possible to be excited while simultaneously evaluating fit.
These enthusiasm factors could easily serve as the outline for writing a job description, or pitching to a recruit at a networking event. One thing is certain, if you get the excitement right, it will have a measurable impact on who you recruit… and what you become as a company.
(as published on RedCanary)
I am often asked for my opinion about adding pre-employment tests to the selection process. It would be easy for me to write a lengthy post about the validity of various test results and their ability to predict on the job success. We could have a heated debate about whether compatibility matters more than competency – if you have the right leadership in place.
But, I’ll save that fun for another day. The question that no one seems to be talking about, is how testing affects the candidate experience.
You’ve spent time, effort and money to send a message that your team is awesome. Everyone knows your company is a great place to exercise creativity, take initiative and fully utilize your talents. That’s good branding. But how does the message play when a candidate goes through your recruitment process – when you and your company
are the ones being tested? As a reflection of their future working experience, your best candidates are looking for a recruitment process that is fun, engaging and that offers challenges where they can showcase their best qualities.
I understand the desire to build in hurdles that ensure only the best, smartest, most-engaged and productive workers reach your finish line. After all, you are probably thinking, “If they’re too lazy or disinterested to complete our assessment, then we don’t want them anyway. Good riddance!” So you introduce… TESTING. It’s statistically valid, so who cares if it is also trivial, frustrating and tedious! Candidates should be eager to sit through a grueling full-day inquisition. After all, it enables you to reduce a uniquely qualified human into a lump of data. What a great way to manage risk – your test makes everything black and white. It is almost impossible to make a bad hire and you are the master the recruiting universe. Or not.
Alas, your wonderfully accurate test results aren’t worth diddly because your top candidates no longer want the job. They walk away questioning your judgement and culture. I may sound jaded. But, I have seen it happen, time and again. Candidates who were initially intrigued and interested, quickly opt out of a process that is painful – and dehumanizing.
I’m not advising that you should hire blindly or never test. There is a time and place for technical assessments, assignments, and testing tools. But they need to make sense and respect the person, as well as their skills. They need to be challenging and fun, and send a positive message. Understand that this a try-out for both you and the candidate. You both need to nail it, because building a winning team is worth it.
(as published on RedCanary)
So you’re trying to improve the quality of your recruiting.
You want to hire more people, people with talent who bring their ‘A’ game every day.
How do you do that? Do you need new tactics?
Better tools and technology, or a recruiter with a better network? Before you do anything, check your attitude. That’s right. The fundamental difference between success and failure in recruiting comes down to attitude and the role you choose in the process.
What’s your stance? Are you a buyer of skills or a seller of opportunities? You might think you’re a little of each, but most recruiters and companies lean strongly one way.
Don’t know which you are? Here are some hints.
- Your recruiting function runs like a purchasing department and probably rolls up into Admin and Finance; you use words like Talent Acquisition.
- Your job descriptions look like shopping lists; you advertise prerequisite skills and qualifications.
- You look for exact fits; square pegs to fit into square holes.
- You focus on the quantifiable attributes of a candidate that are usually listed on the resume.
- Your interviews have the primary goal of qualifying candidates and minimizing the risk of a bad hire.
- You pitch a role based on the deliverables. “We need you to do this/ make this/ behave this way.”
- You feel that you have the control and power in the recruiting process.
- Your recruiting function is quite independent and might report to Sales, Marketing or the CEO.
- You advertise jobs based on the opportunity, culture, perks and benefits to the candidate.
- You create loosely-defined job descriptions, defining outcomes and projects more than qualifications
- You look for great people and create roles so they can add maximum value.
- Your interview is an extension of the sales pitch. And you often do much of the talking and ask questions to define what the candidate wants in a role, with the focus on how to close the candidate on a future offer.
- You see the candidate as having the power in the recruiting process.
- While each of these recruiting positions might have merits, the risks are worth noting.
To the Buyers out there, you are scaring off great candidates by treating them as though they are lucky to be under consideration. You are making offers to people who don’t mind this feeling, but understand that you are simply purchasing skills and output, but not loyalty. You and your company will have a tough time with employee engagement and retention.
And Sellers, you’re not perfect either! You tend to oversell jobs and are at risk of hiring underqualified candidates. You might also pay more per hire than is required. The people you hire may approach their employment with a sense of entitlement that may not be deserved.
So what’s a good recruiter to do? How can you effectively embody the best of both Buying and Selling and find a happy balance where the prospective candidate is seen as a potential partner.
Perhaps it is too simple to suggest that a change in attitude alone will immediately fix your recruiting woes. And the outcome will be many interactions won’t be an immediate hire. But I guarantee that when a hire is made and a partner found, the level of engagement and overall success of the relationship will be incredible.
This month marks the start of an incredible journey. With the launch of Artemis Canada, I am fulfilling a long-held entrepreneurial dream.
For more than 15 years I've been working in the Canadian technology sector.
In this time I've learned an incredible amount about the dynamics of successful teams, and have met hundreds (or maybe thousands) of individuals who make up this incredible community.
Through all of this experience, I've come to realize the value in bringing together a team that is truly aligned and focused on big goals, with innovation at its core. An eye for top talent, and an ability to rally a team around a clear and worthy mission, are the traits that define the true leaders in tech. These are my clients and partners.
I'm privileged to play a role in the success of some impressive companies, connecting incredible talent with leaders who dream big. And I'm equally proud to work with and represent brilliant professionals, helping them join winning teams where they can grow and shine.
I wouldn't have achieved this much in my career (so far!), nor have such an exciting path ahead of me without the benefit of some incredible teammates, partners, friends and mentors. So thanks everyone for helping me get here and for continuing to support me as I set out on this amazing new adventure.
Around here we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening new doors and doing new things because we’re curious… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.
This fantastic quote is from Walt Disney, and it does a pretty great job of describing life at Artemis. We learn so much everyday, and we celebrate our wins but we don't spend much time looking back. Our clients are all moving forward at the speed of technology and we're growing and learning right along with them.
Working with Canada's most innovative companies is exciting business.
Everyday we learn about new markets, new technologies and new business models. The curiosity of a great recruiter leads to hundreds of fascinating and inspired conversations with individuals of varying experience, skill and interest. We become experts in the emerging markets of our clients, and seek to understand what it takes to not only succeed but be the best.