NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Getting the right people on board your company is not important: it's essential. Particularly for start-up companies seeking funding to get their venture off the ground.|
But in trying to attract the right talent, many young companies find themselves in something of a Catch-22. Without experienced executives, they have trouble securing funds. And without a lot of money to spend, they have a hard time hiring high-powered people.
Amy Vernetti, human capitalist for garage.com, describes recruiting in the current environment as a war. A war for talent. Consider what one 25-person startup recently paid to get a top notch CEO: $400,000 salary, a 50 percent signing bonus, a $2 million forgivable loan, a car and driver, a furnished apartment, and 10 percent of the common stock.
But Vernetti, who is responsible for helping garage.com's clients find executives, will tell you that money should never be the most important point in hiring negotiations. If it is, and you are a small company, you are not going to win the war.
It's not just about reading resumes
Recruiting, like so many things in the new economy, means leaving behind all the preconceived notions you may have about what goes on in a human resources department.
Recruiting is not just about reading resumes anymore. Recruiters can't rely on a pat interview. They have to be part cheerleader, part salesman and terribly, terribly savvy about people. Recruiting successfully also requires the recruiter to create a buzz about the company, sells candidates on the company's mission, and come up with creative ways to reel in the ones you want. In other words, it's not easy.
"Yeah, I don't have a lot of free time," Vernetti said.
The secrets of successful hiring
What follows are several of Vernetti's secrets for successful recruiting in a competitive environment:
- Finding the right employee is a time-consuming process. You have to meet a lot of people, which takes a lot of time. But it's worth the time: Keep in mind that putting together the right team of committed employees can make or break your company.
- More than ever, people skills come into play. Certain candidates who are incredibly impressive on paper may be the wrong person for the job. "It's something intangible. Sometimes you get the feeling that someone isn't right and you have to trust your instincts," Vernetti said.
- Hire people not just for what they know, but also for who they know. Good recruiters become better recruiters if the other employees are helping introduce them to solid candidates.
- Job interviews are not just about selecting people to work at your company. They are also an opportunity for companies to get people interested in them by making the interview process an exciting one. If it is an interesting experience for the candidate, they will share it with people in their network of friends and colleagues.
- The job market is so tight right now you can't stop recruiting candidates until they are in the job. More than one company has experienced the loss of a new hire before the first day of work because someone else recruited them in the interim.
- Introduce good candidates to the company's founders, its CEO, its investors, or anyone else you think will help them to be interested in the company.
- Deals can fall apart because someone in the candidate's intimate circle of advisers has a concern about the job. Ask candidates who is helping them make the decision about taking the job. That gives you a chance to address the advisers' concerns as well.
- Don't even think about compensation before you start the interview process and never tell a candidate how much you want to pay. Compensation shouldn't affect who you want to hire.
As daunting as the salaries at some startups can be, Vernetti said the first job of a good recruiter is to sell job candidates on the company. Many people will be willing to take a pay cut to go to a start-up if they believe in the company's mission.
"People who are motivated by money are going to leave, so those aren't necessarily the people you want to recruit for start-ups," she said. "You have to be able to sell people on your mission."