Hiring great people is just as important as selling your product or service, if not more important. The quest to obtain the best and brightest is super competitive, especially if you are competing in the technology sector. You are not only going head-to-head against other talent-hungry companies -- you are also going for the opportunity for the prospect to stay where they are.
I didn't have a network when I moved to Silicon Valley. The startup I co-founded, and now run, is honesty not in the "sexiest" business space in the tech industry. Nevertheless, in less than two years we were able to grow our San Francisco-based team from five to 30 amazing people. Here are five tried-and-true hacks for hiring in today's business environment:
1. Have someone connect with candidates from your LinkedIn account.
When reaching out to prospective candidates, have your assistant or recruiting manager send initial messages to candidates from you through your LinkedIn account. Have them schedule all initial calls with you as well. This part is the most time consuming, as you will be taking many calls and interviewing many candidates, but it's worth it.
2. Focus on the candidate in your messages.
When messaging prospective candidates, don't make your pitch about your business. Instead, make it about the prospective candidate. Compliment the candidate on their past achievements, which you can learn about from LinkedIn. And while making the first part short, explain why you, the CEO, wanted to send a message to them directly. Only after connecting on a personal level should you explain why joining your company is a good opportunity for them. You'll get a higher return rate as well as warmer responses.
3. Challenge the candidate with a simple exercise.
Once you've interviewed the candidate in person and see that they are interested, ask them to do something tangible in order to get the job. For example, engineers can complete a test task. Managers can come up with a 30-60-90 day plan. The exercise will help you to understand a number of things that are hard to reveal during the interviewing process, including how attentive the candidate is to details, how well they can research on their own and how creative they are.
4. Set up a good process for sending offer letters.
Invest time and energy in your offer letters and the process around them. In sales terms, offer letters are the closing document. Once signed, 99 percent of people don't back away from the offer. Don't send out a blank contract. Invest in the design and content of the offer letter. Good candidates are going to get a few of them, and you want to make sure you stand out from the crowd. Add electronic signatures to offer letters to get a commitment ASAP. You should also track opens and views on your offer letters for a timely follow-up. Many decision points regarding whether to take on a new job or not are emotional, so knowing what is of interest to a candidate will help close the deal.
5. Avoid negotiations, if possible.
Negotiating an offer can leave scar the relationship. I normally offer two compensation packages: one has a higher cash compensation with a lower stock options package, while the other has a higher stock options package, but a lower base pay. Going with options helps to frame the conversation and stay within acceptable boundaries -- even if you have to negotiate.
However, there is one catch: once you have spent the time and effort to build your dream team, you have to retain them. And that's where a solid, well-defined and authentic workplace culture comes in, in addition to interesting work. Invest in your employees and help them grow professionally. Help them build their network and personal brand.
Mikita Mikado is a software engineer, entrepreneur, co-founder and CEO of PandaDoc, makers of all-in-one software for better quotes, proposals, and contracts.