I’ve been building sales teams for the better part of a decade and when I look back at my career, I realize I don’t really remember the times when I made the most money. I need my tax returns to remind me of the exact dates. What I do remember, is the epic teams that filled my career with depth,…
Never Stop Recruiting. Part 4/4 of Tech Recruiting in Chicago.
Part 4 of 4 : Recruiting for Tech In Chicago
The cycle of recruiting shouldn’t be one that starts and stops, it should always be a continuous process no matter if you’re in the “buying” frame of mind or not. Be proactive and not reactive, it seems very shallow and self-serving to just connect with people when you need them.
This type of thinking is what spearheaded the Tech In Motion movement that I have been so privileged to be a part of the last few years. The concept is to bring people that wouldn’t normally be in a room together to network. If doctors hang out with doctors, there is some light networking going on but real networking happens when you can get a room of people together that compliment one another because they do different things. Having a business guy talk to a technical guy who’s just getting done speaking with a real estate woman is how great networking happens.
The best recruiter is a networker – one who makes connections to get connections in return. Most people make the obvious connections: recruiter to jobseeker, single male to single female, etc., but it’s the great networkers who think like a great recruiter and after listening, realize that a connection can be made. Don’t waste your time deepening connections with people you already know, think outside your own network and expand it constantly. Balance these connections by staying in touch with people in other teams or in other companies. Don’t make the trunk larger but make the branches reach further.
Build outward, not inward. The point of networking is to connect people who wouldn’t ordinarily work together. You are the reason they got together in the first place and they never forget this. Don’t make the trunk larger but make the branches reach further.
Focus on quality, not quantity. Rather than aiming for a massive network, focus on building an efficient one. An efficient network requires knowing people with different skills and viewpoints. Don’t preach to the choir, collaborate with the unpopular.
Build weak ties, not strong ones. The strong ties are already there, they are the people you already know well and talk to frequently and probably someone who knows a lot of the same people you do. A weak tie forms a bridge to a world you don’t normally walk in. To maintain a weak tie, you only have to maintain it once or twice a month. Keeping this tie is more beneficial than not having it at all. The road less traveled isn’t built with a highway.
Use hubs, not familiar faces. Identify the hubs in your community who are already great organizational networkers and ask them to connect you to someone who knows more. Weave a web not a flock.
Swarm the target. The smart networker enlists the help of their network to increase the odds that the target will listen. Ask a shared contact to reach out to the target person. Ask someone high in your network to talk to someone high in your target’s network. Share your vision of building a team, starting a company, recruiting for a client and remember reciprocity: make sure to highlight how this benefits them. The best leaders think of themselves last.
Strengthen ties by investing time. Invest time and resources to build stronger connections. Help the team get to know each other better. You’ll start to see results very quickly and you won’t need to be the aggressor all the time, the bond becomes so tight that you no longer need to be the glue. Once you have the ropes in place, you need to tighten them for the mast to sail.
Forget Skills, Hire for Potential.
Part 2 of 4 : Recruiting for Tech In Chicago
Everyone is looking for the person that they can take on to their team, hit the ground running and go to the next level. Who wouldn’t? If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Great companies are built on hard work and dedication, and that starts with hiring the right people not the right resume. If all you have is your vision it’s nothing until you surround yourself with the right people. Anyone can think of great ideas, but a leader is only a leader when they get their first follower. Hire for character and not skills.
Hire on potential not credentials
The question is: when you hire, do you look at people that have done it before or people that have the potential to do it better? Hiring will always be a risk, why not take a chance hoping you’ll get an even better return. Hiring another company’s prized engineer will take some serious courting, so just develop your own.
Less-established employees have room for growth
They are fresh and eager, not fatigued or scarred. There’s literally no ceiling for them and they’ll look at your business as “their” business. They don’t develop the “employee mentality” until much later in their career.
They have no bad habits to break; only good habits to learn.
You don’t have to un-train them on the paradigms they’ve put in place somewhere else. They can blossom into anything.
They have the right attitude.
With attitude, as they say, the aptitude will come. Attitude is everything.
New blood, whether young or old, can bring fresh ideas and perspectives to old problems.
Their enthusiasm can be infectious. Their naiveté is some of the gold that they bring. They’re not afraid to ask, “Why do you do it this way?” From the most innocent questions, we may go back to our roots and say, “That’s a good point. Why do we do that?” The newest employee may be the one who prompts a positive change.
Hire someone with enough skills to build on.
In a perfect world we’d all hire people with no experience and just give them everything. The truth is that we’re not always in the perfect world and we need someone to be effective sooner rather than later. Hire people with enough skills to be productive but give them something more than money. Give them the opportunity to learn new technologies – after all, isn’t that why we’re in technology? The technologist in us will always be curious as to what’s new out there, it’s in our blood.
You can build lifelong relationships.
Some employees are young; some are older. But when your company is in the place that allows an employee to blossom and shine, they will love working with you, most likely forever. Thus, turnover is low.
The hardest part is to get into the right mentality, now that you’re (hopefully) there. It’s time to put the word out there.
- If you have a technology stack, put that in there, but don’t make it seem like you need them to have everything.
- Cast a wide net – a job description itself will never find your next developer… you will! So don’t be lazy and cut corners.
- You screen people – not the candidate.
- Send your job description to colleagues in the industry that have strong networks.
- If you have the capital to use a recruiter, be selective and don’t use everyone. Do your research.
- Talk to everyone – you never know who will impress you.
- Interviewing makes you more aware of what you’re looking for and measure it on what’s available.
- Redo the job description after interviewing 5 people.
Recruiting in Chicago
This was a presentation I put together last year for 1871 to help incubating companies recruit top talent.
Shared with Dropbox