A few weeks ago, two friends in Silicon Valley reached out for help, as they had both just started in top human resource roles at their respective companies. This was their first time in the lead HR role and both asked: "Do you know any good tech recruiters?"
Each friend explained that their company was on an accelerated hiring path and that finding great recruiters to attract world-class developers/software engineers was the top priority.
While I was not surprised to hear that recruiting was their top priority, I reached out immediately because I knew using a recruiter was the wrong first step. Having been at the helm of the talent function at LinkedIn during some massive hiring years, I wanted to brace them for the road ahead.
The supply of tech talent cannot keep up with demand. This has been a reality in the Valley for quite some time, as U.S. Immigration policies combined with declining rates of STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering & Math) graduates in the U.S. has left an extremely short talent supply not meeting demand.
For these reasons, I was concerned for my friends in their new roles. To win in tech recruiting takes a full commitment and relentless focus, and I was not sure my friends knew what was in front of them.
No amount of recruiters or recruiting talent will help you win as much as engaging your whole company in recruiting world-class technical talent. To do this will require all you have as an organization.
There is no more important muscle in a company than the one used to recruit great talent.
If recruiting truly is a top priority in your company, it means candidates should be your VIPs. It means you don’t outsource the most important work to search firms. Is there any skill more important than recruiting tech talent for an organization that needs it quickly?
Leaders should be constantly recruiting, and once they have a full team they should have a talent bench in their mind both inside and outside the company.
If you need to leave a meeting to interview or close a candidate, do it. You need to dedicate days to sourcing parties where you get your teams to hammer out their networks for great candidates.
You need to dig deep on things like how many interviews on average does it take to close a candidate and why? How many interviews are getting rescheduled and why? How many days does it take from making an offer to the candidate accepting and starting day one, and why?
One of the most insightful bits of analysis I have worked with was a deep dive on interviewing effectiveness:
We looked at everyone that was ever interviewed over a two-year period. From there we traced who received a job offer and determined, of the people who did accept an offer, which ones became top performers. We then went back and checked which of our interviewers gave thumbs up and gave thumbs down to hire those top performers.
We found that one of our best managers was consistently giving thumbs down to our best hires, so we removed this manager from the process.
Just like in any great relationship, if you are going to find the perfect people for you, you first need to know who you are, and why someone would want to join your company.
If you are not actively managing your brand and information about your company on the social channels and places like Glassdoor, then your brand is being shaped without your input; a very scary idea.
The best way to build an awesome brand is to have a great culture that your employees love. If you have that, your employees will act as brand ambassadors and load the channels with the great experiences they are having in your company.
One of the best things about company culture is that it does not cost you anything but your attention. The greater your culture the more magnetic it becomes and the more great people want to join.
With a little attention and tiny investment, you can create a special, dynamic work environment that helps attract the best people to you.
How you determine things such as time-off programs, work hours, work environment, philanthropy commitments, and how people are assigned to projects matters and is how you can distinguish your company to become more appealing to the people you want in your workforce.
Making an offer is not the end of the recruitment process.
Top talent often receives multiple offers, so your recruiting team needs to be well-versed in understanding diverse offer package elements offered by competing companies.
Recruiters must be capable of helping candidates analyze various offers, which most of the time are constructed with different elements of base, bonus, perks, and equity.
Recruiting is complex because it is not a simple base and benefit offer.
Stock, which is a significant part of the offer, comes in many different shapes and sizes, and your team needs to understand it and help walk candidates through the differences so they can make the right decision.
Sign-on bonuses are now used with great frequency and no longer used just to offset a loss that a candidate will incur if they leave their current employer. Today sign-ons are part of the package candidates expect, similar to professional sports.
Case in point: In the Valley most new grads are offered sign-on bonus amounts that today seem more based on matching what other companies are offering—Facebook has been offering $100,000 sign-on bonuses to new grads for years—than based on the economics of helping offset a new grad’s student loan or a relocation package per se.
Some of the best-known brands and most successful companies in the world are extremely aggressive recruiters and they have a powerful arsenal. Google, Apple, Facebook, Oracle, Salesforce.com, and Twitter are a few of the high-profile, highly successful companies who will do what it takes to attract and close the best candidates.
In addition to simple cash and equity differences, the big guns also have amazing benefits and perks like free food, on-site chefs, state-of-the art workout facilities, fancy buses to San Francisco, and then some.
Early-stage company compensation is at comparable rates to the best, most successful public companies mentioned above. It is no longer the case that if you go to a "startup" you have to trade down on cash for more upside potential on stock/equity.
In the end, no amount of special recruiting tools, search firms, or systems will help you as much as an organization committed to winning the war for talent.
Your resolve, your commitment, and your relentless focus on winning are what will get you to the finish line first.
—Steve Cadigan, founder of Cadigan Talent Ventures in San Francisco, advises individuals and organizations experiencing rapid growth and change.