The Most Dangerous Threat to Your Startup Hiring Efforts

Poison Bottle. Source: Leo ReynoldsHave you looked at a job board recently for open engineering or product management positions?

Did you read the job descriptions?

Notice anything strange?

The job descriptions all sound almost identical!

One generic paragraph about the company, followed by one generic set of job responsibilities, followed by one generic set of job requirements.

How is a job seeker supposed to know that your job is his or her perfect career opportunity if the job description is so generic it looks the same as countless other job descriptions? Will the interview team really be able to effectively assess candidates for the position with this type of job description?

If you hired an advertising agency and they produced ads for your core product similar to the average online job description, would you re-hire them?

In many cases, the reason job descriptions are so bad is that the actual job is not well defined. And without a well defined job, it’s very difficult to hire the right person.

As Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, says

…the single biggest constraint on the success of my organization is the ability to get and to hang on to enough of the right people.

A poorly defined job is likely the single most dangerous threat to your startup hiring efforts.


So what’s the solution?

There is a simple but powerful tool you can use to fundamentally improve your ability to source, hire and retain amazing people.
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How to Predict if You Will Be a Successful Entrepreneur

Entrepreneurship is tough. Do you know what it takes to succeed as an entrepreneur?

What if you could take a quiz to learn if you are likely to be a successful?

Steve Case, former CEO of AOL, describes the three key ingredients to successful entrepreneurship as people, passion and perseverance. Most successful entrepreneurs would probably agree with him, though they might nuance it differently.

While this makes sense anecdotally, now there is research to support it. And a quiz that will generate a score for you.

The Research

Angela Lee Duckworth at the University of Pennsylvania has developed a psychological personality trait called Grit that she defines as perseverance and passion for long term goals. [Read more…]


Why No One Responds to Your Best Job Posts (And What To Do About It)

[Image of Empty Mailbox. Source: Robert Hruzek] How many times have you slaved away creating a job description for your dream hire only to have no one qualified respond?

Why does this happen?

Remember that when you are recruiting for your startup you are in sales and marketing mode. And to be successful you need to use the same tools to close candidates that great sales and marketing people use to win customers.

With that in mind, here are a few specific problems you may be facing and how to fix them.


People don’t know about your startup

In the US there are more than 400,000 new businesses started each year. There were 2,725 venture funding rounds closed in 2011.

Getting your startup to stand out from the crowd takes some work. Especially since the best talent is fully employed and not spending their time actively scanning job boards.

So how can you address this?
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Hire Like Google

Image of Google Office. Source: OzakingSome people love Google’s hiring process. Others hate it. Either way, the subject always generates strong emotions.

I have had the good fortune to go through the hiring process and also to have led a team through the hiring process as part of a potential acquisition. While the acquisition never happened, I passed the interviews and found the entire experience truly eye opening.

My takeaway is that Google’s hiring process is not just a little better, but significantly and fundamentally better. And not necessarily for the reasons most people think.


Hire for foundation

In an interview with Google, the focus is not ‘are you capable of doing a specific and narrowly defined job’. The focus is on your foundational abilities in a specific functional area.

If you’re applying for a job as an engineer, you need to be on top of your data structures and algorithms. If you’re applying for a job as a product manager, you need to deeply understand what building winning products is all about (no matter the industry) and have the ability to keep pace on a technical level with Google engineers.

Why does this matter? Focusing on a strong horizontal foundation rather than day-to-day vertical expertise means that Google employees learn faster, are more agile and are more able to respond to a rapidly changing business.

You might think this focus on fundamentals is obvious, but few companies actually do it. Startups are actually the worst offenders because of the extreme pressure to show results while being unproven and unknown, making hiring for them more difficult.
[Read more…]