KITSAP/BUSINESS—In good times or bad, it’s hard to hire the A+ players, so prepare to use all the tools at your disposal. Most people think their recruiting arsenal is limited to salary, equity, and fringe benefits, but there is more than you can offer:
For many people, money isn’t the greatest motivational factor. They will work for making some meaning and changing the world.
Don’t limit the candidate’s interviews to her prospective immediate supervisor and coworkers. If you’ve got directors, advisers, and investors, add them to the seduction process.
Let’s face it: few people work for one organization for their entire career. There’s nothing wrong with getting a few good years out of people and having them build their résumés at your organization. And you never know: they may stick around longer than you anticipated.
Evangelize All the Decision Makers
Going to work for a startup is seldom a solo decision. While more enlightened employers consider the candidate’s spouse as well, a candidate’s decision process usually involves a complex web of relationships.
Key decision-makers can include parents, friends, and colleagues of the candidate. It’s easy to imagine a young person asking his parents if he should go to work for a startup and being told, “Don’t. It’s too risky. Get a job in a nice, safe company that will be around a long time—like Lehman Brothers, Arthur Andersen, or Enron.”
Therefore, ask candidates who all their important decision influencers are and then address their potential concerns. However, be aware that some candidates may interpret this as a trick question, so do your best to assure them that this is a way to increase the likelihood of successfully recruiting candidates that you like.
Wait to Compensate
Many startups make the mistake of sending an offer letter too early in the hiring process. They use it as a straw man, getting compensation details on paper to show how interested they are and to reach closure. This is a mistake.
An offer letter should come at the end of the recruiting process. It is not a negotiating tool to get the candidate to say yes, but rather to confirm a verbal agreement where she has already said yes. Think of an offer letter as you would a marriage proposal: make it when you know the answer will be yes, not to show that you’re serious.
Interpret the Lies
When she worked at Garage, Amy Vernetti, who’s now a partner at True Capital, came up with this list of job candidates’ top ten lies. Study them. They will help you avoid making hiring mistakes. This is a definitive list of lies, so if your candidate tells you different ones, at least he is creative.