Saturday, November 7, 2009

Start-up: Hiring challenges

From a recruiter:

Dear HR Store,

I’m a recruiter at a start-up that has started hiring. Seems like the market conditions are improving and big players in the market have started hiring too. Candidates are accepting our offer, but that hasn’t stopped them from talking to the big players. My question to you is: how many times can we call candidates after they have accepted our offer? What can we do to convince the candidates to join us?


First, welcome to the world of start-ups. I just love the thought of a start-up. Hmmm……Sorry, I digress. This question’s about you. Not me. I’ll proceed to answer your question in two parts.

How many times can we call candidates after they have accepted our offer? Well, I’m tempted to ask, what is the purpose for which you are calling the candidate? Are you calling daily/regularly with an intention to find out what the candidate’s been up to since accepting your offer? That’ll look like you are stalking the candidate or you’re unsure of your choice or might even tell the candidate that you are desperate to get him onboard. Yes, it might be all of that and more. But that’s not the impression you want to give the candidate. Right? So, ideally here’s what you could do. Start with a call a week. That should suffice if the candidate’s going to join you within two weeks. If the joining time is more than two weeks, you could call a couple of times a week after the first two weeks. Understandable that you want to give your interactions a personal touch, but an overdose of anything is harmful. You could even try mails on other days. Make your mails informative. That should help a lot. Try and avoid calling daily! That’ll end up hurting your cause a lot.

Your next question, what can we do to convince the candidate to join us? So, what do you talk about in those calls / mails? Do you have a unique story to tell the candidate? Why, when or what was the reason for the startup to take shape. Take the opportunity to use those calls as personal touch time to give the candidate as much information as possible. Ones that will help him take an informed decision. Talk about improvements in product line, new customer wins, new additions to senior management/other teams, re-emphasis his role in the team, growth plans for the start-up, financial plans etc, Hiring for a start-up can get challenging, but you can make life easier for yourself by getting as much information as possible. You are expecting a candidate to give up his regular job and take a chance with a start-up with hopes that it will payoff soon. Give him enough reasons for doing just that. It may have been covered in the earlier interviews, but the gravity of the situation would have sunk in only after he went back home, consulted with his family, friends and peers in the industry. Decisions change rapidly based on the inputs he gets from them. Highlight that the startup is an opportunity that is very rare and one where he will find enough challenges that would be of high interest. Involve the manager in your talks. In most startups there isn’t a manager! Get the boss to do some talking too. Helps a great deal.

Good luck!