When trying to get a startup off the ground, so much time and effort goes into developing the product and reaching the customer, that founders often forget about the most important part of the company—the team. It’s no secret that a strong and dedicated team is the key to growing a successful business, but building that team can be challenging. Scaling a company for rapid growth is a difficult process, but I’ve picked up some important lessons about hiring along the way.
You may remember the immortal words of Alec Baldwin in Glengarry Glen Ross, “A.B.C: Always be closing.” I’ve modified that line a bit to mold it to our hiring strategy; A.B.L: Always be looking.
During our first year, after getting Rukkus off the ground, we recruited based on need. Whenever a position came up that needed to be filled, we began searching for a candidate. What I didn’t realize was how long it could take to find, interview, hire, and eventually onboard a new employee.
Here’s how to implement our strategy for your own company.
Always Be Looking
When you’ve got a small team as it is, the process can also take a lot of man-hours, which distracts you from working on the product itself. Eventually, I started to view the hiring process as a distraction. Clearly, this isn’t the right mindset while seeking out the best talent, so I came up with an alternative method. Instead of waiting until we have a need, we started to create a pipeline of great candidates that we stay in touch with.
Now, we’re always searching for candidates, even when we don’t have a direct need at that moment. This way, we can build relationships and improve the odds of making the best hire. By building a prospect Rolodex, we’ve essentially eliminated the usual matrix that exists where we have to be actively hiring for a position and the candidate has to be in job-search mode. The pipeline allows us to explore—and open a dialogue with—future candidates that we might not need right away, and who sometimes might not be in the job market yet.
Keep It DIY
Another big lesson I learned early on—and some might not want to hear it—was to work as hard as you can to bring talent in-house. Outsourcing might seem like a cheap and quick solution for bootstrapped startups, but it often comes at a price. Consultants and outsourced work are usually pretty narrow in their scope of work. In other words, you assign them a specific task, and they complete it to the best of their ability. Rinse, wash, and repeat. This may work for a few projects here and there, but when growing a company, it isn’t sustainable.
Manick Bhan, a former banker at Goldman Sachs, is the CEO and CTO at Rukkus.
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