Choosing the right hires for your organization -- whether it’s a startup or otherwise -- is crucial to building a thriving business. And while the importance of hiring the right people can’t be downplayed for any business, there may be more challenges for startups, including tight resources, uncertainty, or the fact that candidates may never have heard of your company.
People are truly the backbone of any successful company, and, as CEO, I’ve opted for a hands-on approach to the hiring process to ensure we hire the best. While this isn’t for all CEOs, I’ve found that as a female entrepreneur and executive, my insight bolsters our HR department and ensures we’ve built (and are continuing to build) the best and the brightest team.
Over the course of three years, I have grown Revel Systems from 0 people to a team of more than 160 employees, based here in San Francisco and across the globe. As my team has grown, I’ve developed a system for both evaluating prospective employees as well as nurturing existing ones. Although we tried a few outside hires for management positions, we found that our current, long-standing employees were a better fit for leadership positions, as they have a deep understanding of our culture and our product. This, as well as the explosive growth of this company, has prompted me to share some of the modes by which I grow the best team.
Here are three tips for hiring the best candidates:
1. Play an active role
The CEO of a tech startup wears a lot of hats. Indeed, this may be true of any startup employee. We’re fortunate enough at this juncture that we’re of the size that I can have a hands-on role in the hiring process. I believe this gives both me and our HR team the ability to find the most qualified candidates who are also the best fit for our culture.
This is a rather polarizing issue, though I’m certainly not the only CEO in tech to review new hires. It depends on an individual’s leadership and management style.
I opt for an active role in our hiring process, which includes interviewing all candidates, because it ensures an open line of communication between HR and myself. It also helps managers understand what the company needs as far as culture is concerned -- I can communicate to them what sort of candidates we are looking for, and who would be the best fit.
Although this style may not be for all CEOs (and, indeed, company size also plays a major role), I find that having the opportunity to meet each and every candidate helps build a lasting and well-qualified team, which in turn leads to a stronger foundation for the company.
2. Emphasize culture
Culture is a significant part of any company, large or small, and I find it is particularly important for startups. A startup, as the name implies, is laying the foundation on which it will be built. Your hires are essential to this early stage, and can often make or break a company.
One way to ensure you make the right hires is to have a good understanding of your company’s culture -- that is, of your company’s vision and working environment. As an executive, having that clear idea of your company’s culture should help you build a team that’s in-line with your vision.
Once you’ve decided on your particular company’s culture and values, make them known to all current and prospective hires. We include our values on our website, giving potential hires the opportunity to evaluate for themselves whether or not they may be a good match. And, one of the first steps in our hiring process is for job candidates to complete a set of “culture” questions which determine whether or not they’re a good fit.
Many of our roles require inter-departmental relationships, and it’s crucial that all hires work well across departments and roles. We help facilitate this by having various department heads interview job candidates, regardless of the role for which they are applying. This gives us the opportunity to truly evaluate whether or not a candidate is a great fit for our culture. Those hiring for positions within their department will tend to ask role-specific questions, whereas team members from other departments can evaluate whether the candidate is a personality and cultural fit.
Having built this company from the ground up, I am certain beyond a doubt about the importance of culture in the growth of a company.
3. Get social
A good recruiting strategy is like a good marketing strategy. A major part of it is getting your company name out there and creating visibility for yourself. I encourage my HR team -- myself included -- to grow their social networks as much as possible, and to post and share updates on our company.
Social media for recruiting is more popular than ever: 92 percent of companies use platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook for recruitment, and 45 percent of Fortune 500 firms include links to social media on their career page sections. LinkedIn is of course especially useful for recruiting, but Twitter and Facebook are also great ways to share what’s going on at Revel. A good social-recruiting strategy is essentially marketing the employer -- sharing great content and trying to reach as much as your target audience as possible.
No matter your style or methods, as the CEO of any company it’s essential to listen to your employees. Having a sense of their thoughts and needs will not only help maintain balance but will help your company continue to grow and thrive far into the future.
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