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Sourcing Superstars for Start-Up Success

by MAX JONES / Thursday 22nd September 2016


We all know the score, let’s not pretend. You’ve made the tantalising leap from employee to business owner & you haven’t looked backed since. While on the one hand, the reality is full of freedom, autonomy & (hopefully) excess capital; on the other hand, you work from home (generally speaking) & the most face-to-face interaction you have is with your cat. Usually feeding them for yet another time, no wonder they’re getting fatter by the day. You’re a little lonely. Not only that, but you want to progress the business, you want to grow, succeed & get to the dizzy heights you know you can reach.

You’re in the fortunate position to have a business that has made a few quid since it started & now you’re looking to put some of the capital to good use & attract a proper billing consultant to join you, Otto the cat & your successful start-up.

Right so you know what you want: a proper biller. You know why you want it: to grow the business from strength to strength. Now we need to understand the mechanics. How do you attract someone “worth it” & someone who is actually “worth it”?

Who is worth your buck? 

There is no such thing as a sure bet, unless you’re employing David Beckham to feed you balls into the 18 yard box day-in day-out until you’re old & haggard. But, there are some basics rules when looking to expand your business that will lessen your chances of disappointment.

Now I know you already know all of these, but knowing something intellectually is fantastic – applying it to your business & making it work, is an entirely different kettle of fish. So, what are these “rules”?

1. Recruit a recruiter with whom you have already worked

Max – are you crazy?! You want me to go back to my ex-employer & steal one of their top billers, having left myself just a year or so ago? My answer: That’s exactly what I’m saying.

I’m not saying that recruiter has to be your best friend from another life, but one that you know well enough to be confident in their actual ability. You know roughly what they bill, how they work, what works for them & how they are motivated.

2. Recruit a recruiter who operates in a complementary sector to yours

Note how I said “complementary” not “competitive”. See I’m not that crazy! In other words if you work as a recruiter placing software engineers into the defence sector, then do NOT recruit a recruiter placing software engineers into the defence sector. Instead aim for a complementary sector.

Going off the example above, if that’s the type of recruiter you want then why not aim to procure a recruiter placing software engineers into the aviation sector or the IT market. Slightly different, but slightly the same.

3. What tools are needed for the job?

In other words, make sure that you won’t need to buy new sets of recruitment tools for the recruiter to achieve in the role. Simplistic though it sounds, you have to imagine if this new recruiter is in fact woefully terrible & leaves you within the month, are you going to be left with a minimum 11 month contract for additional licenses on job boards, a laptop that has no use, a mobile phone, & heck – a company car?

A “worthwhile Recruit” should understand that you are a young, small & driven business & their expectations should be managed accordingly. Many recruits would love that, see it as a new challenge & a chance to build something from scratch without any massive risk. Others might demand X,Y,Z in order for them to take the role. Which one should you chose?

4. Wait for the next bus

Good recruits, top candidates, classic clients & recruitment entrepreneurs are a lot like buses. Like the big red, double-decker buses you see every 200 yards in Central London.

Good recruits, top candidates, classic clients & recruitment entrepreneurs are a lot like my appetite (that anyone at SSG can vouch for!). They’ll always be another appetite, another meal & another one to replace the one lost.

Good recruits, top candidates, classic clients & recruitment entrepreneurs are a lot like special offers on toilet roll. They just keep coming & coming. Think you’ve missed the last “24 rolls for £2” offer, don’t fear it’ll be back next week in a slightly different form.

Do you get what I mean?

Look at the end of the day, we all hope to pop an advert out on a job board & within 2 days have the best recruiter known to man, from a complementary sector & willing to build a desk in a start-up without any personal risk. But unfortunately we all know it may take a lot longer than that.

My advice (& yes I know you value it VERY highly…) is take your time & wait for the right bus to arrive, not just any bus. It’s all well & good going with the first bus you see. But when you end up in the middle of Hackney at 1am in the morning, instead of the safety of your flat in innocent Berkhamsted, you’ll start to regret being so rash. Sometimes this can lead to quite a long process, but surely it’s better to get back to Berkhamsted at 4am in the morning, than be walking the streets of Hackney at 1am in the morning wondering quite how you’re going to get yourself out of this situation. The same applies for taking on your first recruit in your start up.

So, what now? 

So, are you thinking about growing your business? Hopefully this creates a good foundation for you to go out into the market & look for the ideal recruit based on the ideas outlined above, that I know you already knew.

In next week’s instalment we will aim to explore some slightly different ways of attracting top talent, outside the holistic ideas outlined today. Until then, enjoy & as ever I would love to encourage you to talk to SSG if you have any questions about anything recruitment related.