Manda Cuthbertson, Manager, Talent Services, MaRS Discovery District [0:01] These days, it’s a challenge faced by every organization of every size. We’re all competing for similar skill sets in this knowledge economy. And there’s no magic bullet.
Mike Bettley, Director, Talent Acquisition, Opencare [00:02] The biggest piece of advice I can give is really to network. And I think when founders hear networking, they assume they need to be networking with candidates, I would actually say that you should network with other founders and other CTOs.
Yiorgos Boudouris, Talent Attraction Manager, Jobber [00:23] When you’re trying to get in touch with tech talent outside of job postings, I think it’s really important to be involved in the communities that those folks are in already. And so some of those are outside of these online communities that we’re used to — so LinkedIn and that sort of thing. Instead, maybe think about gaming communities. So, are there places where you would find a lot of these folks? And are you yourself a gamer? Can you get involved in that and start creating connections that way?
Mike Bettley [0:48] Attend things like Tech TO. Attend meetup groups for specific technologies. So, if you know that you’re going to build a blockchain business, go to blockchain meetups. That’s where you’re going to find people who are passionate about the problems you’re trying to solve.
Manda Cuthbertson [01:01] I’m a big fan of traditional headhunting techniques and getting out there doing the hard work — researching and talking to people. And sometimes it’s a numbers game. And there’s no way around that.
Mike Bettley [01:16] Whenever you’re trying to hire someone, it’s always a collaborative effort. You’re going to have one opinion and you’re going to be the person that’s working with this individual very closely. But you’re also going to need to pull in other folks from around you that are going to help to see blind spots. So, as I said, if you’ve been networking and finding other sorts of technical leaders within other startups, you can also bring them in and ask them for a favour: “come and spend an hour with this, this engineer and help me just ’suss out if they know what they’re talking about.”
Don’t be afraid to ask for that help — other founders who’ve been in exactly the same position as you and have learned a lot from it. So really lean on those relationships.
Yiorgos Boudouris [01:50] In the recruitment conversations when you’re trying to screen for risk tolerance, I think you just want to be really honest with folks, especially ones who have worked for startups before and have been in tech for a while. They know these conversations, they know what to ask. And they also know when someone isn’t being authentic in their answer. I get asked all the time about, you know, where’s your revenue coming from? What is your longevity? Have you had any type of changes in the organization when it comes to your sales cycles, and other things that might be a cautionary tale for candidates? And so the more that you can answer those questions directly, I think the better.
Mike Bettley [02:28] Spend time speaking with CTOs and making sure that they’re validating what you think you need for your business is actually the right fit. Because especially early days, you don’t necessarily need the most technical person in the world. You actually need an engineer with a little bit of a product mindset, a little bit of vision and a little bit of understanding of the mission and direction of your company. Because they have to invest so much and they have to partner with you to build what you need.
Yiorgos Boudouris [03:22] I meet a lot of founders who talk about, “Oh, we’re changing the world.” Well, that doesn’t really translate to a lot of folks. What does that mean, in actuality? Instead, just talking about a smaller problem that you’re here to solve and what excites you, I think will start building those connections a lot better and start moving the conversation forward.
Manda Cuthbertson [03:41] I really think that startups have a great advantage when it comes to building careers out for people on their teams. You know, sure, big organizations may have a lot of structure and a lot of support, kind of directing people on very specific career paths or career lattices that can expose them to different parts of the business.
What’s different in a startup is that you have, almost all of the time, huge opportunities to get involved in multiple aspects of the business from day 1. You can start to add value in those areas, build your expertise, hands on.
Mike Bettley [04:22] Those people that want to be the driving force behind scaling up a startup are people that love the ambiguity, love taking an abstract problem and working through it and trying to solve it. Not necessarily looking at the most technical solution, but actually really parsing apart a business problem or a societal problem and finding a way that technology can help alleviate that pain.
Yiorgos Boudouris [04:42] When I think about what matters most to tech talent, I really do think it is the impact of your work. And so being able not to just see one part of it, but to see the influence that you’re having. And so, you’re not just doing, say, a project to get shipped off to someone else and then it goes on somewhere else and you don’t get to see kind of start to finish.
That’s one of the joys of working in tech and one of the joys of working at early-stage companies. You can say, “oh, I did that thing and now look at what it’s become.” So the more you’re able to provide that to candidates, I think the more excited they’ll be about joining your team. And it’s the thing that you can offer that other places can’t.
Manda Cuthbertson [05:21] I’m a true believer in the fact that it’s not all about money — and you know, this is a debatable topic on many levels.
When people are making decisions about their career, it’s an emotional decision. It’s not usually a financial decision, and certainly in this day and age where we know that people are looking for more meaning in their work, they want to be spending their time every day doing something that that matters. And what matters is different for everybody. So I think it’s really key to connect with people in a way to better understand what matters for them and, and figure out is there a connection here between what we do and what this person wants in their life. And that’s really the secret sauce to finding great talent for your startup who’s going to be willing to put in, you know, the blood, sweat and tears that’s required to really get things off the ground.