Entrepreneur 1.11.2016
By Mads Klarskov Petersen, SEED Capital

10 steps to kick off your strategic recruitment

Director of Talent here at SEED Capital, Mads Klarskov Petersen offers his advice on planning your strategic recruitment in order to make your business a success. 

1. Know your why

The why is your company vision and the very first step in strategic recruitment. Let’s take Google as an example. Their vision is “to provide access to the world’s information in one click” – this statement has connotations of it being a movement. In short, it is about hiring believers – people who think like you. So when you sit down and try to communicate your why, think about why you are an entrepreneur and not a pay slave. What is it you believe in?   

Google are masters at selecting the right people. But they are only able to ”select” the right people because they attract the right people. Google keep their funnel filled with believers and select the best to come work for them… The ones that fit culturally….So, why is it so important to recruit people who share your vision and is a cultural fit to your company? Because belief fosters attitude and actions that lead to results. Results that end up supporting your beliefs. So, when you set out to build a winning culture in your startup, hiring the wrong people can be extremely costly and damaging to your business.    

2. Compare your goals to your competencies

Finding candidates who share your vision is essential, but what is equally important is that they possess the competencies to help you achieve your overall company goal. As said, “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and that seems to be the case for most companies. For startups, it is especially important to recruit the most competent candidates, as they will help build the initial foundation and culture of your company.

The next move is to figure out, what competencies you need to achieve this goal. A good starting point is to visualize your company structure and consider the areas of expertise already present in the company. Then come up with the “missing pieces” and try to define, which competencies that are missing in your company puzzle. This exercise guides you in finding the candidate, who will help your company get closer to its goals.

Make this exercise a part of the on-going strategy of the company, so you continue to be aware of the capabilities that exist within your company.

Remember to also download our guide: How to  get our attention with your pitch deck 

3. Define target profiles for hiring

The next step involves defining the target profiles for hiring. The process entails an identification of the specific requirements and responsibilities needed within the company. It remains highly important to clearly define and evaluate these responsibilities as it could result in much value added for your company. Things to consider in relation to the target profiles should have direct relation to the specific work responsibilities, projects and strategic deadlines within the company.

By conducting this step, the management team will also be able to plan, who will be in charge of current and future tasks within the company. For a startup, this step will be a way of eventually formalizing the organisational structure of the company. Such a process will help your company maintain a focused recruitment process and thereby help lead to the hiring of the most qualified candidate.

4. Create a hiring budget to assure sufficient funding

Before initiating a recruiting process, it is often a good idea to define a clear hiring/recruiting budget. This will ensure sufficient funding for all costs related to recruiting the best candidates. During this process, it can be very beneficial to divide costs into subcategories to get an overview over the various recruiting expenses.

Further, it can be a good idea to make one employee responsible for the process of searching for relevant candidates, so the time spent searching does not affect the whole company.

5. Create a recruitment roadmap

The essence of recruiting lies in the ability to figure out, what resources your company needs to reach your strategic goals. However, finding the right resources for your company is a complex and time-consuming process that requires extensive research and planning. 

A starting point is to consider the strategic organizational structure of your company in relation to the development of new projects or departments. Such tactical actions often require the establishment of new areas of responsibility and mandates. This realization entails the creation of specific requirements towards the variety of qualifications the potential candidate must possess. Further, it is important to plan the recruitment process in relation to the timely matter of the hiring.

A way of doing that is by creating a recruitment roadmap. This should include a yearly overview of the strategic hirings, the projects and their deadlines as well as the people and stakeholders responsible for achieving the planned results. An easy way of going about this is to adapt a simple GANTT Chart as the template and work on transforming this to fit your companies recruiting goals. The recruiting roadmap is a planning alignment ensuring your company, the possibility of identifying potential gaps in the resource base and thereby help to support your overall strategic goals. Remember; a goal without a plan is just a wish.

6. Define candidate/job descriptions

With relation to point 2, it is highly important to have distinct expectations to the competencies a candidate must have. A way of ensuring this, is to consider important aspects such as the different work responsibilities, the requirements to education and work experience and last, the practicalities concerning worktime, start date and the terms and conditions of the position.

By following these steps, you will be able to spend less time searching for the right candidate and more time hiring the visionary and competent people, who will help your company succeed.

7. Define channel strategy

It can be very costly to use recruiting agencies to find the right candidate for your company, so it is often a good idea to consider alternative search channels, when hiring. Initially, it is important to remain focused on selecting the sourcing channel that fits the needs of the position you want to fill.

Depending on the preferred education level of your candidate, the area of expertise you are looking for, it could be an option to go for industry specific search channels, your business network or social media (linkedin). So ultimately, your company should invest time in identifying the most suited way of recruiting candidates for your specific company. When your company grows it is a good idea to establish a relationship with an external recruiter. In that way, you can bring your costs down and your recruiter will get to know your company’s DNA.

8. Define a setup hiring process

The overall process of hiring the right candidate is essentially the most important aspect of these 10 ten step of strategic recruiting. The recruiting process involves many steps for a company to go through before being at the stage of hiring the perfect candidate. The typical process is illustrated here:

  • Receive application -> Send out autoreply clearly stating the upcoming process
  • Screen applications -> Does the candidate’s competencies match the requirements for the position?
  • Phone call -> First contact with candidate, initiate discussion about focus areas such as motivation for applying, work ethics, experience. And remember to ask about their pay expectations – you don’t want to waste your time on the wrong candidate, who will only come work for you for a trillion dollars. Get a ballpark figure as soon as possible – then you have a starting point for your negotiations
  • Skills test-> Challenge the candidate’s competencies and use the knowledge for the 1st  interview. Are you hiring a programmer, ask him/her to do a code test or have them send the piece of code they pride themselves the most on
  • 1st interview -> Get an impression of the candidate and their capabilities both professionally and socially
  • Reference check – Who is the candidate and does other people have the same impression of him/her? Try not to fall in love with a candidate before you have done the reference check. A good question to ask is “would you hire the person again?”
  • Personal assessment -> Conduct an IQ test or similar test if necessary
  • 2nd interview -> Go more into depth about position and the work team. Get a final impression of skills and personality. Have the person meet a couple of people from your team – do they like the candidate?
  • Negotiation -> You choose your favourite candidate for the job and give them time to reply to your job offer
  • Rejection -> Important to be honest and fair in explaining the reason for the rejection. Have you met the applicants in person, then you owe it to them to give them a call.                                                                                

 9. Create contract and starter kit for candidate

To appear as a professional workplace and employer, you must prepare a legal contract stating all the terms and conditions about the position. It is also important to arrange a starter kit for the new employee. This starter kit should include a computer, a desk and a chair, a phone and an email to get started right away. This will save your company time in the long run and ensure a more efficient startup process for the candidate.

10. Define onboarding cycle and ‘Must win assignment’

Another way to ensure a good introduction for the new employee is to plan a well-structured program that will get the person started and ready to work independently in no time. To create such an introduction program, there are different key considerations to take into account. Think of what information you want the new employee to receive. Further, you should have an assignment ready for your new colleague. Ask them to complete this task within the first 90 days of their employment. That way you will know whether it’s a match or not within the trial period.

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