We’re finding ourselves in this discussion a lot. What used to be a Series A conversation is now a seed-stage consideration. The fight for startup talent is more competitive than ever. It requires a new level of strategy, time commitment, and social consciousness. Relying only on network taps, job boards, and recruiting agencies isn’t cutting it. Founders need someone to own their company’s talent function, so the scaling process is efficient, effective, and EEOC compliant. Looking back at our six years of recruiting intel, we've outlined five key indicators that signal it's likely time to invest in a full-time Head of Talent:
Talent is the lifeblood of any startup, and the founder needs to be spending at least 50% of their time on hiring, but when 50% turns into 80%, founder-exclusive responsibilities (e.g. investor management, product vision, customer acquisition, etc.) start getting neglected. It becomes pertinent to offload recruiting operations, so the founder is no longer full-cycle owner, but strategic participant.
If a startup wants the market’s very best talent, it means they’ll be competing against larger companies with greater brand recognition, robust talent acquisition teams and larger budgets. That means that your startup needs to go toe-to-toe with them in order to reel in those amazing hires. It also means that it’s going to take a lot of creativity, strategy, hustle and time to punch above one’s weight class.
At the end of the day, startups need to ask themselves: why would top talent choose us over that other guy? When a startup’s competition for talent is a bigger flashier company, the one thing that can help level the playing field is a Head of Talent. And the easiest way to find that Head of Talent that will help you compete against the “big dogs”? An executive recruiting service that wants to see you succeed.
The candidate scorecard has changed significantly over the past year in the aftermath of COVID-19 and the Great Resignation, where employees quit their jobs en masse in search of greener pastures. With that in mind, what do candidates want from startup employers in 2022 and beyond?
Whether voluntary or involuntary, if new hires aren’t staying for at least one year, there’s likely something that needs fixing. To start, there's a strong chance it's the onboarding process (or lack thereof) that’s causing issues with your new hires, because it means that candidates aren't smoothly transitioning to full-time employees. Research shows new employees who go through a structured onboarding program are 58% more likely to be with the organization after three years. A Head of Talent can help your candidates seamlessly transition to employees by guiding them through the onboarding process.
Another reason why new hires might not be staying? They don’t feel like they’re being heard. If a new hire is facing trouble, they may try to reach out for help or answers. But without a designated Head of Talent, answers might be slow and unfulfilling. When there’s a Head of Talent, they’re responsible for quickly looking into issues new hires may be facing.
Just like you’re likely going to look into your potential hires, your candidates are going to also look into your startup. Namely, they’re going to factor in your digital reputation (such as your online presence) and your branding. According to LinkedIn, potential hires really do take these things into consideration, with 75% of job seekers saying they consider an employer’s brand before even applying for a job. These factors can also reduce the amount startups need to spend on hiring. That same LinkedIn report also found that companies that invest in their employer brand reduce the cost-per-hire by 50%, improve the number of qualified applicants by 50% and make hires 1-2x faster.
When you’re looking to bring on a Head of Talent, what exactly should you be looking for? Here are some traits and qualities that make an excellent Head of Talent:
While it might be tough to decide exactly when to bring on a Head of Talent, there’s a few things that you don’t want to happen. If your company is growing and expanding, you don’t want to get too big that acquiring a Head of Talent suddenly becomes urgent. Picture this: you have a bunch of new hires, but they all flop the onboarding process, because there’s no Head of Talent to help guide them through it. You don’t want new employees to join your company and find out that things are messy on the inside. This could shake employee confidence in the crucial early stages.
The bottom line? If you wait too long to hire a Head of Talent, you might find yourself in a desperate position to acquire one as quickly as possible.
Who you bring onboard your company matters, but searching for a Head of Talent doesn’t need to be something you tackle on your own. That’s why we’re here. We’re Will Reed, and we’re an executive search firm built exclusively for early-stage founders. We’re culture obsessed, and we tap into our powerful network and resources to help match you with your dream candidates.