Companies are trying to attract the very best talent — but are they really ready for them?
Recruiting ad headlines of tech companies show that they are hunting the very best talent — superstars. The list of skills expected and beyond can be quite overwhelming. In return, they offer interesting challenges and a lot of perks. But can they really respond once a perfect prospect is found?
The applicants are trying to get a job…to a certain point. After that, the tables are turned and the job seeker has options, just like the recruiting company — just like in any other market. Here are some principles you have to be ready for to hire a superstar.
1. 360° Flexibility
The very brightest people tend to have multiple skills and ability to question processes and ways of working. They might have side projects, their own way of working and they might asking an awful lot of questions. Their constant thrive to learn more might cause their role to expand to be bigger than in their original job description.
Can I work from home? Can I work from a different country? Why are you doing x like this? Why are your sprints two weeks? Do I have to attend every meeting? Can I go ahead and redesign this part completely? There is a flaw in your job interview exercise — how do you explain that? Can we just push this to production today?
Usually the best people don’t have to even apply a job. So when a company not named Facebook or Google gets a shot having one of these people, they should not only try to convince the applicant to apply and play by their rules, but reflect their own organisational processes and figure out how they could support the new employee to expand the job role to match superstar-level talent.
Their constant thrive to learn more might cause their role to expand to be bigger than in their original job description.
2. The Concept of Time
Superstar does not mean a big ego, quite the opposite. Superstar means an intelligent, skilled worker who can produce 3x-10x results compared to an average employee.
This leads to a question about concept of time. Organisations tend to have a natural cycle of accomplishing things — whether it’s releasing a new product once a year or having certain amount of work done in one sprint.
What if the newcomer could work in a pace that would make four releases in a year possible? It demands a lot from others, especially team leads and directors, who are gatekeepers in product roadmaps. Maybe four times faster response times?
For superstars, two years may seem to be an eternity. There are several examples of companies, which have turned to a multi-million dollar businesses from scratch in two years. Superstars can produce a lot of value for a company, even if they would proceed to a next challenge after two years of work. The best strategy is to encourage them to shine and try to extend their stay, they will choose to work somewhere else eventually after a while.
While companies are thinking, who is the applicant who will stick around at least four to five years anyway, they should create a strategy for different kind of employee types to support their careers. Both type of persons are needed.
For superstars, two years may seem to be an eternity.
3. The Hiring Process
The communications around hiring processes is delicate subject for a reason and at least when hiring for public sector the protocol must be followed. There are some kind of hiring protocols in almost all the companies over few dozen people.
How do they serve for hunting superstars? Usually not very well. The window of opportunity of getting a superstar is very small. The reasons are:
They don’t have to look for a job
They usually have passion for what they do, so they are not dissatisfied in their current position
They have multiple options, starting a company, choosing another company, relocating…
First lesson about branding and marketing is that nobody talks about your business and they don’t really care. Nine times out of ten there are no such thing as natural interest in your company from the job market, unless you shamelessly promote it, or even better, not talk about the industry at all but something that people find interesting. Let it be spaceships or artificial intelligence, you name it. Not everyone at Google are designing flying cars.
That is why companies should act as quickly as possible, when a superstar is available and add as much interaction and depth to the conversation as possible. Natural problem-solvers might get interested in your business, if the problem-space is exposed to them. Visit at the office would not hurt either. Just maximise the natural interaction.
Too often one week or another is “lost in the process”….aaaaand the window is gone. Get the talent working, give them freelance gig, do whatever to get them onboard quickly and feel home. There’s nothing wrong about that.
Don’t settle for “the superstar those otherwise this time”. It is your organisation that could not handle the superstar.
Too often one week or another is “lost in the process”….aaaaand the window is gone.
4. Pay Them
It’s ok to pay for people, who can achieve 3x-10x results. It’s usually a great deal for an employer anyway, if not a steal. Don’t look at age, look at the productivity and team skills.
It’s ok to pay for people, who can achieve 3x-10x results.
Good is the Enemy of Great
In reality, the most of the companies are not really hunting for the top talent. It’s too difficult, both to get them and satisfy them. Organisations have a natural tendency to protect their ways of working instead of constantly renewing them. It’s just easier to take the fifth most brightest person out of hundred and stay out of trouble.
You can do just ok with this. Just don’t expect to double your business using this strategy :)