Apple. Facebook. Microsoft. Google. Some of the biggest names in tech today trace their roots back to humble beginnings. Yes – they all started in garages.
While garages, hustling, and bold risks may have had their role, what we often overlooked is quality of the team. This is often the biggest moat when it comes to building great technology.
In case of technology startups, the right technical hire can be extremely crucial. Moreover, the opportunity cost of a bad hire is well documented.
In the words of Steve Jobs, “I noticed that the dynamic range between what an average person could accomplish and what the best person could accomplish was 50 or 100 to 1. Given that, you’re well advised to go after the cream of the cream … A small team of A+ players can run circles around a giant team of B and C players.”
So, how does one go about tech hiring? Although there are no rules set in stone, one could consider this article as a primer on a few good practices.
Nam et ipsa scientia potestas est – Knowledge itself is power
Understand what you require. Equip yourself to know what kind of talent you need. This may be a tad bit difficult if you’re from a non-technical background. Ask friends and colleagues proficient in tech questions so that you better understand the kind of profile you’re looking for. Always consult an expert, if possible, it will greatly cut short your learning curve. Avoid re-using old job descriptions, it is important that you tailor the job description to your specific needs. It’s always good to re-look at what skills you require for the given role. The better detailed your job description, the lesser number of unqualified applications you have to go through.
Engage with them
Have conversations with your applicant and establish a connection. While technical skills and profile-fit are crucial. Cultural fit, soft skills and loyalty matter to a very great extent too. Be transparent and let the applicant know what your deal-breakers are.
Remember, 1 person in a team of 10 counts as 10%, you don’t want crucial employees flaking. Take time and assess whether this person is a good fit for your team. Do you really see this person contributing to your company? Hire slowly. Brian Chesky would literally ask his initial hires if they would work at Airbnb if they had a year left to live. You want committed people who will stand strong during turbulent times. They say that when founders start-up, it’s like they’re married to each other. This is valid not just for your co-founders, but your early hires as well.
Finding the people with the right skill-set is the first step to meeting potential hires.
Is this person a team player?
Ask yourself this question: ‘Is this person a team player?’ Communication and collaboration are crucial for your tech team to function at peak capacity. Hiring an asshole coder who’s going to put everyone else down and lower team morale is not a wise decision. Hiring assholes only works in the short-term. Code is meant to be shared, attitude is extremely important. Get a sense of whether the applicant is a team player. Some more traits to look for are high emotional intelligence, patience, and leadership skills.
How to attract the best?
In the heart and mind of every engineer, they look forward to solving complex problems with other great engineers. The opportunity to work with great tools and tech while constantly developing themselves is another plus. Sell your vision to them, and the benefits of working with your firm. Truly great companies always have a big, hairy, audacious mission statement that drives them.
Having a great work culture is extremely important too. A workplace’s culture are the unwritten rules they have, it’s the invisible hand that drives employee decisions. Employees need to feel safe about experimenting and trying new things. Providing psychological safety to your employees and having a culture that celebrates failure can lead to phenomenal results. Employees must feel free enough to share things without the fear of recriminations. (For more detail, do check out: Project Aristotle, Google X: The Unexpected Benefit Of Celebrating Failure)
Seeking out the best?
While there’s nothing like seeking out someone whom you’ve worked with in the past or reaching out in your own network. To explore your options, you can take advantage of a few alternatives(Among many others):
Referrals from your current tech team
Xobin has around 10,000+ Sr Engineers who have been certified.
Events like meetups, hackathons can definitely give you leads as well. Meeting these leads later for a beer or coffee should give you a good idea on whether this person would be well suited for your profile.
- Recruiters (Not very feasible for startups, however)