The Art of Recruiting

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Small Business Answer to Filling Jobs: Personal Touch

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Say you want to hire for a new position. Do you count on interviews alone to make hiring decisions? Does your company have an obsession with grades?

According to a research by Frank Schmidt and John Hunter in the Psychological Bulletin, interviews are not the best predictor of performance, despite their widespread use.

Big corporations, like Google, would collect and analyze data about their existing employees and come up with some sophisticated models to evaluate and identify top talents. Unfortunately, as a small business, you probably don’t have a large data set and the skills to build such a statistical model. So does that mean you should give up and compromise your hiring standards?

So if you’re trying to compete with companies that are much bigger and better funded, you’re not going to win by playing their games. You have to think differently. So what can you do to attract superstar candidates to come to you?

In a world of technology innovations, hiring managers are often too busy to give superstar candidates the “personal touch” they crave. They tend to rely too much on technology, mostly sending out impersonal emails, and forget that this is a people business. People like to be touched, talked to personally, courted, and wooed.

Recruiting technology can help, but it can only take you so far. And it definitely is not a silver bullet because hiring is still a highly personal activity. Many companies hate adding the “personal touch” in the hiring process because it takes time and perseverance.

So if you find top talent candidate, your company has to be willing to invest more than just money because you can’t compete based on wages, or equity alone nowadays. You need to make sure that they know you value their talent.

One of the classic examples is how 42Floors, a startup trying to disrupt the commercial real estate market, decided to publicly offer a college sophomore a job via their company blog recently.

Below is the offer letter. For the full blog post and background story, please check out here:

Dear Dan Shipper:

Please join us. Consider this a job offer to work at 42Floors. Because you have never applied for this position, this may come as a little bit of a surprise. But you have known for awhile that I have been really impressed with your work.

You’re only a sophomore in college, but you’ve already started several companies. You’ve taught yourself to code, and you are a maker at heart. And you have that rare gift of having a sense of style in your design work as well. AND, your blog posts that reach Hacker News are eloquent and well thought out. It would be an honor to have you join us here at 42Floors.

Here is your job description: You will make gorgeous products that help entrepreneurs find their dream office. There are dozens of things we need built — you will pick what you most want to work on or come up with your own project.

If you ever decide you want to go back to working on your own startup, you have my full support, and I will personally do everything I can to help you be successful as an entrepreneur.

You will never be asked to sign a non-compete. You will be free to contribute to open source, free to blog about anything and everything, and never be required to submit a patent that could be used offensively.

This offer has no expiration and, regardless of whether you decide to work with us, I hope to personally be there on your side in everything you do.

Most sincerely,

Jason Freedman

Co-Founder, 42Floors

If you are willing to go the extra mile to recruiting the top talent like 42floors, your people will eventually become your company’s competitive advantage.

Image credit: leg0fenris @Flickr

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