The Fintech Founders Guide to Hiring: 001 How to attract the best talent to FinTech.
Without a doubt, the most rewarding aspect of being a recruiter is working with the best talent. Seeing the positive impact a great hire can have in a business is a privilege. And I have been fortunate to play a small part in the success of some amazing companies (some of whom are now multi-billion-dollar businesses).
Founders of FinTechs will know more than most, the damage caused by making the wrong hire. Especially when a business is in the earlier stages of growth.
Finding great people can be easy – hiring them is not.
If you are a growing FinTech, finding the time to recruit yourself is tough and throwing your capital at recruitment companies should be a last resort. Technology, social platforms and a 24/7 connected society has made finding candidates a lot easier. The challenge lies in engaging, assessing and finally hiring the right people.
In this three-part series, I will share two decades of global head-hunting experience. Revealing the strategies Tier One People use to attract, find and hire the best talent for FinTechs.
Part 001 Attracting the best talent to your Fintech.
What is the biggest obstacle preventing you from hiring the right people?
Recruiters, job boards, a lack of talent?
All of the above can be contributing factors. But the number one issue leading to a failed hire is this.
The hiring strategy, or lack thereof.
Hiring becomes much simpler and faster when you have a clearly defined hiring strategy.
In most instances, FinTech founders engage Tier One People after a failed attempt hiring themselves. When we take a brief, the client’s job description reads more like a wish list. The client has spent six months looking for a Unicorn with blue eyes. The longer the search goes on, the more pressure the client feels, leading to poor hiring decisions.
Developing a hiring strategy may sound too ‘hard basket’ but it is a lot simpler than you may think. You can even apply design thinking principles to your hiring strategy by asking a few very simple questions.
What business problem does this hire solve?
What does the right person look like?
Where can I find them?
What compelling reason can I give the right person to join our business?
None of these questions are answered by a conventional job description.
Think of potential hires as customers.
It is very likely you have spent a lot of time, energy and money creating a company brand and customer experience to attract the right customers. How much time and energy does your business spend creating a brand and candidate experience that attracts and retains the right employees?
Why would a top performer be interested in working with your FinTech?
What is unique about you and the business you are creating?
Why choose you over another business.
What is your unique value proposition?
What does it mean to be a part of your organisation?
A candidate experience strategy is best developed at the very early stages of growing the business. Unfortunately, most founders leave any form of recruitment process until the business hits the high-growth stage. Hiring becomes problematic, multiple recruiters are engaged, cost per acquisition goes sky high and cultural issues start to appear.
Do not hire on culture fit.
This advice goes against everything we are taught, even by the legend Peter Thiel himself. But here is my question ‘What is culture?’
The culture of an organisation is not static, it evolves and changes with the business. Culture is a living, breathing, growing animal. At the early stage of business, culture is like a baby, yet to develop an identity. It is almost impossible to identify culture fit; however, it is possible to determine if a new hire will add to or enhance your culture.
If you can’t hire on culture fit, what should you hire on?
‘The culture of any organisation is determined by the worst behaviour the CEO is prepared to tolerate, in themselves and others.’
If you are the CEO/founder, then the culture will ultimately be determined by your values and behaviours.
Of equal importance are the behaviours you will NOT tolerate. Establishing clear boundaries and guidelines will help when it comes to making tough decisions and assessing cultural fit.
Listing your values is much easier than coming up with a corporate bullsh#t culture statement. My kid’s school has cleverly distilled their values and expected behaviours into the moto ‘wisdom and courage’.
You need plenty of both working in a startup!
Get absolute clarity on the type of person you need to hire.
Most hiring tends to be a knee-jerk reaction to an event or workload. With tight deadlines and a business to run, FinTech leaders have little time to think about the type of person you need to hire.
Tier One People apply a design thinking approach to hiring. That is, we look for the business problem behind the hire. Once we are clear on the EXACT problem we are trying to solve, we can then find the right person. This approach has reduced our average time to hire for leadership positions to four weeks NOT four months.
Once you have identified the business problem a new hire needs to solve, start building a profile of the ideal fit for the role.
What qualities, behaviours and values will they demonstrate on a consistent basis?
What characteristics are required to be a success in the business?
What kind of achievements and results can they point to?
How does this profile compliment the dynamic of the current team?
How long will the person need to perform the role for?
Contemplate where your new hire will fit in the business 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 years from now. It may be that the profile you have identified will only fit your business for 6 or 12 months. That is perfectly reasonable, especially as your business goes through rapid growth.
Create opportunity descriptions – Not job descriptions.
Job descriptions list daily tasks and responsibilities. They were perfect in the last century when people worked static jobs in static environments. Today people live and work in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) world. Jobs and businesses are anything but static. No two days are the same in a startup and employees job description change on an almost daily basis.
The person you need to hire is likely to be in a great role already and not thinking about a move. For them, the prospect of moving to a startup just to do the same job is not a compelling proposition. And the right person will not ask for a Job Description. They will do whatever it takes to get the job done (as long as it is legal and ethical.)
Throwing equity at someone is rarely the solution.
Put your marketing hat on and create avatars of the people you want to hire. Outstanding people aren’t looking for another Job, they are looking for a compelling opportunity.
What stage of life are they at? Who are their friends? What is frustrating about their current job? What inspires them? Who do they aspire to be? What is important to them? Friends? Family? Adventure? Travel? Prestige? Alcohol? Table Tennis? What is their work ethic?
Having a detailed picture of your ideal hire will help you create an opportunity description that is compelling to the right person.
What does an opportunity description look like?
It is actually much simpler to create an opportunity description than it is to create a job description. Start off with a set of goals, targets and milestones to be achieved within the first 18 months. For example:
– Within the first six months implement a new billing system with full integration of sales systems and no bugs or errors.
– Within the first 12 months have hired and groomed a potential successor into your role, enabling your advancement into a managerial position.
– Within 18 months have contributed cost savings in the business of $100,000 by identifying outsourcing and automation opportunities.
Incentivise each milestone with bonus, equity or promotion to make the opportunity even more compelling. Every new hire will have absolute clarity on what is expected of them and you have a congruent performance management framework in place before the person has even started the job.
In part 002 we will cover headhunting and candidate attraction strategies.