Want to win the Recruiting War? #SXSW Panel Shared Great Insights

  • March 15, 2016
  • Scott


Greg Barr, Managing Editor at the Austin Business Journal, attended our panel, “Can Austin Take Top Talent from Silicon Valley”, and wrote a great piece on it in the ABJ.  Our panelists included Kristen Clemmer – head of recruiting at Atlassian in the US, Danielle Royston – CEO of TenX recruiting, Farhan Thawar – co-founder of a new AI company in Toronto, and myself. Each of us were big contributors to the recruiting efforts at Trilogy in Austin, 15-20 years ago, as interviewers or recruiters.  Each of us has brought our brand of recruiting to subsequent employers, adapting methods as we go.  I want to take one moment to just thank the other three panelists for joining me and sharing their experience and knowledge with the room – it was a great discussion and a lot of fun.

Greg Barr captured a few of the great bits of advice from our panelists.

“You have to ‘out-care’ your competition [to land the job candidate]. You don’t have to outspend or out-showboat them,” Clemmer said. “Every individual has different motivations and goals and it’s your job to figure that out, to find that thing that makes [the recruit] feel special and different.”

And that was maybe the strongest message I took away from the discussion. That compared to the big companies that have a machine running recruiting, you can actually care about your team and the person you’re hiring more than a major software company cares about their 10,000th hire.

There was some debate about whether you had to pay top dollar.  Do you have to pay as much or more than Silicon Valley companies to get the talent?

Thawar said a startup in Austin can lure a top young candidate without having to break the bank by showing them that, by joining your company, they will have a chance to grow and be part of a business that could really be a disruptor, rather than join a high-profile tech giant and just be a number.

“You’re showing that there’s a time to learn, and a time to earn,” he said.

There was also discussion of comparative cost of living:

“If you can match up the couple with a Realtor in Austin to show them some houses, then it’s game over,” Royston said.

And what’s the foundation of good recruiting program?

“If your own employees’ experience isn’t amazing then you need to fix that leaky boat first, then focus on recruiting,” [Thawar] said.

Also in discussion after the talk: how to go about recruiting when you’re just getting off the ground.  The advice I’d give is to look at it this way:

  • Reach out to your network – people you know. People your people know. Be opportunistic and patient – realize that it won’t always be a good time for the people you want to leave the job they’re in. But maybe the next time you need to hire will be better timing.
  • Reach into other networks – alumni networks, universities, developer meetups, etc.
  • Reach outside your network(s) – push job descriptions to your site, to Indeed, to LinkedIn.  Leverage a cost-effective applicant tracking tool like CareerPlug. Get creative.

When you get bigger and are scaling, you can focus more energy on the staffing side of recruiting – hiring recruiters for example. And how you compete.  But when you’re small, it is all about mission, networking, and cost-effective tools!






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