What I Learned at Saastr Annual 2018

SaaStr-Annual-2017-Logo-flat-2000pLast week I attended my first Saastr conference in beautiful San Francisco. It was my New Year’s resolution to attend a few industry related trade shows. Overall, the conference was a good experience. As a headhunter, and not a SaaS business owner/founder, many of the actual sessions weren’t very relevant for me. But, that was OK, I was going for the networking… and boy oh boy, there was A LOT of networking!

Getting the opportunity to meet a lot of company founders and executives, along with a lot of venture capitalists who fund them, I walked away with a few takeaways from a recruiter perspective:

  1. Recruiting is an urgent need, but not exactly a priority — almost every single executive I met talked about how big of a challenge recruiting is for their company. It was often described as a bottleneck that slowed or inhibited growth. When I asked executives, “what is your recruiting strategy?”, I got a lot of blank stares, or answers that clearly indicated they didn’t have one. In a highly competitive market, where many companies are fighting for talent, it’s critical that planning and resources are allocated for recruiting.
  2. Companies think they can go it alone — a classic push back we hear from potential clients is that they are “handling the search internally”. If that means you are posting on job boards and sending a bunch of LinkedIn inmails, you are setting yourself up for failure. I’m clearly biased as a headhunter, but using agencies, or hiring top internal recruiting talent is not a waste of money. When you consider the time it takes to run ads, sift through resumes, interview lack-luster candidates, loss of productivity because of an empty seat, drain in morale because everybody is picking up extra duty, etc., the cost of trying to hire on your own can quickly exceed that of a good recruiter. Some jobs can be filled in house. However, high demand, low supply talent requires a different approach.
  3. Some companies wait too long — a classic problem of hyper growth startups is that they are very focused on building the product and growing revenues, but they often neglect the back office support roles that help them scale. We see this all the time in the accounting and finance function. Revenues grow quickly, the accounting becomes complex, and lack of skilled staff, internal controls, proper accounting standards, etc. cause mistakes to pile up. The cost of fixing problems that have been compounding over time is always greater than hiring the right people early on, and making sure that proper systems and procedures are in place. The more successful you think you’ll be, the more reason to plan ahead and hire proactively.
By |February 13th, 2018|professional development, recruiting strategy|0 Comments

Shady Recruiters

shady-character-300x260I’ve been a headhunter for 16+ years. I’ve heard every kind of horror story about shady recruiters you can imagine. The average complaints about recruiters are common – they don’t call you back, they just fished for job leads, etc. The really shady recruiters are worse – they’ll alter your resume without your permission, they’ll send your resume to employers without your approval, and I even had one candidate tell me that their recruiter ended up having an affair with the candidate’s significant other! Talk about shady recruiters! While a good recruiter can be absolutely invaluable to your career, shady recruiters can be extremely costly. Here is some advice on how to sort out the good from the shady recruiters:

1) How the recruiter finds you – this can speak volumes as to their ability. Referrals are obviously best. A mutual acquaintance is unlikely to put you in touch with someone who isn’t great at what they do. Many recruiters now a day used LinkedIn to reach out to candidate prospects. That’s a totally acceptable way of doing things, but you want to scrutinize the recruiter’s approach. Shady recruiters will reach out with vague and unspecific emails because they are probably just fishing. A strong recruiter will be much more likely to send a very specific message to you about a very specific search, or area of expertise that they focus on that is well aligned with your experience.

2) How competent is the recruiter – a competent recruiter is one that does a few key things. First, they are going to take time to understand your experience and your career goals. Second, they’ll demonstrate a certain level of marketplace knowledge and expertise. Good recruiter’s will be knowledgeable about their clients and the jobs that they are pitching to you. They’ll also only present jobs where there is a fairly strong alignment between your background and skills. Good recruiters will quickly establish credibility and you’ll get the sense that they know what they are talking about. Shady recruiters will often spend little to no time speaking with you, demand your resume, won’t tell you the names of clients, etc. If a recruiter tells you that the client is “confidential”, that is typically code for “I’m going to send your resume all over creation without your knowledge”.

3) Follow Up Skills – one of the biggest criticisms I hear about the staffing industry overall is that shady recruiters “don’t follow up”. A good recruiter is going to have strong follow up skills. As I tell my candidates, “even if the answer is ‘no’, I will always follow up with you so you know”. Good recruiters realize that their candidates are also future clients, and vice versa, so the good recruiters are going to be good about following up.

By |January 18th, 2016|job search|0 Comments