What I Learned at Saastr Annual 2018
Last 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.