Hiring great people sucks. Its a slog. Its hard work.
When I was still in school, I remember reading countless blog posts on hiring. Mark Suster’s “Whom Should You Hire At A Startup” comes to mind as one of the best, but the topic has been addressed at length by many of the best in the business.
These posts always include admonishments to “only hire A players”, and “invest in great people”. At the time, those seemed like truisms- of course you would only hire the best. Smart people like working with other smart people, and in a startup you want to create a culture of excellence.
The fact is, it’s damn near impossible to hire truly great talent. Recruiting a single great employee is like trying to date that one girl (or guy) you know is impossibly out of your league. You know they have plenty of options. You know everyone in town is trying to get their time and attention, sometimes including your more well known or better funded competitors.
Still, you try. You invest hours in coffees and lunches, trying to get to know them. What motivates them? What challenges interest them? What is their own personal career vision?
You email them regularly with updates on your company’s success. Maybe another recent key hire could motivate them to join, or perhaps a new round of funding leaves your company in a more secure position.
Now, against all odds, and after investing months in building this relationship- the candidate finally accepts your offer and joins your company. If we were still talking about dating, that would be the end of the story.
In a startup, that isn’t the case. The grueling, time consuming process that you finally just completed? Go do that again. And again. In fact, why don’t you repeat it, oh- 20, 30 times. That’s the kind of dedication it takes to build an awesome organization from the ground up.
Like I said before- it sucks. Which is why I have such respect for the leaders that work so hard to build excellent teams. I’ve been fortunate to learn from awesome people like Jason at Onswipe, and Amit and John here at Taykey, that personify the hustle and effort that goes into building a great team.
I’ve also worked hard to apply this mentality to building out our team here at Taykey. Right now we are looking to hire an amazing product designer, and I’ve spent time reworking the typical designer interview process to make it more conducive to finding and engaging with great people. More than anything, I’ve been grateful to get a better understanding of why so many smart people like Suster obsess over hiring- it really is the key to building a great organization, and its also one of the toughest challenges a startup faces.