Just behind having a bad product idea and running out of money, not having the right team is a top reason that startups fail. Below is a list of common mistakes you should avoid in order to build a team that sets you up for success!
1. Letting job postings build your dream team. More than ever, big companies are aggressively headhunting and cherry-picking the cream of crop. Headhunting is so prevalent that there’s no need for good people to look for work; they can wait for the work to come looking for them. Job postings are great for gaining market visibility, but don’t expect 10X developers and top performers to apply to your jobs with any consistency.
2. Setting a salary range and sticking to it. Wouldn’t it be nice if all markets did exactly what we wanted them to do? Whether it’s stocks, real estate or recruiting, Mr. Market sets the price. You should set out to hire with a salary range in mind, but be wary that other companies will be bidding against you. As demand increases, so does price. An extra 5-15K could go a long way towards landing talent now and avoiding the long wait for the next great candidate.
3. Stockpiling mediocre programmers. One of the best deals in tech hiring is the 10X developer – the rare star who can outperform 10 average developers. Yes, you have to pay a premium, but the upside is unquestionable. Find this ratio hard to believe? Steve Jobs thought it is was 50:1! Start searching for a 10X developer now.
4. Hiring the best person for the job. You really don’t have to hire the the person with the best skillset, but you certainly want the right human for your team. If you focus strictly on the job, you’ll overlook team chemistry and the glue that holds it together. While you’re at it, build in some diversity. Look for outliers and unique people to complement your current lineup. Hiring carbon copies will kill innovation, ideas and new perspectives.
5. Hiring like you’re a Fortune 500 company. Every recruit is important, but the first few are crucial. These are the people that will set your talent bar for years to come. Hire a C-player and you’ll pay the price for doing so. In the early days, look for leadership in everyone you hire. Tech competency and skills will get the job done, but it takes leaders for your company to grow, compete and thrive.
6. Hiring the professional job hunter. They walk like talent, talk like talent, but their accomplishments are few and far in between. They’re seen in all the right places – at meetups and on social media. They give you a resume that’s perfect and includes words like ‘visionary’, then they rock the interview. Why? Practice. Some people are professional job hunters with much more experience with interviews than peers who are busy accomplishing Don’t confuse visibility and popularity for the actual ability to perform.
7. Getting the entire team involved. While talent is scarce you need to minimize groupthink. It’s too easy for committees to decline a candidate. If more than one person is interviewing, use a debate format: make sure someone looks for the reasons to make the hire, while another tells you why not. Whatever you do, make sure there’s an evangelist to pitch the job, team and company.