3 Hiring Hacks For NYC Startups


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Most companies think that talented people care about three things: compensation, perks and a cool mission. These levers do matter, but they won’t distinguish you from the thousands of others startups competing for the same candidates.To attract the best of the best, you need a few secret weapons.

Compared to powerhouses like Google and Facebook, my company Bluecore shouldn’t have beena magnet for talent when it launched in 2013. However, three of our four business group leaders relocated from the west coast with their families – months before we were generating significant revenue. A quarter of the approximately 50 people who work with us migrated to NYC from other cities. That is pretty unusual.

In my opinion, three hiring ‘hacks’ made all the difference for Bluecore. I encourage you to borrow them:

  1. Talk to the Family

Whether you’re hiring a CMO with three kids or single college grad, family matters. Always offer to talk to the candidate’s spouse, kids or parents about life in NYC.

Every time I make that offer,someone takes me up on it. We chat about schools, neighborhoods, culture and career opportunities in NYC. This conversation turns spouses, kids and parents into allies because they can begin to picture a rewarding life in NYC. I demonstrate that our company cares about work-life balance, and I mean it.Family members will push your candidate to take the job when you make them feel like an important part of the decision.

If you use this strategy, — if you emphasize work-balance – you have to walk the walk. If not, one day Glassdoor will explode with nasty reviews about how you pulled a bait n’ switch.

  1. Talk About Worst Case Scenarios

When you sell software, do you focus on everything that could go wrong? Probably not. When you hire elite candidates though, you should anticipate and bring up all their greatest fears. This creates trust and shows candidates that the worst case scenario isn’t that bad.

For example, talk about what happens if the company gets acquired. What will happen to theteam? Talk about macroeconomic events that could affect the company. What happens if the alleged tech bubble bursts and VC money stops flowing?

Disclose more information than you would normally disclose. Share financials; draw graphs of your cash flow and growth projections; talk about the equity structure of the startup. In the worst case scenario, this person spreads rumors and you avoid a hiring mistake. In the best case scenario, your transparency shines, and other potential employers look shady and secretive by comparison.

  1. Weigh the Negotiation Process into Your Decision

After you make an offer, sometimes the candidate shapeshifts from modest mensch to pompous punk. They put on a charade to get hired, and then the mask comes off. This is why you should factor the negotiation period into your hiring decisions.

Try this out: once you make an offer, send the candidate out to coffee with someone he (or she) will potentially supervise. This is a chance to find out how the candidate treats subordinates. Does he say things he wouldn’t say during an interview? Does he act like boss-from-hell Bill Lumbergh from Office Space?Umm, yeah, I’m going to have to go ahead and ask you not to hire those people, mmmkay?

Seriously, candidates have bashedour website and mocked the experience of ourdepartment heads during these coffee chats. The negotiation period should count for at least 50 percent of the decision.

No One’s That Special

Most VC-backed startupscan lure candidates with acompelling story and strong financial incentives. No company is that special – not even those willing to pay above market value. In Bluecore’s experience, respect for family and transparency made us exceptionally successful at hiring. Our attitude towards negotiations also saved us from bringing some bad apples to the Big Apple. Use these hacks to attract talent that will benefit all of Silicon Alley.




Image credit: CC by Bernard Spragg. NZ

About the author: Fayez Mohamood

Fayez Mohamood is the cofounder and CEO of Bluecore.

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