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Perspectives June 27, 2012

Hiring Your First Set of Employees

Identifying the best talent for your startup

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Over the last few weeks the topic of how to hire your first 5-10 people, mainly engineers, has come up at 2 separate conferences. I wanted to give new founders a few tips on identifying there first few people.

Leverage Your Network

Systematically look through your network and identify everyone that would make a great addition to your team. Consider people from your undergraduate, masters, PhD program, trade, vocational school, etc…Think through every job you have ever had and reach out to the relevant people. Reach out to people in groups and associations you participate in.

*If there are great people who know you and are not willing to join on your projects at the ground level, you have to take a long hard look if it makes sense to continue on with what you have planned. If you can’t convince those around you to come play, maybe it’s not the right game.

Leverage Your Network’s Network

You should be able to find some core people to join from your network, the next step is hitting up your friends of friends. If people like you and believe in your idea, even though you may not have gone to business school your buddy that did may know classmates that are looking to join a start-up.

*Tip: Learn how to be a LinkedIn power user, it will save you tons of time.

Find People Who Care Deeply About What You’re Building or How You’re Building It

Look at their side projects and passion. If you’re building the next AirBnB for dogs, look at people who work at great companies, and volunteer for the SPCA. If you are using a particular technology, such as scala or node.js in a unique way, reach out to people that have created side projects with them, but don’t get to code on them for their day job.

Finally, don’t reach out to ANYONE until you learn how to tell your story really well. Really, because how you tell your story will spread to other people. You want to make sure you are spreading the right word. Why is what you’re building important to the market? What is interesting about the technology you’re building? Why should it matter to the person your speaking with on a personal level? How does it relate to what they care about?

“Finally, don’t reach out to ANYONE until you learn how to tell your story really well. Really, because how you tell your story will spread to other people.”