Why do the top companies always seem to win on talent?
Networking. We all know this term, yet so few effectively leverage this practice for business gain. Just ask Google, Apple, Goldman Sachs, or any Private Equity / Venture Capital firm how they build such strong talent acquisition strategies.
Across the board you will hear: Networking. Taking away the first three, who are able to leverage brand to give enormous firepower to their efforts (after all, if Tim Cook called you’d probably pick up), let’s focus on how our friends in the Private Equity and Venture space use networking to build winning talent strategies.
Typically, companies use a reactive approach to hiring, waiting for employees to hand in notice before identifying a suitable replacement. Considering that the average length of a hiring process is 3-4 months, that can be a long time to go without your lead content marketer. To combat this absence, Private Equity & Venture firms create what they call “Expert Networks”, a private database of leading talent across every function and industry imaginable, briefed and aware of that firm’s movements.
So when one of Primary Ventures’ portfolio company CTO’s departs, they have a long list of 100 candidates ready and waiting to be called for the job. Having these networks allows for hiring times to be reduced drastically, and often, recruiting fees to be avoided. A perfect example is Primary Ventures’ announcement of saving their portfolio over $2 million in recruiting fees in 2019 and they did this without picking up the tab themselves.
Ok we get it, most Private Equity and Venture firms are nailing this, how can we? The good news is the process is actually pretty simple once you put the right best-practices and tools in place. The bad news is, you’re going to have to change your thinking on talent (Something the big banks had to do in 2008). Here’s the process broken down:
1) Stop thinking of talent as a cost center, they are as big a part of your business as any other function and considering they recruited half of your employees last year, one could argue they’re a major reason your investors are so happy.
2) Don’t wait for roles to open up before you approach people in the market. Reach out and be honest with your goals: “We aren’t hiring right now, but you’re someone we would love to know in case a need comes up”. They get a nice ego boost and you gain a great candidate to call later.
3) Maintain an organized tracking system. This can save you hours of work later and ensure great candidates don’t fall through the cracks.
4) Stay in touch. Notify them of updates on your company. Sure it’s more work upfront, but it will ensure you aren’t sending hundreds of cold emails later.
To summarize, if you empower your recruiting team to be more than a reactive cost and give them tools that improve their performance, your organization can build an industry leading talent acquisition strategy.
George is the CEO & Co-Founder of The Suite. He founded The Suite in order to fundamentally change the way executives manage their careers. Prior to founding The Suite in 2019, George spent several years in the executive recruiting space where he was fortunate enough to advise some of the world's leading VC & PE backed businesses on talent.