How to recruit senior roles for your scaleup with limited resources

In an already competitive talent market, the fight for senior roles is even more intense. While developers, data scientists and engineers are increasingly in demand every day, imagine the demand for those senior hires with niche skills. It’s incredibly high, and everyone wants a piece of them.  

Sometimes, you can hire a more junior candidate hoping that they’ll grow into the role. However, sometimes a senior hire is not just necessary, but it’s essential. For example, you may need to hire someone with leadership experience to help guide your teams, or you may require someone self-sufficient who can get on with the job in hand and hit the ground running. After all, training up a new hire is expensive and time-consuming for senior teams; this is almost impossible in a high growth startup. Plus, if you’re looking to grow, sometimes you need experience and expertise in the business world, which junior tech talent just won’t have.

Senior hires must be taken seriously, as not only are they expensive, but they can also have a huge effect on your business. Senior employees can change the dynamics of a business entirely. Each will have their own management styles, which will set the culture at least within their team. While it’s not an easy task to find the right one, when you do, they can make a huge difference to your business.

So, how can you ensure that your startup is in contention for the hottest senior tech talent when competition is so high? How can you ensure that your senior roles are filled by the right person, not just an available person?

Here are our tips:

Consider upskilling one of your team

It’s one thing to hire more junior and train them up to be a leader, but if you already have someone showing great leadership qualities, then it could be an idea to take a chance on upskilling and promoting them. This person will have loyalty towards your business and may appreciate that you have enough faith in them to make more of an effort. In addition, promoting from within can save your recruitment costs and improve your employer brand, creating a great employee story to sell. Plus, they already know the ins and outs of your business, which is the one thing you will have to teach a senior hire, no matter how skilled.

Don’t only rely on your network

If you’re a startup or scaleup, chances are you rely on your network and connections for many things, including your initial hires. Right now, with all of your competition battling for the same senior tech talent, it’s likely that this talent pool is exhausted. All of your competitors are trying to fight over the same few candidates or trying desperately to keep hold of their existing talent.

However, to ensure the greatest level of success for your growing business, you need to look beyond this. Firstly, if a great leader who was perfect for your company is in your network, they’d probably be working for you already. Therefore, you’d be wasting a lot of time, money and energy hunting in the same places you always do for a sub-par candidate. And secondly, often, the best senior hires are the ones you don’t suspect, which are different from the rest of your leadership team. And this means the ones that aren’t from the same workplaces, universities, or associations. Leadership teams work best when they reflect a range of voices, backgrounds and viewpoints. Therefore, even if you haven’t exhausted your network, you may want to widen your search to find the right hire for your business.

Get creative with your ads

In tech recruitment, everyone is currently advertising jobs and looking in the same places. LinkedIn, Indeed and other job boards are inundated, and senior tech professionals must be contacted by multiple recruiters every day. Therefore, to stand out to tech talent, you need to think outside of the box and be more creative with your recruitment strategies. Whether you’re running a programmatic campaign that needs standout visuals, reaching out with an InMail that doesn’t read like every other that lands in their inbox or looking for alternative advertising platforms, a little creativity will help your brand stand out. You need to showcase who you are as an employer to excite potential candidates, which means eye-catching visuals and authentic, bold messaging. While most executive hires will come through direct recruitment, you can use online advertising to promote your employer brand and create a case for why they should want to work with you. If you’re everywhere they look, including the non-traditional recruitment marketing platforms, you’ll capture the attention of passive candidates and remain top of mind for those who are ready for a new challenge.

Hire for attitude over experience

Of course, when hiring for senior roles, experience must play a factor. You need to hire someone who can hit the ground running and share their wealth of knowledge rather than someone who still needs time to learn. However, like with any role, finding the right person makes all the difference. You shouldn’t base your hiring decisions on experience alone, but rather a combination of knowledge, skills (including soft skills) and attitude. You cannot train a person to have the right mindset for your business, and a senior hire who does not fit your company culture will cause an abundance of problems for you. Culture clashes can happen even in the smallest of businesses. When they do occur, you’ll see high turnover rates, employee engagement will decrease, and you could risk losing some of your best and most senior people. So, if you wish to find someone who will successfully scale your business and continue your values and mission, look for the right attitude.

Get to know the candidate

Again, this is about making sure you hire the right person not only for your leadership role but for your company as a whole. Resumes, cover letters and job interviews can only tell you so much; they’re very restricted environments. For a hire as crucial as a senior role, you need to ensure you know what the individual is like. Having conversations with them, even meeting for a coffee, will allow you to establish what they’re like as a person and gain a more in-depth idea of their character. This will help you to establish whether they’ll fit in with and enhance your culture or whether they’ll clash. You’ll also gain a better idea of their background to see if they bring a more diverse point of view or experience to your organisation. For the best senior hires, getting to know more about them is the key to success.  

It’s essential to also look at the personalities within your leadership team. Hiring someone too similar to the rest of the leadership team could lead to groupthink and limit your potential as a business. Having different viewpoints and perspectives and an executive who can stand their ground within the leadership team is essential for startup success. You need someone that will ensure their opinions and voice is heard without getting lost in the crowd or being too argumentative. Having diverse voices on the leadership team will improve your employer brand efforts and improve diverse recruiting across the business.

Outsource your executive search

If you don’t feel ready to make a senior hire or are worried you won’t find a suitable candidate, you can always outsource your executive searches to an RPO agency. RPO providers will understand the qualities you should be looking for when hiring people of influence. They can also provide the necessary research, planning and investigation to source the right candidate for you. Hiring senior talent isn’t always as simple as posting a job advert and seeing who comes through. An RPO provider can benchmark you against the competition and test varying hiring strategies to entice executive hires. They’ll have a pool of connections that you can use to your advantage and know foolproof strategies, recruitment strategies, candidate expectations and industry standards. Plus, an RPO provider takes the time to get to you your culture from your overall mission to the day to day running of the business. As a result, they’ll be able to help find someone who is the perfect fit for you.

At Talent Works, we’re experts in executive search and hiring for senior tech positions. With an in-house brand and insight team as well as an experienced sourcing team, we’re able to conduct the research needed to form these hiring strategies and benchmark your business against your competitors. We then have the industry knowledge to find and recruit the best talent for even the most complex senior roles. If you’d like to know more about our vi.tal recruitment service or to start a conversation with our team, contact us.