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Building Out Talent Strategies for Early Stage Companies

Janet Frishberg

“How do I make this process repeatable, and less time consuming for me?” This is the question recently asked by a leader at one of the early stage companies we’re working with. Through our Fractional Talent Partner offering, we partner with a VC firm to give extra support to their portfolio companies and that’s how we met this leader. 

So far, we’ve focused our work on early stage (seed through C) companies without a recruiting team (sometimes even without scheduling support!), to coach their leaders around talent challenges and questions. While the past experiences of these leaders vary—some have seen scale firsthand and have built out hiring processes from scratch, others are straight out of academia—they share a number of challenges in common. 

Early stage companies often need support around the following areas:

Compensation Approach/Strategy 

Many of these leaders are innovators in their field, meaning that the normal comp tools available don’t exactly align to the roles they’re hiring for. We’re helping them triangulate their comp approach based on available data, in order to be as competitive as possible.

Performance Management

For leaders who have always managed teams at big companies, performance management was built out and driven by an external team. Now that they’re running the show themselves, they need to figure out how to right-size performance management for their current stage as well as the growth they have ahead. With zero support, employees risk feeling stagnant or under-appreciated. But if performance management is over-engineered, valuable time can be wasted on process for process sake. 

Top of Funnel Sourcing

For hard to fill jobs like technical positions and leadership roles, founders need to supplement inbound applicants by seeking out qualified passive candidates. One challenge we heard recently from a founder was: How do I find passive candidates who are already working in the languages we need here? Especially when these candidates have almost no LinkedIn presence. We helped this founder understand how to build a market map of established companies working in those programming languages, so that they can feel more confident in reaching out to candidates from those teams. To experienced sourcers and recruiters, this may seem like an obvious solution, but this small shift likely saved this founder dozens of hours in initial screens for candidates who weren’t a good fit. 

Leveraging Their Limited Time Most Effectively

The most limited resource these leaders have is time. If we can save them even three hours a week on hiring, that means three more hours they have to devote to pressing challenges in the rest of the business. Through coaching them on where they’re indispensable—and where they can delegate to someone else on the team—they’re able to maximize their impact.

If there’s an early-stage company that needs this kind of advising, or if you work for a VC firm that could use some extra Talent Partner support, please get in touch!

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