For many organizations that have achieved some level of success, effectively growing the staff, without compromising the overall quality of who you bring on board, is a critical challenge. What do you recommend for a small business that is having trouble finding and recruiting enough qualified individuals?
In my experience, traditional hiring/recruiting channels (i.e. posting a job listing on a job board/web site) is not nearly effective enough (signal to noise ratio is way too low). This makes a ton of sense, given that most rockstars are not actively looking for a new job.
On the other side, relying on referrals from current employees, while amazingly valuable, has not met current needs.
Ideas? Web sites? Services? Books? Philosophies, strategies, whatever... I'd love to hear what has worked for other growing organizations.
Thanks for your help.
I LOVE this subject. I am an operation guy, so human capital issues are on top of my mind every day.
Here is what I have learned in 15+ years in startups:
At the end of the day it will take your people raving about your company to attract really smart people. Smart people love working with other smart people.
UPDATE: 7/3/12. I keep on seeing folks coming to my blog from this answer and just wanted to add one more post you may find helpful: How To Hire Top Talent Without Paying Recruiters
What works for me is to build a network of potential hires before I need them. I have found that this is the single best way to attract quality talent. This serves two other valuable purposes:
Referrals are also good but it seems that is not working out for you.
One other thing to think about is what part of the business you grow and what part you might outsource. I know that can sometimes be challenging to sort out but it is an effective method to get you through a tough hiring crunch or at least allow you to focus on the right type of hiring.
Good answers already; I especially like Jarie's suggestion to consider the in-house / out-house split carefully.
Well, the question is one of those evergreen issues; I don't think there is an easy way to get great hires. Here are my ideas for this (some of which I have not had an opportunity to test in real life yet) :
I don't think there is a 'silver bullet', something that gives a 10x improvement for the hiring process. Or at least I don't know of one. It's mostly the same old venues everyone uses; past colleagues, networking, job boards (general & specialized), adverts.
I know you're not trying to make a pitch for your company on this site, but you haven't given any reason(s) why a top developer would want to work for you.
I would think twice before go in a quest to fill my company with Rock Stars. Not only its going to be quite a pain to manage them later (there's a strange correlation between skill and social disorder), as its probably going to be a waste of resources.
Unless you're building a quantum virtual machine, you'll hardly need a team full of rock stars. A plain, hard-work fella with some experience and skill is good enough most of the time. So, don't spend time or money to search and contract a Paul McCartney if a Norah Jones is just what you need.
Generally, a team good enough for you needs has 60-70% of experienced dudes, 40-30% of beginners (for more simple, not-creative tasks) and only 10-0% of rock stars.
Allow (and give then incentive to do so) your most charismatic collaborators to give lectures in some very well targeted universities/diplomas.
I am managing a dual education engineering degree and a MsC in complex systems architecture, and trust me, the most clever students have firm job offers way before leaving the university, thanks to some of our (external) lecturers. As a teacher, you can see the best potentials, and you can mentor them in order to make sure they will acquire the skills needed for being a good collaborator in your team.
A company I worked with had an interesting solution. As well as developing software they ran a recruiting business on the side, placing people into contract jobs. If a contractor proved to be very good they hired them in-house.
It is unclear whether the nature of your business requires on-site presence. If it does not, go global. I know a successful software company that has no office altogether - all employees and contractors are working from their homes using virtual desktop technology. Need I mention that they are geographically distributed all over the world?