This post is part of a series where we’ll take you through what we believe to be the best tips on growing a team. It’s based on experiences from our combined 15 years working with recruitment but most importantly on how we ourselves grew the Platypus team from 2 people in February 2019 to 19 people 18 months later.
Check out the other posts in the series:
Our number one priority when setting the initial Platypus team was tech. We knew we needed to build a product – and we needed to build it fast. We needed capable, plug-and-play hands on deck that could solve that immediate problem NOW.
But when it came to setting the team as a whole, it was never a matter of hiring for now or even hiring for the next six months.
The logic of a recruitment plan is mapping out strategic goals and what specific hires you need to get you there. We have created plans in terms of which areas of the business we need to grow to get us to our series A and – crucially – what burn rate we can afford.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a startup with little to offer in terms of attraction or any other kind of organisation.
Beginning of 2020 we had no product to sell yet and realistically wouldn’t be serious about this for another six months (passion, mission and good ideas, however, we were rich in). There was no position in the recruitment plan for a growth specialist. But when Nico saw an announcement on LinkedIn for someone with great credentials in growth ready to try new things, it was a chance worth exploring (don’t miss the video for the full story).
This is an opportunity hire: a candidate that won’t fix predefined tasks and urgent needs, but who is available here and now and will be a valuable asset for the long run.
An opportunity too good to miss.
There are at least two advantages to jumping on an opportunity like that:
Which leads us to our second argument.
At its core, an opportunity hire is a person you take a chance on because you’re hiring for their potential and not your immediate need.
This requires moving from being reactive relying on job postings and sourcing to being proactive and spending time and attention on LinkedIn and other platforms where you can keep track of who’s changing positions. And who all of a sudden will be ready to have that cup of coffee that they otherwise wouldn’t bother.
This gives you the chance to sell your organisation, your mission, and your potential in a much more potent format – a conversation – than you would ever be able to by creating a generic job posting.
"Have you found your new role already or are we in time to talk about Platypus?" - that was the first message Nico Blier-Silvestri sent me on LinkedIn.
I was weighing my options and was already fast in talks with other organizations, but curious me...
"I'd love to hear what you have in mind", I replied
"I think we should grab a coffee and I tell you about us"- he replied.
- Egle Padeginskaite
The straight-up pitfall of hiring for opportunity, potential, and future needs is that your new employee most likely won’t be able to work on what they consider to be their expertise right away.
This is something you need to be very honest about. (Along with most other things, we’d argue.)
This also implies being very straight-up with yourself regarding whether this candidate will in fact be able to thrive on what you have to offer right now. From a recruitment point of view, having T-shaped skills – being both a generalist and having a specific area of expertise – makes it easier to be creative with bridging the gap until they can live up to their full potential.
Ideally, this is what motivates them and will keep them motivated.
The hard-core reality of opportunity hiring is: Can you afford it. As a founding team, we differ on this like an old married couple: Dan holds the purse strings – and holds them pretty tight. Nico is trigger-happy and always eager to look into new opportunities. Together we agree that there is never any harm in talking. And doing that, will allow you to keep track of those great opportunities.
We will be sharing more advice on recruitment tactics such as the pros and cons of hiring through your personal network, using traditional sourcing, etc. in this series of posts on recruitment tips. Stay tuned! And check out the other posts in the series: