From Silicon Valley to Europe: How to Attract Top Talent

I had a chance to interview David Bizer from Talent Fountain and former Staffing Manager for EMEA at Google.

David is a pioneer in global Internet recruiting with a unique bi-continental background discovering talent from Silicon Valley to the technology hubs of Europe.

Over the past 18 years, David has recruited and led recruitment efforts resulting in the hiring of more than 4000 top-caliber candidates across more than 25 countries.

We talked about hiring the best talent and integrating them into your company. When looking at the future of finding talent, he said: „In the next few years it will be much easier to identify people but that’s just one part of recruitment.“

David Bizer

Hiring is all about company culture. And we at Weekdone received some wonderful new insight about how to use our company’s culture to our advantage. You will too.

First of all, what are the key factors for a good internal environment in an organization?

While there are many, we can highlight 4 key areas:

Trust, Respect, Teamwork and Recognition.

I think that people today are looking for an environment where employees are trusted, respected, work well together and receive appropriate recognition.

It’s your job to design your workplace around these areas. You can ask yourself, how do you build trust or get people to respect each other and what sort of systems you need in place to encourage recognition.

It’s of course easy to write these things, but it’s a lot harder to put them into action. Especially in fast growing companies, sometimes you loose track of these human aspects, because things are moving so quickly, and you forget their importance.

You have to feel it inside the company and you have to help people inside the company to feel it as well.

The result that you want is that everyone is aligned on the same page.

What sort of mistakes are common among new leaders and managers and what sort of mistakes do experienced leaders most often make?

You can say you trust someone, but then you constantly check up on them and you lead people to believe that you don’t trust them.

You can’t say you have a culture of respect and then have a team meeting and call someone out.

So the problem is basically micro-management?

Maybe when we’re talking about trust, but, on the whole, it’s a lot more. For instance, you can say you trust people to get something done and before they can finish it, you can take it away and say “I don’t trust you to get it done, I’ll give it to someone else”

How good psychological skills should a leader have to handle this?

Of course you could link it to some-sort of psychology but as you know, I’m not a psychologist.

I think it starts in the recruiting process where it’s helpful to understand people’s motivation.

Why are they motivated to change jobs?

I always ask in my interviews, “What are you looking for?” and “What sort of opportunity do you want?”, “What gets you excited?” and “What keeps you motivated?”

And this is also important when you do find the right people. If someone joins your company, it’s important for managers to spend a lot of time with them to get a sense of them. One to one meetings are critical here.

You have talked a lot about the importance of networking in hiring. But how much time should you spend on networking, at what point is it too much?

There is not really a point where it’s too much.

Have a look at John Ciancutti at Coursera It’s a phenomenal example.

I don’t think he sits on LinkedIn all day. My guess is he has recruiters working for him and once someone with high potential surfaces he gets deeply involved. That’s important because sending out a personalized message can make a big difference , especially coming from the company leadership.

Great startup CEOs are intricately involved and invested in hiring and thus spend a majority of their time with it.

People say all the time that a great team can make or break your company – so if that’s the case and you believe it, wouldn’t you also spend a massive amount of time on hiring?

What are the differences for finding talent for start-ups and big companies (apart from the obvious scale)?

It’s definitely harder to hire people for startups because you don’t have name recognition.

Startups on the whole typically are less evolved when it comes to hiring strategy, methods and processes. There are exceptions, but most startups haven’t clearly defined how they hire.

If you don’t take the time to reflect on the type of people you want in your company, how you will attract them, how you will retain them, you simply put yourself at great risk of failure.

[Tweet “If you don’t reflect on the type of people you want, you put yourself at risk of failure – D.Bizer”]

You have also talked a lot about creating an awesome culture. How does culture help you find top talent? Or is culture more or keeping talent?

Having an awesome culture helps you find top talent because you can actually define what kind of people you want to hire.

Most startups have a lot of trouble defining exactly whom they want to hire and in many cases that’s because their culture isn’t clearly defined.

Knowing the type of person which fits in your well-defined culture will go a long way to making sure you are not only hiring for skill fit but also for culture fit.

Then, if you have this well-defined and well-implemented culture, after you hire them, it will go a long way to keeping them on board.

When you have found the best people for your company, what next? What are the best ways for integrating new people to your team, especially if you don’t have the cash to offer perks and bonuses?

You have to develop an on-boarding process for new employees and it’s best to try and design this starting from when you first meet them.

Treat candidates as you were actually bringing them into your company. Great people don’t join tech startups for perks and bonuses. They join to take a part in amazing journey.

They are looking for excitement, challenge, responsibility, accountability, impact and ownership. You need to figure out how to offer that and continuously review if you are providing this to every one of your employees.

What do you think the main challenges will be for running a company in 2020?

In terms of hiring not much has changed in the last 20 years.

The change has come in the employee’s mindset. Today we’re talking about hiring Millennials and in five years it will be the next generation.

So the challenges won’t be much different than they are today.

We will continue to see the difficulty hiring and retaining top people. There are more and more options for people out there today and loyalty is incredibly difficult to earn from your employees.

Without considerable work done around values, culture, and making sure your management is fully prepared and equipped to grow and nurture their teams, employees will leave – because there will always be something better around the corner.

As a final thought, we discussed a company David is working with right now and why that company is awesome.

Even though they are a small company, they’ve invested significant time determining their values, vision and culture figuring out who they are and what they want. Thanks to that it’s much easier to find the right candidates who will really fit into the company holistically.

On top of that the CEO is available for hiring decisions 24/7. There’s nothing better when it comes to hiring the best people when you have a pro-active CEO or a Founder on your side.