January is one of the best months of the year for hiring. Budgets are set and after some post-holiday reflection (and possibly some year-end bonuses in back pockets), people are ready to make moves when it comes to their career.
Right before the new year, we shared a few data points and tips for candidates to help them improve on the hard and soft skills a few of our startup clients are hiring for in 2019. (https://blog.huntclub.com/top-10-hard-and-soft-skills-2019-tips-to-improve/)
Today we're launching a two-part post and talking about how you can assess and hire against those skills.
Whether you’re looking to bring on a savvy data analyst, a writer, or a marketing person who can do it all, with the right strategy and assessment tactics, you'll be able to find and hire your best startup employees this year.
How to Hire For the Top In-Demand Hard Skills
Last year, we polled our clients and dug into the Hunt Club data to find what skills would be most important for their respective businesses going into 2019.
While every business has its own unique needs we found 10 skills that were essential to each. Here are the hard skills our tech clients are seeking in candidates: data/analytics, full-stack marketing capabilities, writing, coding and public speaking.
Modern marketers are people on your team who can deliver creative work and possess the right data and/or analytics chops to measure output, test, and learn the results your company needs to grow.
What to look for when hiring: Given the nature of most early-stage companies, it's important to remove ambiguity upfront when hiring for this role. There are many moving pieces to hiring someone with this skillset and a key first step is to determine things like if you need someone who can collect and mine information, or someone more versed in capturing and storing information. Or, maybe you need a person who can analyze and use the data to make key business decisions. Once you've locked the responsibilities down you can look for candidates with the right certification or experience to drive your business forward in the way you need it.
Here are two examples of what you could look for:
- If you need a marketing data analyst, look for candidates with the essential skills in SQL, statistical and modeling tools like SAS and SPSS or programming abilities in Python.
- If you’re looking for someone to transform your data to change the business, you're (i.e., data scientist) seek out candidates who have a solid foundation in technology and a deep understanding of the business side of the company. This person will know how to use data to shape the future and keep your organization modern and innovative. These candidates will bring the most value if they can tell a story with data or clearly communicate what the information is saying to investors, customers and even employees.
2. Full-Stack Marketer Capabilities
Whereas you’re looking for specific nuances and knowledge in the data/analytics marketing roles above, full-stack marketers are your all-stars who have the right mix of creative skills, tech skills, and embody marketing and sales best practices. This person touches almost every area of marketing. These are the people out there obsessively reading everything they can get their hands on from other growth marketers plus exhibiting good old-fashioned grit.
What to look for when hiring: While this person will be able to function in a variety of areas, it also means he or she doesn’t carry equal skill in every area. The real benefit to your business is the breadth of skill and versatility this person offers. For companies that don’t have the resources to hire a slew of niche marketers early on, when cash (or a lack thereof) drives most of the decisions and hiring, having someone who isn’t afraid of trying to do it all is essential.
Before diving into a search, evaluate your business needs, and match and prioritize the skills to find the person with the right blend of skills. For example, is it more important to redesign your website and increase search rankings or build up a bigger social media presence? Then you likely need someone who’s well-versed in SEO and social media.
Is the time right for your business to garner press in tech publications and increase visibility with journalists? Someone who first and foremost has a strong background in public relations will likely serve your business needs well.
Keep in mind that while this person is great for high-growth companies and small businesses when hiring, consider that as your business grows, it will be ideal for this individual to move into a leadership position where they can develop your A-team to include specialists with more targeted skill sets.
Establishing subject matter expertise is incredibly important in the startup journey and it is an effort that can begin even before the initial product launch. Effective writing can increase the chances for success.
With so much of today's startup marketing being web and media-based, articulating what your brand offers is incredibly important as is delivering it in a way that engages your readers. Creating valuable, smartly-written content will help gain the trust of your customers and potential investors.
What to look for when hiring: In the startup space, you might be dealing with candidates who don’t have traditional backgrounds in writing (i.e., schooling, publishing or possibly even teaching) but don’t rule these people out. Start by writing a great job description that appeals to creative minds and include a writing prompt on a topic related to your business. In addition to asking for writing samples, you'll get an early look at the candidate's writing style and if he or she has can grasp your business' subject matter.
Also be sure to review their online presence. Check out their social media. Do they have a blog? Are they guest posting anywhere? Do they have fun creative projects in the works? In the interview process, you can also ask the candidate to submit a piece (and pay them for it) and give them a deadline to see how they perform under pressure.Whether or not someone has formal writing credentials or schooling, the brain is a muscle and it's important to look holistically to see how candidates are flexing it.
This isn’t just for hiring developers. When it comes to marketers and sales professionals, coding skills help a person think in a very logical way to solve problems, as it teaches a person to be more self-sufficient and provide systematic approaches for building marketing email campaigns to paid media to content strategy.
What to look for when hiring: As a whole, marketing is grounded in rich data leaving many with a need to understand the full customer journey. Even if someone isn’t skilled in technology languages, he or she should have a decent working knowledge so they can ask the right questions of any tech or digital partners. Again, consider which area this person will work in and match up their skills to the role to find the right fit for your business.
Common programming languages to see on resumes or that candidates are pursuing include:
- Data analysis: SQL (best for accessing in-depth user data from your company’s database; running advanced queries on Google Analytics data, etc.)
- Scripting: Python (great for running advanced analytical methods on datasets; making predictions to guide future planning) or Bash (for automating reporting needs).
- HTML: It's essential for marketers, particularly content marketers, to understand how to find and edit meta descriptions, title tags and keywords.
5. Public speaking
Storytelling is the job for the CEO, but in this day and age, with shorter attention spans and the depth and breadth of content, we all yearn for old-fashioned public speaking. For marketing and sales roles at a startup, it’s so important to connect with the audience, and speaking without a visual aid is the way to go.
What to look for when hiring: Look for someone who isn’t a stranger when it comes to speaking engagements (i.e., industry panel participation, lunch-and-learn speaking sessions, webinars or Podcasts). Bonus is if the candidate participates in social groups like Toastmasters or The Moth’s speaking events.
Over to you
What are your tips or tricks for hiring against these hard skills? Are there any specific ones you're hiring for in your business this year? We'd like to know. And, later this week, we'll round out this topic by covering off on the top soft skills and what to look for when evaluating those skills in candidates.