Posts tagged ‘start-ups’

Sam Shank: The 5 People You Should Never Hire

All Five Marx Brothers

All five Marx Brothers: Groucho, Chico, Harpo, Zeppo & Gummo.

CEO Sam Shank is hiring for his company, HotelTonight. In the spirit of NotJobs, Sam penned an article for the LinkedIn series How I Hire which he titled, “The 5 People You Should Never Hire.” Regular NotJobs readers (and our lone subscriber) shouldn’t be surprised at his list of the untouchables:

  1. The One Who Hasn’t Used Your Product
  2. The One With the Typo
  3. The One With the Out-of-Date LinkedIn Profile
  4. The One Who’s Inappropriate on Twitter
  5. The One Who Isn’t Motivated to Do Great Things

Shank has a good idea of what he IS looking for, which includes enthusiasm, passion, energy, pragmatism, intelligence, and thoughtfulness. Those are the qualities that will make his enterprise grow.

The entire article (which is highly recommended) is here:


5 October 2013 at 12:29AM Leave a comment

The Pirate Ship as Organizational Model

Over on the CrashDev blog, Chris Devore has penned an article with stunning insight. His point in “The Pirate Ship as Organizational Model” is one that should be enjoyed and considered by my former boss Nathan, my dear friend Hooligan, his former boss Harry, and others who have felt the fun and excitement of a start-up turn to the dross and pain of corporate politics.

Devore is contemplating the perfect company to work for. He admits thinking it might be related to size, but

The Queen Anne’s Revenge by LegoFor me, the best possible circumstance is a company that’s somewhere on the spectrum from unformed idea to Pirate Ship. As soon as it passes from Pirate Ship to Going Concern, it stops being fun for me and I need to start over.

This, of course, got the attention of your humble editor, who is a student of historical pirates. What is the spectrum that includes pirate ships as an organizational model? Devore goes on to explain [emphasis mine]:

Since Pirate Ship is a technical term only to me, let me explain. An organization is healthy as long as its survival is sufficiently in doubt that each employee feels a primary responsibility to ensuring the survival of the firm, and a secondary (or lesser) concern for their own position within the hierarchy. The vitality of this “us against the world” mentality depends (to a greater or lesser extent) on the prospect of treasure somewhere on the horizon (i.e., it cannot be sustained in organizations where the prospect of treasure has dimmed to the point that jumping ship and taking a risk on a new captain and crew seem like a better bet). But it can if, despite remarkably long odds, a plurality of the crew believe that a rich prize might still be lurking beyond the next atoll. The scale at which this condition ceases to exist is conditioned equally by the nature of the opportunity being pursued and the quality of the leadership at the helm.

As soon as an organization reaches the point that its survival is no longer in doubt (or that the average participant no longer feels that his or her individual contribution is material to its survival), corruption begins to seep in.

Wow. Devore has exactly nailed some of my experiences in the high-tech world. The times that were the most intense, most fun and most rewarding were when everything was on the line. It was us against the world – we were in a Pirate Ship.

I like how Devore’s friend Donald DeSantis clarified this in his blog post:

Pirate ships combine an “us against the world” mentality with a hunt for treasure. This crucible of chaos and ambition somehow allows unstructured groups of mercenaries to complete complex tasks without killing one another (very often).

This is a key point. Highly motivated and highly talented are competitive. Once the big win on the horizon is captured and accounted for, the talent that thrives in that environment will be gone, or will start to engage in internal politics and mistreating others.

One key to happiness, then, is the awareness of internal attitudes.

29 May 2012 at 1:02AM Leave a comment

The Meme: Five Tips for Hiring

Last month, Mike Cannon-Brookes, co-founder and CEO of Atlassian, started a meme asking for the Top Five Tips For Startup Hiring. Mike, I’m glad you asked. I’ve done my share of start-up, high-growth hiring. Here’s my $.02:

1. Put a link to your “Careers” section on the front of your web page. The web guys won’t like it – it spoils the cool vision they had. They’ll claim it looks too crowded (no) and that you’re soliciting customers (well, yes). Don’t let them shut you out. Help your busy candidates find your opportunities quickly. Then ask the web guys to check. They should find that your “Careers” pages are the busiest on your site.

2. Take time to interview your final candidates. Too many hiring managers think they can get all they need from a 30 minute interview. Geoff and Brad Smart of Topgrading fame suggest that every hiring manager should do a three hour final interview that covers everything from high school to yesterday. That may sound a bit extreme, but think about it. You’ll have to live with this person (and their work) for at least eight hours a day. Your success depends on their success. Don’t you want to know who they are?

3. Maximize your candidate touch points. Every experience a candidate has interacting with your company is a touch point. Make those touch points positive. Are you leaving Mr. Candidate out in the lobby cooling his heels for 10 minutes after every half-hour interview? Does your web application continually lose candidate information? Did you tell the candidate how much time to block out for the interview? Each of these touch points says something about your company. Make sure it says something good.

4. Interview behavior is best behavior. Does your candidate seem a little odd? Did they snap at you, argue or never answer the question you asked? Guess what – it’s never going to get any better. It can, and probably will, get worse, but it will never get better. Don’t let desperation blind you to what the person in front of you is really doing.

5. You’re not done until the new hire starts. Second thoughts happen. A good candidate will have other opportunities knocking at their door while you’re preparing for them to start. Don’t depend on HR – you keep in touch with the candidate. Send them press releases, call them to check up. Remind them that they are wanted. Set the stage for their first project. Mr. Candidate should be more excited to start day one than he was when he signed the offer letter. Otherwise you’ll lose him.

10 Word Bonus Point: Get off to a good start with a good orientation. Your new hire will need some structure to get them going. Orientation is the payoff – where you prove what your corporate culture really is.

Here’s the meme from Mike Cannon-Brookes:
Life Is A Hire Way: 5 Tips For Startup Hiring

1. Recruiting Is Marketing [editor’s note: YES YES YES!]
2. Trust Your Team
3. You Don’t Win With Money
4. Make Space For Smart People
5. Know When To Fold’em (at hire/no hire time)
Quickie Bonus Tip: No Keyword Hiring

Don MacAskill has tagged the meme at
How we hire at SmugMug:

1. Get the right people on the bus (and get the wrong people off).
2. Hire for passion first, talent second.
3. Passion for the job, not passion for the company.
4. Getting stuff done.
5. Embrace diversity.
Bonus: Hire your own customers.

Check these tips out!

23 April 2007 at 6:56PM Leave a comment

My Core Ideas

1. "I can't tell you the best way to get a job - because there is no one best way. After 21 years of recruiting, I CAN share things I've seen candidates do to guarantee they DIDN'T get the job."

2. "Most companies don't realize how their recruiting process impacts their candidate pool, and their business. Attention to simple things will result in big improvements."

About the Author

Troy Bettinger, SPHR is a Denver Recruiter, Public Speaker, HR Metrics Analyst and Human Resources Leader who has been recruiting in corporate and municipal environments since 1991.

He specializes in the complete hiring process: defining, sourcing, recruiting, testing, interviewing, offering and orienting new hires. He's also well versed in strategic human resources, college recruiting, diversity recruiting, AAP, EEO, ATS integration, recruiting metrics, social media, recruiting leadership, training and employment branding.


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