• Julie Balzer

Hunt Smarter: A Fresh Approach to Recruiting in the Hottest Battle for Innovation Talent

Updated: Apr 12, 2019

Transparency and technology are first principles that you might expect from any venture-backed software startup, but not from a headhunting firm. If you are running or starting a company in Silicon Valley, you need to know about THELIONS.com. Founded in 2010 in San Francisco, they've helped 1,000++ top sales professionals land jobs with 100's of startups across California and New York. In 2019, they are launching a platform with ambitions to achieve the same across the USA. I interviewed CEO & Founder, Matt McGraw, to learn about their “secret sauce” for successfully matching the best talent with growing companies.

1. There is a massive talent war going on in the US. It’s getting harder for companies to not only recruit talent, but to retain their workforce. And throwing money at the issue isn’t helping; Millennials have driven the average tenure from five years to just three. What advice do you have for HR leaders who are struggling to get the right hires in place?

First off, celebrate the work already behind you! It is thanks to 1,000s of innovative HR leaders that so many teams and their families are better taken care of today than ever before. Looking ahead, my primary advice is simple: focus on better aligning work to be done with work that your people are dying to attack. That means investing in potential vs pedigree, energy vs expertise. In the absurdly competitive markets we serve, the best CEO's and VP's we've met oft interview top Team Leaders for Director, Directors for VP, and back down through their talent stacks. It helps to have experienced (and patient) execs, but absent that there are myriad training and mentoring platforms arising. And as it comes to more technical roles, consider emergent offshore (or onshore) opportunities to decouple company investment and employee cost of living; for instance, 2/3 of our dev team is in Nairobi and some elite startups like Invision and Elastic offer remote optionality to most or all of their teams.

2. What have been the biggest changes in the recruiting industry in the past decade? Which trends will stick around, and which do you think will be short-lived?

Yikes, does that mean we've been attacking the problem of aligning talent and opportunity for 10 years? Still so so so much work to do... Like any legacy industry, floods of capital have aimed to disrupt the business end of acquiring talent. My lifetime spans job boards cheesing it up on Super Bowl ads, impressive startups with launch virality succumbing to the fractals of nuance it requires to do the work well, and now cool sounding AI products aiming to kill off millions of great human services jobs out of cost and bad actor frustrations... if only they sold (or perhaps understood) it that way. For me, what needs to stick around for the betterment of our world are the jobs of great people meeting, deeply understand the motivations and dreams of, and ultimately helping move talent to greener fields. Great people empowered by algorithms, versus thrown out of work by them.

3. It’s often the experience of entrepreneurs to be working in an industry and get so fed up with certain inefficiencies that there’s a “click” one day and they realize how things could be done better. Did you have this kind of moment?

Yes and no. My journey began out-of-industry, born of feeling the same pain of the VP and CEO patrons we love to help today – needing help building an A-team, having budget to do it, and throwing up all over myself at the result of (many of) our recruiting partners. And while there's no question that pain sucks, and we've solved for some of it, the real pain of wasted talent sucks infinitely more. So while it proves to be an enormous challenge, the opportunity to best align talent and meaningful opportunity gives me "clicks" just about every week that I hope to continue to have an opportunity to execute against.

4. You are releasing a new platform soon. Other than improved “speeds and feeds”, are there any features that will further enhance the experience for your customers and candidates?

Yes! But in our fast-moving world with so much focus on selling dreams vs weaving them, I'll let our great team today at THELIONS.com come Summer 2019 do that talking!


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