Help Wanted: What To Look For In A New Employee

Like many media and technology companies, we are planning to staff up as we prepare for our next stage of growth. Many of the qualities we’re looking for from prospective employees could be useful to your company as well.

True believers. You have to be ambitious to build an enterprise technology company in a place like New York City. Silicon Valley has decades of experience building big software companies like Oracle, PeopleSoft and Workday. And yet here we are, making it happen. Our secret is that we are all true believers -- and we need more of them.

Competitive. Why did the people that we have hired so far work out so well? It wasn’t because they had a deep background in the category -- that would have been very difficult to find in New York. What we all had in common was the will to succeed.

Agency backgrounds. Agency people are known for working hard and doing whatever it takes to make a client happy. These kinds of people have proven to be excellent hires.



Millennial-minded. It makes sense to hire staffers from your target market.For us, Millennials (people born after 1980) comprise the majority of the workforce in the companies we sell to. In fact, by 2020, Millennials will be 50% of the total workforce everywhere.

Technical. Fun for us is solving a really difficult database problem or building a marketing stack that helps us capture leads more efficiently. Even our salespeople have technical interests outside of work. So for us, any new hire should have a passion for technology.

Tested. Just because someone is technical doesn’t mean they’re necessarily a good fit, though. Every engineer needs to pass a test to work for us -- no exceptions. We’ve turned down people who work at companies like Google because they didn’t measure up.

Team-based. Many startups, like us, are a flat, distributed team without a complex reporting structure. People who need fancy titles, a lot of direct reports or a big corner office will not fit in here.

Long-term. Building a great company can take years and there will be many ups and downs along the way. So it’s important to attract people that are in this for the long haul.

Every person we hire is like adding an essential piece of hardware to our organization. Having a clear idea of what we want helps to ensure that we make the right investment.

5 comments about "Help Wanted: What To Look For In A New Employee".
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  1. Suzanne Levison from SLS Creative Search, February 18, 2013 at 10:34 a.m.

    Yes, success depends upon a perfect match, not a perfect organization.

    Most long term employees who are in for the long haul are or would be partners.

    People are much more important than a piece of hardware!

    It is true, having a clear idea of what you want is imperative to finding the perfect match

  2. Katie Cole from Toz Consulting, February 18, 2013 at 10:43 a.m.

    Yep, just get good people on the bus. No argument there. But I do feel a bit of angst at the hire millennials point. You hedged bets with the word "minded" (a boomer can be millennial-minded, I guess) -- just don't sell us boomers short.

  3. Matt Straz from Namely, February 18, 2013 at 11:10 a.m.

    Yes, completely agree, Katie (especially since I'm a Gen X'er myself). Anyone from any generation can work for us.

  4. Krista Thomas from Krista Thomas, February 18, 2013 at 2:07 p.m.

    Wanted to echo Katie on the ageism concerns, as I bet we can all point to examples wherein proven talent & veteran expertise has been dismissed as out of touch, stuck in their ways or just too expensive (the latter being more likely the real issue.) But certainly I do value the millennial POV, passion and ambition.

  5. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, February 18, 2013 at 2:59 p.m.

    There are certain skills and talents including learning how to use innate talent of the 49+ group that the younger whipper snappers do not have. Technical skills can be learned with encouraged parties as well as courtesy and respect.

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