Antler’s head of recruiting, Prerna Sharma hired hundreds of people for Uber’s Southeast Asia operations as well as for companies like Flow Traders, a Dutch proprietary trading firm which has the same hiring values as any growing startup. She has several years of experience in recruiting talent for startups. She lists the crucial prerequisites you need to consider before building your team:
It is important for both departments to work together closely in order to carry out an excellent recruiting strategy. Wait for the media launches to happen and have the marketing team sell your company story on why your organisation is great. Identify the right target audience for the roles you are hiring and tie these up with media articles, events and launches. The important thing is to work cross-functionally with industry experts to utilise the right channels that reach out to the right audience.
It is crucial for any recruiter to be hands-on and on the ground. You cannot simply stay behind your computer and expect great talents to apply. Head out for recruiting and networking events that are specific to the industries and job functions you are after.
Events – Hosting small events can be a cost-efficient way of reaching a larger pool of people. Organise intimate and industry-specific happy hour sessions or try to attend similar events hosted by others. Share your company’s story and vision to attract like-minded individuals who resonate with your key ideals.
Team networks – Everyone is a recruiter. Founders, employees, investors and advisors are your sounding board to spread the word that you’re hiring. Ask people you know to look through their LinkedIn contacts, find five to ten smart talents, and refer them. Ask your college professors, friends and former colleagues to recommend strong candidates.
Social media – Encourage your team to share the roles you are hiring for on their own social media channels as well as in alumni and industry groups. LinkedIn is a great resource to search for candidates and reach out to them via either 1st or 2nd-degree mutual connections. A personalised & warm introduction is always advised when reaching out to these leads.
Word of mouth – Everyone is a brand ambassador for your company, encourage your team to talk about the company in all kinds of situations. You never know where your next great hire or customer will be at. It could be a dinner party, at a conference or an industry event, you never know.
A rockstar recruiting team – At some point, you will need a hardworking and product-centric recruiting team to make things work. While hiring them, you need to look for their innate passion and commitment towards your company vision. Great recruiters bring great talents.
The first couple of employees really need to have the drive to “make-things-happen” coupled with an ambitious spirit. When assessing this, I look at what they have done in their past careers and personal lives. For example, what are the things they are passionate about, what motivates them in general? It is absolutely crucial that the first employees believe in the product or idea, as people are not getting hired for a specific role, they are getting hired for a company or a product that they believe in and will be expected to wear many different hats throughout the formation of the business.
Recruiting doesn’t have a standard formula. If you follow something strictly, you will miss some amazing people. Different roles need different considerations. I always look for signals in candidates’ profiles showing they are high achievers. For example, their hard work, smartness, drive, and ability to get to the next level by overcoming obstacles and transcending boundaries, is always a plus. If someone has not studied computer science but encountered tasks that required computing skills and stepped up to the challenge, it shows his or her ability to pick up necessary skills and adapt to any role. Some other key considerations include: noticeable career progression, depth of role beyond what was required of them and any extraordinary achievements and goals reached.
Work hard on yourself as a leader and trust the incredible team you have chosen!
Grit – Set the benchmark high for yourself and strive to be self-driven. As a founder, you will face many obstacles and you need to tackle these without giving up.
Strong personal impact – Your most important role is to attract employees, investors and partners. Try to successfully influence and impact people positively to support and stand by their ideas. Lifelong learner – As a founder, you must have an insatiable desire to learn. You will constantly face new challenges and make mistakes, you need to be able to quickly learn, adapt and move on.
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Prerna is the recruiting director at Antler and oversees founder recruiting efforts globally. She was an early employee at Uber Asia, where she hired hundreds of high performing individuals to help scale Uber’s growth in the region. After Uber, Prerna successfully laid the entire framework for the HR & Recruitment function of Flow Traders Asia (Singapore & Hong Kong), a leading Dutch proprietary trading firm, specialising in ETFs.