LinkedIn articles tend to follow a theme, ideally something popular or trending that we can offer our opinion on in the hope of reaching a wider audience, but I actually wanted to ask for help. I would appreciate your opinion on a genuinely challenging subject for us, and I suspect any start-up at our stage of life, namely entering the growth phase.
Running a start-up is an amazingly rewarding feeling. There is no denying that every day presents its’ fair share of challenges, but for every difficult moment, there are many more positive experiences. However, one area that I’m faced with now is testing me, and so I’d love to hear from as many people as I can (please comment if you can!).
Given my experience in recruitment, my predominantly recruitment client base and our platform is built specifically for recruiters, I’m in a potentially better position than lots of people to be entering a growth phase, but it’s proving to be no easy feat.
I have been lucky to have an awesome founding team with me – we genuinely couldn’t have achieved what we have without each of them, however now we need to scale and grow. My issues aren’t specific to being a start-up, granted they are perhaps more pronounced, but every business goes through them.
Starting At The Beginning – The Job Spec.
A connection of mine wrote an interesting post this morning, in which he challenges people to write a job spec in 5 lines. Honestly, this was music to my ears! Often by the time I’ve drafted the job description, even I’ve lost sight of who I’m looking for. I find myself trying to write war and peace job descriptions, yet, honestly, Codex is a small business, so truthfully, you will find that we all do everything, albeit with a primarily. But, can job specs really be that short?
Next Comes Candidate Attraction.
I really rate recruitment as an industry. Having been in it, I can definitely say that it is a highly skilled job, and rightly so it comes at a premium…that I just cannot pay right now – so candidate attraction has to come from us directly.
My Head of Marketing, Sanela, keeps telling me that our Instagram feed should be all about “Life at Codex” and could become the window that potential candidates look through before contacting us. The problem is, at the beginning, there really wasn’t much to show. We were all just busy working at our desks, with the occasional flow of free cookies, tea, fruit and the odd free ice cream graciously provided by WeWork.
Our inability to show much for the Life at Codex, actually signalled a deeper company culture issue that I had missed. Now, I am working on improving and planning fun employee activities, just yesterday I pitched doing the Tough Mudder, to the absolute horror of Sanela, who still hasn’t gotten back to me on her availability.
Hopefully, by improving our company culture, it will naturally spill out onto our Instagram feed and we will be able to attract candidates organically. Have you found Instagram to be a good place to really show off your business? Has it worked to attract people?
Now Candidate Retention
Then comes compensation and benefits. I’d love to offer all the perks that come from Google or Uber, however, as a start-up, I simply cannot. Codex is a great place to work (I’m obviously going to say that), but formal “perks” are few and far between. One that seems to be doing the rounds extensively now is flexible working – not least on potentially the hottest day ever in London.
Flexible working is a double-edged sword for me. I actively encourage people to work as adults, meaning if you have a job to do, then manage yourself to do it, and yes, I am relaxed about “working from home”, but that’s because I trust my team to work when they need to. If anything, my problem was trying to get them to stop working.
However, when you look at growing the team, does flexible working work? We’re growing and so still need to form our culture, and if people spend half their time out of the office, then how does culture develop? Any comments on flexible working successes or failures, I’d love to hear!
Compensation stands alone as well. We’re at such a pivotal stage of our evolution, to coin Top Gun, we want “the best of the best”, who come at an understandable premium. Whilst I am as generous as I can be, big salaries are a step too far for us at the moment. I’ve been thinking about ESOS and other Employee Ownership methods as a promissory note of reward, but that’s a pitch to my other shareholders that I still need to do and is probably not for now.
How do you compete for the top talent in a hugely competitive market if you can’t pay top salaries? Can a plucky start-up really compete with the established “best places to work”?
Thank you in advance for any comments, opinions or advice and, if you can muster the strength during #thermalthursday (I came up with that hashtag today whilst roasting in the central line, felt very relevant) feel free to follow Codex – every little bit helps!