It’s a given that perfecting your product and hitting the right market are vital when you’re starting a new business. Without both of these areas firing, it’s unlikely you’ll have a business for very long. There’s a third factor at play, however. Unless you have the right team executing your idea, you won’t have the means to fine-tune your offering and get it to market.
Without good people supporting you, it’s very difficult to scale and pursue every opportunity presented, whether that’s through winning loyal customers who refer you to others, or maintaining your market edge through innovation.
So what makes a winning team and, more importantly, how do you build one in the midst of a talent shortage?
A targeted approach
Make sure you have a ‘careers’ page on your website that not only hosts information on the positions vacant, but reflects your business values through the language you use. It’s the first place where people will self-select based on whether they think your workplace is right for them, so you must represent yourselves accurately.
If you’re headhunting, it’s a slightly different story. Once you’ve identified the best talent, your approach should be tailored to understanding ‘why’ they would consider working for you and then selling them your organisation’s difference. What issues do they have with their current workplace that are absent in yours? What growth opportunities can your business offer to potential hires who are stagnating in other jobs?
Sometimes you’ll come across a candidate who has great potential but isn’t the right hire for now, such as a promising interviewee who perhaps didn’t have the right skill-set or enough experience. It takes very little time and effort to stay in touch with potential candidates. Nurture these prospects by giving them constructive feedback so they have the opportunity to come back again better armed. Check in with them after a year and they may well be ready to bolster the team. We have secured some of our best hires this way, and in the digital marketing industry which has a talent shortage, nurturing talent is effective for growing our team and snapping up staff who your competitors were too lazy to hang in there with.
Active networking is also a great way to spot talent, our leadership team makes a habit of attending events that are relevant to what we do. Having a presence in likeminded networks ensures that King Kong is top of mind as a preferred place to work for talent playing in that space.
Hiring for attitude, not ‘good on paper’
A good CV might give you a candidate with the right skills but it’s only part of the equation. Find someone with a can-do attitude who’s not afraid of hard work and you’re on to a winner. Surprisingly they are few and far between. You might be able to pick that up from an interview, but sometimes it’s outside these formal parameters that you will get a glimpse of what the potential team member is really like when push comes to shove.
Here at King Kong we had an opening for an intern. One candidate basically bombed the interview but then contacted us afterwards to ask for a second chance. Because of her enthusiasm and initiative, we gave her one. She went on to excel as an intern, and worked her way up to a full-time position and, flash forward a few years, she is now our gun Head of Paid Social.
Don’t stop selling when they get the job
So you’ve brought on someone you think will be an awesome team member. It doesn’t stop when they fill in their employment form and turn up on the first day, however. Be cutthroat about embedding the right culture. At almost 40 staff we’re a lot bigger now than we were a few years ago but I still make time to meet with every potential hire to make sure they understand our culture and will perpetuate it in their role.
The other vital thing to acknowledge is that team members should be able to see how they will grow with your company. A skills shortage and a competitive labour market means a smaller talent pool, but offering continued learning gives any business an edge. We present a future where team members experience continued learning, best practice marketing and results, all the hit points that appeal to those who want to sharpen their skills and be the very best at what they do—attracting exactly the kind of person we want on our team.
And we find that our existing team members are the best adverts for potential hires, and regularly recommend us as an enviable employer to great talent within their networks.
Building a team starts with knowing who you need to drive your business further and then bringing them along for the ride. While having the right skills helps, it’s the right attitude and the right culture that counts because that’s what will give your business extra mileage when you take it into the future.
Sabri Suby is the founder and Head of Growth at King Kong, a digital marketing agency that uses true ROI and only charges for success. Based in Melbourne, King Kong has clients across Australia and overseas. Its services include SEO, CRO, PPC, Facebook Advertising, web design and landing pages.