Hunting heads for startups
Last Thursday, the Austrian Chamber of Commerce (WKO) organised the E-Day in Vienna, and the motto “borderless entrepreneurship” lured hundreds of businesspeople, young professionals and journalists to the WKO headquarters. We, at inventures, were present and spiced up what we thought was the most interesting discourse with some additional facts.
What sector of the economy are most startups engaged in? It is not agriculture or industry but services, and most of the business ideas require a well-educated and highly talented staff. But these people are not always easy to come by and if the fight for capital weren’t enough, there is also a constant battle for talents. So, upcoming entrepreneurs and their startups often have to rely on basic networking and already existing contacts.
Broadening the perspective
So how about headhunting for those that may only be found by a professional? We asked recruiting expert Charlotte Eblinger about her experience with headhunting for startups.
The most interesting question here may be if there even are any professional headhunting agencies that specialise in startups and young businesses with only scarce financial resources. “Yes, there are,” said Eblinger, managing director of the Viennese headhunter and recruiting consultant Eblinger & Partner and added: “Such agencies that specialise in human resource consulting for startups exist.
Traditionally, only larger companies or MNCs assign real headhunting tasks and usually only for very special positions. Still, the expert offers a piece of advice to startups who intend to explore a new way of recruiting – or in this sense: having staff recruited for them. My advice would be to assign experts with the personnel search if someone very special is needed but not found.”
“The interesting thing about startups is that there is naturally less material you can work with. They often lack an exact roster of which qualifications they are looking for and what kind they actually need. A standardised pattern is therefore that startups often focus on the exact outcome of the search and not so much on the actual process which can slow down or hinder the search as a task itself,” says Eblinger and advises on taking a few hours and thinking about what exactly is needed before going ahead and starting a search.
Headhunting for startups as the next big issue?
When it comes to the market for headhunting advice for startups in the future, Eblinger says that it will stay approximately the same: “It will neither increase, nor decrease.” So, startups that use headhunters will likely remain exotic, however, a mixture of in-house search and outsourced work might be applicable. “Every enterprise needs advice from different sources from time to time. The most important question is what the founders can do alone and where they really need outside expertise for. This has to be decided by every founder based on his or her own competencies and experience.”
But what about the consulters themselves? Can the niche of headhunting for startups become a sustainable business model? “It can,” says Eblinger “but as a product I can only see one module taken out of the whole process of the search. It therefore can only become a real business model – and a cheaper product suitable for startups – if the founder takes part of the process in his own hands and outsources other parts he or she is absolutely not capable of doing.”