It’s SXSW. The most brilliant minds in tech from all over the world will converge on Austin and
this is where you can pick off the next Sergey Brin or Jony Ive and take your idea global. So what do you do? You throw a huge party with really expensive alcohol, of course, and spend a zillion dollars on food and make really awesome, creative t-shirts that can also read a person’s vital signs. And then you invite me, ‘cause all that stuff isn’t going to do anything for your recruiting efforts, but I love a good party and a great t-shirt.
This is what we call a recruiting Don’t. Don’t try to recruit with treats, because the people who want to work for you because you feed them well and give them good schwag are going to show up every day looking for more treats. They’re not the ones motivated by a cool project and a difficult problem. They’re not going to spend every day busting their tails to create the next great iteration of your product. They’re going to arrive on day one asking where the latte machine is and how much time they get to spend playing beer pong.
Which leads me to another recruiting Don’t. In case you lack the funds for great alcohol, food and schwag, don’t spend your time guerrilla recruiting at other people’s great parties. As fast as Austin’s growing, this is, in many ways, a small town. It takes about an hour and a half to get a bad reputation. And that’s just bad form.
So what Do you do? You get a plan. You figure out exactly who you’re looking for and why. If you’re early stage, that might be a generalist who has skills in lots of different areas. Or you might be seeking someone with a really specific skill set. Figure it out ahead, which means now, because SX is here.
Then you start working the networks. SXSW has SXSW Social where you can find who is planning to be here. You do your research and make a personal connection. You can get on Twitter, hashtag things like SXSW and developer and C++ and jobs. You can use the SXSW Career Fair and, sure, throw a party. But treat everything you’re doing like work. You’re not looking for the person who can drink you under the table, you’re looking for the person who can put you on the map. They’re not, actually, the same thing.
Also, remember this, SXSW is a great place to make connections. It’s the time when people fall in love with Austin and are ready to make a job decision to move here because of how much fun they’re having. But… it’s also crazy and frenetic and people are running helter skelter and searching out the best parties and things that tend to come with the best parties. Everybody you’re recruiting is being recruited by other people.
This is a good time to reach out, but there will be other times to have sober conversations that lead to really fruitful, productive hires. Treat it like a business opportunity and something great may come from it. But if you have one of those really expensive parties, don’t forget to invite me.
We work with companies on a project basis or on retainer, providing a custom level of HR help designed for your business, with offices in Austin, San Antonio, Dallas and Houston. Contact me at Caroline@valentinehr.com or call (512) 420-8267.