How important is the personal brand of your key hires? What do you look out for (bad or good)?
The following answers are provided by members of Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.
I am transparent with people from day one and what we do matters to our clients. I can’t afford to work with people who are contrived, pretentious or interested in company politics. In an entrepreneurial environment, you have to lay it all on the line. If your team doesn’t always tell you the truth, your business won’t last.
2. Adaptability and Enthusiasm
When hiring people, I always recognize those who have diverse and interesting resumes/past experience. Young companies that are still in the process of growing need employees who are quick to adapt to new situations and enthusiastic about change.
3. The Real Deal
A strong personal brand in a potential hire is a sign of someone who not only claims to be an expert at their craft, but practices what they preach. It often provides more insights into the working habits of a key hire, and shows that they are likely the type of person who will add value beyond the job description. This qualification is especially important at a growing company.
4. Consistency Between Personal and Company Brand
A great startup is born out of a great team, and you need to see that the way your team represents themselves publicly is consistent with your company culture and brand. With that in mind, not everyone in your company needs to have a personal brand if their role is more internal. They just need to fit in with the team.
5. Respected Members of the Tech/Startup Community
It’s important that hires are respected members of the tech/startup community. Olo looks for engineers who are strong contributors to open source platforms like GitHub and non-engineers who have built a complimentary network. We go far beyond LinkedIn to do extensive reference checks that utilize our own deep network. That helps us to get it right with new hires more often than not.
6. It Depends on the Position
If the hire is public-facing — meaning they’re dealing with clients, customers, partners or key suppliers, the personal brand of a key hire is much more important than if they’re, say, a developer. In this case, the most important things are their communication, skill set, experience and ability to collaborate. Though obviously if you do something obscene or stupid, it always matters.
7. Value Alignment
iReputation and alignment on values matters a great deal. Specifically, we look for candidates with three key qualities: solid skills and knowledge, an ability to manage themselves and prioritize their work, and passion. If they’re not excited about our business, they won’t be a good fit.
8. Well-Crafted Social Profiles
Anyone looking to work with your company in a significant way will be all over the social profiles of your senior execs. It’s essential that they understand the nuances of how to position themselves in the correct way, and aren’t making mistakes that mark them out as newbies.
9. A Solid Personal Brand
Digital presence is your calling card and resume all wrapped into one. Your personal brand extends well beyond professionalism. What’s onyour social media accounts? All of these create an impression on employees and potential customers. We do an audit of all potential candidate’s online presence to better understand who they are and what they bring to the table (the good and bad).
10. Tech Savviness
We found that the best business development and sales candidates are are also excellent at marketing themselves and have solid personal brands. It’s a major plus if a potential business hire has their own personal website because it shows that they are tech savvy. For engineering candidates, we look at the quality of their Github repositories and StackOverflow profiles.
11. Awards or Other Accolades
Typically awards or accolades show that their peers think they are good at their job. Instead of guessing what somebody is capable of, let their accomplishments speak for themselves. It’s like buying a 5-star product on Amazon — you kind of know what you’re getting in advance based on others’ reviews.