Hiring for Startups

“I hire people better than me and get out of the way.” 

Lee Iacocca

Sounds simple , infact sounds astounding , here is one of the leading business icons of his time Lee Iacocca speaking about hiring people better than him.

Tough act to follow. Not sure if Lee himself lived this insight all the time.

But hiring is a challenging activity especially so if you are a cash starved , boot strapped start-up.

Why should anyone join you? Why should anyone believe in your perspective of the world. Your view, your perspective matters because – the usual reasons why people take up jobs, fat salary, status, job security etc do not apply in a start-up.

The only reason a professional lets go of his need for status, financial freedom, job security etc is if he sees a clear path to make a difference to the lives of people a meaningful contribution. And yes there is the treasure at the end of the rain bow.

So as Simon Sinek says it is important to start with Why.


In a Rut

Do you feel like you are trapped , stuck in one place? Are your dreams getting un-stuck? Are you running and running and running only to stand still , maybe you are even sliding backwards.


What do you do when you find yourself in such a situation?

Do you start fantasizing about your dream vacation – that long desired trip to Malibu , Tahiti or Monaco?

Or perhaps you start working longer hours, working harder. Kicking screaming frantically flailing your arms throwing in all that you have got.Digging in, waiting out.

What if you have waited long. And, nothing has changed.

What then?

What should you do?

Should you try out a totally different track?


What would that be?

Why are’nt you taking that?

What is stopping you?




What was your contribution?

What can be your contribution?

What is the contribution of a wicket Keeper in a cricket team? He prevents the ball from trickling past to the boundary. He keeps the batsmen in check by being ready to stump – thereby preventing the batsman from being prolific in his scoring. These are just a couple of contributions of a wicket keeper during a game. CONTRIBUTION

So what is/was your contribution in your job. Did you get a new client. The lone client in a difficult market. Did you solve a tough accounting problem that the company was facing. You need not have accomplished anything all alone. Nothing happens all alone in the industry. In fact if you say that you accomplished something alone then that might raise a red flag.

Think about all these contributions while you were at work. Get them on your resume and create a contribution statement. Your contribution statement can even be a promise as to what specific contribution you could make in the job you are applying for. This can be created based on the job specs.

Be creative. Try this out. I do not come cross such proactive statements in resumes. Try something different.

Having a resume objective is fine. But it can get too general. A little groundwork can help you structure your resume to the specific job you are applying for.

United we Drag

img_15941You know it by now. Flight is overbooked. Some passengers have to be de-planed to make way for important people. 69 year old doctor is randomly selected to make way for these more important people. He refuses to get enticed by the travel voucher offerings. The airport police is called and they drag him through the aisle of the aeroplane. His face bloodied – the only thing he keeps repeating is I want to go home.

The video goes viral.

And United Airlines – behaved as if it was business as usual. For United it was just another day in office. The CEO of United Oscar Munoz tweeted an apology for having to re-accommodate customers this was some 2 hours after the viral video. On the same evening he sent a mail to his employees expressing solidarity and for having followed established “procedures” for removing a passengers.   If you haven’t already seen the video – you can watch it now.

I am wondering which rule book they use at United to Train their Employees. Or maybe they are just taking a leaf from the President Trumps Book. The evicted passenger was a Vietnamese.

Yesterday the CEO Oscar Munoz came out with a more detailed and what felt like a more genuine apology. Took him three days.

Interesting to note that this very CEO was named the “Communicator of the year” in March.

For Oscar Munoz it was a PR disaster. But what about the customer service? I think we have come a long long way from the slogan – Customer is King.

The curious case of the utter uselessness of interviews

On April 8th Jason Dana an Assistant professor of Yale came up with a provocative write up on NY Times titled – “ The utter Uselessness of Interviews”. His argument kicked up a fair bit of dust.

If you read the post right till the very end you realize that his title was misleading. It should have been ” The utter uselessness of Un-structured interviews”. In the post he argues for Structured Interviews as against unstructured interviews. But you realize this only at the very end , only in the second last para.

I read the post assuming that the argument was about the uselessness of interviews. But in a climactic twist the last scene revealed that the villain was actually the hero. Everything was right with interviewing(villain turned hero) – solution was to conduct a certain kind of interview( structured).

Then why this Title?


Cannot be – not on NY Times.

Possibly Mr Dana wanted to have some fun at our expense. Send us on a small wild goose hunt and maybe get some readership.

Life can get to be boring, at times.


Mulla and the Lost Key

mullasMulla Nasruddin was frantically searching for something under the street light. A passerby on seeing this asked – Oh Mulla what are you searching?

I am searching for my lost key – said the mulla – visibly worried.

The passerby also got down on his fours and started searching. Time ticked by but no sign of the keys. Finally the passerby asked – Are you sure you lost them here ?

No said the Mulla. I lost them over there near my house. Shocked and at a loss of words the passerby asked then why are you searching for them here.

Oh that’s because the light is brighter here so i can see clearly.

Offcourse you know the Moral. But knowing is not enough. Would’nt you agree.

Consider this. When candidates decide to shift – what do they do? they either

  • post their resume on a portal , or
  • call a recruiter

and then they wait.

So whats wrong?

Stats vary but less than 10% of the actual jobs available are posted on Job sites.And the percentage of job post responses that actually get a serious screening is abysmally  low, way way down low.  So the refrain that the recruiters are not responding sounds abysmally hollow.


Whether the recruiter responds or not has a very insignificant impact on your job search.

why because – the lions share of the actual job openings are not even appearing on the Sites.

Here is what typically happens. The hiring manager has a opening in his team – he gets the word out amongst his friends , family and acquintances and scans for a possible fit. What could be better than  a known person working on the team.

If that does’nt work he asks his team members, friends and family to refer their friends and family.If even that doesnt work he reaches out to the HR for help.

The HR does a search in their imediate horizon and share the requirement with the Recruiters. These recruiter might decide to post their Jobs and thats how you get to see the post.

Now you realize why it is so difficult to get recruited through job sites.

If you are not in a hurry – and are just staking out the market. Then by all means this approach works. But if you want a faster option – job sites/recruiters alone might not serve the purpose.









AI/JOBS/& increasing opportunities

Lawyers and accountants join list of workers whose jobs are likely to go – screamed a headline. ai_0

Increasingly such headlines are becoming everyday affairs.

Artificial Intelligence has come a long way and seems like it is set to takeover our jobs , especially jobs that are of a repetitive and mundane nature. These include jobs of order takers – cashiers , maybe even waiters might get replaced by robots. Telecallers might get replaced with Robo callers. Are there any firms already doing so – I am not sure. How far into the future can we expect sizeable volumes of AI replacements? could be 5 years or 10.

A point to remember is that Automation is expensive and is not going to replace any job as long as it is cheaper for a human to do it.

A Mckenzie report suggests that as of now 5% of the jobs are ready for AI takeover. The good things is that 95% of the jobs are going to stay. Even better is that new jobs will replace the old ones. As the human population increases more jobs get created. It is a simple case of demand and supply.  Technology will eliminate certain kind of jobs but more new jobs will be created catering to a different set of problems and solutions.

Opportunities continue to increase.

To find out if machines will actually take away our jobs – watch this TEDx by David Autor