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Via Business.com : Startup Guide to Hiring a Consulting CTO

While many successful companies are launched by individuals without a technical or engineering background, knowing when to hire a CTO and an internal software development and engineering team is an important part of your company’s growth.

Building the right team at the right time and stage in a company’s growth can make or break its success and ability to scale, especially for a startup.

While many successful companies are launched without a co-founder with a technical or engineering background, knowing when to hire a chief technology officer (CTO) and an internal software development and engineering team is an important part of your company’s growth.

Why (and when) to hire a consulting CTO

Consulting CTOs can provide the technical expertise and management experience to custom software development companies that help early-stage startups meet their strategic goals. So when might it make sense to bring on a consulting CTO?

Some of the factors to consider in your decision and hiring timeline include:

  • You are an early stage startup working with an outsourced or bootstrapped software development team
  • Your company does not have a technical co-founder or member of the management team
  • Prohibitive costs involved with recruiting full time or long term CTO
  • Finding technical and engineering talent with the right leadership skills and background to meet your goals
  • Your company does not need a full-time CTO at your current stage of growth
  • Your startup is facing a product launch, and you need to quickly bring on an experienced technical and engineering professional with the right management and leadership skills
  • Your startup is launching a product or spearheading a project that requires a unique skillset or type of experience that your current management and development team is lacking or has limited experience or knowledge of the technology and market
  • For general oversight capabilities and technical due diligence
  • As a short-term resource in the early or mid stages of your startup’s growth while you look for the right long-term candidate if you later decide that it makes sense to fill the position permanently

The “right” time to bring in new leadership will vary from company to company. Addressing your engineering team’s current pain points against the organization’s needs and plans to scale in the short and long term are a great place to start in determining when to hire outside talent.

A consulting CTO can provide the flexibility and expertise necessary to succeed in an early stage startup environment.

Qualities to look for in a CTO

In addition to flexibility, technical expertise and management experience, and relevant knowledge in your field, there are a few qualities to look for in a great CTO candidate:

  • Stellar engineering background
  • The right experience for your company’s product line and vision for growth
  • A robust professional network to leverage
  • Good communication skills
  • Relevant leadership skills
  • A strategic thinker
  • The right set of tools

As most founders and investors know, things seldom go according to plan in the startup world, especially where technology is concerned. Whether you have a small team operating on the lean startup model or are growing at a rapid pace and already have several talented engineers on your team, things can (and probably will) change at a moment’s notice.

It may be difficult for you to predict when your startup will benefit from hiring a technology manager or CTO, and in many cases the answer to the question “When should we bring on a CTO?” is “yesterday.” A consulting CTO can join your team quickly and is trained to work and solve problems in a startup environment.

Via Forbes : It’s Time To Commit To Hiring Employees Over The Age Of 45

There are so many articles and discussions currently trending on diversity and inclusion. While I am a strong advocate for every initiative that welcomes and includes people of diverse backgrounds, educations and points of view at the table, I also believe that employers can take this approach to the next level.

Candidates 45 and older have priceless knowledge, experience and expertise that, if utilized correctly, is the secret sauce worthy of investing in. When it comes to diversity efforts, we are not focusing enough on the value older workers bring to the workforce. Ageism continues to be the albatross of qualified candidates that is a real and present factor contributing to older workers being boxed out. Yes, there have been some improvements in the unemployment rate, but not enough when millions of older workers are still looking for work.

I read an article recently by Dr. Anselm Anyoha in which he wrote candidly about getting older. He noted that as people age, it seems that society begins to “conspire to get rid of them” in order to make room for the upcoming generations.

It’s a solid point, considering that exclusionary norms and tactics support the notion that younger is better, a homogeneous workforce is “right,” and diversity doesn’t matter. As long as these norms continue, we all lose, as it becomes us versus them.

The older population has an uncanny, ambitious drive and profound determination, but unfortunately, it often goes untapped. Many older workers are still vibrant and capable candidates wanting to return to their industry and/or careers. However, current trends in hiring practices do not support or recognize this tangible asset. According to a New York Times article by Quoctrung Bui, “older workers are finding employment in lower-skilled service jobs. They are 65% more likely to find work in child care, 93% more likely to work as cab drivers and twice as likely to find work in retail.”

I recently had the pleasure of working with a 70-year-old attorney, and I was blown away by how sharp he was. His wisdom and experience were priceless. Had I worked with a younger attorney, I would have gotten the same tangible advice, but I would have missed out on valuable knowledge and expertise.

Having a diverse and inclusive workforce proves optimal to operating success. This great nation is a melting pot overflowing with phenomenal talents across all ages and ethnicities. I believe that we, the people, can make concerted efforts toward real change in which we recognize, celebrate, collaborate and support each other’s contributions to the continuously shifting employment landscape.

Making real change requires collective efforts from employers, employees and participation from state and local government. To lead the change in the inclusion of older workers, employers can create a culture that is blind to ageism, capitalizing on the talents of older workers through an age-friendly work environment that utilizes workforce development strategies easily incorporated into hiring practices. This would result in fostering a multigenerational workplace where capitalizing on innovations in talent management leads to creative solutions to pressing business problems.

Older workers possess unique qualifiers in addition to their experience that makes them strong candidates who are very much so teachable. Create opportunities that forge mentor-mentee relationships. Cross-train to increase retention and ensure that skills and knowledge stay within the company. Allow greater ownership and control over work-life balance tactics, such as telecommuting, job sharing and shift-swapping.

Around the world, cultures respect, appreciate and glean from the wisdom possessed by older generations. It almost seems as if our society is putting workers 45 years of age and older out to pasture, viewing them as not valuable. I say shame on us for turning our noses up at this wealth of top talent. Diversity and inclusion is about all people getting an opportunity to demonstrate their strengths, gifts and talents. Everyone deserves a chance, and older job seekers must be included.

As employers embark on new budget and growth opportunities during the second half of 2018, the challenge still remains — can you commit to hiring employees over the age of 45? I welcome the opportunity to discuss any questions you might have.

Via Business2Community : Effective Interview Tips for Hiring the Best Employees

Small businesses saw record profit levels in 2017, according to the 2018 NFIB Small Business Economic Trends Survey. If your business is seeing some success, you may be thinking about hiring. You’re not alone. The NFIB survey found 57% of business owners are hiring employees.

Choosing the right candidate isn’t easy though. So it’s important to create an effective interview to help you make an informed decision. Learn how to conduct an interview to better find out who a candidate really is, and whether or not they’re a good fit for your company.

Prep to make candidates at ease

It can be challenging to figure out if a candidate is right for the job if they’re overly nervous or uncomfortable. An efficient interview process that makes the job candidate feel at ease from the start can help you better understand whether they’d be a good fit for the role.

Gabrielle Bowden, HR director and assistant controller at The Bridges Club, says going right into the interview can “create an expectation of formality where candidates are hesitant to show their true selves.”

At the start of the interview, try asking an ice-breaker question. Here are some examples:

  • What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
  • What’s important to you in your career?
  • Tell me about yourself and what you’re interested in.
  • How has your job search been?

By asking these types of questions, you’re also building a relationship with the candidate. And this allows them to open up during the interview.

You can also send an email beforehand to give them an idea of what topics you’ll cover so they feel more prepared.

You want candidates to be themselves during the interview. The more comfortable they are during the process, the easier it is for you to see their personality and make an informed decision.

Ask behavioral questions

No matter the industry or type of job, candidates go into interviews expecting to be asked certain questions.

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years?
  • What kind of work environment do you prefer?

While you can ask these common questions, it may be more valuable to focus on asking behavioral questions. Asking behavioral questions will get more than a “yes” or a “no” answer. Candidates will have to reflect on their career and professional experiences, which can give you a better idea of their skills, how they think, and their problem-solving abilities.

Here are some examples of behavior-based questions:

  • Tell me about a time you encountered an issue and no one was around to help you. What did you do? A candidate’s answer to this question shows you how they think on their feet. It can show you how they work under pressure and if they were able to find a satisfactory solution. Ron Hamilton, who owns an HR consulting company, says the “best way to predict success on the job is to understand how the candidate behaved in similar situations in the past.”
  • Tell me your experience of having to work with a difficult team member. This could be an important question if you consider personality and team dynamics a priority. The candidate’s answer will show you whether they can work well with others. Team building and culture is important, so you want to make sure they can still do their work even if there are differences.
  • “What is your proudest accomplishment?” Or “Tell me about a time you overcame an obstacle.” This can show you how much perseverance the candidate has and how determined they are to find a solution. Pay attention to the details and how long they spent working towards the accomplishment or solution. It doesn’t have to be an epic success either; sometimes getting through the day-to-day obstacles or working through a budget issue can show you their dedication. Kristen Hamilton, co-founder and CEO of Koru, said, “A history of persevering through mind-numbing boredom can be one of the most valuable predictors of strong performance.”

Don’t forget to ask if they have any questions at the end of the interview. This can show you if your potential employee did any research about you or your company before the interview, Hamilton said. Unless the candidate was asking questions throughout the conversation, it could be a bad sign if they don’t have questions to ask at the end.

Questions to avoid

By law, there are questions you can’t ask during an interview. Despite this, some employers are still asking inappropriate questions. A recent study by the Associated Press and CNBC found 35 percent of people that interviewed for a job within the last 10 years were asked about their age.

Avoid asking questions on these topics:

  • Age
  • Race, ethnicity, or color
  • Gender
  • Country of national origin or birthplace
  • Religion
  • Disability
  • Marital or family status
  • Pregnancy

Listen more

There’s a difference between hearing and actively listening. Listening to a candidate is an active skill. It means you’re paying close attention and being engaged.

When you’re listening, it can make for a more in-depth, thoughtful interview. Edward D. Hess, a professor at the University of Virginia, says anyone can be a more active listener by:

  • “Getting ready to listen.” When you’re sitting down with a job candidate to interview them, clear your mind and stay focused. Take a moment to breathe or meditate and get yourself in the right mindset for the interview. Be present and pay attention to their entire answer and what they have to tell you. Don’t multitask and try not to get distracted by other things.
  • “Go slow and reflect.” As you think about their answer, ask yourself if you understand the point they’re trying to convey. You can take this moment to ask a follow-up question and give the candidate an opportunity to elaborate.
  • “Try on another’s idea.” Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes to get a better idea of how they think or why they believe what they believe. Hess says this process will generally lead to conversation.

The next steps

At the end of each interview, it’s good practice to tell candidates when they can expect to hear back about the job. And depending on how well the interviews went, you may already know who you want to offer the job to. In this case, you can start crafting an offer letter.

If you need to bring in any candidates for another round of interviews, that’s OK, too. This can be an opportunity for the rest of your team to meet the candidate.

Since you’re hiring a new employee, make sure they have the proper protection they need if a work accident happens. Most businesses in the U.S. must buy workers’ compensation insurance. Workers’ comp helps cover employees if something happens to them while on the job.

Effective interviews for the best hires

Hiring and interviewing new employees can be challenging. It’s a big decision that can have adverse effects on your business if you make the wrong choice. Hiring the best person for the job can be a game changer, however, as they’ll likely contribute to the continued success of your business.

You can make candidates comfortable, ask them better questions, and be a more engaged listener. Each of these things can create a more effective interview and help you find top talent for your business.

Via INC : The Biggest Secret to Hiring (It’s Not What You Think)

The way to win in business is to mold your workers to fit your culture.

For most employers, she’s the holy grail: the day-one-ready new hire. In she walks, preloaded with requisite skills. Just add caffeine and let her rip. But with unemployment at near-record lows, people like her are hard to find. Good. That scarcity is an opportunity.

In today’s tight labor market, the talent-is-hard-to-come-by lament is near universal–and also potentially misleading. The problem isn’t so much that employers can’t find workers for jobs that require skills, some experts say. It’s that employers want workers they don’t have to train. That attitude may deny businesses a powerful competitive advantage. That’s particularly true for entrepreneurial companies, which rely on workforces’ thinking and acting differently from incumbents.

Chad Laurans would agree with that. When he founded the Boston-based home-security company SimpliSafe in 2006, Laurans wanted to upend the industry with install-it-yourself hardware and no long-term service contracts. So he refused to hire anyone with industry experience. “We didn’t want that baggage,” he says. The venture-backed company–which employs about 600 people–hires from all levels of education. Training ranges from a month for call-center workers to potentially years for an engineer.

“Hiring people to do something they haven’t done before is powerful,” says Laurans. It’s possible, he continues, that a day-one-ready hire “is going to be bored, or they are just not going to be driven.”

As an entrepreneurial leader, “I really don’t want fully skilled people, because I want it to be done my way,” says Tom Peters, whose new book, The Excellence Dividend: Meeting the Tech Tide With Work That Wows and Jobs That Last, argues that training should be investment No. 1. Companies willing to train new hires, Peters says, can simultaneously address needed skills and the business’s distinct culture to produce employees who “do things in ways that fit our character.” In his formulation, “the company with the best training wins.”

The expectation that hires will hit the ground running emerged during looser labor markets when companies enjoyed a surfeit of choice. They also ran leaner, and so the appetite for anything less than prime talent abated. “Over the past 20 years, companies got very picky looking for people who were the exact right fit,” says Todd Thibodeaux, CEO of CompTIA, a nonprofit trade association that trains and certifies people in a variety of IT skills. “They weren’t interested in taking people who were entry level or were maybe 75 percent of the way there.” Companies also hate the idea of spending to make workers day-one ready for someone else. “Employers are convinced if they train people they are just going to lose them,” says Peter Cappelli, director of the Center for Human Resources at the Wharton School.

Of course, it is in the interest of a dynamic economy that businesses give workers their first shots, increase their value through education and experience, and then wave goodbye as they depart for better opportunities. But it is not in the interest of individual employers. Such concerns not only produce under-investment in training but also cause the proliferation of noncompetes, which these days extend all the way to beauticians.

But training makes workers both more likely to join and less likely to leave. Asked what attracts them to employers in a study by PwC, Millennials ranked training third, above benefits, flexible schedules, and employer values. Research shows increased retention among employees who are encouraged by their prospects for advancement and feel obligated to employers who invest in them. And a well-developed training muscle allows companies to react quickly to shifts in demand–from SharePoint to Slack, for example–and update their own workforces in response.

Such advantages should persuade business leaders to stop viewing themselves narrowly as consumers of talent and focus on becoming producers. There’s no reason entrepreneurial companies can’t be as innovative about developing talent as they are about developing products and services. Some already are.

Techtonic Group, for example, is both software development firm and apprentice farm. The business, based in Boulder, Colorado, employs a cadre of apprentices whom it trains in multiple skills while simultaneously deploying them (with a more senior team) on client projects. After 1,000 hours of working with apprentices, clients can hire them onto their teams–they now possess ample evidence of their ability. Techtonic, which raised a $2 million round in April, is the first Department of Labor-registered apprenticeship provider for software development.

Tech jobs aren’t the only ones inspiring creativity. In 2015, Saxbys Coffee, a chain headquartered in Philadelphia, launched an unusual partnership with Drexel University to open student-run cafs on campus. Undergraduates manage everything–frothing the cappuccinos, sure, but also hiring, firing, marketing, and calculating the P&L. Company managers swing by regularly to check in and answer questions, but none are onsite. Students learn on the job and in the classroom, where Saxbys helps shape the curriculum. Founder Nick Bayer created the program to promote entrepreneurship, but it also primes the talent pipeline–from store managers to corporate–with young people who know Saxbys chapter and verse.

Such programs represent a creative, ambitious approach to eliminating skills gaps inside companies. Great businesses are born when entrepreneurs can’t find something they need and so build their own. Great workforces are born the same way.

Via Polsinelli : Employer Beware: Considerations When Hiring a Competitor’s Employees

Restrictive covenants, such as non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, typically assist employers to protect their legitimate business interests. When properly drafted and implemented, an employer can use these types of agreements to limit an employee’s ability to unfairly compete after he or she concludes employment.

However, restrictive covenants cannot be used to prohibit regular, ordinary competition. While some employers may be deterred from considering an otherwise qualified applicant who is subject to post-employment restrictive covenants, there are steps employers can take to limit their exposure to claims of unfair competition when interviewing and hiring employees subject to these kinds of restrictions.

  • Ask about restrictions at the earliest reasonable and possible opportunity. Be specific when asking about any agreements in which these provisions might be contained. However, take care to avoid discussing the applicant’s former employer’s confidential information.
  • Obtain a copy of the agreement or agreements if a decision to hire is likely and review and analyze the enforceability of the restrictive covenants at issue, as well as whether the applicant can perform the position without violating the restrictions.
  • Clearly instruct the applicant not to disclose any confidential information, even if volunteered. Depending on the restrictions at issue, the new employer may also need to instruct the applicant not to solicit any of the former employer’s customers, clients, or employees. Consider also including an attestation to that effect in the offer letter or employment agreement.
  • Evaluate the likelihood of litigation. Assess the circumstances of the employee’s departure, the similarities between the former position and the new role, the nature of the industry and proprietary information or trade secrets at issue, the business relationship (if any) between the hiring employer and the former employer, and the former employer’s propensity for litigation, among other things.

Employers that determine that hiring an applicant subject to restrictive covenants justifies the risks of doing so would do well to discuss proactive options with an attorney. In some situations, opening the line of communication with the former employer prior to – for example – receipt of a cease-and-desist letter demanding the termination of new hire’s employment can be very productive.

The existence of restrictive covenants, standing alone, should not in all cases discourage employers from hiring an otherwise qualified candidate. With careful planning, a savvy employer can substantially limit its exposure to interference and misappropriation claims and position itself with a strong defense should the former employer decide to pursue action against it.