2016 has been a very exciting year for FashTech around the world. Big progress and exciting trends are on the rise for 2017, from affordable wearables to home 3d-printed fashion trends, and VR becoming the next retail frontier. The tech-savvy chic-geeks can rest assure, slowly but surely, FashTech products are finding their way to more households in 2017, and there will be more challenges for creatives and programmers to tackle together.
What we’re not looking forward to is the increased competition for talent. While not yet buzzing like the FashTech scenes in London and New York, Tel Aviv has a budding fashion scene, as well as a notorious tech ecosystem and draw upon amazing innovative talent from both sectors. Yet today, there are more companies hiring than ever before and the talent pool, especially in terms of developers is still a good 10K people short in the Israeli tech industry.
How do you set yourself apart from the competition? Or put differently, without mentioning LinkedIn and traditional sourcing tactics, what are some of the ways to get top talent to work for your startup.
Here are some industry-wide truths that you must follow too.
1. Become an expert on millennials.
Let’s face it, you probably want a millennial on your team whether international or not. They are agile, quick learners, ambitious, and have been raised to think that they were destined to nothing short than success. They will get the job done with more digital hacks than you are ready to understand.
Also, millennials get various platforms. They will tap into real-time trends and in time, they will be your best brand advocates.
It’s not enough to have the best developers, start-ups need to make sure they are recruiting beyond traditional resumes or platforms. Other than your LinkedIn efforts, be prepared to put your brand on Snapchat and Instagram and set on a search into the complicated world of blogospheres, this is especially true for fashtech potentials.
2. Invest in your online English brand presence.
You don’t need a team of marketers, editors, translators and copywriters, what you do need is a website with a call to action carefully crafted in English. Strong copy and native English is probably the most effective brand building tools.
Super slick UI and even an amazingly innovative product will not help you attract potential talent or customers if your copy, well… sucks. Your brand in enviably articulate English (rather than any other language) is like the vortex to international talent and the gateway to your customers. The good news is; this should be one of the first things on your to-do-list as a startup. Outsource this job until you find an in-house talent to help you find your voice in English.
3. Be prepared to mentor (and welcome juniors).
You want to mentor interns. Yes, interns are “givers” that enable you to go into “giving” mode and encourage this in your company. In this Ted Talk, organizational psychologist Adam Grant suggests givers as opposed to “takers” promote a culture of generosity and keep self-serving employees from taking more than their share.
Mentorship and sponsorship are key drivers of success, and the best news is that we can start mentoring at any stage in our career, and this is even more critical if you’re a woman in tech.
Interns will not only help you get the work done without diverting much of your resources, they will remind you of the questions you stopped asking yourself on a daily basis, they will help you develop leadership and mentorship skills, and will most probably have an insatiable thirst for knowledge and hands-on experience.
This year alone I mentored 6 interns, 4 developers, and two marketing writers and social media managers. Between the 6 of them, I realized mentorship was very much, in its correct form, a two-way street. It was about learning a different lesson from each one of them (they ended up showing me a lot of ropes).
4. Connect to International Internships or Exchange Programs.
It’s time to level-up and reach out to the most talented potential interns.
If you’re looking for tech talents, try this hack and start by reaching out to coding boot camps. Boot Camps around the world are becoming top suppliers of new developers rather than CS grads, and more and more educational institutes are realizing this and trying to imitate. Bootcamp grads may not be CS prodigies, but they are talented well-rounded professionals with fresh skills to catapult them into your startup. Support a program or sponsor an event like a hackathon to get a hold of resumes, and offer fresh grads an entry level project.
Also, hundreds of internship programs are offered annually in Israel to over 10 thousand young professionals from around the world through different programs like university MBA co-ops as InsideIL bringing top-tier MBA students (also non-Jewish to Tel Aviv for the summer), Onward Israel or Masa Israel Journey bringing interns for up to 10 months. While some of these internship opportunities are paid the bulk majority are not. If you’re looking for an international talent, one of the best places you can start is with contacting these organizations.
5. Take the ‘me too’ approach and stay up to date on international recruitment hacks.
Shortage in tech talent is a global issue that companies and educational programs are trying to hack, so keep in mind you probably can’t reinvent the wheel here. You also don’t need to attend conferences and read as much as we all know we don’t have time for. Alternatively, join online forums, webinars, and podcasts that share their secret sauce and try to learn from their previous mistakes.
Take, for example, HackerRank a technology company that focuses on competitive programming challenges for both consumers and businesses has an online community of over one million computer programmers and recently sponsored a webinar that gathered a panel of practitioners ready to share their insights on sourcing and recruiting shallow and competitive talent pools.
Another great example is the unique and sophisticated move the blogging platform Medium recently made. They provided a detailed insight on their efforts to improve Medium’s process for hiring engineers, updating existing selection criteria and creating a rubric to help provide consistency across interviewers. They mentioned interestingly enough that, “While we have never based our hiring decisions on certain potentially misleading criteria like college name or GPA, we took the opportunity to make factors like this explicit and spell out what we do and don’t care about…We hope that by sharing the documents under an open license, others can build upon our work in ways that works for them.”
At the end of this exposing document, they left a strong call to action inviting readers looking for job opportunities at Medium to apply. Win-win for recruiters looking to learn, for potential employees, and for Medium.
6. Enable a remotely working team member.
Many cutting edge companies like Automattic, GitHub and Mozilla support the approach of offering workers to work remotely. Not only is this a big perk for employees, it makes a lot of sense for startups struggling many times keeping up with the space and costs of hospitalization like they offer at top tech companies.
Offering a remote position will also help you be approachable and attractive to international tech talent. Effective and reliable web tools have helped us remove many barriers that require employees to work from a company’s’ HQ. There are challenges but there are also many strategies to help effectively manage a remote team.
7. Identify the position most critical to hire for next.
To help you develop, it’s not enough to recruit talent. One huge step before; try to identify the role you should invest in next in order to level-up. If you have a weak spot, or if you have some major wins in a specific area – try to see where you should divert your resources and next sourcing efforts.
For example, many fashion apps are developed by tech teams that do not understand fashion. Such teams and startups should make sure that they include a fashion insider, rather than another developer. Moving forward with this, consider approaching design schools and private projects to contribute a tech talk, or a lesson.
8. Lastly, if you want to get the job done, do it yourself.
You don’t have to go on a road show to recruit, but you have to bring your brand out there, and even if you are the CEO, or CTO and working 15 hours a day, time invested in finding the right talent, showing them your take on the company’s’ worth, and recruiting them is time well spent. Tell your candidates how you found them, giving them this small insight will go a long way for both of you (they will develop a unique work-relation with that person that referred them / the software they were using / their colleague that advised them to add a new title in their LinkedIn account).
So now you have it. 8 winning tips to draw international talent to your fashtech startup. Happy hunting!