By Joanne Huang
Triggit’s “People Person/Office Mom Extraordinaire”
When I joined Triggit a few months ago from another startup, I was part of a great recruiting team that helped the company grow to over 2,000 employees. I joined Triggit because I saw that same potential to grow into something great – the company was dynamic, had lots of room to grow, and there were smart, interesting people who were ready to disrupt the world of online advertising.
This is especially true after last week’s much touted launch of the Facebook Exchange. Triggit was one of the few early partners that posted its campaign results, and we were published in several articles that showcased our success on what the industry is calling “the biggest marketing channel since paid search.” As a start-up on the cusp of growing even bigger as a demand side platform, one of the interesting questions that we have tackled here at Triggit is “How does a start-up find top talent?” The answer is of course different for every company, but here are some guiding principles we try to follow when we hire:
1. It’s all about quality, not quantity
The hiring strategy at each start-up is unique and part of the secret sauce that makes the company culture. All companies (start-ups included) are looking for the smartest and most qualified people they can find, but the definition of what that means differs. At Triggit, we don’t just hire to get people in the office, we carefully try to match people to a career that fits both their own professional goals and our fun office culture. That’s why we only have seven open positions when many other start-ups both in adtech as well as the general start-up space have 20 or more open positions. When we hire, we try to find unique people with unique skill sets to join our team.
In the last six months our latest hires/intern have included an author of a well-known open source project, an 18-year sales veteran, a “Xoogler” who joined us after six years at Google, the daughter of a beekeeper, a world traveling burning man, an engineer who loves ØMQ and a former Yelper from Hawaii. Our COO is a world class kite-surfer and our CEO is an avid poker player. Our team is varied and unique but we have a few traits in common: smart people who are team players and interested in continuously growing.
2. Get smart about smarts
However, we don’t measure intelligence by solely looking at your GPA and the type of school you attended. Some companies will use pedigree and only hire people from top-tier Ivy league schools while others veer the opposite way and only hire people who dropped out of college to do their own start-up. We believe that there are many smart people out there, but the best way to gauge a good fit is to do skills based testing during the interview process. Many start-ups will only give coding tests for engineers, but we also like to look at prior projects and side-projects which were created in a less pressured environment. Everything about our company is data driven, right down to our hiring.
Speaking of data… here are a few facts to chew on:
- In the last 2 months we’ve increased our staff by about 16%
- Our applicant to hire ratio is approximately 140:1 hire
- Our average time to hire is 2 weeks
- The days that see the highest peak in pageviews for our careers page is on Monday and Wednesday
- In the past month, views to our careers page grew 404% on average
- Since July we’ve added 5 new job requisitions
3. Always be testing… your skillset
Engineers are also not the only applicants who can get tested! We also have skills based exercises for our non-engineering positions that are simulated to be similar to the tasks of the actual position (don’t worry, they’re not timed!). We feel that these exercises add value because they allow both sides to get a better understanding of whether or not they are a good fit. Allowing a person to step into the shoes of the position and experience it in a small dose has been very valuable.
The things that are harder to determine just through conversation and beyond just a technical exercise are some of the soft skills. Being a team player is an important trait at Triggit because we are a small startup; we need people who are willing to roll up their sleeves and pitch in to get the job done. Its a hard trait to identify but its one that we look for very closely. Since we tend to hire sparingly and selectively, each employee has a large impact on the company as a whole.
4. What are you going to do with your white space?
The reason behind our hiring strategy is that we would like to allow our employees space to grow. It’s not fun to start a job and to max out the learning potential in 6 months to a year. While we have a very flat hierarchy, there is a lot of room to learn and take on new skills. We feel that this “white space” to create your future makes Triggit an exciting place to work. But growing doesn’t mean earning a fancy title. For all we care, you could call us all “Dukes” or “Directors” or “Presidents”. Our titles are just a name, but what we do care about is that we are always learning, innovating and pushing the boundaries of our skills. When we find like minded people, we get excited.
Working at Triggit is fun and part of the fun is working with talented, smart people who pitch in to help you get the job done. We treat each other with respect and we often call ourselves the Triggit family. We eat our free lunch together, hang out and play the occasional board game or two after work. If you are interested in joining the Triggit family, check out our positions at: http://triggit.com/careers.