How to sniff out rockstar talent

TravelPod’s hiring.

I’m looking for a UI Designer, 2 x Web Engineers (developers) and a Product Manager.

I’ve heard the old saying many times that you can always expect to have a mix of “A” players and “B” players in any team… I get it that in medium and large companies, to grow to scale, you inevitably have to accept this to some degree.

Luckily, we have a small startup-like team and I have no plans to hire 50 people in the near future. So, my approach is different: I want a 100% A team.

 

Now, this is hard to do. I already have an all-star team but I know how hard it is to grow while keeping the quality bar super-high.

It can take 6 to 12 months to find the right A-level person, but as we all know, once you’ve found them and add them to an already solid team, you can do magic… also, it’s just so much more fun for everyone on the team when you’re working on big ambitious projects, with great people every day.

So, that’s what I’m trying to do… but it begs the question: How do you find these gems?

It’s a good question I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. The average person has probably only ever worked with or even heard of 2 or 3 talented people like this in their career, they’re hard to find.

Here’s my current thinking around how to recognize these rock stars:

– They’ve never, or VERY rarely, been let go… when they resign everyone stumbles all over themselves to try to keep them. It does happen that a rockstar falls victim to politics or cut backs but I still think this is a huge signal.

– They’re the smartest people in the room when you’ve worked with them. I prefer finding someone who’s super smart than someone who knows the exact stuff I need them to know. Smart people can learn fast.

– They always get stuff done much faster than you’d expect and faster than others do.

– When they’re asked to do X, they do X, and Y and suggest clever ways to do Z that you didn’t even think of.

– They’re the first person(s) you’d call to hire if you started a new company like TravelPod tomorrow.

– When they work somewhere they quickly become the “go-to” person by having mastered what they’re responsible for, take on more responsibility and/or move up the ladder ( moving up the ladder is not always a signal though, a lot of smart people just love what they do and want to keep mastering that specific skill-set ).

– If they’re a rockstar, they’re likely currently employed. That’s ok though, we offer a very sweet package and work environment here.

I’d love your thoughts, suggestions and critique on my thoughts above. I’m still refining how to sniff out the needles in the haystack.