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Mike Fox

Israel Ben-Ishai

Mike Fox

Recruiting Specialist,

Mike is passionate in his efforts to help organizations meet their true potential and has spent the last 20 years connecting technology companies with great people. Mike has a deep understanding of what drives small and mid-sized technology firms and is a voracious student of business.  Mike interviews 300-400 professionals each year and brings a wealth of knowledge to provide companies with information on best practices.  He has been a speaker at a number of Conference Board of Canada National Conferences as well as the IHRIM (International Human Resource Management Association) National Conference.   In addition, Mike's company Brightlights co-sponsors a Teleforum series with CATA (Canadian Advanced Technology Association) on issues which help technology firms grow.

InsideSpin asked Mike the following about the world of recruiting:

What are the main causes of hiring failures?

In no particular order these include:

What type of people should I hire to survive the first three or so years of my business?

I’m a big believer in the Jim Collins “Good to Great” model.   That is, get the right people on the bus!  The chances are that your business model is going to change resulting in a number of twists and turns as you move forward. You need people with a proven track record of:

It’s resiliency that is key in a small business professional.

What’s the main benefit of an outside recruiter?

What you’re looking for is a recruiter who is a trusted partner.  Small companies, by their nature, have their heads down managing their businesses.  They need an outside “window on the marketplace” to help them find the right candidates and they need a “mirror for themselves” to understand where they stand relative to their competition. Recruiters, especially those specializing in their marketplaces, do nothing but speak to people and evaluate their skills all day and every day.  Use them, even if you don’t want to hire from them.

Am I wasting money when using a recruiter?

There is no easy solution to the issue around cost of hiring.  Like every other decision you’re going to make in your business you need to look at it on a cost-benefit analysis.

Consider what role the person will be doing and the ROI of that role for your organization.  Consider the capabilities that truly excellent people can bring to your business and then consider the lost opportunity of not having the right person doing the job.  Then, make the decision to do it yourself or get outside assistance. 

Clearly LinkedIn has changed the recruiting landscape in terms of opening up a whole treasure trove of candidates.  The flip side of having that many people available to you is the time and effort to isolate the right candidates and the act of contacting them, pre-screening them and interviewing them.

Find a recruiter you can trust, and respect, and use them to bounce off ideas about candidates you’re considering or jobs you’re looking to fill.  They’ll be able to provide a perspective that you don’t have or don’t have time to gain. Hiring is their specialty.  If cost is the main consideration, use their expertise on a limited basis to bounce ideas off of them.

What roles are hardest to recruit for?

Again, this is the part where you’ll have to find a recruiter you can trust.  There’s no easy answer on the most difficult searches because a lot depends on your company’s own circumstances.  Things like your company’s perception in the market, your salary expectations and the specifics of your jobs all enter into the number of candidates that will be available. A trusted outside recruiter will be able to provide you with this perspective.

For technology companies, I find that roles like Product Managers tend to be more difficult to fill given the lack of candidate availability given how critical the role is to all organizations.

How important are interviewing skills?

Some people are better at this than others.  The more experience and training someone has, even the CEO of the Company, the better job they’ll do at finding the right candidate for your organization. Experience in reference checking is critical as well, which should be done as part of the interviewing process.

What about cost of hiring?

If you can find the right person through your contacts, then absolutely do not use an outside recruiter. If however, you’re struggling finding enough candidates of the right quality the only choice is to get someone who can.  There is no excuse for hiring an average person, unless you’re working at building an average company.

What can you say about Brightlights?

Brightlights provides recruiting services specifically for small and mid-sized technology firms. Our specialty is companies which develop products around Software, Healthcare Informatics, and Cleantech applications. We find excellent people for companies averaging 20-150 people in size and for roles at management level and above. Our extensive knowledge of these industries, our references, and the value-add that we bring to our clients speak to our ability to find exceptional talent for our clients.