The SC Upload | Engineering, Part 1: Hiring Top Talent
The SC Upload series is an open, collaborative forum for us to share and discuss the themes, topics, trends, and ideas we are thinking deeply about. Here at Struck Capital we are all about community, and invite you to join in the conversation!
We understand how important it is for our portfolio companies to bring in the right people at the right moment. We spend a lot of time thinking about how best to support our portfolio companies in their engineering hiring and management efforts. For the First Edition of The SC Upload, we are proud to present the first part of a mini-series focused on hiring, onboarding, and management of world-class engineering teams.
As a dedicated Seed-stage fund, we know that one of the most critical activities our portfolio companies undertake is bringing the right people in to help grow their vision. Late stage and public companies enjoy luxuries when hiring: they can afford to cast a wide net with dedicated recruiting teams, and any new employee makes up a relatively small sliver of the culture.
The excellent teams of the Struck Capital portfolio are well on their way to enjoying such luxuries, but in the meantime both time and money are finite resources. Furthermore, in early stage companies, today’s ground-level hires are tomorrow’s leaders. With each new hire making up a significant part of the overall team, company fit is especially important.
Unsurprisingly, the most common roles our portfolio companies seek to fill are Engineers. In this edition of The SC Upload we will be diving into the best practices around writing a compelling job description, a critical first step in attracting top-tier engineers.
Step 1: Crafting the Message
When writing a job description, it’s important to focus on the primary goal: getting the best candidates to apply. We tend to think of successful JDs as covering three main areas:
- The big, important challenges your company is working on and why it is a great place to work
- The details of the role and what makes it a compelling opportunity within the company
- The qualities of the candidate that you are looking to hire
Candidates are not intimately familiar with your company the way you are; when starting out, it is possible that they haven’t yet heard of your organization! It is critical to think of a job description more as a pitch than an RFP. You must sell prospective candidates with a clear, concrete description of who you are and what you’re building.
Compare these two job description introductions describing our portfolio company Introvoke:
“Based in San Francisco, CA we are a seed stage startup that is creating a revolutionary solution to virtual events. Our solution enables companies to host live events on their website. We are led by a team of elite experts in the field, with a proven track record of building successful start-ups and exits.”
“Introvoke is the only embeddable live event solution for integrated branded experiences. Our plug-and-play components allow any organization to turn their website into a digital stage. We empower brands of all sizes to create meaningful live event series, conferences, community platforms, employee engagement tools, and so much more.
We’re backed by Techstars and a long list of top-tier VCs, and serve marquee brands like Comcast NBCUniversal, BrandMinds, UPenn Wharton, Ritual Motion, and more. Our investors, founders, and advisors are from HP, Microsoft, SquareSpace, TIME, Intel, Techstars, HBO, and DigitalOcean. We’re a band of highly-motivated, entrepreneurial go-getters — we get s*** done.
Are you ready to create something awesome with us?”
Which job description are you more likely to continue reading?
Step 2: Setting the Title
Titles are an important signaling tool. Titles signal to the candidate expected levels of competency, autonomy, and compensation. We generally recommend the following rough guidelines to our portfolio companies when they craft engineering titles:
- Junior Engineer — <2 years of experience
- Engineer — 2–4 years of experience
- Senior Engineer — 4+ years of experience
- Principal Engineer — 7+ years of experience
- Back End Engineer — Primarily responsible for non user facing components including databases, APIs, and services.
- Front End Engineer — Primarily responsible for user facing components including implementing the UI (if applicable).
- Full-stack Engineer (This can also be expressed by omitting both the former descriptors) — Responsibilities within both front end and back end systems. The breadth of experience can often come at the cost of depth.
Step 3: Describing the Technology
Finally, when describing your engineering stack, it’s helpful to be as specific as possible! For example “4+ years experience building rich, complex web or mobile applications in React or Vue.js.” Keep in mind that a candidate does not necessarily need to have direct experience with your stack to be a great engineer, but finding someone familiar with your stack or adjacent languages is a definite plus!
Once you’ve written the job description, you can begin broadcasting your open positions on your website, on LinkedIn, and through paid job postings.
Keep an eye out for our next iteration of the SC Upload that will focus on interviewing engineering candidates!