Evervault’s Ben Butler discusses the recruitment lessons big companies can learn from start-ups and what the future holds for remote hiring.
It is common knowledge that a bad hire can be extremely costly to a business.
One estimate from the US department of labour puts that cost at around 30pc of the employee’s first-year earnings. The more senior the hire, the more costly the mistake.
Even good hires take time to reach their full potential, so it’s important for companies to put proper time and investment into recruiting.
Ben Butler, head of talent at encryption start-up Evervault, believes recruiting is one of the most highly leveraged and traditionally under-invested activities in companies.
He quoted Jessica Livingston, a founding partner of the seed stage venture firm Y Combinator, who once said, “some kind of magic happens in start-ups”.
“That magic doesn’t just happen,” said Butler. “It’s created. Leaders should intentionally architect the systems that allow that magic to happen.”
Sequoia Capital calculated that it takes a typical start-up 990 hours to hire 12 software engineers, which works out at 19 hours per week, every week, for a year.
“When you consider the potential outcomes of an important hire, it’s crazy to consider how little rigour most companies put into hiring,” said Butler.
‘A year-plus of working from home has diminished the sheen of things like snacks and pool-tables’
– BEN BUTLER
For his part, Butler has played a large part in several recruitment teams in both Ireland and the US. He joined fintech start-up Stripe in Dublin when it was a four-person team in a one-room office before helping it grow and moving to Seattle.
In Evervault, his focus is to get great people in the door but said it’s important to also make sure they’re happy and successful in their roles too.
“At a start-up like Evervault, everyone does recruitment. It’s central to what we do. We have two embedded priorities: build the product and build the team that builds the product.”
Butler also said that while making a bad hire is costly, recruiters should remember it’s also costly to miss out on good hires because of a poor hiring process.
The past year and a half has forced much of the global workforce into remote working and there have been countless debates about what the future holds in this area.
Butler said he believes a company’s stance on remote working will become more of a deciding factor when it comes to where employees want to work.
“On Twitter, some people are strongly ‘team office’, others are ‘team remote’. I do think it’s slightly overblown, though. I think most people are really ‘team mission’,” he said.
“What a company is working towards is the most important thing. Where and how they work is secondary, at least for me.”
While many adjusted their home office set-up, remote working has meant that some employees have changed roles altogether, starting completely new jobs from the very same home office in which they left their last job.
This has meant that companies have had to readjust how they sell themselves to employees. “A year-plus of working from home has diminished the sheen of things like snacks and pool-tables, and candidates have become more mission-driven,” said Butler.
“I think the era of people glamorising and wanting to work for social media companies is over. As Bo Burnham put it in his recent Netflix special: ‘I’ve been thinking recently that maybe allowing giant digital media corporations to exploit the neurochemical drama of our children for profit. You know, maybe that was, uh… a bad call by us.’”
In terms of advice for recruitment professionals during this remote time, Butler implores them to remember that remote recruiting is simply an extension of traditional recruitment, with the same basic principle: hire great people.
However, in this new remote world, he does have one caveat. “If you’re hiring them to work remotely, make sure your organisation is actually setting its employees up for success in a remote environment,” he said.
“Practically, that’s everything from collaboration tools to ensuring a good home desk set-up. More importantly, though, is your company set up so that remote people who aren’t in the office get access to the same opportunities as the in-office folks?”