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Managing Startups: Best Blog Posts by Thomas Eisenmann

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Chapter 55. Recruiting and Culture (MBA Mondays Guest Post)

When Fred Wilson asked me to write a guest blog post, I told him initially that I was going to write about recruiting and culture. Both are topics that I’ve learned a lot about in nearly 20 years working in companies of all kinds and contexts: public and private, large and small, struggling and ascendant, on the east and west coasts. As I sat down to write, I realized that how you recruit people and your recruiting approach defines and continually reveals the culture of your company, and it quickly became clear to me that recruiting and culture are yin and yang. In recruiting, a successful outcome usually means a candidate saying yes to your company, and at that moment, the candidate becomes part of the company culture. Below are some of the things I’ve learned to do over the years when it comes to recruiting and culture.

Make Recruiting a Top Priority at the CEO Level

Former IBM CEO Lou Gerstner wrote a book about IBM’s late-’90s turnaround and said: “Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game.” The word “recruiting” can easily be substituted for “culture.” In my career, I’ve participated in a number of searches for HR executives and staff. Without fail, the least successful ones were those where the premise was, “We need someone/a team to own the culture and/or recruiting.” (This is a similar corporate pitfall to looking for someone to “own innovation,” but that’s another post.) A great head ...

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