Recruiting

Stop Looking for Talent in all the 'Right' Places: Alison Anderson knows where your next hire is hiding

Finding an untapped talent pool can be the secret to your hiring success.
Jul 8th, 2019  |  Techstars interview with Alison Anderson
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TL;DR

Top talent can be found virtually anywhere. The trick is knowing how to tap into a viable stream and select the people that best fit your business. 

But once you identify a creative pipeline to draw from, the possibilities for hiring are endless. 

To sum up, here's how startups can successfully identify and tap into a creative talent pipeline:

  • Consider skills, not qualifications, for the job you're hiring for (i.e. organization, flexibility, etc.). Then expand your candidate search to other jobs with the same qualities. 

  • Brainstorm with other founders on where and how they found their talent pipeline. 

  • Consider building a remote team to open up opportunities for hiring people in different locations and situations. 


When it comes to hiring, finding the right people can make or break a business. Not only can a new recruit affect company culture and team productivity--he or she can also impact the bottom line. With so much at stake, it's vital that startups get hiring right from the get-go. But with endless to-do lists and a tight budget, nailing down top talent can feel like an impossible task for founders. 

That doesn't mean that successful hiring is out of reach, though. After all, there are hundreds of founders who’ve cracked the code to hiring qualified people for their teams. One in particular, Alison Anderson--the founder and CEO of SuccessionMatching--argues that to bring in top talent, all you need is a little out-of-the-box thinking. 

“When you’re hiring new talent for your startup,” says Alison, “the first step is to know your process and have a systematic approach to the position you're trying to hire for. But once you've done that, it's time to start thinking creatively about how you can fill that position.”

Building a Distributed Team From an Untapped Talent Pool

For Alison, thinking outside-the-box led to building a remote team for her business, from a unique, and largely untapped, talent pool. 

“I always thought it would be cool to start a business and hire on some really talented people who could work remotely,” says Alison. “Once I realized that there was an actual need for this type of work in the military community - as frequent moving makes it hard for military spouses to find jobs - I decided to tap into it.”

“And it's been incredible!” Alison continues. “Since we're a distributed team, we can hire and contract top talent that we wouldn't have access to otherwise, and we don't have to worry about turnover. Everyone within our organization - from our own staff members to the talented lawyers we subcontract - is able to pick up their laptop and continue working, if their spouse gets stationed elsewhere, and they have to move.”

“And it's been incredible!” Alison continues. “Since we're a distributed team, we can hire and contract top talent that we wouldn't have access to otherwise, and we don't have to worry about turnover. Everyone within our organization - from our own staff members to the talented lawyers we subcontract - is able to pick up their laptop and continue working, if their spouse gets stationed elsewhere, and they have to move.”

Tapping into a Creative Talent Pipeline 

While Alison's experience might seem like an anecdotal success story, it provides founders with principles to successfully build teams of their own. 

For instance, the same way Alison discovered and successfully tapped a creative stream of talent to staff her business - founders can create viable talent pipelines, by looking for new hires in unorthodox places.  

“Look for key talents individuals have and see how you can apply them within your startup,” says Alison. “Look at their situation, too. For example, if you look at school teachers, you can find a lot of great qualities that a business could benefit from. They’re usually very organized. They follow systems well. They’re great trainers. But if a teacher is married to someone who moves around every two or three years - it can be almost impossible for that person to find work. By offering a remote position that fits the skill set of said teacher, a startup could effectively capitalize on this and have the beginnings of a new talent pipeline.”

“Look for key talents individuals have and see how you can apply them within your startup,” says Alison. “Look at their situation, too. For example, if you look at school teachers, you can find a lot of great qualities that a business could benefit from. They’re usually very organized. They follow systems well. They’re great trainers. But if a teacher is married to someone who moves around every two or three years - it can be almost impossible for that person to find work. By offering a remote position that fits the skill set of said teacher, a startup could effectively capitalize on this and have the beginnings of a new talent pipeline.”

This is also a good time to tap into your network and see what other founders are doing to find talent for their startups. Ask them for advice, brainstorm ideas, or simply watch and see what they’re doing to be successful. 

How to Hire

Once founders have identified a creative stream of talent for their startups, the process for recruiting and hiring should look very familiar. 

“We just put a job posting out there, and let the applications come in,” says Alison. “And we’ve been so overwhelmed with great applications that it’s actually been challenging to hire. You wish you could hire them all! But, as a startup, you really only have the capacity to bring on one or two new people at a time.”

Consider Building a Remote Team 

From a hiring standpoint, Alison attributes a major part of her success to her remote, virtual business model. “The sheer amount of interest there is in working for a company that’s willing to have remote, virtual work is amazing,” she says. “And individuals are much more loyal to these types of companies.”  

Beyond that, Alison explains that by building a remote business, founders can cast a wider recruiting net and reap some significant economic benefits, as well.

“From a startup standpoint, there are a lot of economic benefits to hiring people to work as part of a distributed team,” affirms Alison. “For one thing, because you can hire staff from all over, you can pay your employees a competitive wage and still be paying much less than what you might be in a large city center for equivalent talent.” 


Interview conducted by Hayley Campbell

Techstars interview with Alison Anderson
Alison Anderson is the founder and CEO of SuccessionMatching.
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