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Hiring has never been so tough. It's even more difficult to recruit top-line people for European companies that are new players. What do you suggest?


Yes, this is a big issue. Candidates are looking for very high salaries, and more and more of them are looking for liberal stock options. More important, high salaries do not guarantee high-quality people.

Our advice: We believe in our concept "the challenger/expert alternative." When looking for a manager for a startup, you actually are looking for someone with dual qualities: enthusiasm in your project, and experience in managing a growing startup to prevent you from making too many mistakes. Finding such a candidate is virtually impossible. Instead, look for more than one candidate with complementary profiles: A challenger and an expert (or experts):

1. The challenger. Let's take an example: This person has never been the VP of operations you are looking for, but was a sales manager with a few subordinates in a previous job. In a VP of operations position, the candidate will have an opportunity to prove himself or herself—it's a challenge. You're sure to get the necessary enthusiasm to succeed from this hire, but you're still concerned about his or her experience and ability to run your operations.

2. The expert(s). Hire experts depending on the weaknesses of your challenger. The U.S. is full of seasoned people who would like to work for themselves or who don't want to jump into a new challenge overnight, even more so when they don't know the new company. They have already acquired a well-known track record and work for different companies as a consultant. If things go well, you might hire them full-time later. For now, focus on working with them a few days a month and let them advise you and your U.S. team on the best decisions to make. Of course, make sure your expert has real experience in the startup business!

It won't cost you any more to recruit these two profiles than to hire the perfect candidate.

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