Growth through Talent

Attracting Top Talent To Join Your Start-Up Ad Technology Business

 3rd Dec 2014

The Digital Media industry is booming and there is a huge demand for top talent within the industry, that, there can be no doubt.



As a recruitment agency specialising supporting Ad Technology Platforms in London to grow, Pivotal London are placed at the centre of this so-called “war for talent”, gaining insight from Employers looking to grow their business and talent, potentially considering their career options.


It is my view that it needn’t necessarily be a “war for talent”. Through implementing a small number of simple and consistent talent acquisition processes, you may be able to attract even better talent and experience benefits immediately, whilst also enhancing your employer brand in the mid-long term, therefore attracting top talent for the future.


Before citing some of these talent acquisition processes that you may wish to consider, it is important to acknowledge the current state of play:


Jobseekers Leverage Their Existing Relationships

Whilst the industry is rapidly growing, it remains a niche and tightly connected space, where individuals regularly leverage their industry relationships to help them find a new role.


Jobseekers Have Multiple Avenues To Explore Career Choice

Jobseekers could:

  • Be pro-actively leveraging their personal network.

  • Be using LinkedIn as a tool to try to find a new job themselves – LinkedIn have made this tool quite easy to use now too.

  • Be working with 5+ recruitment agencies who are presenting opportunities to them. There could be 3 Consultants from each recruitment agency, presenting their top 5 Clients/Employers that they recruit for. In this instance, the candidate has had their eyes opened to 15-75 Companies where there may be potentially relevant roles.


VC Money

This is coming thick and fast. Silicon Valley, Silicon Alley, Europe, London. This means that there are more and more businesses competing for top talent. Locally, London Co-Investment Fund kicks off on 4th December 2015, which has £85 million Seed Funding to allocate to London based “Science, Technology and Digital” start-ups.



Larger companies are enhancing their technology stacks/in-house propositions. And understandably so, their Marketing and PR teams are shouting from the rooftops about this.


The Next Facebook

Your business may genuinely be the next big thing. It is worth pointing out that all, if not the majority of businesses feel that their business is the next big thing.


The above may not come as a surprise, but worthwhile raising.


Some of the most effective talent acquisition strategies that I have seen implemented by start-ups, who have since become industry-leading and award winning Ad Technology Platforms’, may not ground-breaking, however whenever delivered effectively , created a phenomenally positive impact.


Creating a Recruitment Strategy

  • A clear and planned approach to talent acquisition demonstrates to potential future employees how important people are to your business.

  • When all stakeholder involved in the hiring process are “on message” with your company vision, business differentiators, company culture, recruitment plans etc, this can be very powerful and demonstrate that your company operates collaboratively and reflects strong leadership.

  • By writing Job Descriptions for each role, this demonstrates a businesses’ commitment to candidates, that they are serious about recruiting. Also, it is also a fantastic initial shop window, where companies’ can summarise it’s Vision, Technology, Differentiators, People, Investors, Company Culture, Remuneration.


If Using A Recruitment Partner, Investing In The Relationship

  • Through investing time with your recruitment partner, they will be able to articulate your business proposition, vision, differentiators, company culture, opportunities for development, potential challenges and remuneration. A Job Description alone doesn’t allow your recruitment partner to be able to do this anywhere near as effectively and it doesn’t give them the tools to answer questions that candidates may have.

  • Open communication ensures two-way feedback and enables you to be able to understand the feedback from the market, challenges, objections that may be faced, through partnership with your recruiter, these issues can be addressed and overcome.

  • Some recruiters may be recruiting for a large amount of roles at the same time – it isn’t uncommon for a recruiter to be recruiting for 20+ separate roles at any one time. A quick call or email to your recruitment partner every couple of days will ensure that your business will remain at the top of their priority list.


Giving Constructive Feedback On CV’s

  • A candidate who applies directly or through a recruitment agency but doesn’t have the experience that you are looking for, will have a far better perception of your company and brand if they received a polite acknowledgement of receipt explaining feedback why they had not been selected for interview, or through feedback from the recruiter. We are in a niche industry and people do discuss their personal experiences, not always bad experiences, but sometimes positive experiences too!


Creating A Smooth, Well Planned, Efficient Recruitment Process

  • If the ultimate key decision maker is the person due to hold final the interview, this can waste a lot of time. This individual should be involved earlier on in the recruitment process to save your time, your peers’ time and the candidates’ time. Otherwise, you and your peers may all be bought into the candidate and want to hire them, only for them key decision maker to say “no” at final interview. That said, most successful leaders will empower their people to have an element of freedom to make their own decisions.

  • Momentum in a recruitment process is key. As a start-up, you have the advantage of being nimble and you can glide from 1st-2nd-3rd interview stages seamlessly, something that larger companies are not as good at as you.

  • Having an agenda for each interview stage will ensure that your business can get the most out of interviews, versus becoming potentially repetitive for all parties.

  • If multiple decision makers hold joint interviews with candidates, this is a huge time saver for you and also demonstrates process fluidity to the candidate and how important this position is to your business.


Having Flexibility Over Interview Times

  • You and the candidate are less likely to have to rush through the interview and potentially skip out key questions that you have, if you can hold interviews over lunchtimes or after working hours. You will have an opportunity to see them at their best this way.


Selling Your Start-Up

  • You are a smaller, growing business. Be proud of it. These are times when individuals joining your business have the opportunity to work closely with Dev/Tech teams, have access to senior internal stakeholders so they can learn from the best, be involved at the start of your business journey, have a big internal influence, have a greater amount of creative freedom and potentially even receive share options which could be highly valuable in the future.

    • Irrespective of if you think that this is the candidate that you want to hire or there is no way that you plan on hiring this person, be sure to sell/represent your opportunity!

    • The individual that you have left with an excellent impression of your company, will certainly tell others about how fantastic your technology, USP’s, people, company culture are and opportunities for career development are. They could tell their friend or colleague who may be better suited to your company. Or, it could be when they are with a client of theirs, over lunch, with a business who you are trying to develop a business relationship with…


Giving Constructive Feedback On Unsuccessful Interviews

  • If an individual has made the effort to research a company, prepare for an interview, potentially book a half day off work to attend the interview, providing the interviewee with feedback is important in all cases. The benefit to your business, again, is in the positive experience that an individual has had with your brand. They will certainly speak more positively about your business than if you don’t give any feedback and never hear from you again. Plus, you never know where that individual may end up working – and you may be able to do some business together in the future.


Presenting Your Offer Of Employment Correctly

  • By making the correct, appropriate and fair offer will enhance the likelihood of the candidate accepting the offer. A lower offer than the candidates’ expectations can create feelings of frustration and disengagement towards your company.

  • Having your benefits package to hand, details of potential share options, working hours etc, will demonstrate how committed you are to the candidate about them joining your business.


It would be difficult to adopt and implement all of these methods all in one go, however small improvements and techniques can have a big positive impact on how your brand is perceived in the industry, a very competitive industry. The positive effects of this are that you are likely to quickly build brand awareness in the industry and receive more individuals pro-actively approaching your business directly as they will have heard great things about how you operate.


As with all of these things, it is one step at a time. If you would like to discuss this topic further, please contact Justin Plowman at Pivotal London on 0207 3007223 or email


Pivotal London are digital media recruitment experts, specialise supporting Ad Technology start-ups to scale through connecting outstanding companies and high performers in Digital Sales, Account Management, Operations and Technical Disciplines.

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