Finding your co-founder in Korea

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“My startup could not grow because I couldn’t find a talent”

A startup founder shared his struggle in recruiting top talents in Korea. His startup’s service was experiencing an explosive growth with a limited resource. He could barely bring in enough resources to sustain the growth rate of a service, which eventually led to the shutdown.

In business, people is one of the most critical elements for success and many experience difficulty in finding the right people. Additionally, many VCs make final investment decisions based on team dynamics of a startup. So how do startups in Korea discover top talents?

Startup Recruiting Platform

It is challenging for job seekers to gain comprehensive knowledge about startup career opportunities due to limited access to startup information channels. For startups, there is a challenge to advertise job posting with minimal budget. For both parties, recruiting platform can serve as an effective solution.

RocketPunch is the most established startup recruiting platform in Korea. Startup career opportunities are presented in a very organized way. Job seekers can search startups based on industry, roles, skills, and even desired salary. Similarly, employers can also tailor their job postings based on the same search criteria.

There are new players in the recruiting platform market such as THE TEAMS, OfficeN (Happy Rabbit), and Comento. These platforms are unique in that they allow job seekers to examine startups beyond just numbers and names. In addition to traditional job posting information, THE TEAMS and OfficeN provide interview style video contents to share startups’ culture and vision. By sharing interview clips with current employees and emphasizing healthy company culture, these platforms allow job seekers to have more in-depth understanding of various opportunities and to feel more confident and positive applying for positions.

Personal Referrals

Today, many startups rely on personal referrals over public job postings. Personal referral has been a common practice even in traditional businesses to fill in urgent openings. From investors introducing potential candidates to their portfolio companies, to recent graduates utilizing alumni networks, to  internally referring ex-colleagues, personal referrals are actively used in the startup market.  Wanted utilizes effectiveness of personal referrals by integrating them into their core recruiting model.   

Startup Career Fairs

Talan Baek, software engineering intern at Finda, attending the Google Campus Recruiting day

A large number of startup founders confess that they have found their team members through startup career fairs. Google Campus Seoul’s “Campus Recruiting Day” and D.CAMP’s “DMatch” are some of the leading talents matching programs in Seoul. Employers have expressed  higher satisfaction from these events than traditional career fairs, as job seekers attending the fair are curated to those who are passionate about working for startups and have good understanding of Korean startup ecosystem. Even if there was no hiring made at the site, maintaining good relationship with connections made at the fair have led to future career opportunities for some job seekers.

 

The above mentioned recruiting channels are general information anyone can research with some effort on the Internet. Here is a few more insider’s tips from  startup entrepreneurs found effective.

Traditional job posting websites are still a good channel for networking

“Startups should not make hiring solely based on startup communities, traditional job posting websites are still a good channel to meet talented candidates”

A founder of a telecommunications startup shared that he had higher satisfaction with traditional channel of recruiting, although he has been utilizing startup recruiting platforms such as RocketPunch and JobPlanet. He recommended that if a startup has a relatively flexible budget for recruiting, it should consider advertising career opportunities through traditional channels.

Building reputation and brand name for a startup

Some startup employees confess the challenge to explain what the startup does in a few words. Even with detailed company description, job postings are often quickly pushed down by hundreds of new postings on recruiting platforms. In these cases, it may be better to try more indirect recruiting strategy.

Advertising career opportunities through targeted social network platforms can be very effective. Continuously exposing brand and vision of a startup to a targeted group or a interest community can also indirectly help in future recruiting efforts.

Reaching out first

Most of the startup events are followed by networking sessions. There are startup founders who ask what the person’s job is, if a person sitting next to them during an event is looking for a job, or even someone they meet in restrooms. There are many successful networking cases of people meeting future co-founders, getting referrals, or staying in touch with new connections made for future collaborations. If there is a desired goal, one must be proactive to reach for the successful outcome.

Job posting that is humorous but delivers profound vision of a company

“Much of the focus is geared towards grabbing attention of job seekers while planning career opportunity announcement. We attempt to deliver both humor and genuinity of the company. This is something we have been emphasizing since the first day.”

A fintech startup founder who recently ran recruiting efforts shared that a startup received much more positive responses when he posted company vision and mission with witty points in addition to expected descriptions of job responsibilities. Many job candidates have confirmed that watching advertisements or promotional videos with company vision and philosophy embedded in contents solidified their decision to apply for the jobs.

However, employers should ensure the values presented on promotional contents should be reflected on day to day working environments of employees to keep talents.  

Staying connected with top talents

Even in cases of not a good fit candidate due to timing, location, or industry, if the candidate appears to be a top talent in his or her domain, stay connected. Building a strong network of top talents overtime will eventually lead to making strong hires for a company in the future.

Hosting in-house recruiting events

A fintech startup, Yellow Marketplace, hosted a two-day “markethon” (marketing + hackathon) to find future leaders in marketing. “During the event, hiring managers were able to see candidates’ cultural fit, problem solving skills and technical specialties. Top participants were granted an opportunity to intern with the company and later receive a full-time offer,” Yellow Market employee shared. Current employees who went through the event shared that they were able to immediately have an impact in the organization thanks to real-case marketing strategy and business operations workshops at the “markethon.”

 

Inspired by Platum

Tokyo born Korean, studied Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University with personal interests in technology entrepreneurship and photography. International travel enthusiast. Currently a software engineer at AWS Internet of Things.

You can reach me at baekkyoum.kim@techforkorea.com or linkedin.com/in/baekkyoumkim

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