People First

Find the Talent to Fit Your Company

As with any company, the best way to find employees is by networking with your colleagues, contacts and friends. But it also a good idea to keep in close contact with marketing advertising and even journalism professors from nearby colleges. Says Cobb, "I'm familiar with a lot of professors at Colorado University at Boulder, so when I'm hiring employees, I call them up and ask for the best and brightest."

But in order to be "the right employee," that person has to share your vision and understand your culture. "Start-up companies need to find employees that obviously have the functional skills to do the job," says Burke, "But more importantly [they need to] fit into your company's culture and support your vision." The best way to achieve that goal, she says, is to consult with existing employees and make sure they meet with new hires. They'll know best whether that person will fit into the new environment.

It's also important to communicate clearly the company's culture to future employees, and one of the best ways to do that is by hiring human resources executives. Ethan Berman, 38, is CEO of RiskMetrics, an Internet start-up on Wall Street that sells risk-measurement solutions. According to Berman, "One of my early tasks in setting up the company was to find someone whose main function was to recruit and retain employees and maintain our culture."

But eBags.com, which already has its own in-house HR manager, goes even further: Cobb says that before his company hires prospective employees, one of the company's five founders must meet with them at least once. "No one is hired without a founder meeting with [him or her]," explains Cobb. "It takes time out of your schedule, but we think it's worth it. Having an employee that doesn't work out is time-consuming and expensive."

And then there's the obvious: Netpreneurs still rely on the Internet to find talent. Sites such as Monster.com, HotJobs.com, ComputerJobs.com and Techies.com are regularly used by many dotcom entrepreneurs.

Melissa Campanelli is a technology writer in Brooklyn, New York, who has covered technology for Mobile Computing & Communications and Sales & Marketing Management magazines. You can reach her at mcampanelli@earthlink.net.

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