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Don't Stop Recruiting Employees Once They're Hired

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As the founder and CEO of recruiting software platform Entelo, Jon Bischke has built a business aimed at helping companies cast a wide, but targeted, talent search. More than 130 clients – Facebook, Greylock Partners and Square, to name a few – now use Entelo to sift through thousands of websites and social networks to identify would-be job candidates. "What we're seeing is what we refer to as the unbundling of professional identity, where people are putting their information on thousands of websites," says Bischke. "If you're just searching one website you’re only getting a small slice of that data."

Yet, recruiting is only half the battle. When it comes to his own company, Bischke focuses a good deal of his management efforts on retention, a metric he says in undervalued in the startup world. So far, so good. Since he founded the San Francisco-based company in 2011, Bischke says he’s had zero voluntary attrition. "We've hired a grand total of 22 people and 21 people work for the company today," he says. "That's something very few startups can say."

Entrepreneur spoke with Bischke, 38, about how he finds, and keeps, top talent.

Entrepreneur: You’re equally focused on retention for your own company. What’s your approach?

Bischke: The majority of people who work for Entelo have done some sort of short-term stint or project with us before we’ve made the offer. You're evaluating them, and they’re evaluating you. We've had some people we've brought on board in that capacity, and in the first week or two learned they were not a good fit. We didn't make the offer. It's a lot easier than hiring someone and letting them go.

We also have a strong focus on professional development of our team members. One thing I like to ask when I interview people is "What do you plan to do after Entelo?" It always throws people, but I think they appreciate that we’re also concerned with what’s in their best interest.  

Entrepreneur: How do you promote employee growth while growing your own company?

Bischke: We encourage everyone from senior executives to the entry-level person to create a personal board of directors, three to five people outside the company five years further along in their career, who they can meet with and learn from over time.

Entrepreneur: Was there something in your previous work life that inspired this?

Bischke: When I moved to California a decade ago and was impacted by a quote I heard that was something along the lines of: "Your success is a reflection of the expectation of your peer group. If you’re around people who expect you to achieve great things you’ll be successful." I didn’t know anybody and decided I wanted to hang out with people who would make me better. That's where the idea of the personal board comes from. We want to help people surround themselves with people who could help them be successful.

Entrepreneur: How do you facilitate that process?

Bischke: One of the first things I'd do when I bring on new people is see who in my network would be a good person for them to connect with. That's where technology plays a role in helping continue to build and foster relationships.

Entrepreneur: Can you tell us more about what that search might look like?

We might use a general network like Facebook or LinkedIn or a more specific vertical network like Quora, Github, etc. And of course we also use Entelo for this. For example, if I want to connect my head of marketing to a chief marketing officer, I will do that search on Entelo or LinkedIn. I'll often use Facebook as well as it's the best connection graph. I'll often look up people on multiple networks because the more networks people are connected on, the more likely they are to be connected in real life.

Entrepreneur: Who’s on your personal board?

I have hundreds. Over the years, especially the last decade I’ve gotten to know hundreds of CEOs and senior business executives. One of my favorite things to do is send text messages because I feel like it’s a little more intimate than an email. Plus, an email is just another thing people have to deal with, but most people are happy to get a text, even if it’s the same message from the same person.

Entrepreneur: What technology do you use for keeping tabs on these mentors?

My personal toolkit is a combo of Asana, Entelo, Highrise (lightweight CRM) and Salesforce. 

Entrepreneur: How do you stay connected with employees?

Bischke: I text them. [Laughs] No, one thing I do is try to spend time with people one-on-one quarterly, even if it's just grabbing a coffee or going for a walk.  Once we reach a certain scale that won’t be possible, but it's something I can still do. 

Sarah Max

Written By

Sarah Max is a freelance writer in Bend, Ore. She has covered business and personal finance for more than a decade for such publications as Barron's, Money, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. In 2009 Sarah got a first-hand look at the ups and downs of entrepreneurship when she helped launch 1859 Oregon'’s Magazine, a bimonthly print and digital magazine for which she is editor at large.