2019 Year in Review

As the year winds down my Polaris Talent co-founders and I have been reflecting on how fast this year has gone and I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a Happy Holidays and share some thoughts. 

I started Polaris Talent in 2017 after working for large and small tech companies for 25+ years because I believe that all companies, regardless of size or stage, would prefer to work with external partners that put candidate experience and evangelizing the customer’s brand above dumping in a pile of resumes, collecting large headhunt fees, then walking away. I wanted to provide enterprise-caliber talent acquisition services to companies that didn’t think they could afford a full TA team.  I wanted to partner with a company in the early stages and then grow along with them by helping hire top talent as they hit each new growth point – their success would be our success and vice versa.  And finally, I wanted to come up with a model that was service-oriented and on-demand so that it was mutually beneficial for Polaris Talent and our partner companies while allowing for fiscal responsibility in the recruiting budget, which is where a lot of early stage companies overspend due to unplanned headhunt fees. 

Happily, we’ve had luck finding companies that value what we do, and Polaris Talent has had a good 2019 and exceeded expectations with 3x YoY growth! I gotta admit that this means that the wheels came off a few times as we stressed our systems and capabilities which led to not always delivering quickly or with the quality which we demand of ourselves.  We had a few missteps on both the client side and with trying to hire for our own team, so we learned how to fire bad clients as well as underperforming teammates.  A few deep breaths, some swearing and tears, and a few glasses of bourbon later we adjusted and got back on track.  The end result is that we have a much clearer plan for 2020 that includes growing 3x again, which seems an appropriate way to celebrate our 3rd anniversary this coming March! 

Along the way we’ve locked in on our value proposition.  We know that the Polaris Talent’s hourly recruiting-as-a-service model is not for everyone, but we also know it is perfectly suited for companies that are overspending on headhunt fees since they haven’t built out an internal HR/Talent team.  It’s also perfect for companies who tried to save money by having all-hands-on-deck play recruiter but who quickly learned that instead of saving money they had slipped timelines on their own deliverables, burned out employees, and the roles were still not filled.  It’s also ideal for companies that have to make confidential hires that can’t be tasked to an internal team.  We’ve honed our stealth recruiting skills well in the last 2 years after having done over a dozen confidential leadership-level searches, a couple of which took us global.   

One of the areas we’ve gotten clear about is who we want to work with.  We have an 80/20 mix of small to large and love both the scrappy startup where we work directly with Founders as well as the bigger enterprise company that needs a few extra hands during peak times.  Thankfully we invested in good tools this year so we are able to scale to accommodate both.  Tech recruiting is in our core DNA and we will never shy away from the hard searches demanded by emerging technology.  We’ve also had a lot of fun hiring for leadership roles for tech companies and then being brought back in to build the team under the leader that we helped hire!  That is an amazing reward and one we really love to be part of.  As we move into 2020 we also want to run with the Big Dogs and have gotten ourselves in the vendor portal at a Fortune50 company.  Wish us luck on that one! 

We’ve taken time to have some fun and give back to our communities.  The Polaris Talent team has logged hundreds of hours this year mentoring startups using the Lean Startup Model in California and Wisconsin.  Marie has been an in-demand speaker with WWBIC and has become an expert in teaching companies how to think about taking advantage of big opportunities that are coming to SE Wisconsin like Foxconn and the DNC convention.  Our entire team has also volunteered with MET2 and traveled to raise money for MusicCares and the Van Stephenson Memorial Cancer Research Fund. As we move into 2020 we have formalized how we think about giving back – a portion of every hour billed will be used to fund our mentoring and community building/volunteering work in underserved communities where budding entrepreneurs are creating jobs for themselves and their community.  To that end, we are pursuing B-Corp status as a way to codify our commitment to being not just a profitable company, but a good community partner. 

All-in-all we’ve been #blessed but we know there is more hard work ahead of us.  Our biggest weakness is that we need to develop a robust sales funnel.  We’ve had too many peaks and valleys of landing a deal, working the deal, and taking our focus off finding the next deal.  We are recruiters at heart, not salespeople, and the feast-or-famine approach is something we are going to leave behind as we head into 2020 and beyond.  I have never liked bothering people nor do I like not getting responses back.  I’ve learned that I need to get over both of these things in order to pitch this company that I love so much and I’m going to start now with an ask for you.  

  • I’d like to ask if you would take a 10-minute call with me so I can practice pitching Polaris Talent and getting your feedback. 
  • I’d like to ask if there are any open positions we can help you fill you as we head into 2020.  
  • I’d like to ask you make an introduction to hiring decision makers at your company. 
  • I’d like to ask you to introduce me to VCs or investors who would benefit from having options for finding talent for their portfolio companies. 
  • I’d like to ask you to introduce me to amazing sourcers and recruiters who want to work from home. 
  • I’d like to ask you to introduce me to a hunter-minded salesperson who knows the recruiting industry
  • I’d like to ask you to follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram.  

Whew, that wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be!    

I’ve gone on too long so I’ll wrap up by sharing my personal mantra for next year.  It is “Plan it. Execute on it. Achieve it. Exceed it.”  I look forward to a successful 2020 for all of us!   

Happy Holidays!