Let's start with the obvious: if you're a start-up in search of executive talent, chances are none of the resumes in your pile feature decathlon champion in the experience section.

But having a preference for former first basemen or Olympic rowers is clearly not at the heart of RockMelt co-founder Eric Vishria's advice to fellow start-up founders on VC firm First Round Capital's website recently.

Instead, his point in a long post written up by Josh Kopelman on the ins and outs of hiring a management team is that it can be tempting to search for someone with a multitude of competencies when you're a fledgling business. There are so many things that need to get done, of course you're hoping to find someone who can handle as many of them as possible.

Once you’ve identified the position you want to fill first on your management team, get incredibly clear on what you need (and don't need) from that position. This is the hardest thing to do, and it’s radically different from drafting a job description. If you do this well, it’ll allow you to cut down the actual time involved in filling the position. This seems obvious, but it almost never happens.

At RockMeIt, for instance, they wanted to bring on their first marketing leader and thought they wanted someone who was great at paid user acquisition, someone who understood virality, someone who had done historically well with PR, and someone who had a track record of building long-term brands. The problem is that nobody is great at all four of those things. That person doesn’t exist - or if they do, there is probably only a few of them and the chance of recruiting them is almost zero. Instead, you should hire for strength in a couple of areas that matter most to your business right now, someone who’s world-class in the area that’s most impactful for you. You want to avoid bringing on someone who’s merely good at everything. The goal in hiring is always world-class, not good.

When you search for people, consider what your short-term needs are and forget what you’re going to need two years from now.

Forget someone who is impressively good in many areas - a business decathlete - and go instead for the candidate who is phenomenally good at one or two. These super skilled specialists will push everyone on the team to excel, Vishria feels.

So what should you do when you've settled on what these key attributes are? Check out the post for Vishria's advice on how to proceed and other tips on hiring management for your business. Want more insight into how to hire "adult supervision" for your growing start-up? VC Ben Horowitz has also offered his two cents on the subject.

Are you looking for two many competencies in your new executive hire?


Published on: May 3, 2013
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.