20-Minute Leaders

"The earliest employees’ contribution is very dramatic, so you want to make sure that the people who join you early are really, really good”

Talent acquisition expert Efrat Dagan offers Michael Matias her perspective on the changes that the human capital market has experienced over the last 20 years

CTech 13:2131.12.20
As many established entrepreneurs know, the individuals that make up a company play a huge role in its success. Finding the best employees and leaders is no easy task, but Efrat Dagan, an expert in talent acquisition, has developed numerous tips and tricks to help founders find the proper fit for their company. Throughout her career, Dagan has witnessed the industry shift in response to new social networking sites and applications. Platforms like LinkedIn have made it much easier to find talented candidates, but they also allow applicants to negatively comment on a company’s hiring practices. These judgments can not only damage a business’s reputation but may also influence how future candidates perceive the company. In a conversation with Michael Matias, the creator of the 20MinuteLeaders video podcast, she emphasizes that companies should provide timely updates to their candidates as to where they are in the hiring process.


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Efrat, you're widely considered as one of the world experts on talent acquisition and hiring the best talent. What is recruitment all about? How do you even talk about this industry?


It's getting the best people to work for your company, whichever company that is, developing them, making sure that you add and not subtract, and also, making sure that you're poised to do whatever the company sets up to do. It's really like building the company in a way, adding the values.


It seems pretty simple. You want good talent, just give them more. Be more financially attractive than your other competitors, and then they'll flock to you. Is that the case or is it a little bit more complicated than that?


A little bit more complicated. Well, it really depends on what area you are hiring for. But in general, there isn't a surplus of talent, and in recent years, I would also say that, the immigration situation and everything that's been happening in the world has made immigrating for a job harder. Whether in the U.S. or in other countries as well as in Europe. So, I think this creates more of a challenge for companies when they're competing for talent wherever they are. Good talent is scarce, and then you have to really up your game, and it's not just money. Money is not the reason people will come to your home, but it does help.


What have been some of the trends that you've seen over the past 15 or 20 years in the tech industry? What are some of the new challenges that are arising and some of the hindsight or the earned secrets that you've accumulated?


Hiring has transformed completely in the last 15 years. What transformed it? Social networks. LinkedIn has completely changed our profession as recruiters. We couldn't find the number of people we can find today, we couldn't reach out to them, we couldn't engage with them. Before LinkedIn, when I worked in 2005 in a global company in Israel, we advertised in the newspaper. It used to cost a lot. Later, it was internet postings and job boards on the internet. Then it's agencies, of course, and then companies started building out their internal functions. Once you started having social networks and LinkedIn, that completely changed our profession because we used to be just about advertising, finding people, and closing. Now, we're about engaging with talent, building long-term pipelines, really thinking about things more strategically, and pooling a lot of those resources in-house.


So now I want some personal advice because I'm going to be eventually starting my own company, and I'm going to have to go through hiring processes and trying to find some of the best people to join me. At what point do you transition from being a couple of friends in the garage working together to really needing a solid hiring process as you scale? Is that when I'm five people or is that when I'm more like 100 people?


It's really hard to answer. It's kind of like you have to think about long-term growth, how if you have funding for a few years, maybe you want to start early with that. You don't want to grow too quickly because you're going to burn out all your money, but I don't think when it's very small you need to do that. I would say, though, even when you're starting something and it's very small, you do want to take care and think about how you set the bar. The earliest people are really there; their contribution is very dramatic, so you want to make sure that the people who join you early are really, really good and really the kind of culture you're looking to have in your organization. So that's one thing. And the other one is I think you probably don't need a recruiter before you have a few tens. And it really depends on what kind of recruiter you have. There are all sorts of solutions today. You can get a part-time recruiter. I would bring in a professional. I would say that because those earlier hires have a lot of impact.


What is it about this whole field that really excites you? Why are you really doing this?


There's so much that excites me. I think it is an impactful field where you can actually make a difference by doing a good job, and there are many other areas, but that's what I know how to do and I enjoy it very much. So, I think I really love working with people and making a difference. I feel I have a real stake in the company, like bringing the right people on board is really something valuable to me and hopefully to the companies I work with. The other piece is it's just an interesting job; it keeps changing, and you have a lot of challenges. No day is the same. There's a little bit of a numbers game, and it's a little bit competitive. You have to learn all the time because things around you keep changing. One of the things I really love about it is that it allows me to be in touch with a lot of people, and I enjoy that. So, maybe if you're an introvert, it's not a job for you. I like having a big network and a lot of relationships, and it's just fun.


Before we leave, Efrat, I want you to tell me three words that you think best describe you.


It's feisty, curious, and a people's person.



Michael Matias. Photo: Courtesy
Michael Matias. Photo: Courtesy צילום: יח"צ

Michael Matias, Forbes 30 Under 30, is the author of Age is Only an Int: Lessons I Learned as a Young Entrepreneur. He studies Artificial Intelligence at Stanford University, while working as a software engineer at Hippo Insurance and as a Senior Associate at J-Ventures. Matias previously served as an officer in the 8200 unit. 20MinuteLeaders is a tech entrepreneurship interview series featuring one-on-one interviews with fascinating founders, innovators and thought leaders sharing their journeys and experiences.


Contributing editors: Michael Matias, Amanda Katz