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How European Startups should hire people?

Doreen Huber is only 36 years old, but has already founded several companies and has worked his way up to CSO and COO at the Berlin delivery giant Delivery Hero. Today she is the founder and managing director of the Berlin catering startup Lemoncat. In recent years, Huber has interviewed by his own words “thousands of applicants” – and was frequently disappointed.

Over the years, the founder has imposed clear rules and values for finding suitable employees. One of them: She does not want to hire anyone who is constantly changing jobs. With her statement on a founding scene that she does not want to have job hoppers in her team, Huber triggered a debate two weeks ago among our readers.

That’s why we met her again and checked her up.

What exactly are Jobhopper for you? How does she recognize good candidates? How difficult is it for you as a founder to find suitable employees?

Doreen, you say you do not want to hire job hoppers at your startup Lemoncat. How exactly do you recognize them?

I can already see that on the CV. If an applicant has only been with an employer for six or nine months and has never lasted more than two years, then I know that he will not stay with me for long.

An advantage may be that these applicants have already met many companies, the business models and ways of working.

It scares me off. If someone can not even stay in a company for two years, that person has no stamina for me. My experience shows: Such Jobhopper give up on the smallest criticism and have no desire, sometimes hard times in a company to join. Instead, they switch immediately and continue to evolve horizontally.

What exactly do you mean by horizontal?

They have the same position in many different companies, but never rise there.

Is your impression that there are more and more job hoppers?

Yes, I notice that. I do not want to mess things up all right now, but for me that’s the Millennials’ weaknesses: lack of stamina, little patience. I had employees in their early 20s who said after a few months on the job that they needed a sabbatical. Sometimes I have to shake my head.

The world of work has changed too. Many employees, especially startups, have to be constantly available. Not everyone can handle this pressure and maybe they need a break.

That’s absolutely right. That’s why, as an employer at Lemoncat, we also do a great deal for our employees. First of all, we of course offer good food for everyone. We also have pregnant women and mothers in our team whom we support and to whom we give a lot of freedom. For example, one of my employees is allowed to work from Thailand for a month because her boyfriend works there. We have defined clear values and communicate and live them. But I want our employees to commit to us and stick with it when it gets chaotic.

It sounds like you were often disappointed by employees

I interviewed thousands of applicants in recent years and hired many hundreds of people. I am always convinced when I hire someone. But yes, I already had some disappointments. Employees who left quickly. At the beginning of my career, I just have not been so systematic about these issues and always thought: Oh, I’m a lot nicer than the other bosses, stay with me. But that was not the case. That’s why I’ve set my personal HR rules over time.

What are these rules?

  1. Only the best people! We always try to find the best for a position.
  2. Do not hire job hoppers
  3. If someone has quit with me, there is no going back. Out is out! Just because it is not better in the next job, the problems that the one with us, have not solved.
  4. No employees from the competitor. A person should choose Lemoncat because they wants to work with us and not for any company in the industry.
  5. We always do a culture check.

What exactly does this Culture Check look like?

We’ll do that in a separate interview that’s not about skills, it’s about personality. We want to make sure an applicant fits our values. I prefer to do the Culture Check myself. When I’m not available, two of my co-workers who have been with us the longest and best personify Lemoncat’s DNA. The one of us who conducts the interview has to ask: Would I go on holiday with this person? If you can confidently answer this strong question with “yes”, then the person will fit in with us. If not, we will not hire the candidate. Especially in the startup, where you work a lot and intensively together, I make sure that we preserve our great corporate culture.

If you have high standards as an employer, how hard is it to find new employees?

It has always been difficult, but in recent years it has become even harder. Salaries in Berlin have risen sharply and the War for Talents is in full swing. Soon it will be similar here as in San Francisco. In addition, there are startups with a big brand that attract good people. That makes it even harder for small companies.

Your company Lemoncat currently has 40 employees. Are you looking for more?

We are always looking for good people, but I am very proud of the size of my team. I have seen companies with 30 employees making as much as other companies with 350. This is also my goal for Lemoncat: More sales with fewer employees. The more efficient, the better.

Are you still hiring beginners or interns for Lemoncat?

Yes, but the mix just has to be right. If we have two interns with 40 employees, this is helpful. But ten interns? We do not have the time to train everyone.

How do you identify good beginners or interns?

You can tell that right away! I often see this on the CV, for example, competitive athletes are often great because they have a lot of stamina. But at the latest when we give applicants a task, we see in the result, whether the one is really super or mediocre.

You need a lot of programmers, your product should become increasingly technical. How do you keep the so-called techies that are particularly popular on the job market and therefore could change jobs all the time?

So far, our programmers are very loyal to us, also because we always face new challenges. We just launched software called Caterdesk for Caterers. They were developed by our programmers from start to finish. I think that motivates them because they can work on their own responsibility.

You’re 36 years old and as a founder of Lemoncat, you have your seventh job according to LinkedIn. Do you also see yourself as a Jobhopper?

This is, of course, a common question. My mother was in a company for over 20 years. That’s hard to find today. In my first real job, I was three and a half years. During my studies, I founded my first company, and after four years sold it to eKomi, where I was also in management. Also at Delivery Hero I was more than three years as CSO and COO. Some years of managing a startup with this growth require perseverance.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Some content was translated from Gruenderszene


Also published on Medium.

Published inStartups

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