Jack Leidlein, who was hired last week by First Round Capital to be their head of talent, really loves to use the word “exceptional.” It makes sense, though; the very core of Mr. Leidlein’s new job–recruiting brilliant engineers to fill the ranks at First Round-funded startups–hinges on exceptionalism, and his knack for finding diamonds in the rough.
“The top level goal [of my new position] is supporting our portfolio companies in our effort to attract and hire exceptional talent,” Mr. Leidlein told Betabeat over phone. “The best way to build meaningful companies is by competing for and getting great talent.”
In order to join First Round, Mr. Leidlein left his position as head of business operations and recruiting at Scribd, the social publishing site, where he worked for almost four years. Joining a VC firm–particularly one like First Round, with its focus on early stage companies–was something he’d thought about doing for a long time, Mr. Leidlein said.
In his new role, Mr. Leidlein will be splitting his time between San Francisco and New York, as 40 percent of First Round’s portfolio is located in the Alley, boasting all-stars like Birchbox and GroupMe. Mr. Leidlein will be mining both coasts for the most brilliant–and yes, exceptional–tech talent to add to First Round’s roster of seed funded startups.
So how does he plan to do it? His approach is twofold.
“First by building robust talent networks, meeting exceptional people and ultimately looking to connect them with the companies in our portfolio,” said Mr. Leidlein. He’ll also be working with First Round’s companies to provide them with actionable advice, effectively transforming them into recruiting machines. “At that early early stage, a lot of founders haven’t built teams [before], so helping them put the right foundation in place upon which to go out and try to find exceptional talent is going to be important.”
But exceptionalism isn’t the only thing that Mr. Leidlein looks for in a potential candidate.
“What I like to see when I go out to find talent is a real passion for whatever it is that they’re doing,” he said. “If you’re a developer, I love to see that passion represented through personal projects. When you’re not at work, you’re home building something, you’re creating something that you think is interesting and you’re sharing that with your network and spending your time doing what you’re most passionate about.”
An emphasis on community involvement is also key–devs who are active in the community that they work in, by attending events like Ruby meetups or contributing to someone else’s project on Github, prove that they’re passionate as well as a team player.
Mr. Leidlein is looking for that hustle, that drive. “I want people that want to work with exceptional talent, they want to sort of be the dumbest guy in the group on day one,” he said. “They want to feel like they can contribute and learn a lot from the people they work with.”
In that case, Mr. Leidlein, we did you a favor: perhaps you might find our Poachables list helpful.