Part 4: Sourcing A Players

Marc Laurent
Nov 6, 2019 · 7 min read

Strongest talents often already have a job so the traditional sourcing strategy enabled by your page is probably not always the most suitable one.

Different rules, different tools. Looking back on our experience, the 3 most powerful levers have been:

Image for post
Image for post

1 . Employee referral

We all already know what employee referral is but we are usually a little bit disappointed by its impact on the recruitments. Looking back on our experience, there is a correlation between the effectiveness of employee referral and how systematically it has been enforced.

In other words, a trap to be avoided is to boil employee referral down to an Amazon coupon and a random email when it pops into your head ☺

Image for post
Image for post

We have witnessed over the past few years that emphasizing and systematizing employee referral improved the impact it had on candidate pipe. We usually suggest our entrepreneurs to add it to a management routine they already have (monthly email to the whole team, monthly team meeting …) as below:

Below is a slide extracted from a “DMM” (Docto Monthly Meeting) during which Doctolib systematically congratulated “Doctolibers” who have contributed to building the Doctolib team.

Image for post
Image for post
Extracted from the “DMM” (Docto Monthly Meeting)

2. Close network (ex colleagues, board members, …)

There are two kinds of emails we all probably receive at least once a week:

  • Nigerian prince scam emails 😁
  • Someone from your network forwarding a vacant position they look to fill in their company:
Image for post
Image for post

The hard truth is that if someone took 15 seconds to write a sloppy email and send it to you, you will probably not spend more than 5 seconds reading it and thinking of how you can help them. Yep, that’s probably what’s going to happen. We all have busy schedules and other priorities.

When we reach out to the Kerala network to help our companies source off-market candidates, we try to keep 2 things in mind:

  • A) Candidates should be pitched by companies the same way VCs get pitched by founders. Indeed, both candidates and VCs manage assets and choose whether or not they want to invest into a company. VCs invest cash and candidates invest time. And as you know time is the only wholly finite, non-renewable resource.
  • B) More than asking for help, we believe we are sharing a rare opportunity. We think that joining one of our portfolio companies is a great opportunity, so we try to detail in the email why we think it’s a good deal for the candidate.

Below is the email Kerala sent to our close network to source candidates for the Head of Strategic Projects position at back in June 2019.

P.S: I sincerely thank all the Kerala friends we contact several times a year and who systematically help us source A Players for our portfolio companies 😚🤗


As you probably know, there is a fierce competition between investors. Every VC aspires to be the most value-add investor around the table to consolidate their reputation in order to attract the best startups to come.

Hence I recommend CEOs to manage their board and to underwrite a healthy competition among board members :)

Image for post
Image for post

3. Direct approach

When we start sourcing candidates through a direct approach, we usually recommend starting by setting the composite drawing of the candidate we look for. More specifically his/her:

  • Former likely experience
  • Current likely companies
  • Current likely titles

Back in late 2015 when Kerala led the recruitment of the first Chief Financial Officer of Doctolib, we determined that the ideal candidate would be not far from:

Former likely experience:

  • 2–3 years of experience in the Financial department of a software company
  • 5–7 years of experience in Audit and Transaction Services
  • At least 2 years of international experience

Current likely company:

  • Software company
  • International presence
  • 500–1,000 employees
  • Has raised money from international funds
  • Has executed at least one M&A operation

Current possible titles:

  • CFO
  • Chief Financial Officer
  • Finance Manager
  • Finance Director
  • VP Finance

I browsed hundreds of linkedin profiles and reached out ~50 potential candidates this way:

Enjoyed this post? Tap the little 👏 below

Read next:

>> part 5: Interviews That Pick The Best Candidates <<


Kerala Ventures

Early stage investments.

Marc Laurent

Written by

VC @keralavc — Formerly @OtiumCapital & @alvencap — @CentraleNantes & @HECParis alumni

Kerala Ventures

Early stage investments. Massive strategic & operational support.

Marc Laurent

Written by

VC @keralavc — Formerly @OtiumCapital & @alvencap — @CentraleNantes & @HECParis alumni

Kerala Ventures

Early stage investments. Massive strategic & operational support.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store