December 7, 2023

Ditching the Old Playbook: Raman Ramalingam's Unique Take on Startup Hiring

Ditching the Old Playbook: Raman Ramalingam's Unique Take on Startup Hiring

Raman started with jokes on a Stockholm stage. Now, he's a key player in the startup world. Former head of talent at Nordic startup giants Sting and Norrsken, he is now helping startups in 10+ countries find top talents. With each hire, Raman creates a new exciting story, not just a job match.

Today, he’s letting us in on his ideas about shaking up the old-school hiring game, helping startups grow their teams, and bringing a fresh vibe to how things are done.

Raman's hiring workshop at Minc

Hey Raman, tell us a bit about your background?

I'm from India but have been living in Sweden for the last 13 years. I studied engineering at KTH, but things got really fun when I started doing comedy and theatre in Stockholm. That's where I fell in love with the startup scene. For the past decade, I've been helping startups find great people and build strong teams to reach their goals.

You’ve played big roles in some heavy-hitter startup ecosystems like Sting and Norrsken. What was your game plan there?

As the go-to guy for Talent and People Operations, my mission was to help startups scale up by finding the right kind of go-getters but with a twist. It was all about ditching the old playbook and crafting strategies that vibe with the energetic, ever-changing nature of startups.

Being based in Sweden, how do you help startups find top talents in the UK, US or other markets where you don't have much of a network? 

At TalentX, our objective is to help startups get in touch with top talents right away from the first minute by playing with probabilities. Have you seen that when a manager leaves a company, they typically also take one or two of their team members with them to the next company? This means, when a manager leaves a company typically the probability of some of the team members moving to a new role increases. Also if a company is in acquisition or merger, the probability of top talents to find new jobs also increases. Similarly we try to identify multiple signals that increase the probability of top talent’s intent to leave their current company before they actively seek jobs.

Your mission to flip the script on traditional hiring is pretty inspiring. What fuels this fire?

It's all about the excitement of discovering new ways to grow and innovate. By changing our hiring and working ways, we're not just filling spots; we're creating strong teams ready to question the usual and push startups to great success.

Why did you get into comedy, and how did it help you connect with startups?

Comedy was my ticket to get the hang of Swedish culture. It’s all about exploring what’s typical and what’s not. This quirky approach opened doors for real, meaningful chats with startup founders without losing a touch of my own culture.

How did you manage to get roles in startups without going through the usual resume process? What's your strategy?

It was about showing I get their vision and product right from the get-go. I’d dive into conversations with founders, get into the nitty-gritty of their operations, and even pitch their own company back to them. It was my way of skipping the resume rigmarole and proving I was ready to jump in and make a difference.

Landing a trial role at Sting seems like a big deal. 

Oh, it was a major pivot. Even without the usual HR background, this chance showed me that understanding a startup's vibe was just as important as any formal expertise. It was my stepping stone into a world that really clicked with my mixed journey.

Your story shows you like to do things differently. How will this idea shape what you do next?

Breaking free from the usual ways is more than a personal thing, it's a must-do for startups to thrive. I think this mindset will keep driving me to help build a culture of fresh thinking and openness in the startup world.

Give us one “Do” and one “Don’t” advice for startup founders on how to attract the right people?

In the startup world, it’s all about the people, not just the job titles. My big 'do' is to find the right folks and then craft roles together. It's better than setting fixed roles and then struggling to find people to fit them. One big 'don't' is to let self-doubt mess up your hiring process.  I’ve seen it spin into some awful recruitment practices. Like this one place that would auto-reject anyone who applied, thinking if they’re applying, they aren’t really skilled. It’s a strange logic that can really mess up the recruitment process. Trust your gut but give your gut some diverse options before choosing.

As we wind down, any parting wisdom or a key lesson that sums up your journey?

It boils down to pushing past what we know. Our vision is often boxed by what we know, and it reflects in who we recruit or network with. It’s important to challenge these limits, explore the unknown, and keep learning and growing from our global peers and pioneers constantly. That’s how we can truly innovate and solve problems in unexpected ways.

Raman's trail from stage jokes to startup growth is a nudge, reminding us to shake things up a bit. It's all about putting people first, daring to be different. Feel inspired? Catch up with Raman at TalentX. 

About Minc

At Minc, we believe in creating something bigger than yourself. We offer everything an entrepreneur needs to go from concept to market in-house. Our international network of advisors and award-winning programs will help your startup scale faster and smarter. Welcome to the startup house of Malmö.

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