High Flyers: Why and how we became a top startup recruitment agency in Paris
As I’m writing this note, we have just finished filming our very first team video. By the time you read it, it will have been shared on our social media pages. We’re thrilled to show you a little more of our personalities, what goes on behind the scenes, and most importantly – our vision behind what we do every day.
We didn’t get to this point overnight. It’s been two years since I founded High Flyers Agency. Back then, I had no business plan, no pitch deck, and I had never done a competitor screening.
All I knew was that I wanted to connect talented individuals with fast-growing companies.
Two years later, we’ve changed the lives of over 120 people (and by the way, you’ll be hearing about their experiences very soon!). We have 153 clients in France, the US, and the UK. We are a team of eleven wonder women, all moving and shaking up the way recruiting works.
How did it all happen?
Flashback: the recruitment problem
I used to work in Finance. I learned a lot – a Master’s degree in Finance worth of material. It was enriching, but I never intended to make a career in a traditional company or industry.
When I decided to leave my job (And by the way, I also just had my first child – which can be a decisive factor to leave the finance industry as a woman… I’ll write about that later), I was looking for a new professional challenge. I wanted to do something different, life-changing, business-rooted, and out-of-the-box. I wanted to learn and find my “real path”.
I started to search on job boards and to my surprise, I could not find anything exciting. Every job description out there seemed confusing and vague.
Some people recommended that I should network intensively, so I did. However, I felt stupid fairly quickly – I had no idea of what I really wanted to do. How could I just say to anyone : “Hello! I love challenges, I am ready to hustle and learn. Trust me! Hire me! And while we’re at it, please don’t underpay me!” Let’s be serious; it seemed like a lost cause.
In the meantime, a lot of headhunters called me. I attended thirty-seven (yes, 37) interviews. After all, I had attended HEC Paris, Supaero and had majored in Finance – what a great profile to target! Sadly, because of my previous experiences in Finance, they could only suggest Finance jobs. I tried hard to explain that I wanted to do something different, particularly outside of the Finance world. They all seemed lost in translation. Their conformism blew me away.
I was disappointed. I repeatedly asked myself “So what if I have only done Finance before? I don’t want to do a Finance job for the rest of my life. I can undertake an entrepreneurial, strategic, innovative, and impactful challenge – right?”
I slowly started to lose patience. At some point, I realized a lot of connections were in a similar situation.
There seemed to be no solution to our problem. What else could we rely on besides job boards and headhunters?
This question was what pushed me to create High Flyers Agency.
I never thought of working in Talent Acquisition. However, I realized I was experiencing a true pain point.
The birth of High Flyers Agency
I decided to connect talented individuals with amazing, unique opportunities. Then, I started thinking of the business model I could go for: a platform? a club? a new job board?
Since I wanted to provide tailor-made solutions for candidates and companies, I decided to go for the “headhunter” model.
I also decided to focus on Mid to C-level candidates (i.e., Manager to CEO, with a salary range between 55k€ and 350k€) because I believed these profiles were my niche. I even wrote down a Manifesto (Click here to see it) to describe the kind of profile I was looking for.
I wanted to find clients who were able to understand my unique value proposition: change the norm in recruiting, refuse conformism, and most importantly, accept human potential instead of just looking for diplomas and past experiences. In order to achieve this, I approached successful, innovative start-ups and fast-growing companies.
One more thing: I knew nothing about technical talent. For me, Java was a dance, Python was a snake and Ruby On Rails was the last attraction at Disneyland. I had no intention to provide poor service to my clients, so I decided I would not take on recruiting for technical jobs. I would focus on all business-oriented profiles (product, data, finance, marketing, etc) while being sector-agnostic.
At this point, High Flyers Agency was ready to be launched. As mentioned before: no business plan, no pitch deck, and no competitor screening. The only thing I did have was a deep conviction: companies need the best talent, and in return, the best talent are looking for exciting challenges.
Recruitment is not sexy?
At first, I felt frustrated. Recruitment is not an industry many consider sexy. In reality, it seemed nobody likes headhunters. This used to bother me. Now, I believe this status quo is irrelevant.
Headhunting is only our business model.
Our goal is much broader: we connect people and help high-potential companies grow fast. We raise human equity and implement a new way of approaching Talent Acquisition.
Accordingly, some clients have requested us to provide strategic and operational roadmaps for their Series A or B fundraising, country roll-out, spin-offs, and IPO contexts. We developed a strong expertise and specific matrices to accelerate time to launch.
More than just a recruiting agency, we’ve become business partners.
Here’s something I’ve learned so far: financing is necessary for any fast-growing company and everybody talks about it. Staffing your teams is just as crucial, but few entrepreneurs realize it before it becomes an issue. Working with HFA changes the game: as a client recently told us “working with HFA has relieved me from my recruitment allergy” 🙂
What’s next for High Flyers?
In the past year, we welcomed new members to the HFA team. None of them come from recruitment. They used to work in finance, marketing, luxury, consulting, and law practice. Why?
We have to deeply understand our clients’ needs to serve them well. Their diverse backgrounds combined with their ability to learn extremely fast about IA, blockchain, IPOs, chatbots, biometrics, and just about anything – are the key of HFA’s performance. I love how open-minded, brilliant and enthusiastic they are and so do our clients.
Our team of recruiters — just like me and many of the talents we work with — have made a successful career transition from their previous job to become Talent Hunters. Hence, over the next weeks, we will be sharing their stories on our website and social media pages.
I also welcomed my first partner: Mathilde. She is amazing, and she helps me on a daily basis to structure our growth. It is rare to find someone like her to share a passion and vision.
We’ve all been working like crazy and are thrilled to see our team grow so fast (FYI – We are currently looking for more talented people to join our team!).
We are also developing a new project for HFA. It is going to be B.I.G. We’re hoping it will help companies and candidates to not only achieve their recruitment goals, but also go beyond their expectations. To be continued…
Follow this and all our stories on our Medium publication, High Flyers
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