Radical Scale

Attracting and Recruiting AI Talent

By Meg Sahni, Senior Director of Talent

Over the past several months the Radical Impact Team has hosted expert roundtables on go-to-market strategies and talent best practices with our portfolio companies. And we’re now sharing the key strategic and tactical insights from those sessions.

This issue of Radical Scale looks at attracting and recruiting top tier machine learning talent with Radical Ventures founding partner, Tomi Poutanen.

Key strategic takeaway:  you need them, more than they need you. The best technical talent will be constantly bombarded with a barrage of exciting opportunities, so what makes your offer different and exciting?

Understand the profile that will drive your business forward

  • Identify the skills you need in this hire. For starters, look for strong math, intuition for machine learning and strong coding skills.
  • Be creative. The best talent may not have a computer science degree. Theoretical physicists and computational mathematicians tend to make solid machine learning scientists.
  • Find a builder. Identify applied talent that wants to build systems and applications from scratch. Match your job description to this person.
  • Create and publish an organized and compelling job description. The job description should steer the recruitment process.

Identify where to find talent

  • Engage academia. Develop relationships with university professors and academic labs at institutions where you’ve seen top talent solving problems most relevant to yours. This will ensure that you’re top of mind when students are ready to enter industry.
  • Get involved in the local technical community. Be active in your local ecosystem by attending career fairs and meetups related to the specific talent pools in which you are looking to recruit.
  • Brand yourself to easily attract this specific talent. Tailor the careers portion of your website to the technical base you are looking to recruit. To give prospects a sense of whether they are a technical fit, consider posting sample technical questions.
  • Participate in engineering blogs or machine learning competitions and conferences to attract a more global audience.

Make contact

  • Founder outreach is the best outreach: get personally involved in the process as a founder or executive.
  • Nail down your company’s narrative.
  • When the time is right, invest in a strong technical recruiter.

Build and implement an interview process

  • Make the interview process a challenge. Top tier technical talent wants to be tested. Developing a reputation for having a difficult interview process will attract the right people.
  • Make the process personal. Ensure your candidate makes a personal connection to you or your interviewers.
  • Spend time assessing fit. Ask yourself, “What do I offer this candidate that will elevate their career”?
  • Try to close your candidate at the end of the onsite.


  • Tomi Poutanen is a Co-Founder of Radical Ventures and Co-Founder of Layer6 AI which was acquired by TD Bank where he is Chief AI Officer. He’s also a Co-Founder of the Vector Institute for Artificial Intelligence and a founding Fellow of the Creative Destruction Lab. Prior to Layer6, Tomi built large technical teams at Yahoo, Microsoft and Milq.

About the Radical Ventures Impact Team

The Radical Ventures Impact Team is dedicated to helping its portfolio companies achieve global scale by providing deep technology expertise, go-to-market guidance, talent acquisition, strategic communications, and policy support.

If you want to learn more about Radical or its talent impact efforts, please reach out to Meg Lizza at meg@radical.vc.