how to recruit

Building a startup is like building a plane as it’s falling from the sky. You have limited time and resources, and each day feels like another struggle to put the right pieces in place. It’s not easy.

Things get even more complicated once you start recruiting for your young company. You and your team are short on time as is, and now you suddenly have to find talented people who will be an asset rather than a liability – all without having a dedicated recruiter to help. Hiring is something that most entrepreneurs find to be important, but don’t know how to do. Today we’ll help you understand how you can recruit for your startup when you don’t have any recruiters.

Recruiting is Everyone’s Responsibility

The phrase “that’s not my job” can’t exist in a small business. If something needs to be done, that means it’s someone’s job, title or no. Recruiting for your startup is no different. When it comes time to make a hire you need to make it clear to your team that everyone is responsible for helping fill the role. An advantage that comes with making recruiting a shared responsibility is that it creates the team structure your company needs to survive. If everyone truly feels they have an obligation to contribute to hiring, they’ll be more prepared to help in other areas as well.

Harness Skill Specialization

The fact that everyone should be involved in recruiting doesn’t mean everyone should be doing the same thing. On the contrary, you should be using the unique talents people have in order to save time, specialize, and get optimal results. For instance, you could make whoever is responsible for marketing the owner of writing and publishing vacancies, your best salesperson the owner of first interviews and cold calls, some of your programmers might be great at sourcing candidates you might overlook, and each team member will have different skills they can use to test the fit of a potential hire.

Each time a new job opens up take the time to sit with your team and figure out who’s skills best fit different aspects of the recruiting process. Doing so will enable you to maximize people’s skills while minimizing the amount of time they are spending on recruiting. Each time you hire someone you’ll add a new skillset to your pool.

Use Time Blocks

Assigning recruiting tasks to your people is one thing, getting them to actually do them is another. A great way to ensure the work gets done is to set up dedicated time blocks exclusively for recruiting. Time blocks are specific sets of time that are planned in and can only be used for a specific task. With time blocks there are no other meetings or tasks, no excuses, and no distractions. For more on time blocking and other tricks check out our ebook on building talent pipelines.

Interview for Skills, Not Just Culture Fit

One of the things that can hurt a startup’s ability to grow is an overemphasis on fit and an under-emphasis on skills. Much of this is driven by the fact that many of the initial hires are friends of the founders. Avoid falling into this trap by doing deep dives into the skills and experiences of candidates. They don’t need to be perfect, but it needs to be clear to multiple people on your team that the person can do the job or learn quickly enough to figure it out.

Use Open, Collaborative Tools

A technological mistake plaguing companies of all sizes is an overreliance on email and spreadsheets. These tools are useful, but they’re not very collaborative and they don’t foster a great transparency of information. If you are going to have everyone working together to recruit you’ll need some tools that make it easy. Here are three of our favorites (all of which have free versions available):

Trello allows you to create visual, card-based lists that can easily be moved, updated and assigned. For recruiting you can create a Trello board that lists each key step in your recruiting process and has subsets that show who is responsible for what. Trello helps to make your process clear and easy to visualize.

You might have already noticed that we’re pretty big fans of Slack (Their career page is AWESOME). Slack is a tool that combines the best of email, chat, and social media feeds into one platform. Working in Slack makes it easy to send updates to the team about where you are at with the recruiting process. That extra bit of coordination and transparency that Slack provides can go a long way to helping you make better hires.

Sorry, we had to 😉. Rather than bore you with a big sales pitch we’ll just say that we’ve built it to be collaborative, easy to use, and have a freemium pricing model that scales with you. Give it a try and see for yourself!

Recruiting for a startup isn’t easy, but if you make it a team effort with shared responsibility, skill specialization, and the right best practices and tools you’ll find that hiring great people is easier than you thought.

Want more recruiting tips for your startup? Read this.