Recruiting can be hard.
Recruiting as a startup can be even harder.

Startups, particularly those that haven’t yet gotten past the growth stage, face serious limitations of time, resources, and experience when it comes to recruiting – each member of the startup team is often dedicated to multiple, divergent tasks, there isn’t always sufficient funding to pay for quality headhunters, and the odds are good that no one on the team has much experience with recruiting. All these issues combine to create a situation where startups often neglect their recruiting efforts and simply post a job vacancy with the hope that qualified candidates will apply.

This method of post and pray recruiting increases the likelihood that not enough applicants will apply and/or that the wrong people are hired. Hiring the wrong person, often referred to as a bad hire, can be costly. Bad hires are expensive for any organization, but the financial and opportunity costs bad hires impose on startups can be devastating. In contrast, good hires can be incredibly valuable as they allow the company to maintain or enhance its positive trajectory while also setting the proper tone for the company culture.

Intrinsically every entrepreneur knows how important recruiting is and understands the  value of having the right people on his/her team, but in practice recruiting frequently ends up being forgotten or at least neglected, the consequences of which can be highly negative.

When startups don’t make a bit of extra time to focus on recruiting here is what their process can become:

  1. Start hiring for a new position after it is needed, rather than before

    • Example: Company X started looking for an additional front end developer right after they hit their next phase in product development. This phase had been on the roadmap for months, but no one considered trying to find someone to help them do the job until now. Odds are they will be waiting at least two months to fill the vacancy, which will leave them at least two months behind schedule.
  2. Post a hastily assembled job vacancy to the company website

    • Example: Company X posts a simple job description that describes little more than the required skills on its website and shares it on social media. Company X then waits for people to apply.
  3. Maybe, maaaaaaaaybe, someone asks for referrals

    • Example: Company X has one of its team members reach out to her network to see if they or anyone they know would be interested in joining. Possible candidates are told to go to the company website and apply.
  4. Wait

  5. Get lucky and find a great hire, or (and this is more likely) tire of waiting and settle for a candidate who doesn’t quite fit. 

Based on our own experiences as a startup, as well as the experiences of friends and customers, we’ve seen that the recruiting process, when people give it a bit of extra time and thought, looks like this:

  1. Create a hiring timeline with your company roadmap

    • Example: Company Y takes a look at its product roadmap and identifies when it expects to need additional personnel. Hiring needs are flagged for different phases on the roadmap. (Keep in mind that this hiring timeline is flexible and can adjust based on your needs.)
  2. Start looking for candidates about two months before the position needs to be filled

    • Example: Company Y sees that it is on track with its roadmap and begins searching for someone who will be able to join them two months down the road right when they enter their next project phase.
  3. Write a smart job vacancy that SELLS the company and the job

    • Example: Company Y has one of its team members (probably whoever is in charge of marketing or sales) take a few extra minutes to shape the description of the vacancy to be more attractive and emphasize what kind of person should apply as well as WHY they should apply. The vacancy is posted on the company website and relevant job boards.
  4. Multiple team members scout websites and social networks for potential hires

    • Example: Company Y assigns three of its team members take 30 minutes a day to look for potential candidates, build up their profiles, and determine who might be a good fit. (They don’t necessarily message everyone they find, but they are building a pool)
  5. Everyone on the team looks for referrals

    • Example: Company Y gives everyone on the team the task of looking for at least one referral.
  6. Don’t just recruit candidates, pitch to them!

    • Example: Company Y has Jim, their marketing and sales manager, make time in his schedule to review the profiles of each candidate his colleagues have found and approach them with a personalized pitch (rather than cut-and-paste spam) on why they should join.
  7. Candidates are interviewed, with the best candidate being hired.

  8. Save candidates for later

    • Example: Company Y has candidates who liked Jim’s pitch, but had to say “not right now.” It also has quality candidates it interviewed but decided not to hire. Each of these candidates is placed into a candidate pipeline to be considered for jobs that open up down the road.

None of these steps require large investments of money, nor do they require vast amounts of experience in recruiting. They key differentiator here is spending a bit of time on each step. It can be intimidating to devote time you already don’t have to something like recruiting, but the tradeoff is that you’ll likely get better candidates and won’t be wasting time waiting for them to apply. In the long run this will leave your startup better off.

Recruiting can be hard, but if your startup approaches it the right way recruiting doesn’t have to be as hard as we sometimes think it is.

How can Hello Talent help?

Here are some of the things Hello Talent can do to help your startup:

  • Create talent pools for each job in your hiring pipeline
  • Have team members who have been assigned to find profiles use our Google Chrome extension (download here) to add candidates they find on different websites to Hello Talent in just one click
  • Review each profile in Hello Talent to determine the best way to pitch your company to them and use Hello Talent to keep track of how things are going

Click below to sign up for Hello Talent!