Startup Recruiting: 5 Action Items

April 10, 2013 at 4:36 AM by Vivek Reddy

now hiringSo you’ve toiled for the last 6 months, launched your MVP and were able to muster a seed round to realize your vision. Now what?

Here are 5 steps every startup should take to kickstart the recruiting process:

1. Track ALL interactions with candidates

Obviously the hope is that you’ll be drowning in an influx of applications, but whether you’re talking to three or three hundred candidates, you should keep your interactions organized. While most larger organizations will utilize full-blown applicant tracking systems (think Taleo, Jobvite, Resumator, etc.), startups don’t always have the budget to afford these systems. However, that isn't an excuse to avoid tracking candidates altogether- there are some great low-cost alternatives that every Startup should take a look at:

  • Google Spreadsheets: Most startups use GMail and Google Docs anyways, so being able to house all your interactions within Google Apps is easy to implement and get everyone to use. Granted, this does get tedious as you build out your pipelines, but spreadsheets can still be a great option to get things started while you look for something more robust.
  • Asana: Asana is great for tracking pipelines, interactions and collaborating with your team members. It also doesn't hurt that it's free for your first 30 users.
  • Highrise: Made by the stellar 37Signals team, Highrise is a simple, easy-to-use CRM for managing your contacts including their social profiles, discussions and contact information. Side note: Highrise is free for your first 250 contacts.
  • SmartRecruiters: SmartRecruiters is highly popular recruiting software for startups to leverage. Keep track of candidates and post to various job boards all from one place, and it's free of charge.

Having information at your fingertips while engaging with candidates will not only make the process easier for you, but it will allow you to be efficient and thorough in a way that will set you apart from other recruiters. Bottom line: keep track of your recruiting efforts in a formulaic and streamlined manner.

2. Post to free/low cost job boards

Doing so will give you a stream of candidates right off the bat. Some of the job boards we've seen others have success with include:

  • Craigslist: People tend to forget about Craigslist, but you can still find some diamonds in the rough with a simple $70 posting. Make sure to have a good system for filtering applications with these applications.
  • Hacker News: While Y-Combinator companies can post to HN at any time, all companies get the chance to post to the Hacker News Who's Hiring thread on the first of every month. You may only get a few applications, but the quality of candidates is usually very high.
  • AngelList Talent: A free service provided by AngelList, AngelList Talent can be a great way to engage with excellent startup talent.

Although this obvious statement may instigate an eye-roll, make sure that what you are posting to the job boards sets you apart; you’ll be competing for the attention of candidates with many other startups.

3. Leverage yours and your company’s networks

More times than not, new hires end up coming from within your own extended network. In order to widen your pipeline from the start, you should reach out to every engineer you know. Most likely, they'll be happily employed, but engaging with them face-to-face will enable you to gain a significant amount of industry insight and strengthen ties within your network. By telling them what you’re looking for, they will then be able to refer people in their own networks to you, significantly widening your candidate pool.

Connecting to applicants through references from personal relationships will dramatically increase your likelihood of a candidate response, making your interaction with the prospective candidate much warmer than for others.

4. Get your team and advisors involved in the recruiting process

Chances are you won’t be the one spending the most time with the person who fills the position. By bringing in members of the company who will be working closest with them, you’ll be able to get insight into the “fit” of the candidate with the position. After all... you are hiring people that will hopefully be with you for the long haul, not units of labor.

Synergy is key to the success of any team; your colleagues will be able to advise you on how the candidates’ abilities will compliment their objectives. Have your engineers check out their LinkedIn profiles, code on Github or portfolios on Dribbble or Behance. Even get them working side-by-side on a small project. Get everyone involved to see how the candidate fits with your team's culture.

How to Email an Engineer

5. Kickstart your proactive recruiting process

In an ideal world, you could sit back and expect the applications to start rolling in. But unfortunately, maximizing the number of applicants who enter your pipeline isn’t a passive process. Develop a smart system that finds highly targeted people whose skills and experience level match the job requirements.

Know what you're looking for in prospective candidates then start searching on Linkedin or Google for candidates with the relevant experience. You can find interesting projects on Github or Hacker News and reach out to the people involved via Linkedin, Twitter or email if you have it. Additionally, you can always use an automated sourcing tool, such as Entelo (yes, that's a shameless plug :) ), which can save you significant time finding and engaging with amazing talent.

Do your homework on each candidate early on, and personalize your outreach to each candidate; your message to them will stand out in the sea of recruiters that are constantly drowning their inboxes and you'll prevent wasting time down the road. Give them a reason to engage with you!