I consult (pro bono!) with many, many startups and help them think about hiring. It's actually something I've been very passionate about and even though Entelo now has a double digit number of Fortune 500 customers, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for early-stage companies. As a four-time founder, I know how hard it is to hire the right people and a big part of the motivation for starting Entelo came out of that.
Now of course, I want everyone to use Entelo to hire. That said, I realize that it isn't always in the cards for every company and whenever I meet with founders, I always want to make sure I'm adding value above and beyond Entelo. There are three things that I've told dozens of founders to do in the last year but up until now I've never blogged publicly about these so I think it's time to rectify that.
Post to the Hacker News "Who's Hiring" thread.
On the 1st day of every month (including Saturdays and Sundays), there is a thread on Hacker News entitled "Who's Hiring". For those of you not in the know, Hacker News is perhaps the best startup community on the planet and attracts an incredible number startup types. At Entelo, we've hired a number of top-notch people who've found us through our monthly Hacker News threads. If you're running a startup, there's really no excuse not to post to Hacker News each month. It's free and if you have a compelling pitch, you're sure to attract some candidates. (Note: There's a certain protocol around posting in this thread. Please read the instructions carefully and look at past threads so you have a sense of what is and isn't kosher.)
Post your jobs on AngelList.
If I were to think of my two favorite startup communities, they would be Hacker News and AngelList. While HackerNews is a bit more developer-centric, AngelList tends to attract more of the business types. We have had incredible luck over the years with listing our jobs on AngelList and seen a wide variety of talented people come through. AngelList is experimenting with some paid models around recruiting but, at least for the time being, posting your jobs on AngelList is completely free. Similar to the monthly Hacker News post, there's really no excuse not to post your company's jobs to AngelList.
"Actively" ask your employees for referrals.
OK, this one is pretty obvious and you're probably already doing this to some extent. But I've noticed a big difference between companies that passively ask their companies employees for referrals and those that actively do so. What do I mean by "actively"? Well, for starters, find time periodically to sit down with your teams (or even individual team members) and ask them for names of people that might be a good fit to work at the company. Some companies I know will even sit down with employees and go through LinkedIn connections to see who might be a good referral. This might sound extreme but the reality of it is that many of your team members might not even realize how good of a fit some of their connections are.
If your employees love working at your company, they should be thrilled to refer the best people they know (indeed, actively asking for employee referrals can be a good litmus test of how engaged your team members are!). The impact of referrals on hiring has its limitations (e.g., many companies find that when they hit 30-50 employees they can't rely on referrals as much to hit hiring goals). That said, companies that actively solicit referrals typically out-perform those who don't.
The tips above are totally free to implement. The first two don't even take that much time. Here's hoping they help you in scaling up your startup. And remember, nothing is usually a more high leverage use of your time than the time you invest in making sure you're working with the best people.