10 Tips To Getting Better at Hiring in the Earlier Days

Q: What are some top hiring tips for early-stage startups?

My top list:

  1. Hire an internal recruiter as soon as you are making 1 new hire a month. It’s worth the expense to make the process much more efficient.  Just filtering candidates, scheduling the Zooms, and more becomes overwhelming once you are hiring even 1 new person a month.
  2. Do as much PR as you can. It may or may not get the attention of potential hires. But once they are in your funnel, they’ll find any PR you’ve done, at least once they have some interest.  It will help get them excited. Do any podcast that will have you. Put together a YouTube channel. Get even third-tier PR. Write some terrific blog pieces.
  3. Spend 20% of your time recruiting, period. No one spends as much time here as they think. You have to spend 20%+ of your time recruiting, or you’ll never get there.  More here.
  4. Force yourself to interview at least 20 candidates for each open position. This will stop you from settling too quickly.
  5. Find the best 2–3 advisors / mentors you can and give them some options (and/or cash) and ask for help. The best ones will often at least be able to find you one strong hire over the next 12 months.
  6. Don’t underhire. A stretch hire is one thing. But hiring someone too junior that can’t really do the job doesn’t save you money. It costs you money.
  7. Find an effective filter for the inbounds. Ask folks to tell you why they’d like to join, or do a video application, or perhaps a quick simple programming question. There are pros and cons to all of these. But you need some filter for the inbounds.
  8. Try alumni job boards at the schools you went to. Sometimes, the affinity with someone that graduated a few years back creates a connection.  Even one just great hire here is totally worth it.  Go Bears!!
  9. Use recruiters, and use them earlier than you’d planned.  In the early days recruiting fees can seem so expensive.  But you’ll tap out both your network and your outbound skills, earlier and faster than you think.  Start with contingent recruiters to de-risk things.  Move up to retained later as you scale.
  10. Reach out to folks that have worked at startups in your space that are a stage or two ahead. If nothing else, they’re often more receptive to cold emails.  You don’t need their domain expertise.  But it will likely make them more interested in having a chat.

 

Published on March 26, 2021

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