Q: What are some top hiring tips for early-stage startups?
The best founders are relentless recruiters. Truly relentless.
However, very few started out that way
Your job in 2022 is to get there
— Jason ✨BeKind✨ Lemkin ⚫️ (@jasonlk) December 8, 2021
Recruiting is tough. I certainly don’t do it well enough. But to be a great CEO, you need to find a way to force yourself to be a great recruiter.
Let me share some learnings, and what I do now to force myself to be a better recruiter:
- Force yourself to interview 30 candidates for each VP position. Great things will happen if you do. First, you will budget a ton of time for recruiting. You’ll have to, to get through 30 interviews. Second, you’ll force yourself to spend more time tracking and managing candidates. And third, you’ll be less likely to settle. You can stop if the Perfect VP is Candidate 12. But plan on 30.
- Hire external recruiters — and be very good to them. External recruiters are juggling multiple clients and multiple sources. And contingent recruiters only get paid if they place a client. So be cool to them. Be responsive. After each of those 30 interviews — email over a note on your feedback. Be timely. If you don’t respond to an email from a recruiter with a great candidate — she’ll start to give up on you. And don’t worry about the cost. Getting a great candidate is more than worth 15, 20, 25 % of the first year total compensation.
- Hire an internal recruiter, too, as early as you can. At least as early as you are hiring more than 1 new employee a month. It’s way too many meetings, way too many candidates, to have individual VPs and employees manage. And do NOT expect your internal recruiter to save you on external recruiters. She may. But she may also bring in even more, better external recruiters. And she can manage AngelList, LinkedIn, and other platforms that are critical but produce a ton of noise.
- Find screening filters you can apply before the first face-to-face. Programming tests if you want / believe in them for devs. A critique of your product for a product hire. Whatever. Something that ahead of time shows they have a brain, are engaged, and might want the job. A fun “test” that takes 5 minutes and doesn’t seem like a test.
- Assume your personal and extended network does NOT source the candidate. We’d all love to hire from our “networks”, especially in the early days, when cash is king. But we all fatigue our networks — and quickly. Assume your network won’t be able to produce/source the candidate, and you won’t have an excuse. And you’ll get the hire done faster.
- Listen. Look for flags. Almost always, flags, issues you see during the recruiting process … become just Bigger Issues after you make the hire. Spend less time asking structured questions, and more time listening carefully to flags. No candidate is perfect. But the flaws you see in the interview process will be amplified 10x once the hire is full-time. Make sure you are comfortable with the trade-offs. Whatever you do — don’t hire any candidates that look great on paper but you don’t believe in. That’s a mistake we all make … that just never works out.
The 6 “tips and tricks” that help me …