MOVING RECRUITING AS FAST AS RETAIL DURING THE HOLIDAYS

The holidays are a great time to keep your recruiting engine moving and to get your house in order for your next big hiring surge.

 

While most companies feel a significant drop in recruiting cadence around Thanksgiving (like with a lot of things), there is no reason to let your recruiting efforts slow down.  It’s true that you will have more logistics issues with the holidays before the year end, and it’s also true people seem a bit more distracted with the holidays.  But with a little effort on your part, you can still move on key hires.

 A good deal of people are planning to start a job search come January.  A lot of candidates will have year-end bonuses paid out and will be looking for something new.  If you can get on their radar and start a conversation before January rolls around, then you give yourself a great advantage over the competition - TIMING.  As once a candidate is on the market, you’ll be lucky at that point to garner any attention.

We recommend continuing at your current pace, making yourselves available to interview quickly.  Check to make sure your recruiting process isn’t too heavy, and see about possibly shortening the interview cycle by combining or eliminating unnecessary steps.

Or get really creative and consider turning your holiday festivities into an open house for potential candidates.  The overall slowdown and mood of most companies this time of year makes it a great time to be more personal.  It also feels good to start a new year fully staffed.  There are many reasons to keep things moving.

So take advantage of the holiday slowdown and make a power play for the talent you need.  Don’t forget to use this time to take a look at your overall success this past year, clean up your social media presence, and forecast where you’ll need to be this time next year.

 

Our favorite (Cheap or FREE!) Tools

When you need to DIY your recruiting process, free is a very good price!


What we do isn't rocket science, but it has some core skills that not everyone is stellar at.  Recruiting tends to be administratively heavy, and the specialized recruiting done by HireLabs requires deep research skills in order to find not just the best of the best, but the best for you. Even after you’ve moved your startup out of the garage, you might not be ready for our expertise. So we’ve got a few tips to share (including free and open source) that will help you DIY your recruiting.

But before we dive into that, first and foremost, you’ll need real business tools and support, and for this it doesn’t make sense to go cheap. You need good accounting software, a good CPA, and a good lawyer.  Don’t scrimp here - you will be sorry later.

As your company begins to grow in both customers and employees, consider investing in an ATS or CRM that will allow you to manage that growth. G-Suite is one of the best overall tools; email, calendar, video calls, Pages (like Word) and Sheets (like Excel).  And you can always use Sheets as a faux database until you have the money to invest in a dedicated tool with greater functionality.  And if you are a G-Suite user, you can tack on their Hire tool, which will give you the seamless workflow you need.

LinkedIn has become the defacto professional website and nearly everyone has a profile listed there. Most recruiters have to use it off and on, in some way or another, but keep in mind that the Engineering community tends to keep their profiles lean until it’s job-search time. So before you jump in and open a $20K+ Recruiter Pro account, I’d encourage you to create a free account of your own and also one for the company. From there you can use the InMail feature to make contact with your top targets. You get 5 InMails free a month. If you and your staff work strategically, you may get by with just these, initially.  

You’ll need tenacity and elbow grease to crack the hiring code specific to your startup.  Eventually, you’ll need a company like HireLabs to help you with strategy and scale. Until then, we’ve assembled a list of tools that are our own top picks to help you get started.

 

Tom’s Top Picks

ContactOut: This is a great email grabber tool.  My go-to tool!

Angel List: Angel List has quickly developed into a great resource for startup-specific connectiongs between companies and candidates.  While not everyone on there has the startup experience you may seek, you can at least be sure that they are interested in your culture and understand that you are small and in growth mode.

GitHub: GitHub has always been a wonderful repository for developers working on opensource projects.  This is now also a great way to reach out to engineers who are contributors to tools or projects that align with the work you are doing.  And best yet - you can see their code!

Kelly’s Top Picks:

Lead IQ: Click to get emails, phone numbers, work addresses, position title from a LinkedIn profile. I use this as a sourcing tool, but the spreadsheet format can be exported to your own ATS. Reliable capture of work emails, will grab any personal emails it can find. Reliable on LinkedIn, not so reliable on Angelist.

LinkedIn X-Ray Search: From RecruitmentGeek, a great searching hack that dives deep and picks up LI profiles I might not have seen yet.

MailTester: If all else has failed and  I have to guess an email pattern I can plug in the format and verify which pattern works.

RocketReach: I keep the five free searches from RocketReach in reserve

for those rare cases that LeadIQ comes up blank.

 

Steph’s Top Picks:

Boomerang for Gmail: Allows you to track email through your Gmail account. Great for keeping tabs on critical reach-out campaigns.

LinkedIn: Use your free profile account for recruiting! You can search your network and make connections to connect to top candidates. Leverage the free InMails they give you!

G-Suite: Everything I need under one roof. It has a word processor, a spreadsheet (faux ATS!) and email.  Combine that with their new Hire tool and you are golden!

RocketReach: If you can’t get through to someone directly on LinkedIn, you can always use an email grabber like this one to help find associated emails and then you can use your other tools to make contact.

 

We must caution you to beware of all the white noise in the space these days, though. With an ever-changing landscape of tools, demographics va the workforce and the high cost-of-living in urban areas, a solid talent acquisition solution is hard to come by. Great tools are constantly being replaced or acquired and then you have to start all over. Dean DeCosta keeps a running list of tools and tips and tricks, but it’s a long list and likely has many that no longer work. Try a few new tools and keep using the ones you like until they stop working or they want you to pay-to-play. I recommend adding Extensity as a way to quickly enable/disable Chrome extensions.

DIY Recruiting for Startups with Limited Resources

For small companies unable to retain an agency, going rogue can be a viable option

 

Okay, everyone should know by now that effective recruiting is critical for startups seeking to get a head start on the competition. Attracting top talent, however, is a challenge for companies of any size. Just think: the average job opening draws more than 250 resumes, from which only 2% of candidates are interviewed, and the average search lasts 42 days. And you know that’s not how many applicants you’ll be getting for your developer openings (much less qualified applicants).

That search time (42 days my ass!) is an eternity in the startup world. Yet, it’s more critical to make smart hires during a startup’s early stage to pave the way for rapid growth and continued success in the years to come. Experienced recruiters recognize that placing the right candidates in key roles early is only the first step; retaining them is essential. But good recruiting firms don’t come cheap and, in general, startups must make due on limited resources between funding rounds.

This raises the question: In terms of recruiting effectiveness, should startups go the DIY route?

 

Weighing the benefits

The answer is… maybe. A do-it-yourself strategy has its pros and cons, just as it does in other areas of your business. The trick is determining the degree to which potential strengths overcome areas of weakness. No one quite knows and pitches a company better than the founders and others at the top, who also probably have developed many close relationships with top talent over the years and may be eager to come when called. So yes, always start with your network first and work out from there. You may already have enough to work with and can postpone having to go beyond your own network, at least for awhile.

 

Understanding the risks

So just keep things going low and slow. Network, create an Angel List profile, throw out a few postings and everything will work out fine, right? Yeah, sure - until you realize that the behemoths like Amazon and Google have WAY more cash and resources than you do and are out-hiring you at every turn.

But you’re always going to have pressing needs, and usually ones that can only be fixed by adding new developers ASAP. And that’s where experienced recruiting help is invaluable. You’ll need someone who understands the recruiting landscape, someone you can trust to take that time-consuming task off your plate so you can focus your time and energy on product development, sales initiatives, or other important growth-related activities. Not to mention there are some aspects to hiring—particularly those related to contracts, negotiation, and compliance—that fall in line with the accounting and legal needs that no startup should ever try to tackle on its own.

 

What you’ll need

If your company is considering the do-it-yourself route, there are a number of free or very affordable tools that go a long way in meeting your immediate needs. But one area no tool will help you with is company branding. Without branding, you have no idea if you have product-market fit. Without branding, you can’t sell yourself to prospective investors; and, you can’t attract top talent.

Most startups lack brand recognition and that’s okay as that will change over time (not ideal, but okay). But without any type of branding to work with, you’re going to lose out on a lot of the best talent out there, talent that gets a better sense of who you are from your branding; your branding is your story. So invest in solid branding and the time needed to create proper implementation of your recruiting tools & processes. You’ll then be in a much better position to make those pivotal hires you’ll need not only to survive, but succeed.

 

Stay tuned:

Our next blog post will detail and recommend what free and affordable recruiting tools you should consider - including contact management, collaboration, productivity, and lead-generation, among others.


 

I’m Dreamin’ of a… Little More Diversity

How startups can approach diversity hiring with these 3 approaches

 

Promoting diversity is a hot-button topic in hiring practices lately, particularly in the technology industry where - according to the National Science Foundation - women comprise only 12.9% of U.S. engineering workforce, and African-Americans barely more than 5%.

What’s more, areas like Seattle and Silicon Valley may be at the forefront of cultural diversity but, despite renewed efforts, that diversity doesn’t extend to the workplace. Statistics don’t lie. Just 4% of Facebook employees are Hispanic and only 2% are African-American. Microsoft is doing slightly better in terms of racial diversity, but it is also behind the curve as far as gender hiring. Amazon fares stronger on paper, but much of the diverse demographics its employees represent hold low-paying, non-technical jobs.

Yet, for all this lack of diversity, some are lashing out at tech company programs designed to address the problem. Most notably by the now-former Google engineer James Damore’s recent manifesto that suggested women’s underrepresentation in engineering has its roots in genetics (wha?!). Nevertheless, programs designed to rectify workplace bias and embrace new outreach face a growing cast of vocal skeptics.

So what do you do? Well, here are three things for growing companies to consider if they truly want to foster diversity within their organizations:

 

Transparency and accountability

Best to start with first taking inventory of current demographics and be very honest about these numbers with candidates and what you’re doing to improve them. Even if your numbers are bad, you’ll get credit for sharing. Unfortunately, the numbers continue to be bleak for women and minorities. But at least acknowledging the issue publicly is a smart step in addressing the problems that come with it.

For most startups, such transparency isn’t expected. But a common practice of all companies is to highlight backgrounds of company leadership and feature birdseye views of employee diversity through online company photos. And while this gives prospective applicants an idea of the company’s culture insofar as its gender and racial demographics, it doesn’t adequately address the issue. As with Amazon, women and minorities pictured might represent every department except Engineering (oops). For this reason, startups that are actively recruiting and hiring with diversity goals in mind should consider transparently detailing the makeup of their Engineering teams specifically.

 

Cultivating corporate diversity through education

A key factor in breaking down demographic barriers in the workplace is through community outreach and education. In China, for instance, where STEM subjects are emphasized for all students early on, 40% of the country’s engineers are now women.

While American companies can’t directly steer federal education policy, they can do their part in fostering interest and activity in tech-related studies and careers across gender and races by spearheading outreach programs that involve having women and minority engineers serve as educators and role models within their community. In fact, many leading tech companies of all sizes are already doing so through organizations like TAF (Technology Access Foundation) and YearUp. This sends a positive signal that they’re interested in and supportive of diversity.

 

Tackling bias head-on with key hires

But in terms of hiring and recruiting practices, there’s really just one key approach that tends to flourish while others fail: The organizations that successfully attract and retain diverse workforces are those that empower diversity from the top rungs of company leadership.

Strong company leadership is the key to getting ahead on issues of diversity. A recent Forbes Insights study found that seven in ten companies report that the ultimate responsibility of their diversity efforts rests with C-level executives and their companies’ boards of directors.

So you want to attract a diverse workforce? Then the easiest way will be to hire women and minorities for top management roles that make hiring decisions. These managers bring new points of view that will otherwise be lacking, and are more likely to hire candidates of similarly diverse backgrounds. Then you’ll see diverse hires across the board, seamlessly branching out and down to all levels in the organization.

 

Put a Ring On It: Recruiting in a Candidate-Driven Market

I can't tell if people think I'm just plain crazy or that I'm being disingenuous when I tell them that I'm a startup junkie. Inevitably, they ask if I've "cashed in", assuming that's why I still drink the Kool-aid. But the answer is I haven't.  Not really, anyway.  So why do I love them so?

We all have a “friend” who dated someone for years who was kicked to the curb for somebody else willing to make a commitment.  Just like our “friend”, companies are being kicked to the curb by candidates who have no need to wait when multiple suitors are proposing offers.

Even worse, some companies have been trained to slow their hiring processes for fear of making a bad hire - a cultural mismatch, technical mismatch, or a premature hire the company can’t afford.  Such outdated paradigms will cost them big when competing for exceptional tech employees in a candidate-driven market.

A recent Recruiter Sentiment study by MRINetwork found the top two factors keeping employers from adding to their headcount are lengthy hiring processes and hiring managers not finding enough suitable candidates.  Companies that refuse to acknowledge the tech industry is in a candidate-driven market continue to do so at their peril.  Stringing along a candidate because you can’t get your shit together will cause you to lose exceptional talent to the competition who has already figured this out.  And your cold feet will also affect your ability to source suitable candidates to fill your pipeline.

But here’s the real heartbreak: if you go by the estimate that an employee generates two times their annual salary in the work they produce, every day a role remains unfilled is costing you.

Henry Ward, CEO of eShares, has put a lot of thought into how to hire.  In an excerpt from their November 2015 Town Hall, Ward argued that companies tend to take their time with hiring because they’re afraid of “False Positives”.  False Positives are hires you thought would work out but didn’t.  “False Negatives” are candidates you didn’t hire but should have - the ones who got away.  A poetic example of a False Negative is Brian Acton.  Facebook didn’t hire him in 2009, and then bought his company WhatsApp in 2014 for $19B.  Oh, the wasted years.  And money!  Ward’s point?  Learn from False Positives and hire better next time.  False Positives are okay; False Negatives are not.

But all this talk of moving faster isn’t to say you can take your eye off the prize.  You still need to try to hire candidates whose best work is in front of them.  However, in a candidate-driven market, you can’t let slow, inefficient, or overly sequential processes dominate.  Hiring should use the same agile methodology as software development - move quickly, fail quickly, adjust, repeat.

So don’t be afraid to hire fast and fire fast if the match isn’t right.  But do be afraid - very, very afraid - of what you’ll lose if you let your hiring process slow you down and get in the way of hiring those next great candidates.  They won’t wait long for you to put a ring on it.

If your startup needs a recruiting strategy for a candidate-driven market, HireLabs can help.

Holiday Recruiting: How to Win Talent in the Slow Season

Sure, ‘tis the season and all that.  But don’t get drunk on holiday cheer and run your recruiting plan into a ditch.  It’s typical to take your foot off the gas to focus on other business activities when it appears everyone seems uninterested in talking about a new job.  So here are a few ideas on what your startup could be doing during the holiday season:

  • Revamp your referral program.  Referrals continue to be the best source of hires, and a solid referral program is the best way to scale those no matter what your company’s hiring needs.  Take a good, hard look at what you’re doing now and ask if this will get you where you need to be by this time next year.  As Google discovered recently, throwing money at it isn’t enough.  If your employees aren’t making referrals, you need to ask yourself why.

  • Make use of your entire suite of recruiting tools. Not only the tools you already have in place, but researching new tools, especially if they’ll help boost referrals.  If you don’t have tools in place that make recruiting and sourcing easy, consider making the investment.

  • Don’t be a luddite!  In case you haven’t noticed, recruiting on social networks is all the rage right now.  Most applicant tracking systems and CRM’s have some sort of integration that makes it easy to share job openings on your employees’ networks.  Use it.