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.

Tom ThompsonComment