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.
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.