People are the lifeblood of an organization, so setting the stage for a successful hiring process is important. Most early startups don’t have a dedicated in-house recruiter. Inevitably, someone else on the team needs to step up. Upfront disclaimer and an important note: my background is not in recruiting or human resources, so if that’s you too, and you’re tasked with managing a startup’s hiring, it’s going to be OK. The purpose of this post is to provide insight to those who are in, or could be, in the same situation I found myself in over a year ago — building a company’s hiring infrastructure from the ground up.
No Recruiter? It’s Okay.
For the first year I managed PeerStreet’s hiring, we didn’t have a dedicated recruiting resource. I managed everything from incoming candidates to scheduling, coordinating interviews, managing feedback sessions and the offer process (in addition to my primary job responsibilities). Today, we do have an internal recruiter, Bridget Jones, who comes to us from Amazon Web Services, among other impressive experience working at Disney, Google, Pandora and other tech companies. We brought her on the team when we reached a point of scale in our business and knew we would be taking our team to the next level in 2017. But before hitting that milestone, I put several processes in place to get PeerStreet’s hiring machine going. It was a lot of work, and at first, felt like a daunting task. The following tips and tricks help distil how to get started, how to systemize the hiring process without draining too much internal resource and, importantly, get your company well on the path to developing (or growing) a top-notch team.
At PeerStreet, we’ve been extremely fortunate with our ability to hire top-quality talent— the type of people Google, Yahoo, Amazon and any startup would be thrilled to have. But attracting top talent at a tech company right now is not an easy task. Whether you’re Snap Inc. or a budding startup, you’ll find that the competition for talent is fierce across the industry. As the person overseeing recruiting and hiring for PeerStreet, this has always been top of mind for me. However, a recent article from TechCrunch gave me, and probably other company leaders, pause about how challenging it can be to attract both junior and seasoned talent.
How to Hire Quickly and Responsibly
In late 2015, when PeerStreet got to a headcount of about 30, we quickly realized that ad hoc hiring wasn’t going to be functional at scale. What’s more, we needed to hire quickly in order to sustain the rapid growth we were experiencing. It was also extremely important to do so responsibly and thoughtfully. However, we didn’t have a dedicated in-house recruiting resource like we do now. To that point, hiring managers predominantly sourced candidates through their networks or word of mouth, and we were very successful that way. Just check out our team. Things definitely worked out for the best in our case.
Like most early startups, we didn’t have a perfectly laid out hiring roadmap for the following year but we knew, for instance, that come January 2016, we would have to staff up our underwriting team and we needed to get great people. So, our Head of Product approached me and asked if I would be willing to take on the recruiting process for a new Real Estate Analyst. I said yes that one time… and since then, I have worked on recruiting more than 30 new heads (with more coming) to our team, across various business areas. That first process wasn’t perfect, but we hired someone great for the role, one of our first real estate analyst hires, who has succeeded beyond expectation and been promoted as one of the team’s managers, and every subsequent hire has taught us something new and helped refine our system.
Hiring Software to Organize your Process
You may not have the luxury of a hiring roadmap, but if you’re managing a full-cycle recruiting process, organization is imperative. Otherwise, you’ll get overwhelmed. There are several platforms to help manage sourcing, tracking and communicating with candidates, and I strongly suggest having a couple in your toolbox.
PeerStreet currently uses Greenhouse and AngelList for hiring and we’ve recently integrated with BambooHR to help us with new hire onboarding. Greenhouse makes the organization process much easier. Honestly, I wouldn’t have made it through 30+ hires without it. The platform allows me to do anything from launching a job post to communicating with candidates and hiring teams, scheduling interviews, managing external recruiters and much, much more.
Sourcing correctly and from the right places is key to surfacing the right people for your team. I mentioned earlier that PeerStreet has been very lucky to have an early team with very strong cross-functional people that predominantly came to us primarily through personal networks and word-of-mouth. That’s not always going to be the case so here are my tips for sourcing candidates.
- AngelList: This is a great sourcing tool for growing tech companies because it’s a targeted audience and companies can customize their profiles to fit their brand. PeerStreet’s hired several people that were found on AngelList, including yours truly, and we continue to use it as one of our primary sourcing areas.
- LinkedIn: For professional networking and job searching, LinkedIn Recruiter is a powerful tool. That said, it requires some budget. Its Recruiter Lite tool is a more budget-friendly alternative, and a good way to test LinkedIn’s sourcing effectiveness.
- Greenhouse: Greenhouse is not a sourcing tool itself, but it does allow you to push job posts to various job boards. We currently post to sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, which bring in a lot of candidates. Based on our experience, however, sometimes these job boards are not the most targeted.
- Events and Meetups: Candidates want to know the people behind companies. They want to know they’re joining a smart, dynamic team where their individual contribution can have a big impact on the company. Getting in front of candidates at various industry events is a great way to do this. It’s also a great way for the company to meet prospective new hires in a more social setting.
- External Recruiters: This is expensive and something we try to avoid as much as possible, but for very specific roles, can be worth it. Using an external recruiter for most roles is not effective or practical, but we have found recruiters to be great for specialized business roles and a couple technical hires as well.
This list can go on and on, and if you source from too many places, you’ll never be able to stay on top of it all. My advice would be to first test things out, figure out what works and stick to those.
Implement Process in a Startup Environment
This is easier said than done. Everyone at a startup is extremely busy and following hiring “protocol” won’t always be top of mind. But it will make your life a lot easier to implement, at least some, process early. Without it, you’ll receive hiring requests from every angle and get bogged down.
Executive and hiring manager buy-in will also be key. These are the people most entrenched in the recruiting process so you’ll want to make sure they’re on board with your plans. Get stakeholder input early and build a recruiting process around that. You’ll be pleased to see that the overall culture will be reflected in your new hires – a win/win situation for everyone. What’s more important than keeping up with growth and maintaining the culture that built a foundation worthy of such growth? This is challenging, but will cause your organization to stay focused on your mission.
Some Afterthoughts About Hiring Policies
P.S. – Speaking of mission, here are some things to consider when developing policies and procedures around hiring:
- What is our short- and medium-term hiring roadmap?
- What’s the division of labor between hiring managers, recruiters and HR?
- What are the steps that need to be taken before a recruiting resource is provided for a role?
- How many interview stages should there be for each role?
- Who are the people who should be interviewing candidates?
- How do we train them to be successful interviewers?
- How do we collect and disseminate feedback on candidates?
- How does the team communicate with candidates?
There’s more to consider, but that’s a good start. Part two of this conversation coming soon.
If you want to learn more about what PeerStreet does, watch our How It Works video. We are always looking for top talent to join our team so check out our career page to see who we are hiring or call us at 844-733-7787.
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