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Conversation With A Startup Founder: I Need Help With The Non Recruiting Activities Of Recruiting


A couple of months ago during Twin Cities Startup Week I had a chat with a with a Startup Founder who was telling me about how they were having an easy time with recruiting. And I was not surprised. The group has a strong set of leaders who are well known and respected. They each have a good to great network of tech friends in town. And they had been active in saying they were hiring.

I had a conversation with the same person New Year’s Eve Day and they are… stressed out. Things are not going well.

I asked if I could take some notes to write for a blog post and they said yes.

Here are some issues they have been facing:

  • Process: they don’t have one. Each candidate experience has essentially turned into a choose your own adventure book. And at times has had everyone feeling confused.

  • Time: they don’t have it and they’re wasting it. Interview cycles were 3 weeks and that was before the holidays started. They are losing people because they are taking offers at other places or becoming disinterested.

  • Negotiation: they suck at it. They generally are not talking about their own salary range or what candidate expectations are until they are ready to extend the offer. Two times they found themselves $10K+ apart. Other times they went way outside their budget. They are not communicating why someone should work there beyond salary. An offer should be a win-win for both parties.

  • Brand: they are beginning to hurt their own reputations. They are not getting back to people in a timely manner and they are not “rejecting” people in a respectful way.

  • Candidate pool: is good to really good. But it’s not great. They are not finding people outside of their network so candidates tend to have the same experience and work/worked at the same places. Their pool tends to lack diversity of thought, experience, gender and age.

Here are the highlights of the advice I gave:

  • Create a process that is easy to manage and the same for everyone. Exceptions to the process are just that and not the norm.

  • Time is never your friend when it comes to recruiting. It must be a priority. I get you are busy building a company, speaking with VC’s and tending to day to day operations. But this can’t be an after thought.

  • Negotiations are always tricky… my advice to both “sides” is to be transparent from the start.

  • You have to treat people better than the way you want to be treated. We live in a really large, small town. More than that, it’s the right thing to do.

  • Having a strong network is awesome… but you can’t just fish from the same place every time. You need to go to other places, meet new people and grow who you know.

Back to the title of this post… the Founder said to me they need help with the “non-recruiting activities of recruiting”.

Their problem is that they thought recruiting is just the act of finding people or in their case… people finding them.

What they really need is a recruiting strategy that is reliable, sustainable and scalable.

If you are a startup founder, CTO, etc. and want to chat about recruiting and related topics… send me an email. I love these kinds of conversations.

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When a startup gets to a certain tipping point in growth, they really should hire someone to help with their recruiting. They can hire an independent recruiter or HR partner on an hourly basis, or do a full on RPO. Or, they can find someone that is a great recruiter and hire them.

If an organization is at the point where they are growing like crazy, bring in a senior recruiter. Most of us are good at process, can help implement an Applicant Tracking System of some kind, are good at marketing and branding, and if they have enough experience they can also help train.

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