Startup hiring sucks, but it can be fixed

A man walks into the bar full of recruiters. Everyone stops and looks at him. Man says “Resume”. Recruiters erupt into cheer — “Yaaaayy !”

It’s a silly joke that I just made it up, but in reality that’s what Recruiter’s deal with — “Resume”. Recruiters get the list of job requirements, and then they go out on wild wild west hunting (Well, they don’t call “head hunting” for no reason). They search for resumes on job boards, LinkedIn, Google search (believe it or not, recruiters are one of the most power users of Google search).

This approach of outbound hiring relies on tactics of begging and bullying (by sending InMails, Emails, Phone calls). Sending unsolicited emails, cold calls are quite common but smart recruiters go beyond. They reach out to LinkedIn users working with competitors or when their companies lay off or get acquired. Not only these tactics are unethical, expensive they are also time consuming and frustrating for recruiters.

Candidates interested working in startups don’t usually rely on recruiter calls. They find interesting startups online on tech publications like techcrunch, research on crunchbase, linkedIn and apply for the job . I discovered my last startup Mu Dynamics (that got acquired by Spirent for 40M) while reading a blog on protocol fuzzing. I did my research about the founders, investors, product, technology etc, before reaching out to one of the founders. I loved every bit of working in that startup, met amazing people, made friends, accumulated 200k+ frequent flier miles. Important point to note is that my experience started not when I interviewed or joined the company, but from the moment I started reading and got excited about it.

Many startup founders agree that “Whenever companies publish an interesting article, product or funding announcement, the number of job applications go up significantly”

Hiring Strategy — Outbound vs Inbound

A successful hiring strategy has two dimensions. One of active job applicants and other for passive job applicants.

Outbound hiring — If recruiters (employers) have nothing valuable to offer upfront except a job listing, I define that hiring activity as Outbound. Outbound hiring relies on the need of job from candidate, and that’s why it is the tool for active job seekers. It includes emailing/calling to existing and new contacts with job listing, posting jobs on free and premium job boards where job seekers may be hanging out. For example, Stackoverflow for developers, AngelList and ventureloop and for startup jobs, and so on. Here are the pros and cons:

Old school cold calling doesn’t work anymore

Outbound Hiring Pros:

  • Engages with active job seekers
  • Works well for quick results


  • Expensive
  • Intrusive
  • Technology makes cold calling and emailing inefficient
  • Reaches to very small group of active job seekers
  • Dependent on search results on job boards.

Inbound Hiring strategy believes in offering relevant content first to readers and then generating enough interest and influence readers to apply for the job.

Inbound Hiring is all about engaging with people who like you from the very first moment they read about you.

Relevant and quality content attracts best talent

Inbound Hiring Pros:

  • Targets large group of passive job seekers
  • No overhead cost as it relies on marketing content published by company
  • Friendly. Offers value to target audience before expecting in return.
  • Converts followers into job applicants by constant engagement
  • Uses Inbound marketing content to target relevant audience
  • More ROI to the marketing dollars spent on creating content, SEO
  • Provides consistent stream of candidates

Inbound Hiring builds hiring layer on top of marketing content


  • Reachability is as good as marketing content


Hiring hasn’t changed in last 20 years but technology has. Voicemail and Spam detection like technologies make it difficult for recruiters to reach out to candidates. Premium job boards are expensive, free job boards make it difficult to list on the top. It’s time to leave intrusive outbound hiring and start using Inbound Hiring which is friendly and cost effective. The harder your marketing team works, the easier the life of recruiter gets.

Vikas Arya is the CEO of Kinetics. He writes about startup hiring challenges and how hiring can be made a better experience. To get stories on hiring strategies follow this blog or join him on twitter @kinetics_io.