How to Make Your Company Stand Out While Recruiting

By Katie Sullivan of VentureApp

This originally appeared on the VentureApp blog.

Recruitment is an extremely critical aspect of scaling a startup. After all, the quality of your team can truly make or break your company.

We have a lot to say about scaling the people process. In fact, our CEO just wrote a series of posts for OpenView Venture Partners on how to do it effectively. Having an awesome team is important, especially for early-stage startups — and it’s important to do it right from the start.

Teaming up with a well-connected recruiter can put you in front of game-changing candidates. Using online recruiting tools can make job postings more efficient and greatly increase the number of quality applicants. Both recruiters and recruiting software are excellent ways of improving and expediting the hiring process, foregoing the arduous process of manually filtering and poaching people off of LinkedIn or other similar sites.

If you are like the startups on our platform, you understand the value of investing in support during this process. Unfortunately, a recruiter and recruiting software can only get you so far. Your company needs to be perceived as competitive from a workplace, equity, and salary standpoint as well to attract top tier candidates. Before you invest in recruiting support, make sure that your company is ready for it. You want to maximize the value and ensure ROI.

Exhaust your network. Between your own connections and those of your employees, you can likely get an introduction to your pie-in-the-sky hires. If you can’t reach them yourself, it is helpful to share these real-life examples of pie-in-the-sky hires with your recruiter to shape their search.

Button up your employee benefits & perks. Especially for early-stage startups with a small passionate team, it’s easy to run on a bare-bones benefits plan to save on costs. When you start to grow, new employees will look for benefits and perks to tip the scale in favor of leaving their current gig. Healthcare, 401k, life insurance, commuter benefits, etc. are all nice to haves for startups. If you can’t guarantee all of those hard costs up front and money is tight, play up some stock option packages & be transparent about their value, and tout cost-friendly perks like flexible hours & vacation, company networking or happy hours, beer & learns, etc. Young professionals are eager to learn and grow so providing career advancement opportunities is also important.

Sell yourself. Culture is everything and if you have a good one, you should be selling it. Your online presence and transparency about the inner workings of your business will be a criteria for applicants that do their research prior to accepting an interview. Display the smarts of your team and the desirability of the culture your team has created via social and blog posts, as well as media coverage of company milestones, new hires and office space, office tours, etc. If you are killing it from a culture and perks and benefits perspective, apply for “best places to work” awards which call upon your team to describe why they really enjoy working at the company.

Do a cost analysis of what you can afford for recruitment support.Like all services and service providers, price tiers exist and you need to understand what you can afford and what you can expect as a result.

Conduct an internal analysis that DETAILS the ideal candidate per role and from a company-culture perspective. If you want solid results and quality feedback as to where you stand from an industry standpoint of attracting quality candidates, providing as much detail as possible to the recruiter is essential. Work backwards if it is easier — who do you NOT want to work with and what are the qualities that don’t fit in your organization? The opposite of these characteristics should outline your job descriptions.

Determine your interview process. Once you have recruits lining up at your door, what will you do with them? We recommend a formal process that screens people at each stage — a phone interview, an email questionnaire, an in-person interview and skill test, a team meeting to test for culture fit, and a tryout if possible where the candidate works alongside the team for an hour.

Be quick & don’t let people sit. The worst thing you can do is put out a call for candidates and then not reply promptly. Again, it’s a busy market with lots of demand for talent. Your perfect hire could be snapped up in a matter of hours, so move quickly when you have a good reaction to their application. Further, throughout the process, timeliness and quick response time will be viewed favorably by applicants. They will not want to join a company that can’t answer an email in 1–2 business days.

Be courteous. These applicants likely have other jobs to keep happy and are juggling interviews alongside their personal life. While it is their choice to interview with you, a little generosity in scheduling interviews goes a long way. Likewise, if a candidate asks you to bend over backwards to accommodate her schedule, she probably isn’t the most considerate or flexible employee either.

Recruiting can be daunting but by organizing and applying order prior to and during the process, you will only create more opportunities for your company to attract better talent. If you are investing in people, invest wholeheartedly in these checkpoints to ensure the people are right for your company and your company is right for them.

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