What We Learned at OpenRec 2017

Just a couple weeks after OpenRec 2017, we’re still buzzing from the insights, tools, and strategies shared by speakers and attendees. A huge round of applause and thank-you to everyone who came, participated, and led sessions.

OpenRec, now in its second year, is a forum for startup talent recruiters to meet, share ideas, and gain new insights to build and scale their companies. The full day of content, networking, and fun fostered honest discussions about the challenges talent teams face in such a competitive environment. With over 140 companies represented, the main topics of interest centered around Candidate Pipeline, Programs, Metrics, and Diversity & Inclusion.

For those of you who couldn’t attend, not to worry! Below are a few key insights you can take back to your teams.

The Struggle is Real

Competition for talent in the Bay Area and global tech industry is fierce. Teams represented at OpenRec are responsible for over 16,000 hires this year. Recruiters are struggling to keep up with hiring demands for high-performing talent, regardless of company stage, size, or funding.

Consider New Hiring Channels

Startups tend to draw from the same candidate pool as flashy public companies and other successful startups. This battle for similar backgrounds results in a race to the top — more cash, better perks, sizable equity. It’s not easy for a growing startup to keep up.

During his “Hiring Through Nontraditional Channels” session, Ben Ilegbodu, an Engineering Manager at Eventbrite, encouraged recruiters to consider less obvious hiring channels when building out their engineering teams. In an effort to scale his team, Ben built a 3–4 month mentoring program for new hires. This allowed his team to hire recent coding boot camp graduates and pair them with senior engineers while they worked on production-level projects. Over time, the program brought new boot camp grads up to speed with equal time and effort costs as a recent college graduate. The result was faster hiring from a more diverse pool of candidates, with the same quality of engineering.

Metrics Give You a Voice

The top predictor of achieving annual hiring goals is involving the Head of Recruiting in the head count planning process, according to Lightspeed’s 2016–2017 Startup Recruiting Trends survey. However, fewer than two-thirds of startups actually do.

Securing a seat at the table is no easy feat, but sharing detailed metrics helps. In order to provide real-time, specific metrics, Zack Skelly, Lead Technical Recruiter at Heap, leveraged his internal engineering team to build a custom recruiting dashboard. Although determining what metrics to highlight took mindful planning, the entire buildout process took less than half a day from the engineering team. With this tool, the team can understand and predict the resources required to hit their hiring goals: number of emails sent, candidates interviewed, and offers extended. This type of data is invaluable during headcount planning meetings.

If you‘re struggling to extract data from your ATS, sit down with your engineering team. Once they know what information you’re looking for, they can likely come up with suggestions or even a custom solution with relatively low overhead.

Inclusion is a Team Effort

Nearly every company is working to define and build a Diversity & Inclusion program. Studies show teams with various experiences, backgrounds, and perspectives have higher rates of creativity, collective critical thinking, and overall success. How, then, can a startup ensure they’re building diversity and inclusion into the fabric of their company?

Mike Podobnik, Head of Global Talent Acquisition at Medallia, encourages companies to view Diversity and Inclusivity as a practice, not an end goal. It should be a core aspect in every part of the employee journey, not just hiring. By fostering employee groups and partnering with internal advocates, the team was able to build awareness, referral pipeline, and content channels to engage with a broader candidate base. Connecting these internal champions with relevant industry events, media channels, and speaking engagements can produce powerful recruitment branding, increase inbound applicants, and help with the offer closing process.

For companies who are just starting to think about this topic, identifying 1–2 key areas of impact and tackling those first is the best path to success. Read more about Medallia’s Inclusion approach here.

Sharing is Caring

While there is no “magic bullet” that will solve every recruiting challenge, OpenRec attendees shared a wide range of ideas and strategies for recruiting leaders to adapt to their own companies.

For those who weren’t able to attend, hopefully this recap has provided some measure of insight for your own recruitment efforts. Be sure to join our OpenRec list for updates.

OpenRec is hosted by Lightspeed Venture Partners, Redpoint Ventures, and Sequoia Capital.