19 Recruiting Strategies to Make Hiring Your Top Growth Hack

Adam SeabrookRecruiting Strategies For Startups

At startups, we’re obsessed with growth hacks. 

We fantasize about becoming the next Airbnb by hacking Craigslist, or the next Dropbox by nailing referrals. 

But one growth hack I’ll challenge you on is recruiting. After product market fit, nothing is more important to growth than hiring the right people. 

The right people grow your startup exponentially - the wrong ones stunt growth.

To get that exponential growth, you need a recruiting strategy that provides a steady pipeline of people ready to jump aboard when you post your jobs.

Bonus: Download the 3 step recruiting strategy used by professional recruiters to find, attract and hire the right people every single time. 

I've put together 19 tips to help you build a strategy that attracts the best talent and keeps your company top of mind for star recruits. 

To make this even more useful, I also got advice from recruiting experts and seasoned business professionals, who answered this question:

"What is the single biggest hiring mistake startups make when recruiting?"

We've got answers from Mitchell Harper, an entrepreneur whose companies have made more than $200 million in online sales, #1 startup interviewer Andrew Warner, Infusionsoft's Manager of Talent Acquisition, and lots more.

If you're thinking of hiring a recruiter see, How Job Recruiters Help Battle the Talent Shortage

1. Great Applicants are Like Great Customers - Treat them Well

Treat your recruitment strategy like you do your marketing and sales funnel. 

If you receive a high quality lead, would you wait 3 days to call that lead? 

Then don’t do that to a high quality candidate. A high quality candidate is in high demand. 

You should move heaven and earth to accommodate that candidate, impress them and treat them to a great hiring experience.

Kate Mcmillen
Kate McMillen

Infusionsoft’s strategy for recruiting is similar to its customer strategy. We make our candidate experience similar to our customer experience. Our candidate formula is Engage, Inform, and Transform, much like our customer formula: Attract, Sell and Wow.

Does this sound counter-intuitive to you?

Do you feel like you're supposed to be tough on potential applicants, or that you don't have the time to call them right away?

I can't stress this enough. Recruiting is really one of the most important things to achieving growth, and one of three things that should be in a CEO job description.

Every new person you add to your team can move it forward dramatically, slow it down, or take it a step back. That's why companies like Google, Facebook, Uber, and SnapChat offer high option packages, so they can attract the best talent in the world. 

They know, as you should, that building the right team is 90% of your job as a founder or CEO.

Once you prioritize recruiting and build your recruitment strategy, you'll start naturally start to create your own employer brand.

As this happens, remember that it is as important to bringing on top talent as your customer brand is to acquiring customers. 

Treat it as such. You can start by sending new employees a personal welcome letter. Little things go a long way.

2. Understand the Cost/Benefit of a New Employee Before You Hire

Should you hire a new employee?

There are a lot of ways to try to answer this question, but one of the best is using cold, hard math. Before you hire, you need to know what the potential costs and benefits are. 

When figuring out the potential cost, be thorough. 

Costs you'll want to be sure to include:

  • Recruiting costs. Be sure to include advertising, time spent reviewing and interviewing, travel expenses, etc.
  • Salary. Look at salary ranges for the job, and know what the average is.
  • Taxes. Include worker's compensation, social security, unemployment and medicare.
  • Benefits. Add up the costs of all the benefits you plan on offering for the position.
  • Equipment. Cost of the equipment you'll need to buy the employee. 
  • Space. Price per square foot of the space need, plus furnishings.
  • Training. Personnel and additional admin costs of bringing the employee on.
  • Onboarding. How long you'll be paying the employee before they're productive.

Benefits to include:

  • Sales. Will a new employee bring in revenue?
  • Expansion. Will a new employee allow an expansion or handling of more customers?
  • Relief. Will a new employee allow other staff to focus on revenue generation?
  • Development. Will a new employee allow you to develop new streams of revenue?

You'll also want to calculate the potential return on investment, or ROI, of an employee. If you need some help with that, here's a great, free calculator.

To get the maximum ROI, you need to hire the best. 

Typically, ROI for employees in the top third of their performance is 15 percent more than average. But getting top employees may require higher salaries, more money spent on recruiting, and having a great hiring process in place.

As J.T. O'Donnell notes, it's worth the cost.

J T  Odonnell
J.T. O'Donnell

The biggest mistakes I see start-ups making is hiring people without a clear sense of how their work will justify the cost of hiring them. 

If you are hiring based on anticipated growth, you should be able to calculate the ROI on the person you are hiring. If you can't quantify how this person will definitely increase the earnings so their salary and benefits are covered, then you are just putting yourself in a negative cash flow situation. 

Yes, employees need to be trained and require a ramp up period. But, if within that time you aren't able to then confirm the ROI is there, you shouldn't keep them on. 

I have personally made this mistake in the past and it reinforced for me how important it is to A) only hire top performers, and B) only hire when you know the ROI is greater than the hiring cost.

A lot of the experts stress taking your time when you hire, which is hard for startups to do - they're used to moving fast. But as Debra Wheatman points out, we need to take time to be sure the value is there.

Debra Wheatman
Debra Wheatman

Oftentimes, startup environments are running in overdrive and they don't 
put enough thought or effort into the type of role they need for the 
company. 

It is easy to just hire a resource. However, the person needs to 
be able to add value in the organization. Especially when a company is small and growing it is important to bring in resources that can deliver the right value for the company in a timeframe that makes sense. 

Hiring takes time. 

While it shouldn’t take an inordinate amount of time (like months), it can take weeks. A good job description, interview process and decision-making should be well planned to avoid making costly mistakes.

3. Not Ready to Hire? It Might be Time for a Freelancer

Sometimes math just isn't on your side, but you still have a job that needs to be done. 

That's a good time to consider hiring freelancers. 

In fact, you may want to consider freelancers even if you can afford a regular employee. Many freelancers will jump at the opportunity to join a fast growing startup in the early days, and you get the chance to see how they work, and how well you work together. 

If you hire a freelancer and they nail major goals, then you may want to approach them for a full-time role.

If the work you need done can be accomplished on a computer from anywhere in the world, check out CloudPeeps. They've made it really easy to search a large number of potential freelancers, see their ratings, hire them, and monitor their work. 

Diane Helbig has some additional thoughts on freelance work.

Diane Helbig
Diane Helbig

Lack of clarity. Startups need to be sure they have real clarity around exactly what function(s) they need to fill. Then they need to decide if it’s something that requires an employee or an outsourced solution. Too many startups decide to hire when their need could be met with a contractor.

4. Hire Employees that Thrive at Each Stage of a Startup

Startups are a special situation when it comes to recruiting. 

You'll need the kind of people that can navigate a fast changing landscape with little oversight and guidance, and quickly learn new tasks as they become necessary.

That's why it's a good idea to look for adaptable people who have previously worked in fast moving environments. Hiring someone who’s been in a corporate environment doing the same task for years and moving them into a 5 person team can be challenging, to say the least.

Not sure if an employee can "hack" the startup environment? Try freelancing first, as we mentioned earlier, or do what companies like Automattic do - figure it out by having potential employees do real (paid) tasks with the team before making it official.

Kate Kendall
Kate Kendall

Startups can often hire a good person but at the wrong stage of the company's life. In the early days, you need to optimise for those comfortable with uncertainty, change, less structure and a flat hierarchy. A star hire from a brand-name company might not be turn out as expected. Make sure you also a good mix of tech to non-tech talent.

When you're just getting started, you'll want a team that wears many hats, like a search marketer that can test Facebook and radio campaigns, or an engineer than can double up as your ops manager. 

Dean Da Costa has a great bit of advice on getting multi-talented hiring right.

Dean Da Costa
Dean Da Costa

The single biggest mistake is not building their team correctly. They tend to do 1 of 2 things. Either they think too mono-talented, meaning finding that expert Java guy but that is all they can do. 

Or they think too cross-job-talented, meaning they want a Java expert who is also a networking expert, and a Tech writer, those are 3 different jobs and skill sets. 

What they should be thinking is cross-talented. Meaning you need a Java developer, get a good java developer that can also develop in other languages as well. Startups get caught between the expert developer and the robot who can do many things besides develop, when what they want is a “swiss army knife” who can develop cross platform in many languages. 

As your company grows, you’ll want to start thinking about specialists that know a particular area inside and out. 

For example, you may find that Google Adwords is key to your growth strategy, and your budget justifies hiring a full-time PPC manager. Finding a true expert who’s been doing this for years can have a enormous impact on your growth.

As our startups continue evolving, Tony Restell reminds us we need employees who can evolve with it.

Tony Restell
Tony Restell

Firstly I have seen business owners reluctant to delegate key tasks to staff – and so have constrained the growth of the business by not hiring soon enough. You can’t be driving every project and be responsible for every decision in the business or your startup will simply lose momentum. 

So hire early. 

A second mistake I’ve seen is for owners to get hung up on the exact qualifications and experience that you want your first hires to have. Ask most seasoned business owners about their companies and you will invariably hear that the business changed significantly in its first years. 

So the most important attributes for your first employees are that they are enthusiastic, eager to learn and capable of fulfilling a variety or roles within the company – that way their contribution to the business can evolve as the business itself evolves.

Evolution, iteration, change... that's what startups are all about, right? Rodolphe Dutel has some additional thoughts on hiring for quick wins or hiring for potential as your startup evolves.

Rodolphe Dutel
Rodolphe Dutel

Startups usually hire someone for their skills (what they can do today) or their potential (what they may be able to do once they ramp up). It's important to decide ahead of time which of those two routes startups want to explore: Understanding how immediate your need is, and whether you have time/resources to mentor someone to grow into a role is key. 
A typical example is for sales, you may get a seasoned sales person to build a team around them, or hire one/two junior sales people and mentor them.

5. Strengthen Your Employer Brand With Content Marketing

It'd be nice to have a strong employer brand, right?

A brand that the top talent in your space has heard of, and wants to work for, so that when they learn about a position at your startup they're excited about the opportunity, and not wondering who you are.

Business leaders are convinced that branding to attract talent is critical to staying competitive.

Employer branding is becoming strategically more important.

Via HBR.ORG

But who has the money for employer branding? 

As it turns out, you do. Because these days you don't need to run an ad during the Super Bowl to get the word out there. The internet has made publishing inexpensive and doable for any business, and content marketing is a great way to raise awareness about your brand.

One of the key components to content marketing is sharing your knowledge to attract customers. 

Each member of your team probably has an area of expertise. Help them find ways of sharing this in a variety of places, whether it's writing a short article on Medium or your company blog, tweeting short tidbits of wisdom, or answering questions on Quora.

Your work culture is another great content marketing asset. 

Share it with Instagram photos, use Facebook's live broadcasting feature, and write about how it informs day-to-day decisions at your company.

Give people a chance to learn about your team and an idea of what it'd be like to be part of it, and they may just want to join. That's how branding attracts talent. 

6. Embrace A Coaching Culture To Attract Millennials

The future is already here. 

If you're not working to attract millennials to your company, then your recruiting strategy is heading nowhere. 

Not sure about that? Consider this.

In just a few short years, millennials will make up nearly half the workforce. By 2030, they'll be 75 percent of it. Start strategizing now if you want the best of this generation. 

Millennials in the workforce.One way to start attracting millennials is to build a coaching culture. Millennials have overwhelmingly shown that they're interested in opportunity. They don't want to just settle in for the long haul for the next 20 years, they want go know where they're going in the next 2. 

Help them learn and grow, and you'll attract and keep them.

7. Create an Office Space Millennials Want to Work In

Millennials prefer an open workspace.

The last few decades have seen some big shifts in cultural norms.

The suit and tie, once a symbol of powerful companies and serious jobs, has become a sign of stodginess in many industries.

But there is probably no work convention more hated these days than the cubicle. From Dilbert to Office Space, it's become the symbol for a creativity killing work space.

Want to attract millennials to your startup? How you design your workspace should be part of your recruiting strategy. Open office plans are much more popular among millennials than the rat mazes of yesteryear.

Beyond open spaces, the office is also becoming a destination for millennials - a place where they work, exercise, eat and even sleep. Think about what you can offer employees that makes the office a destination.

John Feldmann
John Feldmann

A startup or small business recruiting strategy should offer the candidate an emotional investment. Since a startup or small business is focused on its core business, they sometimes overlook the work/life balance and long-term stability aspects. Offering a salary and office perks isn’t enough. Candidates want to know how they will make a difference at work and in the community. 

8. Use Data to Optimize Your Hiring Time

When I talked to the experts about recruitment strategies, another issue that came up over and over again was timing.

Hire too slow, and you'll be bringing on employees to help mitigate disasters. Hire too quickly, and won't get the best people. 

To help you gauge if you're getting the timing right, you'll want to start measuring your time to hire. From deciding you need a new employee to actually bringing them onboard, how long does it take?

Knowing this will help your company determine how much lead time you need for effective recruitment. 

The average time to hire is at 27 days (an all time high), but will vary regionally and by job. Measure your own time to hire so you can get the timing right.

James Mac Gregor
James MacGregor

Hiring too slowly. To date we've only hired people when it's become critical already. One piece of advice I received recently was just assume everything is going to go to plan and hire early for that expansion. Time will tell if that's good advice but we've changed our mind set and are now hiring for growth rather than hiring to fight fires.

Of course, you don't want to rush into hiring either. In the corporate world, the cost of a bad hire is $840,000, based on a second-level manager earning $62k per year. Most startups can't lose this kind of money, which is why a bad hire could cost you everything.

Getting the timing right means giving yourself the time to find a good hire, not just someone to fill an empty seat.

Andrew Warner, founder of #1 startup podcast Mixergy, talks about how we need to resist desperation and stay calm to get the best hires.

Andrew Warner
Andrew Warner

The biggest hiring mistake that I've made repeatedly is being too desperate. Desperation takes on many forms. Sometimes we think that the person in front of us is the greatest person ever. And we don't establish the right relationship with them from the beginning because we're just too eager to hire them. 

Sometimes desperation makes us hire somebody even though we don't think they're the right person, but we feel we HAVE to fill the position right away. Regardless of how it shows up we can't let desperation creep into the hiring process.

While startups and smaller businesses tend to be quick and nimble, they may want to think twice before establishing a hiring process that's as fast as the rest of their business. 

HR professional Tim Sackett explains why startups need to be patient with hiring, even when they're moving at light speed with everything else.

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett

One of the biggest mistakes startups make in hiring is that they tend to hire too fast! Things move pretty fast in a startup environment so it's natural for them to hire fast as well, but this usually is where their problems begin to happen. 

It's so tough to have patience in this type of environment but it's critical to the success of what you're trying to do. In big organizations, you can miss on some hires and no one will really notice. In a startup environment, if you miss on one hire, it sticks out in a big way! 

Ok, so timing is important, but how do you know who the good new hires are? And how do you measure their performance once they're on board? 

Serial entrepreneur Mitchell Harper offers a practical approach to hiring that will help you understand it from the inside out. Literally.

Mitch
Mitchell Harper

The biggest mistake I see is startups not knowing enough about the job they're hiring for.

When we built BigCommerce, my co-founder and I found there was one truly great way to hire the right person every time. We had to do the job first. One of us would literally do the job for 1-3 months. Then we knew exactly what the metrics and goals for the position would be, so that when we hired a specialist we knew what success looked like how to measure it, and also how to recognize when things were going off track.

Does having a co-founder do every job sound like a tall order? Try making a bad hire and fixing the damage caused by it. You may change your mind. 

9. How Your Strategy Can Attract the Best Cultural Fits

Great companies are honest about their culture. 

Check out Infusionsoft’s careers page. Right near the middle it says, “A word of warning: Infusionsoft isn’t for everyone.” Or Bonobos (super awesome) career page that lets you know, “Working here is very challenging.”

They don’t want everyone to apply for their jobs, and you don’t either. Who wants to pick through a mountain of resumes full of potential new hires that aren’t going to work out? 

When you're promoting your employer brand, whether it's on your career page, social media or at an event, be honest and convey real information about daily life at the company. Most people don’t want to work for companies where they don’t think they’ll fit in. 

If you put out accurate information to help people decide if they’re a good fit, you won’t waste time interviewing or hiring the wrong people.

As Eric T. Tung points out, part of hiring the best has to be considering the best cultural fit.

Eric Tung
Eric T. Tung

The biggest mistake startups make when recruiting is that they often don't consider the candidate's cultural fit into the organization. Especially in today's startup norm fast-paced hiring, skills seem to be the only measuring stick of an employee, but an employee who doesn't fit into the company from a culture, ethics, even energy perspective will drag down not only their team, but possibly an entire department. 

That individual may be the best mobile app developer in the state, but if he can't take direction, is abusive towards teammates, or is an HR report waiting to happen, it may be advisable to settle for the second-best mobile app developer. In the end, they will contribute to a better, happier workplace. Happy recruiting.

We heard this more than once - hiring the best doesn't just mean the person that is most technically proficient. It also means the person who will provide the best fit for your team.

Miles Burke
Miles Burke

The biggest mistake is hiring purely on technical talent, rather than personality. Personality, especially in a small team, is vitally important to the culture and mood of your startup – hire a technically brilliant but socially devoid person, and you’ll have trouble keeping a cohesive team, all focussed on the same mission.

Again and again, cultural fit came up when we talked to entrepreneurs and business leaders. Have a look at what SkyBell founder Andrew Thomas says below.

Andrew Thomas
Andrew Thomas

Ignoring cultural fit. Achieving a cohesive culture that is built on a clear and shared mission is integral to your success. Evaluate candidates based on their cultural fit as much as their skills and experience. 

Each hire should exhibit the company values and congruence with your mission. Hiring someone who does not fit the culture will result in toxicity that holds everyone back.

10. Recruit Passive Candidates On Social Media

Do you know where the biggest untapped source of potential candidates is?

It's in the 75 percent of people who aren't even looking for a new job, but would consider an offer if it came their way. These people won't see the job ad you post to your favorite job board, nor will they visit your company career page.

So how do you reach them?

Try recruiting with social media. The best passive talent may not be checking out job boards, but they probably have accounts on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. We've written up some great social recruiting tips that will help you get a jumpstart.

If you're just getting started, you may want to try newer social media platforms such as Snapchat and Periscope (check out our social recruiting tip 1 for more on Periscope). 

These up-and-coming social networks aren't as saturated, and are especially good for startups that want to reach a younger, tech-savvy audience.

11. Target Niche and Broad Job Boards

Job boards should be part of most recruitment strategies. They help you get the word out to numbers of people probably not possible to reach before the internet.

Be sure to look for niche job boards, the boards that focus directly on the type of jobs you’re hiring for. Hiring writers? Try JournalismJobs.com. Software developers? Visit GitHub Jobs. Sales? Go to SalesHeads.com. Renewable energy workers? Here you go.

There’s a niche board for just about every job position you can think of. Seriously. Need to hire a zoo keeper? The American Association of Zoo Keepers job board has you covered.

Not all job seekers go right to the niche job boards, so you’ll want a presence on the bigger, broader job search sites, such as CareerBuilder, Monster, SimplyHired, Indeed, and Glassdoor. 

When you're ready to post, we've got a great job advertising guide to help.

12. Address Prospect Pain Points In Your Job Ad

Want to be sure your job posts stick out?

You need to create job posts that get into your candidate's head and talk about the specific things that make your job better than the one they already have. Here's an easy way to do it.

  • Go to Glassdoor and search for the job you want to hire for. 
  • After you search, jobs will popup on the left side of the screen. Click a job.
  • To the right, you'll see more info about the job and a tab titled "Reviews." Click the tab.
Use Glassdoor to hack your job ads.

Each review will have an area titled "Cons." These are things people in this position didn't like about the job. 

Margaret Buj
Margaret Buj

If the candidate has negative experience of the recruitment process, this is bad for the company's reputation, especially with reviews on Glassdoor that prospective candidates often read.

It is also important to operate fast - good candidates don't stay on the market for ever and there are no excuses for waiting a month before the first and second interview.

Look through several of these "Cons" sections for different companies to see if there are any particular pain points that come up again and again. Using Glassdoor to research candidates. 

For example, if you keep seeing complaints about companies in a particular space being too corporate and disconnected from staff, and you happen to be a tightly-knit start up, you may want to emphasize that in your job ad.

Want more help writing your ad? Check out our guide on how to write a job ad.

Social recruiting expert Jim Stroud offers up more useful advice below for taking your job posts from boring to awesome. Pay attention to this one, it's an easy and inexpensive win in the recruiting world.

Jim Stroud
Jim Stroud

I think the single biggest hiring mistake startups make when recruiting is not treating their job descriptions like marketing pieces. More often than not, you remove the company name and location and I would wager that the job description the startup is using is the same as any other company seeking talent with the same job title. As a result, the startup is not noticed because they look like everyone else.

Rather than doing what everyone else is doing, startups should do something different by making their job descriptions remarkable. Instead of text, why not use infographics on your employer website?  When posting to job boards, use a short tweet style description of what you want then, link to a video (or audio message) where you can capture the imagination of the job seeker. Moreover, look beyond the same talent pools everyone else does. 

For example, Snapchat has 150 million daily active users. Would someone out of those 150 million be a fit for your needs? (Not knowing how to recruit on Snapchat is not an excuse.) Since millennials are the largest generation is the US workforce, why not leverage trends popular with that demographic to get their attention?

The way you present your jobs to the public can also have more then the desired effect. Not only could it help you source the talent you want, but it also promotes your company as innovative and could garner media attention. 

Think about it! Free publicity about your company, the attention of hard to find passive talent as well as incoming traffic from active jobseekers; there is a lot riding on your job description. 

Don't mess it up by being bland. Everybody else does that.

13. Make Video A Key Part Of Your Hiring Process

According to some estimates, video content will make up 80 percent of internet traffic in a few years. 

Which means video needs to become part of an effective recruitment strategy. Here are a couple ways you can get video to start working for you.

1. Create a company culture video. Most of us carry the tools we need to create a short video about company culture in our pockets - our phones. 

Start by recording a short video interviewing a few current employees about what makes working at your company great. Not your thing? Try putting together a video with clips from Biteable.

2. Accept video applications and interviews. More and more employers are using video applications as a way to pre-screen candidates. Video applications allow you to quickly get to know a little more about a candidate before you move into the more intensive interview phase of the process. 

Use video in you recruiting process.

3. Save time and money with video interviews. Skype and Google Hangouts let you communicate in real time with video, saving your startup the expense of flying candidates out, and candidates the time of traveling. Some companies have saved as much as $475,000 and 220 trips.

14. Ensure a Mobile Friendly Candidate Process

We know about the importance of responsive sites and a mobile friendly experience for customers. And with at least 45 percent of job seekers using mobile devices for their search, we need to have it in mind for recruiting as well. 

Do you know if your recruiting process is truly mobile?

I've got a quick checklist you can use to see how mobile friendly your recruiting is.
But first, do it yourself. Go through your entire application process, start to finish, on a mobile device. Make note of any parts that were difficult or impossible via mobile. Then have a look at these items.:

  • Can you apply via mobile? How hard are the application forms to fill out?
  • Can applicants check their status via mobile?
  • Are your email communications, such as confirmations and status updates, easy to read on a mobile device?
  • Visit your company careers page. How does it look on mobile, compared to desktop?
  • Check out your current job board postings. How do they look on mobile?
  • How many people drop out of your mobile application process, vs. the desktop process?

Want to do checkups on individual pages, such as your careers page, for mobile accessibility? Run them through Google's mobile-friendly test.

15. Unlock The Power of Employee Referrals

Your best source for finding new employees is most often your existing team. 

If you’ve done your job and hired great people to begin with, then this has a network effect. If your current employees are happy, working on great stuff with a great team and making customers happy, then they're inclined to refer their friends and colleagues to join them. 

Just like a customer word of mouth referral, great employees can help you attract more great people. That’s why building, retaining and fostering a great work culture is in itself a recruiting strategy.

Here are a few tips for making sure your employee referral program is successful.

  • Train for success. Make sure you've trained employees on how to use the program. 
  • Make it social. One of the easiest ways for employees to reach out to their network is social media.
  • Offer rewards. Let employees know you appreciate the time they take to help with referrals by rewarding them appropriately. 
  • Make employees look good. If they're going to refer friends, they'll want to know their friends are being treated well. Run a tight application process, and communicate often and clearly with applicants.
David B
David Burkus

The biggest mistake is not involving the team. Your current hires are your best source of information about who is open to joining he company. In addition, whoever you hire, success will be based on team fit. So best to involve the whole team.

16. Nurture Your Talent Pool With Drip Email Marketing

Most of the time we can only hire one person for a position. 

That means we may have to turn down some really talented people. Don't let the work you did finding that talent go to waste. They can become a stable of potential employees ready to fill your next position.

One easy way to make this work is through drip email marketing. 

Once you've made the decision to hire for a position, put the rest of the promising candidates into a campaign that sends a drip email 2-3 times per year. 

Keep the emails simple. Remind people who you and your company are, ask them how they're doing, and make it easy for them to check out your careers page and connect with your company on social media if they want more info. 

Over time, you'll build up a list of people who remember you as a potential employer, who you can hit with an email once you've got an open position they qualify for.

If you hire just a couple times a year, setting up a drip campaign may be as easy as putting a reminder on your calendar. You might also try a service like Boomerang that lets you schedule emails and set email reminders.

If you're doing a bit more hiring and think you'd be sending a few hundred emails per year, it might be easier to manage your campaigns through a service like Mailchimp that lets you send different emails to different groups and automate easily.

Either way, you should plan on hiring a marketing manager to take a look at growing your email list.

17. Power Up Your Interview Skills

One of the key areas you can improve on for big wins in your recruiting process is interviewing. 

From being familiar with common interview questions to best phone interviewing techniques, there is a lot you can do to get an advantage in this part of the hiring process. Here are three quick tips you can apply now that I learned from my years of recruiting:

1. Let one person own each candidate. They can leverage this relationship at offer the stage and flag issues with hiring managers who are turning off good candidates.

2. Dig deep into roles that lasted under 2 years. If these occur more than twice in 5 years that would signal a red flag for me.

3. Pay attention to your instincts. If something feels off about a candidate, then hire someone else even if you can't work out why it feels off.

Jordan Burton
Jordan Burton

The most painful and counterproductive mistake I see startups make in hiring has to be over-selling and failing to interview the candidate throughly. 

This almost guarantees you end up with a bad team. 

The weak candidates pass through too easily, but more importantly, the strong ones walk away--they don't want to work with a mediocre team, and they are estimating the quality of your team based on how rigorous your process is.

Part of being able to interview well is being clear on exactly what the position will require, and doing your research to make sure you can vet well. As Wendy Maynard told us below, it's worth the effort to avoid a bad apple hire.

Wendy Maynard
Wendy Maynard

Know who you want: 

Most leaders of startups are so busy, they don’t want to take the time to get clarity on the position, with a very clear job description that includes roles and responsibilities. 

This should be followed by a methodical interview process that thoroughly vets candidates. Hiring is one of the most important decisions they will make – one that can catapult a startup forward at great speeds when done right. Or, destroy its progress because they’ve brought on the wrong person.

18. Top Off Your Talent Pool with Rehires

Looking for another source of candidates?

Keep up with former employees if they performed well and left under positive circumstances. After all, they already know your company culture, and you know them. 

Turning rehires into a source of employees is easy as well. First of all, make sure that they're treated with respect when they exit, and that you do a great job with communication as they go. 

On their way out, encourage them to keep up with the company via social media, and then set them up for a drip campaign, similar to what we mentioned in tip 16. Just send out a simple email a couple times per year to see how they're doing.

Over time you'll build a network of people that know your company and the positions you hire for.

19. Study Your Best Employee to Scale Your Recruiting

Look at the performance of your best employee to date. 

What makes that person special? Is it domain expertise? Is it hunger and drive? Is it raw intellectual horsepower? 

Maybe it's the will to learn and try new things? 

Whatever it is about that person, use it as a gauge to create your core values, and then hire for those values. Imagine a company where your entire team performs at the level of your best employee. 

That's rocket ship material.

Turn Your Recruiting Strategy into Your Killer Growth Hack

So even before you build your next app, use recruiting as a rocket booster for your startup's growth.

You'll know when you've got the right strategy in place, because top candidates will be there when you need them, and you'll start seeing growth in all directions.

Don't have time to use all our tips? 

Next time you hire, try tip 12. I'm always amazed at how much better a good job ad performs compared to an average one. Once you're ready to post it, we can help you get the word out by making it easy to post to 100+ job boards with just a few clicks.



Adam Seabrook
Adam Seabrook
Adam Seabrook is Co-Founder of Betterteam. Before Betterteam Adam spent 10 years recruiting for companies like Google, Atlassian, Dell, Symantec, Coca-Cola, Bigcommerce, and Oracle. He lives in Sydney, Australia.