We’ve noticed that there have been a ton of job postings lately in the Startup Jobs section of the StartupDigest Classifieds. This is a great sign of growth for lots of startups all over the world, which is both righteous and awesome.
As all of you continue the hiring process, we want to share an idea that will speed up the process of finding the best person for any job opening you have at your startup.
The key to startup hiring is realizing that the people you really want to hire aren’t looking for jobs.
The people you really want to hire are:
1) Working on their own startup, someone else’s startup, or for a large company (and kicking ass) but aren’t very happy there. This means that they would be open to a change if they got really excited about another company, but aren’t actively looking for it.
2) Active participants of the startup community. This means that they frequently communicate with the leaders of the startup community (e.g. Dave McClure, Eric Ries, Fred Wilson, Chris Dixon, etc.), they consume the latest technology and entrepreneurship news, and (ideally) they produce their own thoughts about emerging trends.
(In a fantasy world, they would also be close followers of your startup and frequent consumers of your product/blog, but the vast majority of the people you really want to hire might have heard of you, but don’t really know who you are yet.)
If all of this is true, it’s great that you’ve posted your job to the Classifieds because there is a lot there (co-founder opportunities, feedback requests, startup education content, global and local startup resources, etc.) that might attract someone who isn’t actively looking for a job. Of course, posting on the Classifieds is free anyway, so you really have nothing to lose.
We’re betting, however, that the Classifieds section isn’t the only place you’ve posted a job listing. Like many of us, you’ve probably paid money to post your job listing to a popular job board or hired a recruiter to post your job listings in even more expensive places.
Why would you pay money to post job listings in places the people you really want to hire never visit?
If the people you really want to hire aren’t looking for jobs, they will never see your listing on craigslist, Monster, HotJobs, theLadders, or even a place like StartUpers (which, admittedly, is at least the most fun one) because job listings are all that they offer.
Those places are great for stacking resumes of people who can fill limited holes with set tasks in your company, but the people who will actually make a lasting positive impact on the future of your startup visit those sites only when they’re looking for a cheap wetsuit or a two-bedroom in SOMA.
Since popular job boards won’t help you find the people you really want to hire, stop wasting your money on them and try these 3 things:
1) Pay for distribution, not for posting.
Or, to quote what many (like, say, Gary Vaynerchuk) have said before us — if content is king, marketing is queen and *she* runs the household.
If you have money to spend on hiring, spend it on marketing your company and your open position to people who definitely are not looking for jobs. Bake your job opening into content you produce on your blog or into a post/comment you add to the content you read.
To give you a real example, here at StartupDigest we help you distribute your Classifieds listings into the events content that is consumed every week by thousands of active members of local startup communities around the world.
Spreading good news about your startup to the people who care about the startup ecosystem most is the best way to find and hire the people you really want to hire.
2) Seek one great person, not “a response.”
What’s the key metric of success in startup hiring? Many founders or recruiters will tell you that they spend money posting on popular job boards because they know that they will get a response. From that response, they will know that a certain percentage will be acceptable resumes, and they know that they can find at least one acceptable person out of the set number of people they interview.
But if resumes reveal only a fraction of a person and hiring should be treated like getting married, how could you possibly settle for what’s acceptable from a numbers game when it comes to startup hiring?
If you go into the hiring process seeking one great person instead of “a response” then you will spend your time and money where the people you really want to hire are instead of where the most resumes will come from. This is a hard approach to take because hiring is an awkward process and if you don’t get 20 resumes in your inbox after day one, it’s easy to feel like you aren’t making progress.
Then again, if you change your definition of progress to locating one person you would really want to hire each day, that feeling also changes. We suggest sending simple notes to each of those people on a regular basis to keep him or her up to date on all of the cool things you’re doing at your startup. You can then track each person’s response as it shifts from “that’s cool” to “what’s coming next?” and “what if?” with a simple spreadsheet. Sounds like Salesforce for marriage, doesn’t it?
3) To speed up the entire hiring process, make it fun by hosting a startup party at your place. Or at least go to someone else’s.
Let’s face it, all of us just want to spend time building products, making customers happy, putting money in the bank, and changing the world for the better. We end up paying money to post a job somewhere, sifting through what we get, and taking what we’re given because we want our needs filled now so we can get back to the fun stuff.
So, to save time and our sanity, we need to make hiring part of the fun stuff. One fun and efficient way to find the people you really want to hire faster is to host a startup party.
It’s cheap (unless you’re too cool for pizza and beer) and brings a large group of startup people around you, giving you the opportunity to show all of them who you really are and how much fun they all could be having if they were working with you instead of their current startup or big company.
Also, many entrepreneurs like to try before they buy when it comes to hiring as much as they like to save time, and hosting a party is the easiest way to get a first honest look at all of your potential candidates at once.
If you’re desperate for talent, especially on the technical side, and you don’t think that your party will attract them, at least don’t waste money on recruiters or expect technical talent to immediately respond to your job postings. Go chill out where the people you want to hire already are, as long as you’re willing to bring your brain and not spam every engineer you meet.
To give you one awesome place to go, the Hackers and Founders Meetup is the best place to grab a beer with smart, passionate startup people and talk about what you’re working on. On top of that, every week there are cool speakers and hackathons and iPhone, Android, WordPress, Drupal, Ruby, you-name-it meetups happening all over the world that are full of the people you really want to hire. You can find all of these events going on in your city here.
And speaking of technical talent, did you really think that great engineers would just read your job posting and email you in the first place? Honestly, put yourself in their shoes. Every brilliant programmer is what LeBron James was two weeks ago, a prized free agent (though programmers tend to be a lot less narcissistic).
Brilliant programmers are prized free agents. If you want to land them, hang out with them at their place!
Did Miami land LeBron by posting a listing somewhere, offering the best terms and hoping for the best?
No, Pat Riley & Co. hung out with LeBron where he spent his time, told him how sweet it would be to play with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and got him so excited about the opportunity that LeBron left his home and $30+ million to join them. You can land the next LeBron for your startup by taking the same approach.
In the end, if you remember that the people you really want to hire aren’t looking for jobs, the best way to find those people is to organize or attend fun startup events.
Take every chance you can to show active members of the startup community who you are and what your startup is all about, and talent will leave their current jobs and money on the table just to join you.