Posts Tagged 'recruiting'

What I learned about recruiting & hiring – Part 2

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What I learned about recruiting & hiring in a startup – Part 1


It’s been over two months since Adam & I started doing this startup full time and I had sometime this weekend to reflect on some of our initial ups and downs. Our lowest point to date was the first week of work – we lost our first teammate on day one. We knew a lot of people would say no to us but we weren’t prepared for our first teammate/employee to say no to us so quickly. I won’t go into too much detail on why our first developer decided to back out, but I will say that startups are not for everyone. When the reality of the risk kicks in, some people develop an apprehension towards that risk and I completely understand that. Nonetheless, I’m thankful that he was honest and quit on day one before any progress was made.

Not a great way to get started. Adam and I sat here with our work plans and project scopes in hand starring at each other and wondering what to do. So much for the work plans, we set everything aside and made recruiting our #1 priority. We scoped out our recruiting strategy and started executing. On the 3rd day of work, I still vividly remember walking in the rain from college campus to college campus posting flyers on bulletin boards. It was a shitty feeling and the uncertainty of when we will have a complete team made it worse.

Looking back, I’m glad all this happened. Through the recruiting process, we had the opportunity to sharpen our pitch, develop recruiting skills (which we will surely need again) and most importantly, I strongly believe we ended up in a much better position with Hedley as our lead developer.

For those of you who are just here to find recruiting advice for a low budget tech startup, here’s a few things I would recommend from our experience:

1.       Develop & test your pitch before you start recruiting

a.       This is a tough one because you get better as you pitch more people and get more feedback & reactions. I think it would be helpful to pitch to some smart close friends you can trust and get some honest feedback and reactions from them first rather than testing the pitch on potential hires.

2.       Don’t waste money on a recruiter

a.       You can do whatever the recruiters do. One thing I learned from working at Lake is you can figure out just about everything – if you’re smart, you can figure out most things 80% of the way by being aggressive and creative – sometimes you can even do it better than the “pros”, especially on something like recruiting.

b.      Jason Calacanis has a good article on how to save money, he also believe recruiters are a waste of money.

3.       Leverage your personal networks

a.       Dig deep in your Outlook contacts, Facebook & LinkedIn profiles and you’ll likely know someone who is in the field or has connections in the field.

4.       Target college campuses

a.       Post job descriptions on bulletin boards in common areas as well as specific departments

b.      Talk to career departments and ask for mailing lists – sometimes they will ask for a job description and email blast departments for you

c.       Look up school directories for students and professors and email them for interest & referrals

5.       Look up local developer groups and forums online

a.       We found Hedley through a Ruby on Rails group – there’re plenty of these for all kinds of professionals

6.       Use Craigslist cuz it’s cheap – milk the expensive ones creatively

a.       It’s only $25 to post a job on Craigslist, much cheaper than and CareerBuilder

b.      Use the free trials on recruiting sites like or CareerBuilder – some of them will give you a few free resumes. Others will let you search for resumes but not give you names & contact info – instead of paying for the contact info, you can Google keywords from these resumes and find these people’s personal websites, LinkedIn profiles or other public online presence.

7.       Write personal emails whenever you can

a.       If you have the time, read a few blogs and websites and write a personal email to potential recruits. Even if these people aren’t looking for jobs, they’re more likely to respond to your emails and give you referrals if you make the emails personal.

8.       Don’t stop recruiting until you have someone on board

a.       It’s easy to feel a sense of relief and get lazy on recruiting when you meet someone good. After all, recruiting isn’t that fun. However, even when you find someone who seems like a great fit and shows an interest in the position, there’s still a high chance they won’t work out for a number of reasons. Keep recruiting until someone gives a full commitment with all the terms worked out.




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