How to hire for your start-up

I recently read a great article about Google’s recruiting machine that described in some detail how Google’s hiring success is based on 4 elements: “data, money (lots of it), sophisticated programming, and an army of young, eager recruiters.” And while Google plays in a league by itself (and can throw tons of money at the problem), every start-up should consider 2 lessons learned from Google’s approach.

1. Be aggressive about filling the funnel:

One of the most important elements of running a successful hiring process is a company’s ability to feed the top of the funnel. Posting on job boards, offering internship programs, leveraging your existing team for referrals, networking and targeted PR are some of the basic strategies but the most successful is still to actively go after potential candidates. Identifying, contacting and qualifying them is a lot of manual work and unless you put serious resources against it, you will not make enough progress. Those resources can either be internal or contractors with the latter group having worked very well for Google.

Who are Google’s recruiters? They’re young, highly paid and, often, on a six month contract. “They’re probably the company that I’ve seen that uses the most [contractors],” says Michael A. Morell, co-founder and managing partner of Silicon Valley recruiting firm Riviera Partners. “There’s a lot to be said for new people trying to prove themselves in the first six to 12 months.” It’s difficult to find an accurate or exact employee-to-recruiter ratio at the company, the number of recruiters varies dramatically. At any given time, Sullivan says, 70% of the recruiting staff might be on contract.

2. Qualifying the leads

The other important element of the hiring process is to qualify the leads by using a systematic, data-driven approach. You can either look at past performance (e.g. GPA and standardized testing scores if a candidate has recently graduated) or have your candidates perform internal tests (like coding, writing or even Excel tests, depending on the position you try to fill). A really good example for an unique quantitative approach is Hubspot’s hiring process for inside sales.

There are many other important elements of a successful hiring process but aggressively thinking about the top of the funnel and using more data in the qualification of leads are probably the two areas where most start-ups can make an immediate difference to their hiring success rate.



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