What I've learned about recruiting
Everyone wants the best people working at their company.
I’m a product manager with zero recruiting experience but wanted to become a better recruiter because I selfishly wanted to have the best people possible working on our product. However, every post I read just advocated the need to “only hire the best people” (no shit) but never dove into the “how.”
So, here are some lessons and observations I’ve made along the way.
1. The best people are never available.
The best people aren’t looking for new jobs (there’s obviously exceptions). If they decided they wanted a new job, they would just have to respond to one of barrage of emails from recruiters in their inbox. That means the best candidates aren’t going to be applying for your job listing on site XYZ. Don’t waste your time.
2. The best people aren’t at meet ups, job fairs, etc.
They are heads down building shit or getting better at their craft. Not saying these events are a waste of time - just don’t expect to make your most urgent hire by going to them (there are still other benefits).
3. That means you need to identify and then proactively pursue the world class people.
That doesn’t mean only spend time recruiting for the exact roles you’re hiring for now. Play the long game - you won’t magically get the best people overnight.
Tangent: I’ve have played with almost every piece of recruiting software known to mankind. They’re all oriented around managing inbound applicants, which is baffling to me if you believe #1-3 above.
4. The best people don’t want to hear from recruiters.
They want to hear from the people they will be working for and working with every day.
Personally, I allocate 20% of my time to recruiting and manage my time in Toggl to make sure I am spending the appropriate amount of time.
5. Great people want to work with other great people.
I know it’s a cliche (but cliches exist for a reason). Truly great people push you to get better every single day and accelerate your own personal growth to new levels.
6. You aren’t going to sway them with money.
These people have choices. If they wanted to go work at Twitter, Google, Facebook, etc. they could.
These companies will always have more money than you. You need to sell them on the problem or working with a world class team.
7. Use the [Insert your company here] mafia as a filter.
I’ve always believed in this tweet.
Hiring trick: make sure everyone you hire is someone you'd want in your company's mafia.— Aaron Levie (@levie) June 28, 2012
What does being in the XXX mafia mean? IMO…
A. Once your current company goes public and you make a little $$$, are you offering this person an angel check for the company they are about to start - regardless of what the idea is because you believe that person is smart enough to figure it out?
B. Is this person the first XXX (designer, engineer, QA, etc.) you call to join you when you start your next company?
If not, don’t hire them.
Note: again, this is based on my experience in early stage hiring - which is different than the hyper growth companies go through.
8. The value of good people is still probably understated.
The best people can hit the high notes.
Don’t lower the bar or settle. Take on the short term pain and extra work until you find someone who is worth it.
So, here’s how you should recruit (IMO)
- Identify the best people.
- Relentlessly pursue and court those few people.
- Play the long game.
- Find people you want to work with for the rest of your life (beyond this current company) and don’t settle.
A related post you should read also: Hiring is your brand: 9 small things to improve your interview process by Sam Gerstenzang.