Jul 27, 2012

Scouting and Hiring Talent For a Startup

This week we brought on board another full time iOS developer. He has his masters in computer science. He has also developed a few iPhone apps of his own. One of them has gotten over two hundred thousand downloads and has reached the top of the iTunes App Store charts in several countries. The question a lot of people have asked: "How was this hidden gem found?"

At a startup, building a talented team is extremely important, but equally important is being thrifty and smart with money. A big company can put a lot of money towards the recruitment of employees. Big companies may use a tech recruiting agency that charges anywhere from 20-33% of the first year salary of the hired employee. For example, if the recruiters get you to sign a programmer for 90k/year you have to pay the agency anywhere from 18-30k for finding the person. Thats a lot of money to a startup! If the new hire doesn’t work out within 30 days, they’ll replace him/her for free. But if it doesn’t work out on the 31st day, then you just paid the 18-30k recruitment fee for one month of work.

Spending only $200-300 heres how we landed some awesome team members. 

1. Signed up with an applicant management website called JobScore. The site is awesome and it has a free tier that gets you functionality for almost everything you’d want the site for. Bigger tech companies like foursquare and Instagram use them as well. It allows you to buy resumes on their site using credits (if you run out of the free credits, buying more is cheap or you can earn more by submitting resumes of people you aren’t interested in to the JobScore talent network for others to purchase). You can also easily post job listings to any external site at discounted rates.  JobScore also integrated with your website to allow you to display any of the job openings you have right on your site.

2. Created job descriptions and listed them on Craigslist ($25) Built In Chicago ($25) and Linkedin ($199). Each of the listings lasted for 30 days. Of those three places we posted, Built In Chicago is probably the least known to the general public. But that site has produced some of our strongest candidates because its extremely local (i.e. no craigslist people from out of the country applying) and those that follow the site are on the up and up in regards to the Chicago tech scene, which is extremely important to us.

3. In the tech world, portfolio trumps just about every other detail. With JobScore we quickly eliminated candidates that had weak design or project portfolios. Which helped us narrow down candidates much faster than we could have ever done by meeting with a recruiting firm (they show you every possible candidate they can possibly put in front of you no matter how poor of a fit they may be). For our programmer applicants, we also sent a coding problem.  The first step for us with our developer candidates was seeing if they would take the time to even answer this problem.  The candidates that don’t take the time to answer the problem indicate their lack of dedication or interest in working for us and allow us to immediately weed them out. The ones who do respond give us a really good indicator of their competency in creating elegant clean reusable code.  This helped us answer questions like; Do they write stringy code? Over complicate things? Or are they just a solid programmer?

4. Scheduled an in person interview to make sure the candidate is good fit personality wise.  After all, we sometimes spend day and night working with these people and its equally important that we have a great time doing it.

The internet has definitely made the process of hiring great talent more affordable. Its a great time to be in a startup.