1.) Transparency on financial interests & conflicts.
Very few candidates realize how much they are worth to a recruiter if they just happen to respond to that InMail. They also don’t realize that a contingency recruiter might get paid different rates by different clients - and thus be incentivized to not disclose all prospective opportunities upfront, or to sell one opportunity harder than the other.
2.) Transparency on clients & the opportunity.
A surprisingly large number of agency & contingency recruiters claim to work with companies that have never made a hire through them… Saying “I work with clients like AirBnB (or whatever)” usually means that they remove your contact information from your resume, and cold-email it to the Internal Recruiter or Hiring Manager there (see sample email here - Another Example Why Tech Recruiting is Broken.).
Likewise, a huge number of recruitment emails are unnecessarily vague on details about the company, the salary, the location, the team. It’s only after investing 30-minutes on a phone call that you learn that the “Senior iOS Engineer” position is actually a 6-month contract consulting for 3-person web design shop in Des Moines, Iowa…
The result? The good opportunities get tossed out with the bad, because the time cost of pursuing every lead is so massive.
3.) Intent filtering & centralization.
Most sourcers play a guess & check game.
- I guess that this person might be open to new opportunities.
- I send them an inMail/Email/Private Message to check whether or not my guess is correct.
… 80% of the time you don’t even get a response, and when you do, most of the time the answer is “not interested right now”.
Thus, a massive amount of time, effort & manpower is spent simply uncovering people who might potentially have the skills for a particular position and are potentially interested in interviewing or at least learning more about an opportunity.
Even once all that hard work is done, the most common outcome that they don’t get hired (not a cultural fit, or didn’t pass our fizzbuzz programming challenge or they wanted too much money).
What if instead, the internal recruiters and hiring managers spent time contacting & talking to people who are actively interested vs. having to email 50-100 people to uncover a SINGLE prospect - who in all likelyhood is going to get rejected at the hiring stage anyway?
These mistakes are frequently made by first-time founder/CEOs and seed stage companies….
1.) Seeking someone in their own image who is willing to work 18 hour days, including an unwillingness to look at candidates who have a different (or non-startup) background or are a missing a few buzzwords from their resume.
It might work for your first few engineering hires, but scaling it becomes incredibly difficult and brings with it huge lost opportunity costs. The faster you move out of your comfort zone, the better.
I know one well known start-up who has been trying to fill a role for over 4 months, and has gone through two dozen candidates, simply because of a strongly held philosophy by the founder who mandates 80-hour work weeks which effectively eliminates most people who are married or have kids.
2.) Using fizzbuzz technical coding challenges as a proxy for how effectively someone will contribute to the team & your company hitting its product roadmap goals. Check out how Stripe does interviews.
"Can this person meaningfully contribute to us hitting our product roadmap?" and "Can we work well together with this person?" are the two most important questions… not whether they’ve memorized an obscure algorithm from CS class 5 years ago.
3.) Accurately & honestly assessing where your company stands, and realizing that if you’re a 7, trying to hire a “10” can be a recipe for failure. This is especially true if you’re trying to pay below market rates.
4.) Moving with a sense of urgency and speed.
If hiring is really your #1 priority, being willing to skip your monthly lunch with mom in order to make time for a hot candidate.
In general, working under the assumption that anybody good is going to have multiple paper offers in hand, is a good philosophy. Start a countdown clock the first time you meet someone, you have 10 business days to present them with a paper offer or a rejection. The longer you wait, the more competing offers you will have…
If you’re trying to hire at the talent level that Amazon/Google/Facebook/Dropbox/Square compete for SPEED is best advantage - they have the brand recognition & deep pockets, you don’t.
5.) Decisiveness. “Making the offer when you’ve found the right house” vs. changing your mind because the color of the living room is wrong. Don’t hunt unicorns, because they don’t exist!
Samsara: Rent it on iTunes. Crazy good documentary, with no plot and no dialogue.