Stand out to scale up: Four hiring strategies for venture-backed companies

Stand out to scale up: Four hiring strategies for venture-backed companies

You just raised a round of funding. Congratulations! The hardest part of your startup journey is over, and it’s smooth sailing from now until you go public.

Just kidding! Every part of the startup journey is the hardest part, of course. And what comes next is certainly one of the most challenging stages: scaling up your team to deliver on your grand plans.

Spending all that investor cash is just as hard as raising it. Many companies fail when they can’t get enough talent to execute their vision—because they thought great people would rush in to fill all their new jobs.

You need to think about your hiring strategies as seriously as your product and go-to-market strategies. Here are four important considerations as you prepare to scale your team.


1. Don’t expect the old methods to work

Things were different back when your team all fit in one room. You had just a few openings at a time, and you could usually fill them from the networks of your team, your advisors, and your investors. You could post your needs to Y Combinator’s monthly thread and get great people.

But these methods don’t scale. Now you need dozens or hundreds of great people, including experts in whole new specialties. You need to think about hiring at scale, with tools and processes that can support the volume you are building toward.

Continue to encourage referrals and network hires, as they can provide some of your most motivated and capable talent. But don’t expect these methods to give you everyone you need.


2. Set yourself apart with a winning employer brand

To hire hundreds, you’ll quickly invest in “employer branding”. Typically, that will include a video-heavy career site featuring your cool offices, your team members in branded t-shirts, and long lists of perks. You’ll send teams to job fairs and buy advertising on career websites.

All that stuff is good—but it’s severely inadequate. Your employer brand is what your eventually job candidates think of you, and ultimately that’s driven not by what you say. It’s driven by how you treat your candidates.

All your efforts will draw in great applications from great people who are also applying to companies like Google, Facebook, and Netflix. These big brands will be responsive and personal with their top talent. If you want to cultivate the same people, you need to be even more responsive and more personal.

So if the other companies are moving from application to offer in 10 days, you’ll need to find a way to do it in 8 days and beat them to the punch. This overlooked aspect of your employer brand cannot be overstated: It’s the key to actually getting your team filled.


3. Enable your recruiters and hiring managers

You have to hire a recruiting team, maybe for the first time. Your recruiters are a lot like your sales people in that their job is to sell your company. Only instead of selling the products, they are selling the open jobs.

You don’t want your sales people spending all their time on low-value activities, like updating their opportunities or dialing phones over and over. So you’ve invested in automation to track their activities appropriately while leaving them the most possible freedom to sell.

Treat your recruiters the same way from the beginning. Enable them with processes and tools that maximize the time they have to engage with talent personally, and let software do the repetitive stuff.


4. Embrace non-traditional talent

Now that your recruiting team is on board, your brand is established, and you are working fast to close the people you want, everything should run smoothly—right? Nope! The job market is still working against you.

Rarely has there been a harder time to hire, especially in booming markets like Silicon Valley, New York, Los Angeles, and London. The qualified people you find first are also being recruited by a dozen other credible companies.

So even though you’re in the best possible position to win over popular talent, you still won’t hire enough without approaching the people who are being overlooked. These great workers are all around you.

They are career switchers and stay-at-home moms returning to the workforce. They are suburbanites who left the big city and immigrants who just arrived. They are the hard workers who taught themselves to code. All these brilliant people have the right skills, but they may be hard to find.

You need a way to identify people by their ability to do the job, not their ability to stand out from a crowd. Then, finally, you’ll have a complete, capable, and motivated team for every position.


Recruit better with talent intelligence

Scaling up your team won’t be easy. In a recent survey, big-company executives said they would not be able to fill 28% of their open roles. What chance do you have to fill all your roles competing with these goliaths?

Your advantage is being faster and smarter, which is where a Talent Intelligence Platform comes in. With a novel AI-based talent platform, you can automate talent discovery, offer a brand-boosting experience that attracts candidates, saves recruiters time, and locates people you otherwise might miss.

With a winning strategy and technology built for your success, you’ll get the team you need to scale.

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