What is a Startup?
The Wikipedia definition of a startup reinforces the value of engaging a unicorn candidate: “A startup is a company … initiated by an entrepreneur to seek, effectively develop and validate a scalable business model,” according to Wikipedia. “Startups face high uncertainty and do have high rates of failure, but the minority that go on to be successful companies have the potential to become large and influential.”
Not having the right team is one of the top three reasons startups fail, according to CB Insights, reinforcing the vital importance of having a quality recruiter acting on the startup’s behalf. This is because each new hire acts as a key pilot steering the company ship, despite often unpredictable winds.
“The business is moving too fast and it’s way too hard for anyone to not feel completely aligned and working together as a really tight team,” explains Lead Storyteller for 90octane, Erin Engstrom in 6 Qualities of Startup Employees.
As such, we will explore the framework to building a Startup Recruiter Job Description by articulating what it is they are required to be and do.
1. Build companies from the ground up.
Because they are in the business of building a company from a standing start, startup recruiters must think differently than traditional and/or large-company recruiters. They are often expected to be in close collaboration with the founders and intimate with the intricacies of the operation. Leveraging their deep, rich network, they can pinpoint talent equipped for the same challenge. Startup recruiters have a keen eye for individuals that can catapult a company’s fate forward.
2. Know virtually everything about the company.
According to Andrew Stoe, Head of Talent at Asana, a startup recruiter will “want to know everything that’s going on within the company, from the product roadmap, sales numbers and metrics to the history on each employee and why they joined your company.”
Internalizing the end-to-end operations of the business as well as understanding motivators for individual hires fuels a startup recruiter’s strategic conversations with top talent.
3. Work at a torrid pace.
They also must be prepared to hit the ground running to achieve high growth goals, while simultaneously having a meticulous and laser-sharp concentration on doing their job well.
“The pace is torrid, often faster than other industries, and the margin of error (particularly for smaller startups) is razor-thin,” according to Recruiterly.
This fast pace and potential for hyper-expansion combined with hands-on partnership with the founders can be an exciting draw, however. Startup recruiters, dulled by the stagnancy of maintenance roles, seek out these exhilarating, ground-floor opportunities.
4. Navigate ambiguity well.
How startup recruiters handle ambiguity is critical to a startup’s rise or fall. Roles for which a recruiter will be sourcing at a startup company often appear nebulous at first sight. However, it is the charge of the startup recruiter to rigorously and creatively research and identify the hard and soft skills required for each position in order to effectively identify specific and high-performing candidates.
For example, while an appetite for risk-taking may be a frequently sought out attribute for startup candidates, savvy recruiters know how to align this with clear, actionable vision.
Engstrom explains, “Risk-taking often implies to the new startup employee to get super-creative and shoot off in a variety of directions. If actions are not anchored to that vision, and prioritized, you’re screwed.”
Moreover, identifying individuals that will enhance the culture of the company is an important ability for any recruiter. It is vitally important for start-up recruiters who are establishing a foundational culture upon which successive hires will be integrating.
5. Tell and sell your business’ story.
A master at internalizing and voicing the founders’ vision, a startup recruiter is an enthusiastic storyteller who understands the company’s brand differentiators. They should then “be able to pitch that in a genuine way,” says Stoe.
To gage a recruiter’s ability to tell your company’s story, you will want to “ask them to pitch their current company and then ask them to pitch your company,” suggests Stoe. Doing so will elicit their storytelling skills as well as how much they researched your company.
Stoe also describes startup recruiters as being on “an all-encompassing sales mission.”
Carolyn Betts of Betts Recruiting echoes and extends upon Stoe’s sentiments: “The best recruiters have the skill set of a top sales rep, with an added passion for facilitating successful connections. Recruiters are tasked with making career dreams come true and helping companies achieve their goals, and you need someone fully invested in both of those things.”
6. Are savvy negotiators.
Navigating a competitive market in which skilled candidates are in high demand, startup recruiters’ abilities must go beyond telling a gripping story.
Ideal talent is almost never on the market, so a startup recruiter must excel at influencing and negotiating the close with candidates who may also be entertaining multiple other offers or who are otherwise satisfactorily employed in another role.
7. Create a meaningful candidate experience.
In addition to strategic sourcing, sales and negotiation savvy, candidate experience is essential to a startup recruiter’s success. In the article, The Case for Providing a Positive Candidate Experience, Recruiting.com says that the benefits of providing a positive candidate experience include attracting more applicants, competing for top talent, improving quality of hire and increasing brand awareness.=
“When you offer an exceptional candidate experience, job seekers talk about it with others and write about it online,” continues the same Recruiting.com article. “This generates positive awareness for both your employer and consumer brand, which can lead to more job applicants and even more customers. In fact, Software Advice found that 71 percent of candidates are more likely to buy from a company that treated them with respect throughout the recruiting process.”
Moreover, creating efficient processes to manage the experience through every phase liberates the recruiter to emphasize efforts on strategic recruiting and business growth initiatives.
Why Lever is better than a spreadsheet. Many startup recruiters may be tempted to grab a spreadsheet on which to build those relationship processes. However, organizing voluminous and ever-evolving candidate data requires a more sophisticated system. This will ensure a more efficient process while deepening and tracking relationships. Lever’s recruiting CRM enables your team to work more efficiently, recommends talent right for the roles and reminds you when a better time might be to reach out. It’s the beauty of marketing automation brought to the world of recruiting.