Luckily, here at MaxCDN, we were fortunate enough to have had a head start in hiring our rockstar team. We were able to do this by taking over the top performers from my business partner’s previous business and I’ve found that having this battle-worn team right from the start has helped tremendously.
But we can’t all be so lucky. When you are running a fast-growing startup, finding the right people is one of the most critical factors determining your business’s long-term success. If you don’t already have a pool of tested professionals to pick from, hiring killer talent may be somewhat of a challenge. In this post, I don’t want to get into ‘culture fits’ or how senior you should hire. Rather, I want to show you the avenues that have worked for us in finding great people. I should mention that I am staying away from the expensive recruiter route since a lot of startups are not willing to spend the money on this service or simply cannot afford it.
Friends and Family
In our surveys every year almost 100% of our peeps would recommend a friend to work MaxCDN. In fact, a large number of our guys are actually friends and family of employees that started earlier with us. This is probably the best way to hire. The reason for this is because these referrals are a lot less likely to not work out since they have the social responsibility towards the referrer to not mess up. Since this would shine a bad light on them. In terms of retaining talent, it is a lot like pouring glue into the organization. Who doesn’t want to work with his/her friends? Another proof, that making your employees happy can pay back tenfold.
Contracting out jobs
What I have done many times in the past is outsource the exact same small task to ten different people on freelancer.com and upwork.com. After I get the results, I pick out the three top performers and then do the same thing again, but this time with a different task. The top performer from this pool is deemed the winner and will then be offered a full-time job.
We also have had a lot of success by advertising jobs on industry-specific Facebook groups. (Shout out to the advanced WordPress group on facebook)
Once found, there is no harm in flying the remote contractor out for a week-long job, so he can get to know the team. If you can afford it, this a great way to show them you’re not just another lifeless corporate entity.
For more complex tasks like lead generation or live chat and support, for example, hiring an outsource company is a good option. Buying a sales development service is much cheaper than hiring an in-house sales development representative that will do prospecting and lead generation. Especially if you have a startup, you want to save as much as possible and with these specialized teams, you will be getting more ROI faster.
Convert Your Customers
If you have a cool product, and if you put an emphasis on a company as well as doing a good job communicating (by blogging for example)— customers might come and work for you or become advocates for your company. They may then refer you to their friends that are unhappy with their current jobs or that are in the job market. BUT the last thing you should do is actively poach from your customers or partners. This is a big no-no, as it can sour an otherwise perfect relationship.
Make a Personal Connection
We’ve also found that social media can be a great place to find talent. Try posting in Facebook groups or tweeting about open positions. You can also try to use every opportunity to bring people to your office and to attend meet-ups, trade-shows, and word-camps. This personal connection is a great way to meet the “real” person behind resumes and forced professionalism that you often encounter in an interview.
Searching High and Low
Believe it or not, Craigslist actually works amazingly well. Make sure you post every job opening there as well. There will be a lot of less-than-awesome applications to sort through, but sometimes the best talent can be found his way. But however you do it, remember that is a key step in growing your startup past its current stage. Your team is your ticket to greatness, don’t settle for anything less than incredible.