Hiring is one of the biggest challenges for companies in today’s talent shortage. This is a particular issue for startups who don’t have the same brand recognition or inherent candidate attraction that larger companies have. On Episode 121 of the Talent & Growth Podcast I spoke to Claudia Colvin, who is the Head of People at Happy Scribe. She has a really interesting background in scaling businesses and setting up processes at an early stage, so I tapped into her knowledge base on the subject. These are her insights on how to hire successfully in a startup business: 

The first thing to keep in mind is that compared to companies that have a reputation, you will receive almost no inbound applications. That’s because you’re not a company that people will have on top of their mind when they’re thinking about changing jobs. You need to rely really heavily on outbound. Most of the time it will be someone’s first time hearing the name of your company, so your outbound needs to be amazing. You can’t get away with having plain copy that doesn’t stand out, because your company name already doesn’t stand out. You really have to work super hard on having amazing copy that is very specific with no fluff words. 

Avoid saying: 

  • We are rapidly growing our shares
  • We’re disrupting and innovating

Instead, phrase it like this: 

  • We have grown by X% in the last quarter
  • We are using X technology to streamline our workflow

These are the specific things that will make your outbound stand out. 

Another thing to focus on is making sure that the email is about the candidate. We have a really high response rate of around 50-60%. That’s because we contact less people, but we personalise our outreach. We start the email with a sentence or two that really shows that we have read their profile, noticed a couple of things that stand out and make them a match. That really captures their attention. 

Secondly I recommend investing some time in doing PR work. Getting press visibility does a lot for hiring. Think about your strategic focus on who you need to hire, their profiles, where they hang out, what communities are they part of, what content they read etc. You can then use PR to put yourself in those places. For example, something that we did is we looked at what podcasts our target hires listen to, then pitched that our founders should go and speak on those podcasts. We got several applications coming through from that. When we were reaching out to the people after doing that, we started getting responses like ‘I heard about you on the podcast’. PR isn’t just about bringing in more inbound applications, it’s about increasing your brand recognition so that when you do reach out, they have actually heard of you. 

Another important factor in successfully hiring in a startup is getting your culture right. Building community is really important, and word of mouth is a very powerful way to get people to apply. We started hosting events and meetups for product designers, software engineers, and other people that we wanted to hire, so that they could see our space, meet our team and recognise us as a brand. We really believe that our team is amazing, and that’s a big part of what wins people over or makes them excited to join us. It doesn’t have to be people you want to hire, you can just invite people that you think are going to be cool to have a conversation with. It’s all about creating an atmosphere in the room. It helped us figure out what our ideal candidates to know about us and how we can make them aware of us. 

To learn more about how to create a hiring process in your company, tune into Episode 121 of the Talent & Growth Podcast here.