Can you guess the biggest concern of a founder?

A lot of options might be floating through your mind. Investment? Revenue?

First Round Capital’s State of Startups 2016 Report assessed that the biggest challenge of a founder is recruiting quality talent.

According to Jonathan Tarud, Founder & CEO, Koombea

“When hiring someone in the technology field, it’s important to look for passion above anything else. It sounds cliche, but let me explain why. People who are passionate can be trained in everything even if they don’t have the “experience.” They are the most driven worker that you can have in the workplace. He or she can accomplish everything they are told to do and will go beyond the typical job requirements.”

Now, how many of us look for the passion of the candidate starting from the first step of the recruitment funnel? And how many of us source random candidates from different sources, take them further down the funnel, and if the candidate clears the ultimate round, keep on praying that the candidate doesn’t drop off.

More often than not, those prayers are not answered. The fault can be anywhere, but it starts where it all began, i.e sourcing.

Let's visualize the recruitment funnel with conversion rates and time as the parameters:

  • % of suspects they are able to convert to become prospects;
  • % of prospects they are able to convert to become candidates;
  • % of candidates they are able to convert to being sent to hiring managers;
  • % of candidates sent to hiring managers who receive offers;
  • % of candidates who receive offers, accept and become employees

If you notice carefully, points one and two deals with sourcing, i.e getting the candidates in the first place. How many times do you think the final drop off was a result of the initial two steps? Let me state few instances, where a wrong sourcing may crack your entire funnel.

Let’s admit it, hiring for startups is DIFFERENT!

According to Wasp Barcode’s annual State of Small Business Report, 50 percent of small businesses say hiring new employees is the top challenge they face in 2017. They have a tough competition against the big corporations both in terms of salaries as well as job benefits. So, if they follow the same approach as done by the MNCs, it is not going to help them.

Let me share an incident with you.

One of our friends was facing problems in getting quality resumes. His was a 2-year-old startup, and he himself was a non-tech founder. After trying posting on various internal company pages and job sites, he decided to go for a recruitment agency. They provided him with quite a few candidates and he eventually went ahead and hired one of them. Happy ending, right?

But, then the candidate left within three weeks. Reason? He used to work in a larger company before and he did not feel comfortable working in a 10 member team, at least this was what he said.

So compensation, technical capability etc was not the reason. He was not the right fit right from the very beginning, right when his resume was sourced.

But why did the candidate realize this after he had joined?

Does your candidates even know your value-prop?

Let me introduce a term, “Value proposition”, it’s a feature intended to make a company or product attractive to customers or in this case, candidates. Each company has a different one. With the emergence of a candidate-centric job market, compensation, benefits are no longer the only metrics by which you measure “value proposition”.

In our experience, we have seen passionate developers who are ready to leave their stable high-paying jobs to work for a growth stage startup, the only value-prop in this case being, responsibility to build an entire product from scratch. Yes, work satisfaction beats money! On the other hand, there are also candidates who are more okay for a 9-5 job.

This is where many small companies mess up, especially if the sourcing is outsourced to recruitment partners, either due to lack of proper communication or due to the inability of the recruitment firms to showcase the value-prop of that particular company to the candidates.

Warm body syndrome

There is a thing we say in startups, “This position was supposed to be filled Yesterday.” Given the heavy load of work and the high urgency, hiring managers often try to rush up the hiring process, and end up hiring a Joe, even if there were a few red flags in the interview which indicated that he might not be the ideal fit.

There is no place for “might” in recruitment, is it?

This is called the “warm body syndrome”. And trust me, an empty chair in the office is much better than a filled one which does not contribute to your business in any way, after all, “you’re only as good as the people you have working for you.”

Are you calculating the ROI of your hiring process

Talent Acquisition is very similar to sales. You generate a lead, take him further down the funnel, enclose a proposition and then expect to onboard him. If he does not, there is a lost deal and in case of candidates, it s a drop-off.

Now, how many of us seriously quantify our hiring process?

Where do you find your candidates? Through job boards, social media sites, mobile hiring apps, or through referrals? Analyzing and tracking the source of hire data can help you in determining the points from where most of your candidates are entering your recruitment funnel.

Here are the KPIs that you must measure starting from the very beginning:

Origin point for the best candidates

You might source candidates from 10 different places, and get one new person at your office. It will happen for all the departments like Engineering, Marketing, Designing etc.

Can you tell, from which source did your last engineering hire had come from? Or the one before that? Or the one even before that?

You see, once your hiring cycle runs for sometime, you have enough data to identify a pattern. If you hired 15 engineers in the last one year and let’s say the success rate from Linkedin:Angel:Referral:Others is 3:2:6:4, there you go. You have your data. Next time a high priority opening comes in, you know where to start from immediately.

Time to hire speed/Pipeline speed

After you source and before the candidates apply, there is an initial amount of time and effort which goes in nurturing the candidate(like nurturing leads in sales). The pipeline speed can also be directly correlated to your sourcing. The points that you should track are:

  1. How many emails you have to drop before a candidate is interested?
  2. How long it takes for lead nurturing?
  3. What is the conversion speed ratio of direct candidates vs recruiter sourced candidates?
    And much more, as long as you are thinking deep!

There can be various other metrics like Efficiency, Conversion rates(at every stage of the funnel), Numerical Forecasting etc.

Who knew Sourcing can have such maths involved!

Candidate-Centric process

Working together and building something is surely a two-way road. Most of the job descriptions are only shouting Me-Me-Me!

According to a research by Indeed, “64% of employed adults say they would feel more confident that a job is a right fit for them if they picked the company and applied versus if a recruiter contacted them.”

In such a situation, it all comes down to the recruiter, and nothing can go wrong. Let’s ask some questions to ourselves:

  1. Do we know what challenges the candidates are facing while applying on the website? We all have the marketing landing page metrics conned to rote but what about the career page?

  2. Do we speak about what we have to offer to the candidate besides compensation, an office that looks directly out from the set of a movie and a “world-class” service that the companies provide to the clients? Do we speak of friendly colleagues, chance to grow, unlimited food and the bonding shared amongst the team?

  3. Most of us are stuck with Linkedin, Angel, Naukri etc. What about going to the places where the candidates are already? How many of us have tried, Facebook ads, Medium, Snapchat(Yes! Snapchat), Instagram, Periscope etc?

Here is some food for thought before we crib about rejected offer letters and no shows on joining date - Are we thinking out of the box enough?