Everybody Recruits: How Can Startup Business People Help Recruit Technical Talent?

I could use some startup recruiting advice.

Most people know I work at Shareaholic. Like many startups, we’re hiring technical talent.  You know - a little front end, infrastructure and customer happiness action. Even though I’m from the biz side, I want to help with recruiting. If the theme is “everybody codes” for your first 10 employees, to grow the next 10, I think the theme is “everybody recruits.” All hands on deck. The truth is, I feel just as much (self-imposed) responsibility for recruiting as anybody else, but I feel a lot less able to help. That really frustrates me.

I Don’t Know A Lot of Engineers

I have a giddy excitement when I talk about Shareaholic. It’s a ton of hard work and can be pretty intimidating, but this is the most challenging position and best learning opportunity I’ve had so far. As someone who strongly feels that it’s important to optimize for learning early in your career, this is exactly what I wanted for my 25-year-old self. I will happily chat anyone’s ear off to share my personal joy with them as well as preach the good news of content and ad tech. The problem? Most of the ears I have to chat off are those of marketers, not engineers.

The most consistent and best leads for job applicants come from personal recommendations. I went to school for PR. During college, I did PRSSA, and a bunch of other PR related extracurriculars. I had PR, journalism and marketing internships. I’ve had PR, community management and marketing jobs, expanding my professional network to even more marketers. My best friends are marketers. Some of them even date other marketers. I simply don’t know a ton of engineers outside of the ones I work with because my life experiences have exposed me mostly to marketers.

Many connections can be made online, but to be forth right, I don’t engage consistently on Hacker News and I don’t have a GitHub or Dribbble profile or things that would more directly connect me with technical folks. I’ve focused most of my online networking activity doing things like guest posts for social media and marketing blogs. Creating content is part of getting the message out and that’s been my job. But I can’t help but feel like I’ve sprinted up to a brick wall.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m grateful for my marketing relationships. And you know what? Maybe the marketer I know today knows the engineer we could hire tomorrow. But how do I scale the process discovering those secondary connections and then connecting the dots?

Do Hiring Campaigns Actually Work?

For a new hire, Hipster offered new recruits $10,000 and a year’s worth of PBR, among other hipsteresque welcoming gifts.

In its hiring campaign, LA-based startup Scopely proclaimed that it didn’t always hire developers, but when it did, it hired the most interesting engineers in the world.

My friends at HubSpot have $10,000 referral bonus for developers.

I’ve pondered campaigns like these and considered whether this marketing approach would be beneficial to our efforts.  I feel like these hiring campaigns are a good supplement to organic hiring efforts, but not a replacement for them. Most of all, it seems to me that one of their biggest benefits is the PR you get surrounding them, which probably increases the effectiveness of your organic efforts. This is just my assumption though.

Answer D: Other

I’ve considered these other things, but I’m skeptical. Any thoughts?

  • Career fairs – Is the sponsorship and t-shirt money worth it?
  • Hackathons – Are these efforts to get stuff built through your API, or veiled recruiting efforts? And if it is a veiled recruiting effort, how do you do this without being…well…a scumbag… and having that backfire?
  • Job Listings – Does anyone pay attention to Tweeted job postings?

Other Biz People Probably Feel This Way

I try to remind myself that things I’ve done such as press, messaging and generally just making our numbers better makes this a more successful startup. That makes this a more eligible job opportunity for the eligible engineer. But I doubt I’m alone as a biz-side person who wants to do more. So share your comments – how can people like myself do more?

Update – Starting to get some answers on my Quora thread on this topic – How Can Startup Business People Help Recruit Technical Talent? Check that out :) 

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