Get inspired by these 4 innovative startup recruitment strategies

Like your car, a sales team, or any well-oiled machine, your company’s recruitment strategy needs regular tune-ups to keep it running in good shape: You need to learn about potential candidates in new ways, and find technology that streamlines and fills gaps in the recruiting process.

Many of today’s startups excel at recruiting because they are often forced to get creative. Startups are charged with turning shoestring hiring budgets into results, so they’re constantly trying new methods and discarding the ones that don’t deliver quality candidates. As such, these small organizations are paving the way for innovation in recruiting, from how they source candidates to how they get new hires excited about the company’s culture and long-term goals.

Trying some of the recruiting techniques utilized by startup companies can help your team bring on excellent employees who fit in with the company culture, plus save money and time. Borrow some ideas from the innovative recruiting tactics highlighted below to give your hiring a jumpstart.

Meet your candidates in their natural habitat

The first time you interact with a candidate is often when they respond to your job posting, but that doesn’t always have to be the case. Experienced recruiters know that to source talented candidates, they need to proactively network and build a talent pool. Startups aren’t much different, though they generally have a tighter budget and a smaller staff to work with, leading them to develop some novel recruitment strategies.

The problem with a lot of modern recruiting techniques is that they’re usually done in uncomfortable, formal situations that give candidates limited opportunities to show their personality and the value they’d bring to the company. You can start to change that by developing a stronger sense of your ideal candidates and what they might be interested in outside of the office.

Once you figure out where your candidates spend their time, vet them in settings where they can act more like themselves. One example: Tradler, a Barcelona-based AI travel startup, made headlines by holding a recruitment event in an escape room. It makes sense: Escape rooms are cooperative problem-solving games, and puts the team under pressure as they try to solve the puzzle and “escape.”

Tweet from Barcelona Startup News about Escape rooms

Even if participants don’t continue through your interview process, if your recruiting activities are anything like Tradler’s, they’ll have had a good time. They’ll tell their friends about their experience, and your company will stick in their memory. More than 60% of candidates share their interview experiences with friends and family, making word-of-mouth a powerful tool for attracting new applicants.

Think about the types of activities your desired applicants might enjoy and that align with your company’s culture and values, and set up a recruiting event that involves those activities.

Try out new technology

Technology like virtual reality (VR) might seem like something that’s just for fun, but it has the potential to serve a helpful purpose in today’s recruitment industry, especially with the rise of remote workers and far-distributed teams. VR can emulate situations that are difficult or too expensive to re-create on a regular basis.

Often one of the most expensive aspects of recruiting is travel costs for candidates that don’t live nearby—plane flights, hotels, and other expenses can add up quickly. With this limitation in mind, startups have used VR technology to bring their employees together, wherever they’re located in the world.

Even before their acquisition by Walmart, ecommerce company Jet has been using VR to introduce applicants to their company culture. Candidates can virtually attend a meeting with the company’s CEO and interact with employees during happy hour. Potential applicants can also “visit” the company headquarters without the costs of travel, allowing them to get a better sense of whether or not they’d fit into the organization.

Virtual reality might seem prohibitively expensive, but with services like Google Cardboard, anyone with a smartphone and a reasonably-priced headset can access and develop VR content. Consider surprising candidates by sending them a low-cost VR headset, and an opportunity to “visit” your company virtually.

Looking for another idea to leverage remote technology, but don’t think VR is a good fit for your potential candidates? Animalz, a content marketing startup with a fully remote team, recently used a hiring webinar as a part of their recruitment process. The webinar gave potential applicants the chance to ask questions about the jobs available, the company culture, and how the company approaches content. Over 100 people tuned in, and application rates spiked as a result.

Reward employees for referrals

Finding candidates who tick the boxes you’re looking for is already a daunting task. Many startups have addressed this issue by tapping into their existing resources: Their employees. Your employees are already an asset to your company—they’re smart, talented, and well-connected. An employee referral program leverages your employees’ networks to find additional talent to add to your hiring pool.

Dan Gellert, CEO and co-founder of GateGuru, a mobile app to help travelers navigate airports, swears by employee referrals as a recruitment tactic. Candidates found in this manner are usually a better fit than those found through job sites, Gellert says.

A potential downside of this approach is that it may require recruiters to spend more time in “recruitment mode,” where they engage with and nurture potential candidates and grow the talent pool by attending networking and other social events.

Another takeaway from startups using referrals: Rewards for employees who submit successful referrals don’t have to be monetary. A celebratory lunch, extra PTO, or even the CEO’s parking spot for a day may be more enticing or a better fit within your company culture. However you decide to reward those who help you recruit, put your referral program in writing—that way it’s crystal clear who is eligible to participate and what they’ll receive if their referral is hired.

Show candidates your fun side, too

Some organizations use the same job descriptions for years, and may not update them even if they make significant changes to their culture or company structure. These outdated descriptions do a disservice to your potential applicants, and may even discourage them from applying.

Startups are typically energetic workplaces, and they excel at bringing that energy into their job ads.One example: Toggl, a time-tracking tool, announced a job opening with a lighthearted infographic and Q&A with the team lead. The post features an attention-grabbing diagram at the top detailing the “Anatomy of a Toggl Backend Developer,” where the team lists elements of the job as if they were labeling a technical diagram. The blog post with the diagram includes tongue-in-cheek interview with the team lead about the role, what kind of person they’re hiring, and what they’d take to a deserted island.

Should a 100-year-old accounting firm create an infographic and a Q&A for every job? No, but every company is unique and can find ways to showcase who they’re looking for and what makes their organization and role different. This type of job post is memorable and says a lot about how Toggl employees interact with each other, and what skills they’re looking for in candidates.

Think about what you can add to your job descriptions to make it stand out amid a sea of similar jobs. If you’re having trouble, consider asking your employees for help: “Involving the current team [you’re hiring for] will help fine-tune the description,”says John Reed, senior executive director of Robert Half Technology.

Above all else: Always be improving

The most successful startups are always analyzing their processes and making them better. Keep track of your hiring statistics, especially time to hire and which sources bring you the most qualified candidates. If you know how you’re currently performing, you can develop a recruitment plan that is continuously improving for your hiring team and for candidates.

Also, solicit feedback about your hiring process from your applicants—the ones who join your team and, yes, the ones who leave your pipeline. This feedback can help you identify pain points and address them before they affect other candidates. Is a link broken? Are your interview questions too off-the-wall? Is your office difficult to find? These are issues that can be discovered with a conversation, a questionnaire, or by checking your company reviews on a website like Glassdoor.

Don’t allow your process to stagnate. With regular maintenance and a spark of ingenuity, you can be sure that you’re keeping your company’s recruitment strategy running smoothly, both now and for years to come.

About Hire by Google

Hire is a recruiting app by Google that uses AI to make the hiring process faster and simpler. Because it is designed specifically for G Suite users, with Gmail, Google Calendar and other G Suite integrations, Hire streamlines administrative tasks so that your team can hire the best people, faster.