I had a 3 month goal for 3 people. I also decided not to hire any recruiters (I had used recruiters before), not for the money, but I had been warned about perverse incentives, aggressive, pushy people who try to close on sub-par candidates and poaching of your existing staff. A story that I learned about (turned out to be true), was that a recruiter was helping a company hire 2 developers and after those 2 were hired, the hiring team of 3 folks were placed by the recruiter in another company within 3 months.
I started at earnest looking primarily for people in my network. I have a reasonably large network in the entrepreneur community and was convinced by many that it was the best way to hire developers. I also avoided hiring from larger Indian companies (for developers) since many of them dont enjoy startups after they learn about the longer hours and pressures of shipping product.
This is not a blot against the individuals, but more the reality that many of these large companies have a very low bar set by their customers. Product release cycles for most IT organizations (that outsource work to India) ranges from 6-9 months. Multiple conference calls to “nail down requirements”, a process which takes 3 months, are normal.
The “network” included emails, twitter & facebook posts and linkedin status updates with the job description, the perks of the role and our company’s culture. A week later I got 3 resumes, and none of them were even a close fit.
I did get spam messages from Sutralite, Naurki and a freelance recruiter.
Plan B was to attend many developer events and network to meet qualified candidates. I got more people pitching me to invest in their company than possible candidates. I attended 3 events and the total number of people at those events was close to 300+.
Plan C was to post the job on some technical, developer friendly forums. I started with hasgeek. I have been a fan of their events and a couple of entrepreneurs mentioned their job board as a good one, so I posted my first job description.
I was fairly pleased with the results. I got 11 resumes in total, 7 were good quality and fit the JD reasonably well, 1 was over qualified (and expensive), and 3 were not a fit.
I did get a spam message from Sutralite again.
Plan D was to post on Pluggd.in. It was not a featured job listing. I got 1 resume for a totally unrelated position (marketing) that we were not hiring for.
I did get a spam message from Sutralite again. Different person. I emailed back and asked the individual to stop spamming me. Got no response back.
I also got another resume from a person who was a recruiter for a mid-sized company offering to “help” me recruit from her database for a “fee”. She claimed to have access to a large database of good quality developers (obviously rejects from that company’s database). She did not send me her email from her company ID, but a simple google search revealed who she was.
What I learned:
1. Recruiting from your network is hit or miss. If you need to hire a specific set of people by a particular time, there’s no choice but to spend money either to buy a database, hire a recruiter or to pay a lot of money for referring candidates. The other approach is to pay-it-forward. Build your networks way before you need them.
2. There are a lot of startups that claim that they exclusively hire from their network. Many also claim they “attract” very high quality candidates because of their unique culture or work environment. I have visited those companies and met their people. I did not find anything different or unique and also found that most people hired there were recruited by consultants. Dont believe that myth.
3. If you are a startup and you dont have an aggressive hiring strategy – which includes spending money on multiple means to recruit, then dont plan on scaling or growing fast. There’s value in growing slow and steady, so your culture assimilates everyone, giving room for hiring mistakes.
Next post – how to word that job description so you can increase your chances of success.
Related post & ht to Elaine for triggering the thought – The recruiter honeypot.