Most startups are recruiting above their awareness level.
Outside of their founder's networks, VC relationships, and early-hire referrals, startups are generally unknown in the niche corners of the labor pool they’re swimming in. This means—at least when it comes to recruiting—startups are in the comparison game.
Every engineering candidate is comparing one startup against all the others that are trying to recruit them. What does Startup A offer that Startup B doesn’t?
So how do you increase trust when nobody knows who you are?
You position your startup against your comparables—before you ever talk with a candidate.
The most tactical way to do this is by getting in front of the hard questions from the get-go. Don’t avoid them. Lean into them. All the way.
To get your wheels turning, these are some hard questions you can start answering:
- Comp comparables: How do you measure up compared to industry standards?
- Financial comparables: What’s the financial health of the company (your runway)?
- What would cause the business to fail?
- Do you have product-market fit? Why or why not?
- Why is your engineering leader the right person to be leading this team?
- Why is your startup less risky and more rewarding than big tech?
- What does the hiring process look like? (In detail.)
- What do the first 30 days look like? (In detail.)
- What’s your longest long-term plan?
- How do you think about employee benefits?
Answer these in audio, written, and/or video format (think candidate FAQ). And send them to your prospective candidates in sourcing messages and other async interactions.
It feels like I’ve written this post 1000 times. So why 1001? Because the challenge facing startups that are recruiting senior-level technical talent hasn't changed. And neither has the solution.
You know the drill. Just go and do it.