The Startup's Guide to Accelerating Talent Acquisition

In the world of startups, growth is good. Not just good, growth is pretty much the holy grail of startup culture. Growing a business comes with a lot of built-in risks. Most startups are working with limited cash flow, limited time, and a limited amount of built-in hiring expertise.

According to CB Insights, 70 percent of upstart tech businesses fail, usually about 20 months after first raising financing. Among the many reasons, 23% of startups cited an inadequate team as a causative factor in their failure! In this specific context,  everyone is jockeying for positions, for funding, and for people. It’s that last one that we find the most interesting since, well that’s our thing, but also because the need for talent acquisition means the HR department (or the person multitasking as HR) has to be able to scale rapidly as the company grows.

top 5 reasons (1)

top 5 reasons (1)

And in order to scale talent acquisition, it’s key to have recruiting tools in place early on that can support and even help accelerate that growth. There are, of course, best practices around all of this, and today we’re going to be discussing four of our favorites. Follow the suggestions and tips here, and your growing HR department will have a much easier time keeping up with the astronomical growth ahead for your fledgling startup.

Social media presence: have a robust strategy in place

Social recruiting is a large and growing segment of the business world. And if your target candidates are millennials, it’s even more important to have a solid social media aspect in your recruitment marketing plan. According to a LinkedIn survey, a full half of professionals are following one or more companies on social media for the sole reason of staying updated on openings.

social media presence

When it comes to creating your RM social media strategy, there are a few key items to remember:

Channels matter: Choose wisely and the payoff will be immense. Choose unwisely, and you could be throwing money down the drain. Know where your target audience is already spending their online time, and focus there. Check the metrics often, and adjust the plan accordingly, never fear dumping an underperforming platform, that means you can refocus your budget and energy on the ones that are returning quality candidates.

Know your personas: Target your posts and ads directly to them, as individuals. By making it personal, you can open up potential candidates to starting a conversation and ultimately joining the company when an appropriate opening appears.

Plan your posting: Creating a content calendar is the best way to have a clear plan of action that the whole team can access. Regular posts are also the best way to keep people interested and tuned in, waiting for the next installment.

Automate: Wherever possible, begin using automation. This allows for scalable growth in the company, as the automation tool will be better able to keep pace while you focus on filling positions and not on how many people you need on your team just to feel caught up.

Interaction and engagement are the key pieces to a successful RM social media strategy. Don’t just post and walk away. Stick around, read the comments, and say thanks for the shares. This turns your employer brand from an abstract into a tangible thing people can envision working with.

RMA: the startup HR department’s best friend

Being a cash-strapped startup doesn’t mean you have to skimp on the solutions you use. By being selective with the processes you automate with recruitment marketing automation (RMA), you can have a huge impact with minimal investment. Recruitment marketing automation is one of these areas with fantastic ROI. By having your RM posts pre-scheduled, automated, and integrated with your ATS, the time and energy saved on the part of you and your team can go into the creative aspects of the job. Not to mention interviewing all those applicants!


And by automating these processes early on, you allow more human energy to be focused on growing the company as a whole, rather than spending all of your energy trying to grow your own team in an attempt to get ahead of the curve. One person can set up a month’s worth of posts in a matter of hours, and incoming applicants can be automatically directed into the company careers portal and straight into the ATS without any further human intervention.


ATS integration

Speaking of automation and your ATS, a big chunk of using RMA is to integrate your marketing efforts directly with that applicant tracking system. That way, when someone clicks through from a social media post or ad, their contact info can go directly where it counts instead of being in an email waiting for someone’s attention or just simply dropping off everyone’s radar in the ATS black hole.

When a potential candidate clicks on a Facebook ad and enters their contact info to receive more information on an opening, what happens next? If your systems aren’t fully integrated, you may not even be able to answer that question. On the other hand, if you have an RMA solution in place that talks to your ATS, their info went straight into the database, they received a thank you email that you created especially for this occasion, and they’re entered into a workflow for potential candidates.

That workflow might be based on the search criteria they entered, or it can be based on the specific opening they clicked on the ad for, you get to set all of those criteria. Now, rather than sitting at home wondering what they did wrong that you never contacted them, the candidate feels cared for and they can see that you and your company value their time and energy.

candidate nurtuing-1

Employee referral program: Don’t forget about your people

Perhaps the #1 resource you have as an HR department in a small startup is your existing coworkers. They are your go-to when you need to fill an opening, because who else knows the best engineers but other great engineers?

This plays on the fact that people trust other people, and they trust their friends even more. So if your current employees talk up the company when they’re out with friends, those friends will remember that when the time to change positions comes around. Turning your employees into EB ambassadors isn’t difficult either. Make sure they’re up-to-date on the inner workings of the company, social responsibility initiatives, upcoming releases, etc. And make sure they know there’s an incentive (nothing fancy, maybe a spa day or sports tickets) for referring someone to the company who ends up accepting an offer.

These tips are meant as thoughts to get you going. Take them as the starting blocks for the race your company is about to enter, the race for scalable growth. By remembering to have your systems in place, automating wherever you can, and never forgetting the resources sitting next to you, the road to outstanding ROI and accelerated talent acquisition is wide open!