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Season 01, Episode 04

How To Hire: Sourcing Your Candidates (Part 3)

with Sasha and Jake

About the Episode

In this episode, learn how to attract and source candidates before you have a recognizable brand! Plus, try your hand at talent mapping to identify the right profile to ensure you attract high-fit employees! This video is part of our free, online 6-video crash course on “How to Hire At Your Startup” available on our YouTube channel.

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Full Transcript


Sasha: (00:00)
Hey, what’s going on? Thanks for checking us out. Um, today we’re talking about how to identify and find talent when you’re an early-stage startup and maybe don’t have the brand recognition or the volume of candidates actively reaching out to you, which means that you have to reach out to them. Yeah,

Jake: (00:36)
Yeah. Outbound sourcing. So actually like going out and finding the candidates you need, because just like you said, like you don’t have, the people don’t know who you are. The recognition. Uh, you’re a small startup. Uh, maybe you got around to funding. You have some like, press things like that, but you really need to go out and sell yourself.

Sasha: (00:53)
Yes. Lots of selling of yourself. Yeah. Uh, you have to convince people to often leave a really great job and take a bet on you and the company and come build something incredible, which kind of segues into the type of person that you want at this stage. If you are a company five to 10, people just raise their first round of funding. You need owners and builders to come in and help set up processes and build the infrastructure for every different department. And you’re not going to find those people at larger companies typically. Um, usually I found these are serial builders and so you need to be able to identify them and then convince them to come to your company. So we’ll break down some of the different ways that we can do this. And some of the pitfalls, painful stories, success stories that we’ve seen, and how to find early-stage talent, essentially step one, talent mapping.

Sasha: (01:56)
Super cool. Yeah. Um, so depending on the market, you’re in this will vary, but you want to identify the hot companies and your area and hot can mean different things to different people. But I’m looking for companies that are, have either been through aggressive growth. Um, so they have really talented and proven people that can get them from point a to point B, um, companies that have a similar product or way that they sell or processes are incredible leader and culture and people that you would like to take and help build the same thing with you. Um, so these can be any range of stage from series a round, kind of similar to you or all the way through series C series D. I probably would stay away from companies that are more seasoned or a little bit older than that only because the profile person you’re hiring changes when you’re building versus when you’re scaling. And I think it’s a different skillset, um, that you’ll ultimately need down the line if you’re successful, but not yet, they’re going to be more expensive, more specialized. Um, a lot of them will, will have broader experience at larger companies. And you don’t want that right now.

Jake: (03:11)
It’s true. Like the, uh, the problems that you are experiencing right now, uh, you need to fix those, but like the problems that are gonna exist in three months, that don’t exist right now, you have problems that are gonna come up six, nine months down the line. You don’t even not even aware of them. So you need to find those folks who are able to build, fix, iterate and continually, continually try to improve the, uh, the process and help a level up the company and fix things when they break because at startups that’s what happens. Things start to break down things at work. Six months ago, don’t work anymore. We need to rethink how we’re doing things.

Sasha: (03:48)
You need people that can sit in that kind of chaotic environment and thrive and continue to build, iterate, and throw it away. If it doesn’t work and be okay and be like, Oh, I spent two months building that. It’s no longer going to be the way that we’re going. And that’s okay. And they have to be okay with that. And that’s, that can be tough.

Jake: (04:05)
All right. So let’s go back into, so for talent mapping, we’re looking for like, how do you go about trying to find the right companies to target? Like, what things are you looking for?

Sasha: (04:15)
So it’s completely dependent on who you are. So in a past role, I was at an education technology company. They were creating a category around student financial services. At the time it was financial aid software, and no one else was doing it. And it was, we just raised our series, a, we had like 30 large enterprise accounts and we were trying to figure out what type of salespeople to hire. And we went through like, no lie, four different batches of salespeople and these different hiring profiles. Um, because we were trying to figure out a very specific niche of person. Initially, we thought it would be someone with financial aid experience and that’s it. Someone who can just relate and talk to our customer. And then we realized financial aid, people can’t sell at all. And that was a mistake. And then we tried purely Saas people because we made a connection between the financial aid profile and an HR profile.

Sasha: (05:06)
And so we wanted people that sold HR software. So we tried that, but then they didn’t know any of the financial aid jargon, and people didn’t take them seriously and didn’t want to connect with them. And so then we had to create this fusion profile that was incredibly difficult to find that had software sales experience and had been in education technology and financial aid enrollment or something in the education space. Oh my gosh. Unicorn skill sets. Absolutely. And so like, none of those people are applying. We were early stage. No one really knew about us. And while there was buzz, we weren’t attracting the volume of those types of candidates. So that means we have to hit LinkedIn and get really specific about the type of people that we want, which is why talent mapping comes into play. So you don’t necessarily have to talent map in your city, but you can talent map in your vertical or in your, or even in like an analogous industry. Um, so for us, it was looking at ed tech companies all over the country. It was looking at financial aid institutions like tech forward, um, institutions and software companies locally, and seeing if we could somehow marry it all together, um, which is really tough. Yeah.

Jake: (06:17)
The other thing you can do, so you can look at companies that have that talent, or you can start to look at people that might have those like hybrid skills, at Coplex, which is like a startup accelerator. We’re helping build new ventures, new startups. Uh, I was hiring for program managers and a program manager can mean anything at a company there’s different tasks, different skillsets. So I couldn’t go in and start looking for like, go into LinkedIn and say, I’m looking for a program manager, I’d get any number of different, uh, skillsets. So what I started doing was looking at, started mapping out, what are the skillsets I need in that role? I need someone who has some product or software experience, someone who has exposure, either worked at a startup or started something before. Uh, so I started figuring out, uh, you know, and a little bit of, you know, sales and account management experience. Yeah. Start looking for like folks that would have titles or at least past titles that would fit that. So I started looking at product managers. I started looking for people with experience that had founder in their title. At some point, I’m looking for people who started their own companies. Um, I even started looking for folks who had some sort of like entrepreneurship, like ish degree, even if it was like a minor, just because I knew that they would be, they’ve learned that they’ve studied that. And they’re excited about it.

Sasha: (07:43)
This sounds like this person doesn’t exist, but this is why it’s really important to go out and try to find these people because you build your job description of what the role is and what it needs to be at your company. But then you have the skillset and the background of the people that you need to do that role. And so often, like you’re not going to find the right person or what you define as one role. Like for example, customer success is going to be very, very different from even other software companies, but like even more dramatically different from non software companies. So I think this is most apparent in any of my roles that I hire for in the customer success realm. We’ll get a ton of folks from support and call center backgrounds, um, that are just not the right fit. They maybe have been there for 20 years and have led teams, but we need someone who’s been in CS. And as an understands the customer life cycle as product, or has partnered with product and engineering and gets all of that. And like, you’re not going to find that person usually generalizing. You’re not gonna find that person just applying and you have to go force them to come work with you and convince them you’re super cool. And your business is awesome. And on this upward trajectory, and they’d be stupid not to come in.

Jake: (08:56)
Let’s, let’s get into that a little bit. So let’s say we find this, this few of these unicorns, right? They’re on LinkedIn. We find them, uh, how do you go about reaching out and starting that? Yeah. How do you get connected?

Sasha: (09:11)
So you, they are in the place of power. Usually these people are currently employed at a great brand. They are doing something that they love. And so you’re coming in as usually a rando on LinkedIn, like, Hey, be my friend. And so when I reach out to people, I try to keep it as them focused as possible. It’s like, Hey, quick blurb on us. We just raise X funding. We just won this award. Um, we’re playing in this space, we’re trying to build something awesome, super short, like five sentences to get them super excited or potentially intrigued them. And then it’s you seem awesome. Um, I don’t know if you’re interested in a change I’d love to chat through your career path and what you’re looking for and see if there’s some thing potentially that might be a fit. I usually don’t come in with a role. I usually let them drive the conversation of what they want to be doing and, um, and where they see their career moving. And it usually opens up a conversation and like, yeah, you can buy me coffee. That’s fine. And we’ll get, sit down for coffee. And even if it’s not a fit, like you’re awesome. The company seems awesome. Here’s five people from my network. I think you should talk to. So maybe it’s not them, but then they start to understand the profile and it opens doors.

Jake: (10:23)
Yeah. A few of the things that I like to do when I’m like reaching out is getting actually very specific around their background. Um, people have their guard up on like a templated emails and InMail messages and things like that. So it feels like you copy-pasted something. They’re probably just going to dismiss it. So I would pepper in like, I love your experience at this company or like you have product experience. So Hey, we’re both startup founders. Like we both had that experience. So I’ll pepper that in, I actually have in my templates, places where it’s like get specific drop, drop some. Yeah. And at the end, what I’ll do is like, Hey, even if like this isn’t like the best fit right now, you look like someone really interesting. Like you’re a startup, like a fellow startup founder, or like on the product, like, Hey, you have like a great career in product, you know, we’re in Phoenix. So sometimes they’ll say like, there’s not a whole lot of us

Sasha: (11:23)
Out here. So

Jake: (11:25)
Hey, even if you don’t want to, even if you’re not super interested in this role right now, I sold the connect. And I even, I even got into some conversations like through that back door and then like got them into my interview process once they learned more about, Oh, is that what you really,

Sasha: (11:39)
Yeah, super interesting. And it needs to be conversational. I think the biggest turnoff for potential candidates is you come in and super hot and hopping on that first intro call or that first intro meeting super, super hot and started interviewing like, tell me about a time. It’s like, no, no, no, you need to ask them about their story and why they do what they do and what they want to be doing. And then answer all of their questions and become their friend, honestly, and be their advocate.

Jake: (12:08)
I tell, I even I’ll even say, I’ll be like, Hey, I actually do have like a holistic questions I ask in every interview. We will say it let’s save that for later. Yeah. And I just like, I let them know that I want to get to know you. I want to like give you some background on, on me and like what we do and I want to see if there’s a good fit here. Yeah. So I love that. So that’s a great note. Yeah.

Sasha: (12:29)
But that would be my, my biggest piece of feedback that I’ve received from people in my network. Like just like care about me as a person, make it personalized and specific. Um, and they can feel good. It’s all about the experience

Jake: (12:43)
To get an ego stroke on LinkedIn. Like, Hey, I’m checking you out. Like you specifically, I think you’d be great. Like, you know it,

Speaker 3: (12:52)
Oh, hell yeah. Right. Like, I’ll talk to you. I am amazing. Right.

Jake: (13:02)
Any final thoughts as we wrap up outbound sourcing talent, mapping the outreach

Sasha: (13:11)
In terms of tools and your ability to do this, most of this is free. Um, if you’re whatever market you’re in, you can check out Angel List, Glassdoor, Crunchbase. I would look at your local digital magazines and newspapers. They usually run like best places to work or like they’re highlighting stories of companies that are doing something cool and innovative in the community

Jake: (13:31)
Inc 500. They have like their local city lists of, and by like usually companies size like small, medium and large. So you can start looking at like those smaller to mid-size companies.

Sasha: (13:42)
Yeah. Local to Phoenix. But soon to be national is Greg Head’s list, which I adore. It breaks down companies by size and, um, and vertical. And it’s incredible. So I stalk that aggressively. Um, but then once you build your list of companies or the type of persona and person you’re looking for, just sign up for a LinkedIn Recruiter Lite account, it’s like 130 bucks a month. So worth it, you get access to messaging people that you are not connected with, forced them to be your friend. Like it’s all about like nice forcing, like the sweetest way.

Jake: (14:17)
Yeah. Even if like $130, maybe too much, there’s a ton of features that come with it. I still suggest paying something so that you don’t get blocked after the like 100 searches or whatever it is that you’ll run out of like your searches real quick. Yeah. And it’s just, it crushes you. So crushes your spirit. Yeah.

Sasha: (14:38)
And it opens up, um, potentially new geographies if you’re recruiting outside of your specific network and your specific city, which is nice. Um, and then you have your InMail templates and you can manage it in there. Um, it sounds like we’re selling LinkedIn. We’re not sponsored sponsor us commission. Give me that money when you were like, that’s been the most instrumental tool. If you’re starting V1, all you need is LinkedIn and email and you’re good to go. Once you start hiring more than one or two roles, you’ll need to spin up an applicant tracking system, which we’ll get to later way later.

Jake: (15:13)
So much to talk about there. Um, but like templates, uh, act like checklists, like all that, like we have a bunch of resources as well that we’re going to be sharing, uh, to help you yeah. Right there to help you actually walk through and navigate this process. Um, I have a few templates on, on like InMail that like have like really like gotten me some like great responses and things like that. So yeah. We’ll be sharing those too.

Sasha: (15:38)
Yeah. Good luck. It’s super fun. Enjoy making these connections and getting to know people and building your team. Yeah. Thank you.

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