Start-up recruiting strategies:

Developing "core" job descriptions

The first step in developing your job core descriptions is to secure time one-on-one with each member of your management or executive team.

Since they are probably working 80-hour weeks, we suggest you schedule time during lunch or breakfast to ask them questions. Have the managers describe, in detail, the personality characteristics of the people they work best with as well as those with whom they would never want to work. Be sure each manager understands that someone from a large, structured corporate background may not survive in a fast-paced, constantly changing, and entrepreneurial start-up environment. Extract specific technical, management or functional skills, certifications, or educational requirements managers require building their ideal teams.

Managers who describe someone who must have everything on their wish list of 25 points can present significant challenges for your recruiting efforts. Spend additional time with those managers and get them to list their top five skills that are absolutely required to be successful in the job. If the manager is unwilling to accept people with less than everything on the wish list, have he or she detail alternative skills or experience he or she would be willing to consider if you cannot find people who match everything. Try to separate the list into items that candidates absolutely must have versus those it would be nice to have.

Start-Up Recruiting Strategies: Develop a Strategic Recruiting Plan

When developing your recruiting plan, consider that the start-up organization typically has a small budget, no recruiting infrastructure, no formal process and no applicant tracking system. With this in mind, it is critical that your recruiting plan maximizes the limited internal resources you do have while minimizing expenses.

To determine necessary resources, start by estimating the number of resumes needed in total to staff the number of anticipated open positions. A good rule of thumb is that 50% of the total resumes received will be ruled out upon visual inspection, and 20% to 30% of the remaining resumes will be passed along for further consideration after those candidates have been phone screened. These numbers will vary depending upon how narrow the visual pre-screening criteria are.

Be sure you have identified your internal recruiting process with regard to candidate interviews, rejection notification and employment offers. Once your sourcing and recruiting plans and processes have been determined, conduct a staff meeting with your hiring managers to present your plan and gain their support and suggestions for improvement. Involving the hiring managers early on will secure their cooperation throughout the recruiting process.

Start-Up Recruiting Strategies: Search firms and Outsource Consultants

Search firms and recruiting consultants can be invaluable assets to the start-up organization. When using retained search firms, you pre-pay a percentage of the total fee up front with the balance paid over a negotiated payout schedule. Contingency search firms charge their fee only when you hire of one of their candidates. Many start-up companies use retained search firms for their higher-level executive positions and contingency firms for the difficult-to-fill (needle in a haystack) positions.

For the multi-hire initiatives, recruiting consultants (contract recruiters) who work on an hourly basis can be more cost-effective than search firms that charge on a per-hire basis. Recruiting consultants can add tremendous value in managing the internal recruiting process and provide candidate sourcing and pre-qualification. Full-service recruiting solutions consultants like HRConnections can provide turnkey outsource recruiting services that encompass managing all facets of the recruiting and sourcing process.

Adapted from "Recruitment tips for Dotcom and start-up HR professionals, Part 2," by Barbara Reinhold; courtesy of