How to Land the Best Talent for Your Startup

Ellie D’Amelio by

How many candidates do you talk to in a week? How many do you reach out to to secure those conversations?

In our line of work, there’s a fine balance between quality and quantity. It’s easy to just go through the motions of hiring without putting much thought into who we’re talking to or the goal of conversations we’re having. I’ve seen countless recruiters who speak with a candidate once, send an email or two to schedule interviews, fail to build a relationship, and are blindsided when a candidate withdraws or declines an offer.

News flash: You should be the main point of contact for candidates during the hiring process.

As the candidates move through the interview stages, it’s up to you to keep them engaged and sell them on the amazing opportunity in front of them. While there is no magic recipe to making a hire, you should always strive to connect with the candidate, help them navigate the hiring process and set yourself apart (in a good way!).

Want to have BIG impact on your next req? Follow these 5 tips to help your hiring manager land the best talent:

1. The initial outreach: Make it as personal as possible!

How many times have you gotten a canned LinkedIn message from another recruiter and immediately shrugged it off? You know a hundred other people probably got the exact same message – no reference to your company, your role, or how your experience aligns with the job they’re trying to fill.

Your first outreach is such an easy place to stand out. By tailoring your message to show that you’ve done your research, you automatically make the candidate feel valued and start the relationship off on the right foot. Include a specific piece of information that you found on her profile and let her know why/how that makes her a good fit – be it the industry experience, her current position, or something she mentions in her bio.

2. That very first phone call: Be transparent and establish trust.

Getting on the phone with a recruiter can be overwhelming, especially for a passive candidate (and yes, the best ones are always passive). Make sure you take time to build your relationship and begin establishing trust:

  • Give her insight into your role in the process and be transparent about what the company is looking for in this hire.
  • Listen to them and don’t just rattle off a list of questions!
  • Let them know how you can be a resource beyond the call – whether things progress in this interview process or not. They’ll feel like you’re taking them seriously and forming a real relationship, rather than just trying to fill a req.

Use this call to set the tone for your relationship. If the candidate trusts you, she will open up to you more – what she’s really looking for, compensation, reasons for leaving, etc. – all valuable insights when hiring!

3. During the interview process: Communicate, and communicate often!

As a candidate moves through the interview process, recruiters often do a handoff to the hiring manager, stop communicating directly with the candidate and lose touch. Don’t let that happen! Regular phone calls, emails, and text messages go a long way to helping the candidate feel engaged and kept in the loop.

After each step, try and grab a few minutes on the phone with them. Give them updates, get their feedback, and dig into their concerns – most of all, make yourself available. You are the “eyes and ears” for the hiring manager – by taking these opportunities to dig in, you can pick up on pieces of information that can be useful in closing or even disqualifying the candidate.

4. Offer stage: Extending an offer, or maybe not…

Hooray! You have a candidate in play that everyone loves and the team is ready to extend an offer. By now you should have a good idea whether or not the candidate will accept, but give them a call and let them know the hiring manager has some positive news and wants to chat. By planting the seed for the upcoming conversation, you’re giving them the opportunity to gather their thoughts and prepare for an offer.

When things don’t go as hoped, it often falls on the recruiter to be the bearer of bad news and let a candidate know the team is passing. Be tactful in your transparency, but give as much honest and constructive feedback as possible.

5. Know your limits: It’s not all on you

While there are many situations you can, and should, handle yourself, sometimes it’s better to pull the hiring manager in. For example, if a candidate expresses concerns about learning the product/industry quickly enough or is unsure about the growth path for the role, the hiring manager needs to know. By raising these issues with the hiring manager, you’re giving both parties the opportunity to iron out any concerns and make sure there is a mutual fit earlier in the process. Similarly, if the team is passing, the hiring manager may want to follow up after you communicate the message to the candidate, especially for senior level roles or if the process was lengthy. A final message (preferably over the phone!) from the hiring manager shows respect, gratitude, and hopefully leaves the candidate feeling positive about the company.