Who doesn’t love a good underdog story?
In the startup community, we’re seeing a parade of underdog disruptors trying to change the way people work and live. And while as consumers we benefit from disruptive innovation and the resulting competition, we also love to see startups support one another.
I’ve studied and worked in recruitment technology for five years. It’s a crowded space, but one that’s ripe with innovation. There have been many giant acquisitions and funding plays — e.g. LinkedIn bought Bright.com and Connectifier, HireVue received $92 million, LinkedIn itself was acquired by Microsoft for $26 billion. The list goes on.
Most of the big plays are made for disruptive enterprise solutions. These companies and investors hope to become, or be acquired by, the next SAP, Salesforce or LinkedIn. But startup and independent (“free agent”) communities have also been touched by rapid innovation — making capabilities once reserved for large corporations now available to the little guys.
Top recruiting tools for startups
The space is crowded because hiring is the No. 1 challenge for almost every startup founder I meet. Your ability to attract, select and retain the best talent will make or break your company. Startup founders in particular are constantly looking for an edge in building a better and more efficient hiring process. One benefit we have as startups, compared to our incumbent competitors, is the ability to quickly experiment with different tools and processes that can give us an edge.
The list of free and affordable tools that promise to “change recruiting” can be daunting. How do you know which tools are worth your time? After exploring many of these tools myself, I put together my top 5 list of free tools that can help give you an instant edge.
1. Breezy HR
Breezy HR is an end-to-end recruiting software designed to help you attract and hire employees with less effort. Their lightweight applicant tracking system (ATS) has a usable interface and a freemium tier. Many startups are too lean or small to need a full-blown ATS, but are familiar with productivity tools like Trello and Asana. I know many startups who love the visual workflow of Breezy, which is built specifically around the recruiting workflow.
Textio is an augmented writing platform for creating highly effective job listings. By analyzing the hiring outcomes of more than 10 million job posts a month, Textio predicts the performance of your listing and gives you real-time guidance on how to improve it. The tool tells you how your job description will stack up as fast as you can type it.
Recently, I was talking to an HR rep who is responsible for hiring – along with a thousand other duties. She recommended this tool as a practical way to quickly improve job descriptions, especially since this wasn’t her full-time focus.
This Google Chrome extension — which is still in beta — will show you the most likely email combination for a candidate based on their name, company, and other social data across the most popular social networking sites. We’ve seen great value using Prophet internally in our company to identify email addresses for people we want to email (not just prospective candidates). In hard-to-fill roles, passive candidate outreach can be the only way to find great potential talent, and tools like this are a massive help.
Calendly helps you schedule meetings without the back-and-forth emails. This app lets you create a simple page for candidates to schedule interviews and meetings at a time that suits both of you. Most folks in our company use this to save a time in the back-and-forth scheduling process.
We’ve found that MixMax helps us get more out of our email inbox, as it offers analytics on who opens emails when, lets us schedule emails for later, and can send us reminders to follow up. The reminders are a great feature for recruiting – we’ve found that most prospective candidates only reply on the second or third follow-up.
As a startup founder, at least a third of your job should be focused on attracting and retaining the best talent. You should design your hiring process with the same care and attention you do your sales process. Test and invest in tools and technology, but remember that the best tools in the world won’t magically find you the best talent. This list of recommendations can change the way you hire, but you still have to put in the work.
This article has been edited.
Michael Overell is the co-founder and CEO of RecruitLoop, the marketplace for elastic recruiting with expert recruiters and sourcers on-demand.