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The Best Recruiting Process Any Startup Should Use

Amanda Price
7 min read

For startup founders, hiring your first employees can be an incredibly exciting time.

However, it can also be a challenging one. That’s because if you hire the right people, you’ll acquire the skills and experience needed to grow your company and develop your product.

However, if you hire the wrong persons, the success of your entire venture could be at risk.

The best recruiting process is hiring a network recruiter to do everything for you. However, if you decide to do it on your own, this article will tell you what you need to know.

In it, you’ll learn:

  • What the specific challenges of recruiting for a startup are
  • How you can make your recruitment process more effective
  • Why startups should recruit passive candidates

What are the 7 stages of recruitment?

Here are the seven recruitment stages you’ll need to go through to hire people for your startup:

Deciding to hire a new employee

The objective at this stage in the hiring process is to figure out if it makes sense to fill the position. Often, it’s painfully obvious that an employee needs to be hired. For example, when an individual occupying a pivotal role quits.

Before hiring the new employeee, you might want to do a cost-benefit analysis. This way, you'll see if the position will generate enough revenue to cover costs. 

Creating a job description

Your job description delineates the responsibilities, skills, and level of experience your ideal candidate needs to have. 

Your applicants aren’t just some random customers who just happened to wander into your office. 

They’re there because they’re making an exceedingly important life decision. Crafting a compelling job description that goes far beyond the ordinary will lure in candidates who can add so much more to your company than merely fulfilling professional obligations.

While it's crucial to outline the job's responsibilities and the compensation in a job description, it's equally important to showcase your workplace culture in it. 

Recruiting candidates

Create a robust pool of applicants from which you can draw promising candidates by putting the word out. You can do this on your career page, job boards, or via an employee referral program.

Writing a great job posting is critical. If the traditional recruiting methods don’t work, you should look to other ways of finding employees.

Initial screening 

Try responding to each application with an email that asks a series of five questions relevant to the job. These queries should take about 20 minutes to answer.

This is a great pre-screening technique

That’s because mediocre candidates usually don’t respond, leaving you with higher-caliber talent.

Interviewing candidates

Before you do a formal interview, start by doing a 15-minute phone or Zoom one. 

This allows you to quickly figure out if they meet your qualifications and if they share your expectations. Once you do this, you can formally interview the candidates who make it past this stage. 

Remember that when you’re interviewing candidates, they’re customers too. So, don’t undercut your employer brand by showing less than stellar manners. This means politely following up with everyone who interviews. 

If you treat a candidate shabbily, this information could leak out on social media and damage your brand. 

Making your job offer

A job offer letter is a formal document sent to candidates selected for a position.

When there’s written confirmation of an offer, both the employee and the employer are clear on the conditions. Include in your job offer letter everything you’re offering.

These are things like: 

  • Benefits information and eligibility
  • Acknowledgment of offer
  • Confirmation of acceptance
  • Perks 
  • Job description
  • Job title
  • Job starting date
  • Salary


Once your recruit accepts your job offer, it's time for the onboarding phase.

Introduce the person to their new workspace, the company culture, and the rest of the team. Make sure you go over your projects and expectations for the coming year.  

What are the specific challenges of recruiting for a startup?

When you’re a new and unknown startup, attracting high-caliber talent can be difficult. This is particularly true if you're bootstrapping or haven’t yet raised your first round of funding.

You’ll have to work especially hard to sell your company, vision, and team to potential employees.

That's why startups need to create a robust recruitment marketing strategy that showcases their unique employer brand. 

What positions should startups put the most focus on when hiring?

Making sure you've hired all essential roles might not be the first thing on your mind in the hectic early days of your startup. However, surrounding yourself with the right team can ensure that your business is prepared for the next steps in its evolution.

It's uncommon for startups to have the resources to find a person for every job. That's why they usually start with a loose and flexible structure where team members fill various roles.

When you do get the resources, these are the roles you should concentrate on filling:


Appointing a CEO is something you’ll probably want to do sooner rather than later.

Some nascent companies hire a CEO early on in their evolution, while others have a founder who assumes the role. Among other things, a CEO can manage cash flow and hold the organization's vision, so it moves in the right direction.

The CEO is also the company's public face, which can make this hire a crucial one.


Hiring someone to manage the books is critical to startup success.

However, this role isn’t merely about balancing the books—it's also to ensure that your organization complies with the tax code and other financial law.  


You’ll need a good operations manager when the day-to-day operational needs start to rev up.

Some operations managers might be more of an office-manager, handling paperwork and overseeing staff. Other operations managers may be more involved in the strategy and execution of early projects.  

No matter what their role in your company looks like, it's essential to have someone ensuring things run well. 

Product Development

If your startup involves developing a product, having someone talented to lead your product-development team is crucial. 

The product development manager will direct your team of engineers. They'll also refine your technology and plan how to get your product to market.

Human Resources

Hiring a human resources manager is often a low priority until a company has secured funding and can hire a team.

If you don't have enough funding to hire one, an outside staffing agency might be cheaper. 

This way, you'll free up the CEO, who won't have to handle personnel issues anymore.

How can I make my recruitment process more effective?

Here are some things you can do to make your recruitment process more effective:

Use recruitment marketing

Recruitment marketing is communicating your employer branding through content and messaging. It can include social media, video messages, blogs, and anything else that builds up your brand.

If your brand is relatively unknown, you can use recruitment marketing to change that. That way, every potential employee will look at your organization as a desirable place to work.

You can do that by:

  • highlighting your vibrantly positive company culture with an article about it on your website
  • profiling a superstar employee on your Facebook page
  • Filming a video showing employees doing what they love

Provide an exceptional candidate experience

You’ll attract the best people by providing an exceptional candidate experience.

The key to this is engagement. A candidate who's still weighing other job opportunities can be enticed by knowing that an employer is engaging with them throughout the process. 

This makes them feel valued as an individual.

To do this, offer clear and consistent communication as to where they stand. This can include personalizing your messages in the later stages of the hiring process, prompt replies to the applicant, and continual updates about the next steps.

Advertise in the right places

To snag your dream candidate, you'll need to advertise in the right places. 

This means going beyond the usual channels of Indeed, Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and other professional social networks. It’s not only about reaching the most people, but it's also about getting the right people.

If you’re searching for tech talent to fill an open job, post on job boards visited by developers, like Stack Overflow. If you wanted to ensure that your tech team is diversified, try Black Career Network or She+ Geeks Out.

Build a beautiful careers page

One of the first things prospective employees do when they’re interested in a job is to look up your company on the Internet.

An outdated website won’t leave a good impression. However, a beautiful careers page can go a long way towards getting your startup noticed.

Make applications easy to fill out

Ease of use is a potent component in a candidate's decision-making process. This is especially true in competitive fields.

That’s why filling out an application should be an easy and effortless experience. For example, candidates’ resumes should seamlessly auto-populate the relevant fields.

Eliminate annoyingly repetitive tasks, such as endlessly re-entering the same information.

Ensure your applications are optimized for mobile since many candidates conduct their job searches on their phones.

Re-engage past applicants

By re-engaging with past applicants, you’ll be giving a second chance to those already familiar with your company.

You’ve already evaluated their skills, which means you can save time by skipping the hiring process's initial stages.

Harness the power of referrals

Asking for referrals provides you with an additional recruiting channel.

Your current employees and people in your external network know hundreds of skilled professionals. Who knows? One of these individuals could be your next great hire!

Referrals help you:

  • BOOST RETENTION:  Candidates referred by colleagues onboard faster and remain with the organization longer. That's because they're already familiar with the company, its culture, and at least one coworker.
  • SPEED UP HIRING: Coworkers do your prescreening when they refer candidates to you. They're probably going to refer someone who meets the minimum requirements for the job. This way, you can quickly move them to the next stage.
  • REDUCE HIRING COSTS: Referrals won't cost you much. Even if you offer a cash for referrals program, the total amount you'll spend is significantly lower than how much you'd spend on advertising.

Why startups should look for passive candidate 

Startups should include passive candidates in their job searches for the following reasons:

  • TARGETED SKILL SEARCH: You can narrow down your outreach to candidates who match your specific requirements.
  • HIRE FOR HARD-TO-FILL ROLES: These are many in-demand jobs that’ll bring you a flood of candidates even from a single job ad. There are others where a posting will only produce a trickle of applicants. For the latter, it pays to directly contact people you think would be an excellent fit.
  • EXPAND CANDIDATE SOURCES: When you only post your open jobs on job boards, you’ll miss out on a bevy of qualified candidates who never frequent those sites. By looking at resume databases, offline sources, and social media, you’ll bring your job postings to people who wouldn’t ordinarily see them.
  • BUILD A TALENT PIPELINE: Sometimes, you’ll come across highly skilled individuals who aren’t currently interested in your open roles. Maintaining relationships with these people means that when you have hiring needs that meet their profiles, you’ll be able to quickly contact them. This reduces time to hire.

Here are some ways to successfully reach out to passive candidates:

Personalize your message

Most candidates don’t like receiving messages from recruiters they don’t know. 

To get someone interested in your job, you need to show them that you reached out because you believed they’d be an excellent fit. 

Respect their time

Good candidates receive sourcing emails from recruiters daily. This means you’re competing for their attention with many other headhunters. When sending recruiting emails, keep two things in mind:

  • Provide clear and brief detail. Candidates will ignore messages that are too wordy.
  • No matter how good your email is, some candidates will never reply. You shouldn't follow up more than once because you risk leaving a negative impression by being a pest.

Be careful of biases

Biases can be both conscious and unconscious. Because unconscious bias is challenging to recognize, it’s also challenging to prevent. However, you need to work on getting rid of both varieties so they don’t interfere with your ability to hire the best candidate.

To see if you have any underlying biases, take Harvard’s Implicit Association Test. If you find you have lingering prejudices, try to bring them to the forefront when you're about to reject candidates based on them.

The best recruiting process any startup could use

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