Hiring Top Tech Talent for Your Startup
By Regina Pertiwi
Recruiting top tech talent is always a challenge. According to Glassdoor, it requires on average 52 days and the screening of 120 candidates to fill one vacancy. This problem is particularly costly for startups, as many are racing against time to deliver a product and don’t have the resources to meet their hiring needs.
To help make this task less daunting, we will address some common pitfalls and best practices with regards to tech hiring.
Sourcing tech talent
Make it a team sport
Many startups don’t pre-screen tech candidates for cultural fit even though it’s essential to do so, especially with the early employees. Lack of cohesion could result in what LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner calls a ‘cultural debt’ within your team. Ask your other tech employees to refer top-of-the-funnel candidates, as they know who among their professional connections would best complement the team culture.
Use your professional network
HackerRank’s 2018 Tech Recruiting Report shows that around 60% of developers are open to new opportunities, but are not actively looking. ‘A-Players’ are likely working at leading companies already, so outreach is required to find hidden talent. Start a conversation and hire them when the timing is right.
Our top picks for tech talent pools are AngelList, GitHub, Dribbble (for UI/UX developers), Sourcing.io, Xing, and–of course–LinkedIn.
Build a tech talent pipeline
Firstly, the hiring manager must understand the specific tech stack requirements of the vacancy for the startup to build a pipeline of qualified candidates. Tech hiring is a funnel game: the more candidates you have in your pipeline, the better off you’ll be. Our internal data shows that sourcing 25 resumes will convert to one confirmed hire, which can be taken into account when evaluating your pipeline.
You should conduct screening interviews to eliminate candidates who are not passionate about the position, even if you’re hiring for a tech role. A ten-minute screening call to gauge how well the candidate knows your company and an experience check will do the trick.
It’s tempting to commit to a candidate because you ‘hit it off’ with the person during the interview, but the candidate may not fit well with the team. To objectively evaluate the candidate, keep a comprehensive scorecard with metrics that are agreed upon by all members of the tech team, so everyone is on the same page.
Don’t forget to measure communication, ability to empathize with clients, and other soft skills using your scorecard. These traits are just as crucial as a developer’s ability to ship codes.
Scrap whiteboard questions
Many companies like to write pieces of a problematic algorithm on a whiteboard and ask the candidate to reproduce a bug-free version of it. The issue with this strategy is that most of the questions are taken from the web or from popular interview books like Cracking the Code Interview. Also, asking candidates to work under stress, and in a short time frame, does not reflect real work scenarios, and you may lose the right hire with this approach.
Making an offer and onboarding
For startups, the ideal candidate should hit the desk immediately and start shipping codes. Unfortunately, this timeline doesn’t usually work for A-Players, but there are ways to speed up the process.
Ask for at least three references and have the candidate set up the reference checks for you. It’s best if the reference can offer a 360-degree view of the candidate, so it should be someone like the tech lead or a person the candidate reported to directly. Be sure to press them for red flags by asking about the candidate’s weaknesses.
Equity and vesting
If your employee count is under ten, you should consider offering 0.5 to 1% of equity to your first tech hires, especially if you believe they are vital to growing the company (does not apply to a tech co-founder). When your company grows to 11 to 50 employees, it is not uncommon to see senior developers being offered up to 0.2% of equity.
It is essential to look into cliff and vesting to ensure your early employees are motivated to stay with your company for at least three to four years, unlocking portions of their equity shares over time.
Align with business needs
Many startups let tech talent focus exclusively on shipping codes. It is imperative to make sure that all the members of the tech team also understand the business side, as they need to design the scalable architectures that accommodate for future growth.
Regina is a Content Writer at Glints.
About the Author
Regina is a Content Marketer at Glints–an online talent recruitment and career discovery platform headquartered in Singapore. Based in Indonesia, she is a journalism graduate and an experienced writer. She is passionate about creating high-quality content about the tech sector and recruitment trends for the digital age.