Recruiting 2.0

Some people say that the most important role of a CEO is “resource allocation”–deciding how to spend company resources. But I remember as Amazon grew and brought in a seasoned COO, Jeff Bezos said he was grateful to be freed up from operations so that he could spend more time recruiting. Perhaps the most important role of a CEO is to bring the right people together to accomplish the company’s mission.

World Vital Records was formed last year with the goal of becoming the #2 company in the genealogy industry. We are making progress towards that goal, as you can see by looking at our World Vital Records Quantcast chart. Our site had record visitors and page views the last few days. And there is no end in site. As we add thousands of new databases to our web site, and as our online marketing programs mature, we believe that in the coming years we will attract millions of users to our web sites.

With a small core team (8 full time and 4 part time and some contractors), we’ve been able to accomplish a lot in the past few months. Not as much as Wikipedia, with their 5 full time employees, mind you. But still very promising results.

And now we are growing.

So how do we go about looking for top talent these days? What methods are useful today in attracting potential employees?

Google has been in the news recently with their non-traditional methods of recruiting, such as holding Google Games at various universities, puzzle hunts, and Campus pizzas, social events that also test the intelligence and creativity of potential employees. They are recruiting at nearly 200 universities. Yahoo holds hack days. There are cool ways for these top internet companies who are hiring so many new employees (Google is hiring 500 per month) to attract a lot of interest.

Maturing local companies like Omniture, Doba, and Logoworks with many jobs to fill have successfully used billboards on I-15 to attract resumes.

But what does a small startup do to attract interest from talented people who could thrive in a startup environment, without spending thousands on a billboard or a recruiter?

One of my friends suggested a SpeedHiring Event, patterned after FundingUniverse’s SpeedPitching Events, where you could have an initial interview with maybe 10 people in one hour–where they would be prepped to sell themselves and their skills in a pitch format, and then you would follow up with the ones that were most impressive. I always find myself avoiding interviews, because I don’t have enough for them. But if they were short, and in rapid succession, I think I would do these all the time. I would even pay to have someone set all this up and run it for me.

World Vital Records is looking to hire two outstanding developers. We need a top PHP coder and a top Adobe Flex coder. Genealogy interest/experience is a plus. We are also hiring a sales manager to set up and manage our call center. We currently have 2 people doing telephone support, but we have no consistent inbound/outbound sales effort going on. We think this is one of the keys to our future growth and profitability.

One easy and low-cost way to get the word out about our hiring is through my blog, our company blog, and our employee blogs. We are also using Craigslist.

And, for the first time, we are using Facebook and LinkedIn to contact dozens of people in Utah County, who are currently employed as developers, and ask them to refer us to the best coder they know in exchange for a $500 referral fee, if their applicant is hired.

We’re doing the same thing for our sales manager. We found nearly 200 Facebook users currently employed in sales, just in Provo, and we are hoping to find, through referrals, a top sales manager that wants a ground floor opportunity at a fast-growing internet company.

I know I came across a web site a year or two ago that offered referral fees for employee referrals and managed the whole process of tracking the applicants, who got hired, and actually paid the commissions. I can’t find that site right now. If you know what I’m talking about, please let me know.

What is the most successful recruiting practice you have ever tried? I’d love to hear from you.

7 Comments

  1. It’s a tough market for employers. I get calls from recruiters nearly every day from markets in which I’ve never expressed an interest. I think some smaller but highly visible employers can have difficulty recruiting locally when they’ve had to lay off people in the recent past, so I would recommend considering looking outside the local market.

  2. Paul — I was going to mention that the best referral site I’ve used is H3… but Mark beat me to it. 🙂

    Other than that, I am not going to discount what you’re saying here, but I do raise an eyebrow at your title. You’re sourcing creatively, and leveraging social networks to get the hiring done, but taking a DIY route over hiring a professional recruiter is still a trade off between time and money.

    I am absolutely all ears for what could truly revolutionize recruiting–and it can’t simply be around “cost-savings” as that’s not the point. Anybody can get labor that COSTS LESS, but can you get the RIGHT labor… that’s the ultimate question.

    SpeedHiring is a good idea, too… kindof a fast-paced jobfair… but, at the end of the day, the number-one problem in recruiting is that “the person you’re looking for is NOT looking for YOU.”

    … so, how do you FIND them?

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