Discover more from Building Blochs by Michael Bloch
How to Hire
Assembling an A+ team of talent is how you bring your vision to life. Here are the tactics we used to recruit top talent at my startup + hundreds of people across eng, product, design, growth, and ops
1. STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD
The best people get pitched all the time on new opportunities. Engineers in particular can get 3-5 pitches EVERY DAY. What makes your company special? Why should they pay attention to you? Here's the email that I sent out. I broke it into three parts
A) Sell a big vision. Our original goal at Pillar was to solve the student loan debt crisis. This is a $1.6T problem that millions of Americans struggle with every day. I hinted at our broader vision of building an automated debt manager for everyone.
B) Establish legitimacy. At Pillar, we raised $5.5M from Kleiner Perkins and operators like Adam Nash, Zach Perret, and Zach Weinberg. Post-launch, we had press in publications like TechCrunch. I highlighted these names so people would recognize we were legit and keep reading
C) Sell the role. Early-stage startups aren't for everyone. I want smart, motivated, determined people on my team, not people that phone it in. Be upfront about your team's stage and who's going to thrive in your company's culture
2. SOURCE CANDIDATES
As a startup, few people know about you. The best candidates aren't combing through Crunchbase and applying to companies they've never heard of. You need to go to them.
A) Make a list of companies you want to recruit from. Before covid, I focused my search on NYC companies, which is where Pillar is based. I made a list of 500 companies, prioritized it based on talent I wanted the most, then started reaching out.
B) Do the grunt work. I spent 10-12 hours on Linkedin every Saturday & Sunday for months. I couldn't afford to hire a full-time recruiter, so I had to do the work myself. Recruiting is hard work, but it's the highest leverage activity you can do as a CEO. Just do it.
3. AUTOMATE YOUR PIPELINE
People need to hear from you more than once. Use a tool like Resource.io to find emails and send drip campaigns. I sent four emails to each candidate (one email every three days) reiterating the pitch with slightly different messaging each time.
4. MOVE FAST
When someone responds positively, don't delay. Move them through your process quickly. Our process looked like: 1) 20min call to pitch them on the opportunity & filter 2) 45min Zoom with another person on the team 3) 3 or 4 final round interviews 4) references.
My goal was to take no more than 24 hours in each step of the process. We could have first contact --> offer on someone great within one week.
5. CLOSE THEM
When you find someone you love, do everything you can to get them onboard. Don't lose a great candidate over something small. The right person can add 10x more value than your 2nd choice. Don't be penny wise and pound foolish.
Two tactics worked wonders for us.
A) have your investors reach out
B) give three options for comp (high equity, low salary; low equity, high salary; mid equity mid salary). People love having a choice.
Some of the above will change as your company grows, but I've found a few other things hold true:
A) expect 25% drop off at every stage. For every one person you give an offer to, you'll have at least 4 final round interviews. 16 video chats. 64 pitch calls. 256 email pitches
B) at the offer stage, you should close 80%+ of candidates. If you're below that, you're not filtering properly.
C) for every three hires you make, if one is amazing, one is average, and one is bad, you're doing well. Great talent is rare to find.
D) expect a lot of rejection, especially at the top of the funnel.