Recruiting Expert Ricardo Tannus Shares His Top 5 Tips for Attracting and Hiring Better Talent

Hiring the right candidate can make a big difference for a startup team. But making a great hire isn’t as easy as it may sound.  Labs mentor Ricardo Tannus, cofounder of Join, held a session to discuss his five tips for attracting and hiring better candidates by highlighting the value of your company, team, mission, and culture.  

Tip #1: Sell your culture and mission

There’s a lot of competition for talent in the startup world, but no matter how big or small your company is, you’ll always have two unique pillars you can use to attract candidates: your culture and your mission. “You have the culture, which stems from the team. And the mission, which allows your employees to work with a purpose. Having a meaningful company mission is something candidates are paying more attention to now,” Tannus says. “These are the two talking points that I always discuss whenever I’m talking about recruiting candidates for startups. Highlighting these two pillars is non-negotiable.”

For example, if you have a culture that focuses on being inclusive, giving employees flexibility, and puts a big emphasis on work-life balance, highlight these as much as possible before, during, and after the interview process. All companies should have a unique mission, but if yours is tied to something special, like impacting society in a specific way or helping certain communities, be sure to highlight these as well.

If you aren’t sure what words to use to describe your company culture, ask your team to write down five words that come to mind when they think of your team, their jobs, and the work environment. Then, circulate the responses to see if employees either agree or disagree with specific descriptions. This way, you have buy-in from your team and can share a consistent message about your culture with candidates. “This is one of the single best ways to guarantee that you're going to have something that's truly representative of what your culture is like,” Tannus says.

Tip #2: Be genuine and personal

With so much happening on a day-to-day basis, hiring can sometimes fall low on the priority list for startups. When this happens, startups often reach out to outside recruiters to source candidates and write job descriptions for them. “And this is why I think a lot of startups struggle to hire sometimes. They struggle to hire through recruiters because, essentially, they're getting people to write on their behalf,” Tannus says. “These recruiters are asked to relay the company's mission and culture, and it can come off sounding quite fluffy and cut-and-paste.”

Some startups use recruiters because they’re having trouble pulling candidates away from bigger, more established companies in the industry. But this size difference should be seen as a plus, not a disadvantage. “Startups can use that to their advantage because, even though the bigger brands have way more pulling power, what startups have is the ability to connect on a personal level with candidates that they think might be a good fit. So how do you cut through that noise? You have to be authentic. You have to be genuine,” Tannus says. “There are tons of success stories of founders that connected with people on LinkedIn and asked them to chat about an opening. And as a candidate, this can be a huge plus. I think that startups trying to connect with candidates on a personal level is important.”

Tip #3: Be strategic about the personalities you recruit

When you’re hiring, it’s not enough to focus on qualifications like job history and years in the industry. You should also consider a candidate's personality. In some cases, you may not have the money or systems in place to heavily support new hires  early on, so it’s essential to look for someone who seeks challenges and is comfortable with the figure-it-out-as-you-go nature of startups. “In the beginning, you might not be able to convince someone who has a stable job to join your startup unless you have a very powerful vision. Your budget may not allow you to hire a candidate with all the skills that you’re trying to find, so you have to be a bit more open-minded or flexible in that sense,” Tannus says. “At the same time, how do you help convince someone technical to join your startup when you don't have a tech stack? You have to try and look for candidates that have potentially had experiences with startups in the past, or have done something entrepreneurial.”

Candidates who have worked in a startup environment in the past are more likely to understand the challenges associated with the environment. In startups, goals change, growth can be quick, and responsibilities can regularly shift, so it’s a good idea to have someone who has dealt with these peaks and valleys in the past.

Tip #4: Use referrals

Referrals are an excellent source for hiring great talent because these candidates have already been validated by someone on your team. “The person doing the referral is someone that's already endorsed your company and your team. And as a hiring manager, you’re likely to say, ‘I don't know this person who was referred, but they were validated by an employee so we should chat with them,’” Tannus says. You can get some great candidates through traditional sources like LinkedIn and job sites, but referred candidates have the added bonus of being trusted by someone you hired.

Tip #5: Meet face-to-face with candidates as early as possible

Another great way to find great talent is by meeting with potential candidates early in the interview process, if possible. Speaking over the phone is a traditional go-to method for introductory conversations, but meeting in person allows both you and the candidate to see whether or not you can get along well face-to-face. “You’re allowing them to feel out the vibe of your team, your office, and the general environment,” Tannus says. “And hopefully, after your conversations, they can understand that your team means well, and you’re all likable and have complementary work styles and personalities.”

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This post is based on content from a WeWork Labs programming session.

Interested in connecting directly with this mentor? Ask your Labs Manager for help.