It's time outbound recruiting worked for startups

Max Kolysh

For founders, there’s an obvious appeal to inbound recruiting. Instead of devoting time and resources to candidate outreach, you can focus on other tasks and let the applicants come to you. In short, inbound recruiting does all the work for founders.

At least that’s the theory.

There’s only one problem: most young startups aren’t very well established, and they don’t have the luxury of a well-known, highly sought-after employer brand. That means there aren’t going to be a whole lot of people lining up for an interview, and the ones who do apply aren’t always the cream of the crop. And considering the importance of early hires, your company may never build its reputation if you keep waiting for top talent to come to you rather than going out and getting it.

The solution is for early-stage startups to take advantage of outbound recruiting, a strategy of searching for and contacting candidates about open positions. So why don’t more founders do it? Because too many of them think of outbound recruiting as requiring too much energy and delivering too few results.

However, there is a way to outsource outbound recruiting to people who can automate the process, personalize the approach, and create connections with top-tier candidates. In this post, we’ll outline why startups should use outbound recruiting and how even the busiest founders can find time for it.

Tech talent won’t just come to you

Bottom line, if you’re an early-stage startup looking to attract top talent, supply and demand are working against you. While more established companies may be able to rely on inbound recruitment, the tech industry is simply too competitive for most young companies to get away with it.

Theunemployment rate among tech talent in the United States is below 2%, according to the most recent reporting by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Admittedly, that’s a pre-COVID-19 figure, but unlike other sectors, the tech world has mostly benefited from social distancing, with companies like DoorDash and TikTok hiring more people during the pandemic. If anything, it’s likely that coronavirus has made it harder for startups to hire top talent, since the overall economic uncertainty makes people more cautious about changing careers and more likely to stay at big, established companies that feel like “safer” bets.

Not only that: relying solely on inbound recruiting severely restricts your talent pool. A 2019 survey found that only 15% of developers were actively looking for a job, yet 58.7% of those who are not actively looking would be open to new opportunities presented to them. If you’re waiting for that 15% to apply instead of reaching out to the 60% who are open to offers, you’re letting a huge talent pool go untapped.

Manual outbound recruiting is high effort, low reward

Most founders recognize the benefits of outbound recruiting; they just don’t have enough time to take advantage of them.

Surveys have shown that “hiring good people” is the biggest concern for startup founders, above both customer acquisition and revenue growth. But although they realize how much early hires can shape the growth of a company, they’re still incredibly pressed for time and often aren’t available to invest deeply in the hiring process.

Outbound hiring (at least when done well) is extremely time-consuming. It requires research to find the right candidates, outreach efforts to get their attention, and back-and-forth communication with multiple individuals until you land the right one.

You might also be concerned about the perception that you’re “spamming” candidates’ inboxes. After all, by the the time you're starting a company, you probably know what it feels like to be in-demand talent. You're familiar with the experience of being buried in paint-by-number messages from recruiters who clearly know nothing about you. Once you find yourself on the other side of the hiring equation, it makes sense that you wouldn't want to start sending unsolicited emails that would make you "part of the problem."

Make outbound recruiting work for you by getting personal (and automated)

So how can outbound recruiting work for startups without becoming too much work for founders? The key is to personalize and automate the approach.

In the crowded tech space, catching a talented candidate’s eye often requires a personalized pitch. Studying a person’s online profile can reveal information about the best way to connect with and appeal to them. Then, crafting an email subject line or LinkedIn message that references one of their unique experiences or interests will get their attention much faster than a generic recruitment message.

If you can manage to establish a personal connection with a candidate, it can really pay off in the long run. Even if the individual isn’t looking to change careers at that exact moment, they’re likely to keep you in mind once they are ready to consider new opportunities.

Of course, researching talent and crafting custom messages for every potential candidate is a lot of work, which is why it pays to automate. While there are some key moments in the outbound-recruiting process that need a founder's personal touch, there are others—such as curating a list of potential candidates—that can be done just as well by automation. Allowing software to generate a pool of qualified candidates gives you more time to focus on communicating and building relationships with the best and brightest.

Don’t make yourself do all the hard work of finding hard workers

Finding the right person for the job, reaching out to them with the right message, and fostering the right relationship between candidate and company is the best way to hire top talent. It’s also the most time-intensive. Founders shouldn’t have to choose between the most effective form of recruitment and the most feasible.

At Dover, we partner with founders to take on the operationally intensive tasks of recruiting, so they can meet with stronger candidates in less time.

Interested in learning more? Our free self-serve product helps founders and hiring managers get in touch with the best candidates. Most users get 2-3 qualified first interviews with just 10 minutes of setup time. Or, check out some of our case studies or book a consultation.