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the talent revolution episode 2

You’re Not a Billion-Dollar Tech Giant—So Don’t Recruit Like Them

May 11th, 2021 3.5 minute read
Tom Hacquoil
Tom Hacquoil
Welcome back for Episode 2 of The Talent Revolution!

I’ll be taking you behind the scenes with forward-thinking recruiters, employer brand experts, and people leaders who are making a massive difference to their organizations.

This week’s episode is short and to-the-point, since I’m on my soapbox without a guest and speaking on a subject I’m incredibly passionate about: how to be different, not better.

I could also simply say, “Don’t copy wildly successful tech giants,” but since conventional recruitment wisdom says the opposite, that position warrants at least a bit of explanation.

Listen on your favorite podcast platform

I recently had the opportunity to connect with a brilliant group of people who’d created a business around a fantastic product. There was just one problem—their recruitment process was horrendous.

As it turned out, that recruitment process had been informed by all the “best” mainstream recruitment advice. That advice, often found in places like Forbes or Inc. Magazine, goes something like this:

“Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google are wildly successful companies. If you recruit the way they’re recruiting, you’ll have a shot at that level of success, too.”

Trouble is, that advice is not only irrelevant to the vast majority of companies—it’s actively harmful.

That’s because you aren’t a billion-dollar company. You don’t exist in that same ecosystem, where the sound of your brand name alone opens doors and lures top talent away from their current jobs elsewhere. And because your company is not like theirs, it stands to reason that replicating their approach won’t work.

I’d go so far as to argue that these companies have succeeded despite their recruitment processes, not because of them.

When it comes to recruitment, huge companies fail upward

A typical recruitment experience at one of these companies includes some or all of the below:

  • A multi-month recruitment process
  • Ignoring candidates until late-stage interviews
  • Providing no (or almost no) feedback
  • Irrelevant brain teasers with no bearing on the job
  • Ten-plus rounds of interviews
  • Hyper-specific job descriptions
  • Intensive applications that take an hour to complete

What does everything on the above list have in common? A negative candidate experience.

Those practices are the byproduct of unbelievable scale. They’re also a necessity at companies that receive 100,000+ applications every month. Sometimes, these companies actually want to scare away all but the most determined applicants.

But you don’t want that—at all.

In fact, your process should look completely opposite. 

Treat recruitment and hiring as a sales exercise

You aren’t running an international company valued in the mega-billions (probably). The value that you provide is entirely different.

Think of recruitment as selling the opportunity to work at your company. You should put as much effort into that endeavor as your sales team does into selling your product, and perhaps even more so.

Here are a few ways to start doing just that:

  • Identify your EVP. It won’t appeal to everybody, and that’s a good thing. Create a resonant employer brand, and put your message in front of the people who want what you’re selling.
  • Make it easy to apply. It should take someone five minutes or less to answer basic screening questions and send you their resume and cover letter.
  • Measure and track candidate response SLAs. The best candidates have a choice, and if you drag your feet, you could miss out on a great hire.
  • Don’t neglect your onboarding experience. Too often, organizations invest heavily in recruitment and then trip at the finish line when they underwhelm new hires from day one. Keep employees excited and engaged from the start.
  • Meet your candidates where they are. Think about sourcing strategy from end to end, with a people-first approach. Put yourself in the shoes of your ideal candidate; think about what they read and where they browse online, and engage them there.
  • Incentivize referrals. Leverage your current team of unique humans to recommend others you haven’t met yet.

If you’re overwhelmed by the above list, don’t be. We’ll explore each of these suggestions in more depth in future podcast episodes. This is just a teaser, meant to demonstrate that there are incredibly effective recruitment strategies out there that aren’t effective for massive tech giants, but could be transformative for your organization.

So don’t try to beat these wildly successful companies at their own game, or even emulate it. Think instead about what sets you apart. It won’t be for everyone, and that’s a good thing. 

How to find the right people to learn from

Find people who have already succeeded in the next stage of business maturity—the one that’s just one or two steps ahead of yours.

If you’re a 50-person tech startup, that means you won’t be copying Salesforce. Instead, look at your competitors with 100 employees and seek out the people who built fantastic recruitment engines there with minimal resources. Identify the unsung hiring heroes who have done the unglorified work of making small, incremental improvements.

Find those people, and learn from them.

That’s exactly what we’re doing in this podcast, in fact—introducing people like you, who are doing great things with limited resources and finding the needle in the haystack every single time.

Join us each week for insights from the hiring heroes you most want to learn from.

About the author
Tom Hacquoil
Tom Hacquoil
Tom is the CEO at Pinpoint and he's passionate about building world-class teams.

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