Blog Post

Finding Talent: Using the Web to Hire a Team of Peers

When Alastair and I founded Huddle in 2006, it was a typical startup story. We identified a problem, came up with a solution over a few drinks and before we knew it the two of us were spending every waking hour developing our idea. Our mantra was, and still is, “go big or go home” so we eventually had to take a leap of faith, leave our jobs and hire a team. You can only juggle managing your company with developing your product, marketing it and selling it for so long! We haven’t looked back since. In December 2007, Huddle had five staff. A year later, the company had 20 staff, and by the end of this year, Huddle will have a 65-strong team based in London and San Francisco.

Speaking from experience, building a great team isn’t going to be all plain sailing — in fact, it’s very hard work! Making sure that you get the right people for the job can be a lengthy, expensive and sometimes painful process. As a startup, Huddle also faced the challenge of wanting — and needing — to attract the best talent without having the recruitment budget and resources that large organizations have.

How can you find people that share your passion and vision for the company without breaking the bank? Thankfully, there are numerous online networks and tools that can help you find the ideal candidate so you don’t have to spend a fortune on recruitment agencies. Some of the tools that have worked for Huddle include:

  • Facebook: Use the power of your own networks for recommendations. Colleagues, friends and family are unlikely to recommend someone for a role if they don’t think they’ll be good at the job! Advertise available roles on your profile and encourage your colleagues to do the same, even if there are only a few of you. You never know where the ideal person is hiding! Build a Facebook page for your organization. This page should highlight your company culture (a shared love of beer and pizza works wonders, we’ve found), promote available job openings and keep people informed of your latest news and views. Make sure you keep the profile up-to-date and respond to any comments. A page that hasn’t been updated for months isn’t going to appeal to anyone, let alone the bright young graduates that live and breathe bleeding edge technology.
  • Twitter: Twitter has proved particularly successful for us when hiring our tech team. As well as targeting people interested in and following your company, you can tap into your teams’ followers. It’s likely that staff will be followed by people in their industry, past colleagues, employees and others with the same interests as them.  You can also track relevant industry conversations and events thanks to hash tags and keep note of who is participating in discussions. When tweeting available positions at your company, make sure you direct them to an up-to-date careers page.
  • Our own web site: Why should be people come and work for your company? Make sure that your own web site has a jobs page that states the benefits of joining your team. To attract the best people, you need to create a place they want to work in and talk about it! When your company is still finding its feet, you can’t entice people with big bonuses. However, you may be able to invest in a good coffee machine, regular team lunches and some free office food (again, I can’t overemphasize the beer and pizza thing). You want people to feel like part of a family.
  • LinkedIn: A professional network with more than 80 million members, LinkedIn is a great way to advertise job positions to your target audience. As with Facebook, you have the opportunity to create a company profile and keep people informed on your latest news and job openings. However, an added benefit is that for a relatively small fee you can advertise available job positions, targeting people by industry, job function and experience. We discovered that this approach was more effective for finding marketing and sales candidates than expanding our product engineering team.
  • Stack Overflow: Stack Overflow is a Q&A site specifically for developers. Such specialized online communities are great places to find candidates. You have the ability to view the profiles of people posting in the forum and can contact those that may be suitable for a role.

Using these tools is a great way of spreading your net wide, but I also recommend networking at industry events and following some simple rules to improve your chances of success. Firstly, always hire people better than yourself. When you hire great people, they hire other great people. And trust your gut: I’ve been bitten too many times after hiring someone who looked great on paper but didn’t work out in the end. Finally, be patient. Meeting the perfect candidate is like falling in love, and you shouldn’t be afraid to say no if you don’t think that they’re 100 percent right.

Andy McLoughlin, Co-founder and EVP Strategy at Huddle, can be reached on Twitter @Bandrew. He’s also one of the speakers at our Net:Work conference, coming to San Francisco on December 9th.

Photo courtesy Fliickr user TheTruthAbout.

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3 Responses to “Finding Talent: Using the Web to Hire a Team of Peers”

  1. I think I will have to go with your last line there and yes, meeting that perfect candidate is like falling in love. The ugly truth is we don’t get to fall in love everyday and waiting for that ‘one’ person who shines like a gem in your collection just takes time – whether you hire online or real-time. Thanks for the tips. I’ll definitely check these sites.

  2. Congratulations on your success! I will review Huddle on my blog this week –

    I have used LinkedIn to hire in the past – it has been great at helping me find candidates with the right experience (although don’t limit yourself to cvs that match your criteria as attitude is far more important), and for vetting people before they come in for an interview – do they have recommendations? are they good? etc.

    As we use social media a lot in our industry, it is also a good indicator of how enthused they are by social networks – do they have a profile? Do they update it? Do they use it properly? etc