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What's It Like to Work as a Recruiter at a Startup?

Recruiters are responsible for building out a startup’s team. They screen resumes, interview candidates, make offers, and guarantee every hire fits into the company’s culture.

It’s a fact that a startup is only as good as the team behind it. When a company is just starting out, every hiring decision is pivotal to the success of the company; one poor fit can derail the team culture and halt productivity. A passionate team inspires an enthusiastic culture, which inspires everyone to work hard and achieve common goals. On the other hand a poorly selected team can inspire a resentful culture, which can cause everyone to just skirt by and do the bare minimum.

Like a single domino bringing all the others down, hiring a bad apple can have a disastrous effect, and eventually can even doom a startup’s entire operation. Fortunately recruiters act as the startup’s gatekeepers and work hard to bring together the best team possible. They work to carefully select each new employee while evaluating their strengths, weaknesses, and overall fit. A startup’s team is its most valuable asset which is why startup founders make sure they have a solid recruiter controlling their hiring process.

What Does the Recruiting Team Actually Do at a Startup?

Source Candidates

It’s a recruiter’s responsibility to do whatever it takes to find the best possible candidates for a position. While a recruiter’s main source of candidates continues to be the company’s “Careers” page, more and recruiters have been using other channels to find qualified applicants. Job boards, for example, are an especially effective tool when trying to source for a large volume of resumes. On the flip side, when looking for targeted profiles, recruiters usually try social networks like Facebook, Twitter, and more commonly LinkedIn. Some recruiters even attend networking events to meet and connect with potential candidates face to face.

Screen Resumes

Startups can get hundreds of applicants for a single job posting! That’s why one of the major responsibilities of a recruiter is to sort through all those resumes and decide which candidates should move forward in the interview process. When processing inbound resumes, recruiters often evaluate a candidate’s previous experiences, their resume formatting, and the candidate’s academic achievements.

Coordinate Interviews

The recruiter begins the interview process and is usually the first person the candidate speaks with on the phone. During the initial phone screen, the recruiter also tests for cultural fit, overall interest in the startup, and whether or not the candidate would be happy fulfilling the specific responsibilities of the job. The recruiter also shepherds the candidate through the interview process, answering any questions about the process and coordinating interviews with other team members.

Facilitate Offers

If a company’s hiring managers wish to bring a candidate onto the team, the recruiter will then extend an offer. Sometimes the offer process is short and easy, and sometimes it requires a bit of negotiating or convincing, especially with regards to compensation packages. One of the most important parts of the offer process is making sure the candidate doesn’t have any lingering doubts about the company, the role, or the compensation details. It’s the recruiter’s responsibility to answer those questions and reassure the candidate that they’re making a great career choice.

What Are Some Qualities of Successful Recruiters?

The most successful startup recruiters are introverted extroverts. While they enjoy chatting and connecting with candidates, they’re also totally okay with deep diving on LinkedIn for hours at a time. Recruiters are also empathetic to a fault and really enjoy figuring out what makes people tick, what their motivations are, and when they’re telling the truth. In that regard, being a recruiter is sort of like being an employment detective; they meticulously piece together the story of someone’s career. Understandably, folks who are skilled at reading people tend to find the most success as recruiters. Recruiters are also naturally competitive as top candidates will often court multiple offers. It’s up to the recruiter to win out over the others and convince the candidate why their startup is superior.

What’s the Growth Potential of a Recruiter?

As a recruiter you’ll learn to navigate various online sourcing tools and job seeking platforms. You’ll also absorb how hiring decisions are made and how one successfully navigates the job seeking process. Most importantly though, you’ll learn a ton about what makes people tick and how to empathize with almost anyone. Working as a recruiter brings with it a ton of growth potential too. A successful recruiter can easily move up the startup ladder to become the Head of Talent Acquistion or the Director of Talent. Others move into operations or even sales capacities. As a recruiter you constantly have to communicate the startup’s vision to prospective applicants, a skill which enables you to find success in any other people facing team.

As you can see, recruiters are vital to the success of any high-growth startup. They serve as the company’s gatekeepers and are directly responsible for an entire team’s professional growth, cohesion, and development. When a company is first getting its footing, every hire impacts the overall direction and every employee has to take on loads of responsibility. It’s this “get stuff done” attitude that differentiates startups from other larger companies. Guaranteeing every hire can handle that commitment and ensuring the team grows in the right ways is no small task. The best recruiters understand the weight of that responsibility and see every hire as an opportunity to make the team even better than it was the day before. Yes it’s true that a startup is only as good as its team, but a team is only as good as the recruiter building it.

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