A few months back, a good friend from college called me and asked, "Is your company still hiring? I have a great friend who's incredibly smart, hard-working, and personable, and is really considering making a move into sales."
"That's great!" I said, "Send me her resume." A few days later, I spoke to the potential applicant and asked what drew her to want to consider working at Stack Overflow. She explained that her number one priority was to find an environment where people enjoyed coming to work every day. To do so, she had asked our mutual friend the following: “Who do you know that is really happy at his/her job?”
With that one question, my friend became our company’s best advocate, knowing only what stories I had told her in passing of my positive work environment here. That’s the social art of recruitment.
One of the challenges of any organization – but perhaps startups in particular – is how to maintain the original feel of your culture as you bring on many new employees. When you're trying to build up a specific part of an organization quickly, time is sometimes a luxury even the best recruiters can't afford. And since not all hiring markets are created equal, certain positions (like software developers) will always be more difficult to fill than others. Therefore filling multiple positions at once can be more than just a challenge - it can be downright impossible.
But as we began to scale our own inside sales team from 5… to 30… and counting, this real-life example of a “friend referral” struck me as an ideal and easy way to recruit for any company. Think about it: When someone starts a new job search, the first thing they do is tell their friends that they are looking. If you want to find candidates who will play nice with your current employees, you need to do more than post on anonymous job boards: You need to turn every employee into a recruiter.
At your organization, wouldn’t it be easier and more efficient to hire like-minded individuals with similar passions if you had more than one or two people sourcing candidates? If you’re looking for employees who will ultimately work toward accomplishing similar goals at work, your best bet is not necessarily to add more in-house recruiters, but to make your company a place that all of your employees brag about naturally. As a side benefit, when you make everyone accountable for sourcing candidates, great recruiters have more time to do what they do best: Vet, interview, schedule, cross-check, re-evaluate, and eventually onboard new employees.
If you’re in sales (or have seen the movie Glengarry Glen Ross), you’re probably familiar with the infamous line - "always be closing," and that same principle applies to recruiting. It’s so much easier to find great talent when employees are happy, productive, and (most importantly when it comes to a growing team), willing to act as an evangelist for your organization . Smart, talented people want to work with other smart, talented people, and they'll work harder than other individuals in the workforce to suss out any problems. In turn, they'll naturally seek out people they want to work with (or even sit next to!), which boosts performance and morale and ultimately cuts down on candidate rejections and turnover down the road.