Build a Recruiting Pipeline Prior to Financing

Last week I was talking to an entrepreneur that’s in the process of raising money. Naturally, I asked what he planned on doing with the money and got the expected response: hire 10 new team members including software engineers, sales reps, one support rep, and one customer success manager. Awesome, now for the hard question: how many of the positions do you already have candidates lined up and ready to go? Answer: 0.

Here are a few thoughts on building a recruiting pipeline prior to financing:

  • Recruiting without a hard and fast start date is harder than normal recruiting, but still the same process (word of mouth, referrals, LinkedIn, social media, recruiters, etc)
  • One challenge is expectation setting around timing of when the financing will close and a potential start date, especially if the candidate has multiple offers
  • Recruiters can be a good resource and understand the role of fundraising in startups along with nurturing candidates
  • When money is raised there’s an expectation to put it work quickly, and hiring is often the largest area of investment

Entrepreneurs would do well to build a recruiting pipeline prior to financing so that they have great candidates lined up that can come on board as quickly as possible.

What else? What are some more thoughts on the idea of recruiting candidates in advance of having the resources to hire them?

2 thoughts on “Build a Recruiting Pipeline Prior to Financing

  1. Aha, here lies the crux. How do you, as an entrepreneur running a startup, attract talent? I’m an experienced software developer, 15 years in the biz, I’ve worked for startups and Fortune 500 companies both. I’m the dev you want on your team. I can get your vision implemented quickly and with quality (mostly because I’ve probably done it before and made lots of mistakes so I know what to avoid).

    So my question to you, Entrepreneur, is how do you lure me? Salary? Working environment? (ps ATV is a GREAT place to work…its fun!) Work/life balance? Especially when you have no capital so you can’t really afford to pay me a truly competitive rate.

    IMHO, the answer is your leadership charisma. Convince me you are worth working for. Convince me your idea is worth it. Convince me that I will be useful, my ideas will be considered, that I will be doing meaningful work. Many awesome experienced devs are stuck in a cube farm somewhere…find them and convince them that working for you is fun and rewarding!

    Alternatively you can seek the less experienced and younger dev, full of energy and passion, probably willing to work for a little less salary, but that’s a bigger risk. How do you know they are worth it without a track record to back it up? Maybe you’ll get lucky and find the rock star. Maybe they are a good second or third dev, but not ready to be a Lead. Maybe you need to discover how to find and interview and figure out which candidate is the superstar you need.

    I would daresay most recruiters I’ve worked with lately don’t seem to understand the “culture beats strategy” mindset. One of the few I’ve met who seem to “get it” are Elev8 (disclaimer: I am NOT affiliated with them, I just have spoken with their recruiters and think they’re awesome).

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