In our Spotlight On series, experts from around the globe share recommendations and resources for start-up teams. This feature was contributed by Anna Wang, Co-Founder and CTO at Searchlight, a talent intelligence platform, and Paula Judge, VP of Talent at Accel.

In the summer of 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded the U.S. job opening levels were the highest they’d ever been. Companies of all stages are facing what the New York Times so accurately dubbed the “most unusual job market in history”— an economy affected not by too few jobs, but too few workers. For startups with less public awareness, it’s even harder to find talent. And often, unstructured hiring processes intensify the issue. 

The time is now for companies of all stages to take a step back and analyze how they hire: what’s working? Where can new processes be implemented? How can we set our hiring managers up for success? 

To help guide startups in building a winning recruiting process, we’re sharing six of our top recommendations:

1) Remember recruiting strategy is business strategy: Recruiting is as critical a part of building your company as functions like engineering or marketing, because it brings the most valuable resource into your company: your people. Recruiting is a process, and the best companies take recruiting seriously. They know mastering hiring and building a great team is a competitive advantage. 

2) Ensure your recruiting is a data-driven function: Data-driven and structured hiring will help your recruiting team learn and improve. It's hard to put the right structure and processes in place when your company gets north of 500 people, so the best way to get this data is to implement processes and standards before your company grows. The goal here is to relentlessly measure how well you’re hiring, and continually improve your hiring process. To be successful, be sure you’re using metrics that all recruiting and hiring managers have agreed truly are important. Then through insights, you will understand what makes people successful at your company, enabling them to then go target those kinds of people in the future.  

3) For peak performance, hire a diverse team: Simply put, diverse teams perform better. Recruiting is the most important lever for diversity because it’s how you bring people into your organization. We all have human unconscious biases, and the way to counteract that is by creating reinforcing mechanisms in a process that helps us overcome our natural assumptions.

4) Use technology for a competitive advantage: Automate what you can. Use people for high-value tasks such as relationship building, selling, closing. 

5) Before you start searching for a candidate, consider the team-fit – ask yourself if you need similarity, complementarity, or a contrarian? Team fit is important, but remember there's no universal definition of a good candidate. A candidate must be a skillset and culture additive to your team. It's tempting to hire similar people, before you start searching for a candidate, ask yourself what would be best for your team. Do you need similarity, complementarity, or a contrarian? Instead of thinking about recruiting as a search for a magical unicorn candidate, think about each candidate as part of a team-building exercise. 

6) Great recruiting takes investment and hard work: Like any business function, being great at recruiting requires mastering skills, adhering to principles, being consistent, and creating and improving processes. Each team member involved must understand the importance of their role, and feel confident to leverage their strengths. If you create the foundation for a strong recruiting foundation and build on it, recruiting will become an engine that powers your whole business.

If you want to polish your candidate experience, hire and scale your company, or learn how to support hiring managers to execute, we put together a robust Hiring Guide to help.

–– Anna Wang and Paula Judge