Hiring Hacks to take your Startup to the next level

Sangeeta Bose
April 6, 2022

As part of a startup, one of the first things you will look out for is hiring the right kind of people for your organization. The first few sets of people you hire often end up filling a much larger role in your organization in the long run. 


Why Startup hiring is different from normal hiring

Unlike an established organization which hires when a position gets vacated or as a business grows, a startup hires from top down. 

When filling your major positions, there is much at stake with every hire. The employees you get on board will likely set the tone for the company. Here is where a hiring plan and strategy comes in handy. 


What’s a hiring plan and why is it important?

A hiring plan budgets every role and department in your organization. You can include details like hiring timelines, headcount and other financials. The hiring plan helps you provide a clear roadmap for your hiring goals and also includes your hiring strategy. 

It’s also critical that you start crafting a hiring strategy for your startup as early as possible. This ensures all the future talent you get on board aligns with your company principles and is a right fit for the work culture. 

Here are some things you can include in your hiring strategy:

Structuring your Hiring Process

1. Recruiting Funnel 

The hiring funnel is just the same as your marketing or sales funnel. Once you’re able to think about hiring & recruitment in this way, you need to start aligning your thoughts to problems of :

  • Sourcing applications
  • Enough “Good” applications
  • Quick responsiveness to all “applicants” aka Leads
  • Demo/Trial/Interviews via a process
  • Finalize – Fit or Not and move on with a reason to the candidate

2. Application tracking system 

To track all of these different processes, you need a tool. An Application Tracking System (ATS) is something that helps you keep track of all the candidates you are talking to and at what stage of the process they are in. At Exotel, we presently user Trakstar Hire and previously we were with RecruiterBox. Few simple reasons why you need an ATS and what you should do to choose one:

  • The software should be able to give you a 360-degree view of each candidate 
  • It should help sync up and build a funnel via social media postings
  • It should be able to track the amount of time hiring leads spend on emails, organizing information and following up with the candidates + the team internally 

3. Strategy

The marketing strategy at Exotel is inbound. The same goes for our hiring strategy. The key to understanding what hiring strategy will work for you starts with understanding where your potential hires are and how you can utilize your team’s presence there. If you have a strong presence on LinkedIn, you may be able to use that platform better than, say, other social media platforms like Twitter. If your team is great at attending events, you should be focused on hiring there.   

4. Timeline 

Hiring is a 365-days process, it’s never really a time-bound requirement. As a company, especially in your earlier days, you should always be hiring and always be on the lookout for good candidates. 


Keep the culture intact

Every company has their own culture code. It defines who they are, what they do and why they do it. Some typical values that define our culture at Exotel are: Honesty, transparency, moving fast, being ethical, ownership and teamwork. The key here is understanding how to check for a culture-fit candidate. Here are some ways you can do so: 

  • Asking a lot of questions on what drives the individual, and whether that aligns with how people are ‘driven’ in your company 
  • Do a one-week exercise/program together 
  • Understand what the individual expects by joining your organization, and whether it matches with what someone in the specified role would be able to achieve over time 

Retaining great culture is something that stems from the founding team and how they are able to pass on the “goodness” across to every new hire, who will then in turn pass it on to the new recruits. 


Tips and Tricks

Here are some other much practised and preached tips:

1. Personify the Job Description  

Description is the first thing candidates look at to get a better understanding of the role: and this plays a key factor in their deciding to apply/go ahead with the interviews. A good technique to employ when writing a job description is to keep someone in mind who already feel is the perfect fit for the role. This helps you personify the description and eventually set expectations better. If this person is someone within your professional circle, it may be even a great idea to get it double-checked by her too!  

2. Sourcing the Funnel 

It’s really important to know where you will be posting your job openings. Like we mentioned before, going with company presence strength is a good idea. At the same time, it’s important not to eliminate platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, StackOverflow (tech hires) and almost anywhere else where there is a possibility of a great hire.  

3. Hiring Saturdays 

This may be a complicated option to execute after the pandemic, but often there are a lot of pending applications in your email and a good idea to sort through all of these is by setting up a hiring Saturday. You can invite people to come over to the office or set up virtual meetings with them and conduct several rounds on a single day itself. This can greatly speed up the hiring process if you’re an early stage startup. 

4. Start with the right expectations 

When you’re a startup, there are two ways to get good talent to join in with you: 

  • By paying them above the market grade salary
  • By promising them salary+ stocks, as cash conservation is everything for an early stage startup

Fitting candidates’ expectations and having a conversation on what kind of salary they expect is really something which has to be discussed at the very beginning of an interview so that you don’t waste their time and vice-versa.  

In conclusion, we can say that hiring for startups can be simplified if we divide it up into three simple processes. 


First: Build a structure and a funnel and start sourcing candidates. 

Second: Personify the JD, focus on the vertical which you need to target and start sourcing from platforms where you have a strong presence and where your potential resources are 

Third: Build and create a culture that resonates with your organization and your product, and make sure it’s visible across internal + external communication from your end.    

Happy hiring!

Sangeeta Bose
Written By

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