Hiring strategy for start-ups: don’t miss recruitment in your startup plan

Last updated:
July 28, 2021
March 21, 2022
min read
Adrie Smith
|Recruitment startup ATS|ATS onboarding guide
Table of contents

Taking a leap of faith and starting a company can be fraught with challenges. Recruitment aside, being a start-up comes with a whole new world of pressure. That said, you’ve found something you’re truly passionate about. Passionate enough to launch a business. And for that business to work, you need to consider your startup hiring strategy.

We already know that startup recruitment can easily become a founder’s nightmare if it’s not properly thought out and planned ahead of time.

Without a proper talent acquisition plan in place, you may find very quickly that you:

While you begin to plot your company’s exponential growth, it’s also important to plan the hiring of new employees to support your startup plan. A hiring strategy for start-ups is as fundamental as the foundations of your business.

  1. Are spending more time trying to attract candidates than on your primary tasks;
  2. Ending up with subpar talent or struggling to hire the right profiles;
  3. Failing to engage good candidates when they do apply.

For startups, the early days are critical. Without the right talent, your ship will sink. Sunken hours in fruitless tasks can easily translate into lost production time, customers, and deals. While it may appear to be only one component of your new business, it’s a component that has the potential to tip the scales in either direction: success or failure.

Applicant tracking systems can offer many benefits when it comes to getting started early and planning your startup hiring process and talent acquisition strategy.

Below we’ll discuss some of the key benefits and how having a good ATS at the heart of your startup plan can help your startup grow faster.

What is an ATS?

ATS in recruitment stands for Applicant tracking systems.

They do exactly what they say on the tin: track your candidates throughout the hiring process.

From application to final offer, your ATS should be able to give you and your team complete visibility over your talent pipeline. Generally, a good ATS should:

  • Aim to save recruitment teams time, effort, and money.
  • Manage the process of attracting, vetting, and qualifying the right candidates.
  • Improve communication between internal hiring parties and external candidates.
  • Improve talent acquisition strategy by giving improved visibility over measuring your recruitment and goals for recruiting teams.
  • Reduce paperwork and improve documentation in the hiring process.
  • Provide an internal database of candidates to draw from when a requirement arises.

An ATS is rarely among their first investments or even worked into the startup plan for most startups.

After all, why would you need to track the two candidates you hire over the space of a couple of months? Why would you need an overview of a talent pipeline that is very sparsely populated?

An ATS is an essential investment because, hopefully, you won’t be a startup forever. So you’ll need a startup plan that can scale and that should include your startup recruitment. An ATS will help you grow faster in four key ways.

1. ATS help you set solid foundations for hiring

Everything at the beginning of a startup and in a startup plan is about balancing growth and laying solid foundations. This principle should extend to your startup’s hiring.

It can be easy to be lured into starting your hiring just using Gmail, spreadsheets, and maybe a couple folders on your desktop to store all of your candidate information.

While this may work for the first few hires, soon you’ll find that your recruitment “system” is no longer fit for purpose. Processes will start to feel as if they are duct taped together. And the manual tasks associated with using too many tools for one job (hiring) may begin to result in:

  1. Poor candidate experience: missed emails, applications that go with no response, poorly prepared interviews can leave perfectly qualified candidates with a sour experience.
  2. Growing time to hire: long delays and time wasted going back and forth by email to find times to interview can negatively impact your time to hire. With a growing time to hire, good candidates may be snapped up by the competition!
  3. Poorly maintained candidate data: No one wants to risk a GDPR violation, and keeping candidate data spread across emails and spreadsheets can pose a substantial risk.
  4. Lost candidate opportunities: Talent pools are an excellent opportunity to engage with candidates who have previously applied to your positions. As a growing startup, some candidates may not be fit for a position at the moment, but maybe later as you scale. Unfortunately, if you cannot keep track of them, you may be missing out on prospective talent that is already engaged with your brand.

Enter an ATS. Your ATS can solve many of these issues by centralizing your startup hiring strategy onto one platform.

While for the first couple of hires it may seem excessive, you’ll certainly thank yourself later. Having a centralized system early on will help you scale seamlessly as you progressively add more people to your team.

2. ATS allows you to start reporting to optimize

In every startup strategy, there will be some metrics and KPIs to track. To optimize your processes and grow, you have to measure first.

The same should be valid for your startup hiring strategy. And just like your commercial metrics, there will be many ways of measuring your recruitment. For example, you can look at acceptance to offer rates, time to hire, quality of hire, and more.

But this only works if you have a system in place to do so.

An ATS can offer multiple reports to monitor, track, and optimize your recruitment.

One of the most used reports in Recruitee is the time to hire report, which breaks down by role, how long each candidate spends on average in each stage of the recruitment process.
This report is handy particularly because it can point out bottlenecks at different steps in your startup hiring strategy. With this knowledge, you’ll be better equipped to optimize your process.

3. ATS means you can begin with an awesome candidate experience

The candidate experience is a crucial part of converting suitable candidates into great employees.

You’ll need a couple elements to get it right: a good employer brand, excellent communication, and an easy application process. Without a central tool like an ATS to support your improvements in these areas, the candidate experience can start to feel like a very daunting task.

A good ATS should be able to bolster your employer brand, promote effective communication, and streamline your application.

With Recruitee, you can build your very own careers site. This site can easily become your primary platform for showcasing your employer brand. This allows you to tell your candidates about your company, mission, and perks (with a few employee photos) to make sure they know who you are.

A stronger employer brand early on will assist in building a better candidate experience to carry with you as you grow.

Not all ATS offer a strong employer branding feature pack. However, most should at least be able to help streamline your communication and applications.

Your ATS should also assist in tracking your communication in one place, ensuring that no email goes missing or application unseen.

Finally, many ATS offer an improved application process on the candidate side. This can come in the form of information fields pre-filled from social profiles and easy to answer screening questions.

Both of these elements will help you build a better candidate experience and attract great talent early on. Thus, it’s crucial to include a solid ATS in your startup’s recruitment strategy.

4. An ATS will set your brand apart from other companies

Despite its importance, many founders fail to build a recruitment strategy or an ATS into their startup plans.

Many prefer to start their hiring with an amalgamation of tools, which they may soon outgrow.

This means that with a good ATS implemented in your team, you’ll be able to set yourself apart in your hiring. With excellent communication, a clear employer brand, and measurable hiring outcomes, you’ll be well on your way to making great hires for your startup.

ATS at the heart of your startup recruitment

Hiring strategies for startups are not dissimilar to recruitment strategies of larger, more established organizations.

Bootstrapping your business doesn’t mean you should cut corners when it comes to your startup recruitment.

In fact, laying sturdy hiring foundations should be an essential feature in your startup plan. You will need an all-star team to propel your startup from the start and an even better one to keep growing later on.  

Prepare to scale your business and your team with the right software to support your goals. Remember, for your startup to succeed, it must grow. And, once it does start growing, it will be impossible to allow it to continue scaling with one or two employees.

You’ll be surprised at how quickly your startup is no longer classified as a startup. Therefore, prepare for this in advance by using a solid ATS for your hiring.

Further reading: Why startup hiring is every founder's greatest challenge

ATS onboarding guide
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