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Building a recruitment roadmap to find the right candidate for your startup

September 4, 2023

September 1, 2023


Written by

Matt Muldavin


Head of Human Capital


Magma Partners

Building a recruitment roadmap to find the right candidate for your startup
Building a recruitment roadmap to find the right candidate for your startup

Ali Rowghani, former Managing Director of the YCombinator Continuity fund, wrote “Don’t be surprised if 50% of your time goes to hiring and managing your senior team; it’s time well spent.” 

“80% of the money we get from investors goes towards our people, so it needs to be a focus.”
Caterine Castillo, cofounder, Neivor

In reality, most founders fall into one of two traps: 

  1. They don’t spend enough time building their team
  2. They waste huge amounts of time recruiting without a clear strategy. 

Good hiring takes time and effort, but unfocused recruiting just eats up your time and gets you nowhere.

The best entrepreneurs build great teams by removing the guesswork. To build a great team, you need to:

  1. Create a clear recruitment strategy
  2. Follow it

After answering the 14 questions you need to know before recruiting, it’s time to go out and find candidates. Building a “recruitment roadmap” is the next thing we do with founders to match company needs with a strategy for finding great candidates. 

Your team-building blueprint

  • Building a successful team is not a random process; it requires a well-structured recruitment strategy
  • Your recruitment roadmap is the pivotal lead domino, setting the definition and sparking the momentum for your overall team-building strategy
  • The final hiring decision should be made by the hiring manager or the founder, not a search firm or an in-house recruiter
  • Leveraging your professional network for potential candidate referrals is one of the best ways to find candidates, but be careful about only hiring your friends

Where companies go wrong in the recruiting process

In 2007 Marc Andreessen wrote, “It’s continually shocking how many startups have a random hiring process, and as a result hire apparently randomly.”  The same is true for most early-stage startups in Latin America today.

While building a great team and culture is one of the most important jobs a founder has, most startups waste time recruiting without a strategy. Wasting time, energy, and money on recruiting is even worse in Latin America where capital is less abundant than in the US, making every bit of wasted money hurt 2-3x more.

Early-stage startup founders often spend hours per week on job boards like Linkedin looking for potential candidates for their companies. For startups with a Head of HR or Head of Talent, the founder usually provides the job title, then HR quickly puts together a generic and buzzword-ridden job description. 

HR then goes out looking for a candidate and agrees to present a finalist for the founder to interview within 4 weeks. The real problem to be solved by the hire often gets lost during the handoff from founder to HR, or the founder is fixated on looking for a job title rather than a set of skills that would solve a problem.

Without a defined process, you’ll waste time interviewing candidates who aren’t a fit for your company.

The Recruitment Roadmap: How to recruit like the best search firms

Your recruitment roadmap are the steps of your talent acquisition strategy. Talent acquisition is the process of finding, attracting, and hiring people for your company. A good recruitment roadmap ensures that you find and get in touch with the right candidates for the job, saving you from guessing at your priorities, wasting hours of time recruiting mismatched candidates, and hiring for whatever comes across your inbox.

You create a recruitment roadmap by answering these questions:

  • If I could hire from any group of companies, where do I think the best candidates would come from? 
  • What are the pros of candidates coming from each group?
  • What are the cons of candidates coming from each group?
  • What are some example companies within each group?
  • What job titles are ideal candidates most likely to have? 

Put your answers to these questions into a 4x5 chart like the one below. This is your recruitment roadmap. Make sure to insert the relevant answers for your company’s needs into each section of the chart. No candidate search is the same, and no recruitment roadmap should be the same either.

The best search firms use a map like this to find you candidates. Search firms prioritize candidate archetypes, and then systematically “map the talent market” by finding all potential candidates within the prioritized industries and companies. They then reach out to all potential candidates and start selling them on the role.

How to use your recruitment roadmap

The recruitment roadmap forces you to prioritize the types of candidates you will interview for the role. With very rare exceptions, candidates that aren’t in your recruitment roadmap are not worth your time to interview.  

Now it’s time to match real candidates to archetypes and reach out for interviews. You have a couple of options for how to do this:

In-house: If you have an in-house recruiter(s), they can systematically map the market. 

  1. The in-house team can either have a list of the candidates in a spreadsheet or create projects in Linkedin if you have a Linkedin Premium account. 
  2. For junior through mid-level roles, your in-house team should reach out to candidates. 
  3. The best way is via a warm introduction, but if you can’t get one, you can always send a Linkedin message. 
  4. For early-stage startups hiring for their first senior positions, a message from the founder will help increase conversion rates and get more candidates to reply rather than from a chief of staff or team member. 

Use a search firm or contingency recruiting firm: If you don’t have an in-house talent acquisition team, or simply prefer to offload the work to a third party, you can use a search firm or a contingency recruiting firm to map out the relevant candidates.

  1.  If you need help with mapping the market, reviewing your process, or interviewing candidates, we are more than happy to help! Feel free to send us a note. 

Do not use a search or recruiting firm to make final evaluations or hiring decisions, only to source candidates. It’s your job to make the final decision on who to hire, not the recruiters. You cannot outsource your main responsibility to a 3rd party with no skin in the game.

The founder should make final decisions for all hires at early-stage startups with ~30 team members or less. As your team scales past 30, the founder should be the decision-maker for all senior hires, while the person that the role reports to should make the decisions for all other hires. This said, you cannot simply pass all responsibility to your direct reports when you get to 30 people and expect it to work out. You have to have a transition period where the founders/CEO are helping their direct reports before the direct reports take over fully. Try to get them involved when you’re making hires 15-20 at your company, and aim for a full transition of decision-making responsibilities before your team reaches 50.

In addition to using an in-house recruiter or search firm, make sure to cast a wide net to maximize the chances that good candidates will know about your job opportunity. Post the job on all socials, send it to Magma so we can post it on our work with our portfolio companies section, and reach out to your network to ask for candidate recommendations. Referrals are still one of the best ways to hire. Make sure you have a great work with us page, which will help attract better talent and close people who are interested in joining your team.

Use your recruitment roadmap multiple times

You will start from scratch the first time you make a recruitment roadmap. After the first time, you can reuse most of your roadmap. The recruitment roadmap is top-down-driven. Build a recruitment roadmap for each department in your startup. You can use the same roadmap to guide the hiring for different roles within that department.

For example, if you are hiring a CTO for your startup, the recruitment roadmap you make for that role will be almost identical to all other roles you hire for on your tech team in the future. You will use different titles for the candidates, but you can mostly copy and paste the relevant buckets, companies, and pros and cons. 

Make a V1 Recruitment roadmap and start recruiting better candidates today

Most startups get their recruitment process wrong. It’s haphazard, random, and doesn’t result in a quality hire. Building a top-notch team cannot be a random process. You need to approach hiring methodically and thoughtfully to build a team that truly complements your skills and startup. 

A recruitment roadmap serves as the blueprint for this process, allowing you to be intentional, focused, and efficient in your hiring. Whether you handle recruitment in-house or use a search firm, remember that the final decision rests with you. At Magma, we help portfolio companies through this process, but the advantage of this process is its versatility. Startups of any size or sector can leverage the recruitment roadmap to uplevel their recruiting efforts.

Portfolio Company
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