Upload your profile picture, state your education, put in your interests and skills. Is this Facebook or LinkedIn? Increasingly, our professional profiles have begun more and more to resemble our social profiles. As these two worlds blur, employers must ask of candidates and candidates must evaluate in themselves, “How am I coming off,” “What do people think of me when they look at my profile,” “Is there something in my teeth?”
Startups are looking at social platforms not only to identify potential employees’ skills and achievements, but also to garner a distinct sense of their personality. For some positions, these social tools can help startups assess a potential hire’s thought leadership in a space – that is, their power as an influencer.
Living in the era of social media and online social platforms, we were interested in how startups are accessing these outlets to find and recruit new employees and candidates.
LinkedIn: Facebook In Grown Up Clothes
“I use LinkedIn a lot, and it’s how we put the word out for openings. We’ve gotten a lot of good contacts and references through LinkedIn.”
-Jerry Freeman, Founder and CEO of PaletteApp
Startups use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool because it gives you access to a big pool of talent and quickly displays their professional history. This enables you as an employer to understand a candidate and quickly assess if you want to pursue them as a potential employee.
This slight difference encapsulates the dichotomy between LinkedIn and Facebook. LinkedIn is about putting your best foot forward, standing tall and alone, in the professional world and trying to prove your value as an applicant.
(Now that you know me, feel free to connect with me – and endorse me. I’m trying to get to 500+ connections. Thanks!)
For startups, LinkedIn lets you search to find candidates matching your description. The website allows one to quickly filter out applicants who do not meet the needs of the company. Additionally, LinkedIn is a great resource for job postings and publicizing company news and information. LinkedIn is a great way to promote your brand and your company’s news. LinkedIn Recruiter helps you filter your search so you are finding the candidates you actually want instead of a large pool of unfiltered applicants. Furthermore, LinkedIn shows you common connections, so you can be introduced to potential applicants. This will make your reaching out seem more personal and is more likely to garner a response.
Critiques of LinkedIn
The most common critique we hear about LinkedIn is that it removes the human element from recruiting and replaces it with generalizations. Because LinkedIn relies on such a general talent pool where you only get a sense for work history, important nuances are missing, like what they have achieved in the workplace and they are like as workers. With LinkedIn, a lot of what you’re getting is a resume with a picture. What you see might not be what you get. A common complaint is that people lie or overstate their qualifications on LinkedIn that would be filtered out by a human recruiter or a more detailed recruiting platform.
LinkedIn is great for startups looking to cast a wide net in their talent search. Additionally, because LinkedIn is so popular, you have the ability to search for candidates that fit your specific qualifications. LinkedIn’s deep searchability, especially with LinkedIn Recruiter, means that your next hire could be one click away.
Pricing: free, but price varies for LinkedIn Recruiter and premium accounts.
AngelList: LinkedIn for Startups
Did I ever tell you how I found this job? It’s a good story. Scene: 3 weeks before college graduation, jobless and hoping not to be. Alas, hoping only gets you so far (like nowhere), so I took the initiative. I looked up every list I could find on the best startups in NYC (as much as I love Cali, according to my Tinder profile I’m NYC born and raised.) That’s how I found Stacklist! Yet, Stacklist wasn’t the only company I found. I noticed I kept getting directed to a platform called AngelList. So I made a profile and checked it out.
In many ways, AngelList is similar to LinkedIn. You present your work experience prominently and in a familiar manner, you make connections, and people are recommended to you. You can add skills, education, and location. AngelList somewhat perfects upon LinkedIn in terms of personalization.
“AngelList is a powerful free tool. We got more than half of our employees from there. They provide very aware and cutting-edge applicants.”
-John Rushworth, Co-founder and CEO of BottlesTonight
AngelList can be a great tool for startups, because you are looking at a pool of talent that is self-selected to be interested and often experienced in the startup and tech space. AngelList was built to be a central networking facility for the startup community. Further, candidates who make AngelList profiles are showing that they have savvy about the startup space.
AngelList has this great feature where you can briefly give a description of yourself; it’s your pitch. Unlike your LinkedIn or Facebook profiles where fields are fixed and the framework is rigid, your page has to speak for itself, on AngelList you do the selling and positioning. (Side note: any comments you may have on how to improve my profiles please send to [email protected]). This is again echoed in the achievements section, where you’re asked to state your greatest work related achievement. This allows recruiters to get a better, fuller sense for potential applicants. The achievement features gives you a quick glance and summation of the most important qualities that each candidate has, so you can figure out quicker if they are a better fit for your company
Critiques of AngelList
None. Founder reviews for AngelList were overwhelmingly positive. Overall, founders found that AngelList was one the of the most successful tools for hiring within the startup community, with many qualified candidates.
AngelList is a great tool if for candidates who want to break into the startup space or for startups who are hiring in the startup world. Being geared specifically towards startups creates a self-selecting community that’s a lot less general than LinkedIn.
Twitter: Do You Matter?
The sad truth about the 21st century is that you are only as important as your follower count. We read the news – we know Twitter’s future is called into question everyday. But it remains a powerful channel to attract and audience and find talent. The amount of Twitter followers you have – the size of your audience – determines your influence in your industry. In terms of recruiting, Twitter can help identify particular candidates that you might want to bring on.
You can pick out influencers in your industry whom you think would be a good fit for your brand. You can evaluate who is an influencer by follower count and how often they tweet and what they tweet. This is especially true for the tech industry.
We’ve had luck using Twitter for recruiting! There are a lot of interesting tech people on Twitter, and it’s very easy get in touch with them.
-Anjelika Kour, Founder and CEO of Brick and Portal
Critiques of the tool (cons)
There are a lot of Twitter profiles out there, and it requires deep knowledge of your industry and good working practice of Twitter to find people that we could categorize as influencers.
Twitter can be a very functional recruiting tool when used well. While people on Twitter are not necessarily looking for jobs, interacting with them and getting to promote your content builds brand awareness helps establish good relationships for the long term and is mutually beneficially (retweet @thestacklist today!)
Upwork: Finding your Freelancer
After surveying the bigger companies in the game, we decided to take a closer look at some of the more niche tools. Niche tools are kind of our wheelhouse. One tool that kept popping up as a useful recruiting tool was Upwork, which directly showcases your portfolio to potential employers.
“For finding contractors, Upwork is really good or it’s as good as it gets. It’s the best in its category.”
-Karan Gupta, Co-founder and CEO of Mammoth
Working at a startup usually means cash is tight, your team has no more bandwidth and, at any point, there are dozens of projects that aren’t getting done. That’s where freelancers come in. Freelancers are a great way to pick up the extra slack, and Upwork is one the best tools to connect you to them. You are also often testing whether a job is more of a one-off project or a long term need. It’s a great way to test a person out before you bring them on full-time.
Upwork, formerly known as oDesk, is dedicated to connecting companies with the right freelancer. It’s completely free for the company (Upwork’s fee is taken from the freelancer’s rate) and it has no wage rules, meaning that you can find extraordinarily cheap workers. Some overseas freelancers will even work for a dollar an hour. Yet, you actually get to see freelancers work before you bring them on and ratings from previous companies they’ve worked with.
Critiques of the Tool
There’s some concern in the community the low rates are contributing to a culture of inexperienced freelancers and poor-quality work, but, by taking the right precautions and utilizing some of the due diligence features on the site, Upwork can be a wonderful resource that gives you access to over 4 million freelancers.
Meet Carly W. Carly is one of Upwork’s most recommended virtual assistants. She has rave reviews, she has put down the scores of all the tests she’s completed, and she even has an overview in her profile, like AngelList. Judging from her profile, Upwork is a nice synthesis of LinkedIn and AngelList.
Upwork breaks more from the social media platform mold. Instead of finding friends through school or mutual connections, people are recommended to you based on the service you are looking for. In that way, it is much more professional and solely about the office than the other two tools. We think Upwork is an efficient way to bring on people for short-term tasks that you need done, but that don’t necessarily need to be done by you – or need a niche skill, like graphic design, to complete. Upwork is a great tool for startups to find temporary or immediate labor to fill gaps in bandwidth.
Pricing: free for employers.
Hired: Elitist Hiring (but in a good way)
All the platforms we addressed earlier in this article were very egalitarian – anyone could sign up. While this increases the talent pool, it decreases overall quality. That’s the problem Hired set out to solve.
“Hired is where we’ve had the most success in recruiting by far for one important reason: the quality of the candidates are great as they seem to do a great job of curation.”
-Tom Fang, Founder and CEO of iPyxel Creations
Hired is an elite recruiting platform that focuses on specialists like software engineers, data scientists, product managers and UI designers. What helps set the tool apart is that its candidates are put through a rigorous evaluation process that sorts you based on work experience, previous projects completed, location, salary range, and desired interest and weeds out all but the top 5% of applicants.
Hired’s account holders are equally curated: Companies can only open a Hired account if they meet certain qualifications. There are case-by-case exceptions, but generally a company will be approved only if it has at least $1 million in annual revenue or funding, a location in a major city with a large grouping of job candidates, and a business model or mission statement that is relevant to Hired’s candidate pool.
Critiques of Hired
If you’re looking for cheap labor, then Hired is not for you, with salaries ranging from $75,000-$250,000. It is also expensive for employers, costing 15% of first year salary. However, with the rigorous candidate filters, the assumption is that the person you find on hired will likely be more qualified than someone you would find on another recruiting platform. The other way to look at this is that you save time searching for, qualifying, interviewing and potentially hiring, training and firing candidates who turn out to be a poor fit.
Hired is great tool for finding specialists as discussed. This tool is only to be used if you are looking to hire someone that you are willing to spend a little money on, and they’re generally worth it (though we make no promises). If you are looking for a more advanced pool of talent, then Hired may be for you.
Pricing: free for users, for employer 15% of first year salary.
Social media and professional pages certainly have a lot of overlap, but as you get more niche the similarities ebb away and the differences become clearer. In the more general platforms, your profile largely resembles your Facebook profile, but with a more professional focus. With tools such as Upwork and Hired, where the purpose is more fine-tuned and direct, there is less of the social media fluff.