How one CEO cracked the recruiting code and grew by 45% in 6 weeks

ceo_cracked_the_recruiting_codeRecently I spoke with a friend of mine, Ben Katz, CEO of Card.com. Ben was having a tough time figuring out a recruiting strategy for his company and wanted some advice. Through our conversation, Ben realized he could out-recruit the agencies he was paying thousands of dollars—by treating recruiting more like a sales process.

Here’s the story in his own words:

At my old company, I never got to hire people who were more than $12/hour, so my new company, Card.com, was the first time I had to really quote-unquote recruit. It was a really steep learning curve for me—really intimidating, and because it's so important, it was even more intimidating.

So we paid GitHub, Stack Overflow and Craigslist like 4 grand, and we also had recruiters charging us like 10 or 20 or 30 G's to place people. For whatever reason, I assumed someone else was better at recruiting than me, which is crazy, because I wouldn't trust someone else to talk to the New York Times on my behalf, and the New York Times is way less important than my new Head of UI Design.

I talked to Dan and he basically said, "you're a salesperson. So just treat this like a sales process," and immediately that triggered the concept of the funnel. You fill the top of the funnel, the best route of which is definitely getting employee referrals, or second-degree referrals. You don't get people in the top of your funnel unless you put the word out and I definitely hadn't put the word out. I realized that I, the CEO of the company, hadn't even sent the jobs out to my own contacts on LinkedIn, and for someone who considers himself a salesperson, that was kind of an utter embarrassment.

Once I realized that, we got it going. Card.com had started as friends and grew into 11 people and we hadn't really formalized any referral incentives or anything, so we did that. We also wrote up some quick copy that engineers could edit and put on their social media and send in emails to their friends. And Daniel said I should go to my own college, not send an admin, but go there personally, and meet students. So from doing that, we built a pitch, telling our story and why someone should want to come and work with us instead of Google or Oracle.

We went from 11 people to 16 people in about six weeks.

How about you? Have you had your recruiting light bulb moment?

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