They said it’d be harder to recruit at a two-person startup. They were wrong


I’m the CEO of a two-person startup.

Before this, I spent five years at LinkedIn. When I was at LinkedIn, I got the impression that it was difficult to attract great talent. We had a compelling vision and mission, smart teammates, and a great brand… yet it still seemed like a coin flip on whether we closed a hire or lost the candidate.

So when I came to Toodledo, a small startup that I hope to grow, I worried that we wouldn’t be able to recruit great candidates to build our team.

I was totally wrong.

Turns out, there is a surplus of great candidates. They’re not even on the radars of recruiters who search for buzzwords, brand companies, or brand universities. We’ve been fortunate to talk with some of these folks over the past two weeks and move into the offer stage with them.

So the question I’ve been asking myself is “What did I miss?”

Large-company misconceptions on hiring

We started by thinking hard about the job we needed done. We spent time as a team thinking through what was the most important skillset for the right hire to bring to a given role. Everything else was a nice to have.

Once you have that clarity, it simplifies the interview.

You start focusing on “Will this candidate deliver on this one skillset? What have they done that makes me believe they’ll be successful and drive this to completion? If they don’t have the precise experience, what do they have that can

You also get a much healthier perspective that candidates often aren’t five-tool superstars from day one. As a result, you’re expect and are willing to train up someone who’s willing to learn. This also turns out to be a selling point for great candidates.

After all that was written down, we had to get in front of the right candidates. Since I came from LinkedIn, we started by asking our networks for help. Our best candidates have come from our networks. As an added bonus, we’ve been able to vet these candidates through trusted mutual connections.

We also posted on niche job boards. While we got good candidates, we did take more time to interview and evaluate these candidates given no mutual connections.

But the whole time I was thinking “can we close these great candidates?”

How did we find them?

In retrospect, I shouldn’t have been worried. It turns out the right candidates want to join us for the same reasons I joined.

I wanted to learn. I wanted to build an enduring company. I wanted to go on an adventure.

This journey offers something pretty rare. An amazing community who loves a great core product. The ability to own and build entire parts of the business from the ground up.

And this message lands well with folks who want to accelerate their learning, build badass companies, and join the adventure.

We’ve found this works for us, and we couldn’t be more excited to welcome the newest member of our team.

We’re building something that’s going to be around for a long time.

We’re going to take this playbook and use it for the next hire, and the next hire, and the next hire.

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