From 5 hires to 50 to 500, the nuts and bolts to build your startup’s recruiting processes
As an enterprise technology venture capital fund in New York City, we work with over 50 early stage go-to-market enterprise startups on two key areas: accelerating their Fortune 1000 customer acquisition and helping them build great teams.
Like any great sports team, your company needs A-players; the stars, the ones who start and finish every game, and rarely sit out. But what happens when those players get hurt? Retire? Lured away by a more lucrative contract elsewhere? Any coach worth their salt knows a strong bench and farm system is critical for long-term success. Using the same logic, startups should not only be focused on retaining, managing, and growing their talent, but they should also be thinking about what my former manager called “building your bench,” also known as hiring great junior talent early in their careers to join the company and grow. The best way to build a bench? Summer interns.
Interns are a great addition to any company for many reasons. It’s a try before you buy model and 3 month interview, employees looking for management experience get the opportunity to step up, you start to build your brand on college campuses, and you are creating a pipeline for the best entry level talent. Furthermore, former interns become your brand ambassadors and can be a great way to build buzz. So, you want to ensure they have a positive experience.
You’ve heard the lavish perks companies like Microsoft and Facebook give their interns (i.e. a Macklemore concert), but maybe your startup isn’t quite there. Regardless, whether you’re hosting 5 or 50 summer interns, there’s plenty you can do to put together an awesome program to guarantee your interns will have a great experience and equally positive things to say about your company. Here’s a rough outline of what you should be thinking about before, during, and after the summer to ensure your intern(s) have a great summer.
As a side note, hopefully if you were planning on hiring summer interns, you’re already well along in the process. In my former role as a recruiter at AppNexus, all of our technical interns were hired by end of January, and all non-technical interns were hired by middle of March. The longer you wait, the less likely you are to find high potential candidates looking for internships. We’ll talk more in the coming months about building a successful campus recruiting strategy for next year, but for now we’ll assume you already have some recruits for the summer!
Since starting at Work-Bench 3 months ago, I’ve had the unique opportunity of seeing how our 40+ member & portfolio companies engage with candidates and generally approach the end-to-end hiring and recruiting process. While most of our companies are able to offer amazing interview and candidate experiences, I’ve also seen a few (all too familiar) mistakes from my 2 and ½ years being on the talent acquisition team at AppNexus as we grew the company from 300 to 1100 people.
Given that most startups aren’t fortunate enough to have full-time recruiters running the end-to-end production of interviews, I know first-hand how difficult it can be for early-stage teams to nail the hiring process. Although you might think a lot of this goes without saying, I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I’ve seen go wrong during my time as a recruiter at AppNexus and the time I’ve spent working with our member & portfolio companies at Work-Bench.