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52 days to hire: How startups are bleeding money on in-house hiring

Money on in-house hiring

It may sound incredible, but according to research, startup founders dedicate up to 40% of their time to recruiting. That is almost half of your time! Just think of all the things you could be doing instead. Something that actually brings income like networking, developing your product, and seeking out investors. But no, you are spending a bulk of your time on a task that generates no income, struggling to find and attract the best talent for your company. 

And if you are wondering how much time it requires to find a perfect candidate, here is a crazy number: six months on average (!) from start to finish. 

Just think about it. 

You will spend 40% of your time trying to hire your first employee in the next half of the year. That is 52 days spent on interviewing and screening your candidates.

Two and a half months devoted only to finding your first employee and nothing else. 

Why spend so much time on hiring? 

It is a meticulous task that can result in the success or failure of your whole business. As we all know, the famous quote by the President of YCombinator: “One mediocre hire in the first five years will kill a startup.”  

To recruit the right person for your company, you have to employ surgical precision, an in-depth understanding of the person’s abilities, the skill to spot the diamonds in disguise in the most unlikely places, and a thorough knowledge of who you want to hire.

Where to look for your first hire? 

So here is how you can go about recruiting your first coder. You can publish openings on job boards, ask for referrals from your network or use freelance platforms.

Let’s look closer at them all. 

Posting on job boards

Tried and true job boards have been around for the longest time now and might be the first option you think about. Boards like LinkedIn, Indeed, Glassdoor, and CareerBuilder can provide you the opportunity to post at no cost and provide access to a vast pool of talent. For example, Indeed boasts of having 100 million CVs and CareerBuilder – 155 million candidate forms.

The variety and abundance of candidates are among the advantages of job boards. Another feature that might attract many is the help you receive with application management. With such a significant exposure, you will receive dozens and dozens of applications. To assist you with gathering, managing, and reviewing all of them, job boards will provide various tools. 

However, with such a great exposure comes the extra work of weeding out the qualified applicants. On average, only 6 out of 250 applications will be competent enough and possess the needed expertise for you to invite the potential employee to interview.

63% of recruiters cite talent shortage as their biggest challenge. Job boards often present an optimistic view of the applicant pool, but this is usually misleading. Some of the profiles you’re looking at are outdated, and some candidates aren’t even open to new job opportunities.

You’ll be neck-deep in gathering, organizing, corresponding, and interviewing as you publish a job on a job board and begin receiving dozens of applications from inexperienced candidates. While you’re at it, you’ll lose your opportunity to connect with less active people who could be even more interesting. In other words, if you’re trying to recruit coders for your startup, this option seems not the best for you. 

And if you agree that this is not the best hiring method for you, we have two more alternatives.

Your personal network

Sir Altman, whom we have already cited today, suggests that startups should take advantage of their networks when hiring or, at the very least, should use this strategy for their first few dozen employees. 

That was precisely our strategy at from the very beginning. 20% of all our in-house positions were filled using our own network. Those were our best hires!

So, when you are searching for an employee, start with your own connections. Ask your friends and colleagues for recommendations, look through your LinkedIn feed, explore your blog followers, and post on your social media about open positions. 

This way, your recruitment process is more likely to go faster and smoother. In our experience, friends and colleagues refer only to those they are entirely sure about. Which means those people fit right in with your culture and the position. 

In case you’re still unable to fill the job opening despite searching your network, making contact with everyone on your radar who fits the job, and encouraging your teammates to follow the lead, you might consider trying a different approach.

Freelance platforms for developers

More than half of all business owners have thought about outsourcing projects to freelancers or third parties, according to FreshBooks. That means it is very likely you are among those who thought about it at some point.

Without the limitations of recruiting only local talent, you are able to reach out to developers from any location with any stack. This means you can employ the developer that perfectly meets your company’s needs.

With a developer freelance platform, you are looking at significantly reducing your costs. The opportunity to hire top talent from outside the US and Western Europe allows you to lower your expenses and invest that money directly into your startup.

The speed of the recruitment process can be incredible as well. You can employ senior coders for your company as fast as two days if you use a freelance platform of vetted developers like, however, might not be the case if you choose to work with a platform that does not require vetting.

If we talk about non-vetting freelance platforms, there are always risks you probably have heard about. With little to no background check, non-vetting platforms may unintentionally let shady people register, which increases the chances of getting scammed or ghosted by your developers. 

Now it’s up to you

With all that in mind, it is now up to you to decide the best way to hire your first employee. Will that be a job board, your network, or freelance programmers website? Just remember that it doesn’t have to be the hard way. Your time and money can be spent on more important and income-generating things than testing, interviews, and background checks.
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