Hiring top startup talent on a budget during the Great Resignation

‘You've got to invest in the earliest hires,' said Greylock Partner Glen Evans

The Great Resignation wasn’t ginned up by corporate media to sell advertising impressions — if you’re trying to hire, the struggle is real.

Since the pandemic began, the percentage of workers who quit their jobs reached a 20-year high, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A Pew Research study found that most workers exit for one of three reasons: They’re not making enough money, aren’t being offered opportunities to advance, and perhaps most importantly, many feel like they’re being disrespected.

These factors mean that early-stage startups can no longer compete on the basis of salary and benefits alone. Instead, hiring managers must convince prospective hires that they will be joining a supportive culture where they can expand their skills while contributing to (and participating in) the company’s success.

There’s a very limited supply of talent and probably the largest demand I’ve ever seen, so it’s really important for people to think about how to differentiate. Glen Evans

To learn more about how founders can optimize the recruiting and hiring process, find and develop talent, and uncover some best practices for closing candidates, I spoke with Glen Evans, a partner on Greylock’s core talent team, at TechCrunch Early Stage.

“The state of the job market is more competitive than I’ve ever seen it,” said Evans, who has two decades of experience overseeing recruiting and team building at fast-growing companies including Slack, Facebook and Google. At Greylock, he leads a team that advises portfolio companies on recruiting and talent acquisition.

“There’s a very limited supply of talent and probably the largest demand I’ve ever seen, so it’s really important for people to think about how to differentiate and build the foundations and the habits to get talent right in the early days,” he said. “It’s not rocket science.”

Create a structured, repeatable recruiting process (and keep it simple)

Before staffing up, Evans said founders and hiring managers should first develop a process that can scale as the team grows.

“I’ve seen a lot of companies do this very loosely, and it leads to a lot of problems down the road,” said Evans. “Create a process that is structured, organized and repeatable, where you have clear lanes and clear coverage areas for the interviewers. Don’t make it too rigid, but have some structure so you can train new hires.”

Each person involved must have a clearly defined role, but it’s also key that each aspect of the hiring process aligns with marketing, branding, product value and the company’s overall mission. To promote cohesion, train employees on basic best practices for interviews and create scorecards that highlight desired criteria.

“Scorecards will help you align to the signals, have the right questions, create some structure and then communicate it to make sure people are following it,” said Evans. “They’re not hiring by gut instinct — they have actual facts that they can tie back to why this person will be a good hire.”

Foster a recruiting culture, and invest in it early

The catchphrase “always be closing” originated in a drama about high-pressure real estate sales tactics, but it’s also a mantra for early-stage founders in team-building mode. Evans said team members need to carve out time every week for recruiting, meeting candidates and tapping their networks to source new hires.