From a Tech HR Advisor: How to Know The Right Time to Hire a Recruiter

Artwork via taxcollection

It seems things have finally hit a stride. Early customers are loving your product — and that means it’s time to grow. You’ve laid a solid foundation, but question whether you need a recruiter to scale or if you can bootstrap it yourself. Especially in those lean days, it can feel like a great long-term investment but an unnecessary immediate-term cost. That said, you’re getting the pressure to grow, hire and scale-out teams and you’ve got a million demands on your time.

You have a great team in place, meaningful opportunities and the opportunity to make a big impact is very real — so where are all the eligible candidates? You do it all: diving into AngelList applicants, booking calls with referrals, reaching out to interesting folks on LinkedIn, going to all of the meetups. Yet somehow your pipeline is missing the right candidate.

At this point, you start to wonder if you should just hire an internal recruiter so they can focus on it and you can go back to doing your job. But before you make that leap, here are a few things to consider.

Your time allocation

As a founder, you hired the first few candidates and clearly that’s gone well. Naturally, you want to be involved as the company grows. This is a fantastic mentality, but also remember that you can’t do it all.

Take honest stock of where your time is going each day. List out the different, business-critical demands on your time. If you can’t honestly remove, delegate, or simply eliminate a couple of hours a day (minimum) of time to dedicate to recruiting, an in-house recruiter might be the right next step. Recruiting takes up a lot of time and energy to do properly. By hiring a recruiter you will pretty much be bringing on that go-to for all things hiring. They will be managing the funnel of folks but driving that funnel as well.

The best part? You can still be involved — work with the recruiter to set standards, best practices, and structure. It doesn’t have to be hire-and-forget (in fact, it shouldn’t be). Your voice is needed, but let someone else do the additional leg work.

Job postings aren’t helping

If you’re putting job postings up everywhere and it still feels like the right talent isn’t coming, it might be time to bring on a recruiter.

This is for two key reasons:

  1. Writing good job postings is a specific skill recruiters have.
  2. If you want good talent, job postings are only the beginning.

As a founder, you need to be decent at a lot of things and fantastic at a couple — chances are writing job postings is not something you’re fantastic at, and that’s ok. It takes a lot of time and specialized knowledge to write good postings and, perhaps more importantly, it takes time and specialized knowledge to proactively get those postings in front of the right pools of talent.

Up to 70% of the global workforce is ‘passive talent,’ meaning they aren’t looking for job postings to apply to. That means you need someone on your team who knows the language of passive candidates and can reach out proactively.

Your candidate experience needs some work

Setting up a great candidate experience takes more than just a friendly face at the office door.

Even taking just the phone screen, for example, you need to assess:

  • Tonality.
  • Communication skills.
  • Eagerness for the role.
  • Suss out potential bad-fits.

These are all senses you’ve likely developed as a founder, but not necessarily in a recruiting context. That’s why recruiters are so specialized — they know how to handle the unique (and sometimes awkward) context of an interview.

If you’re not sure about this, ask your existing team for feedback about the candidate experience. In particular, what they liked and didn’t like. At the very least, you’ll get great feedback to focus your efforts. You may even have a team member step up to help. But this could be very illuminating for you: if the feedback you get from team members makes your head spin, it may be time to bring in a professional. Or, if you understand what needs to be done but simply can’t dedicate the time, it’s a sure sign you may be ready to hire someone who can focus on the necessary tasks.

When you hire a good recruiter, you’ve put someone in the driver’s seat that knows exactly where they’re going. In other words, they’re ready to talk to candidates about their resumes and backgrounds while also being able to catch red flags and ask the right questions when it comes to better understanding motivations and reactions.

You’re spending thousands on outsourced recruiters

During early growth, you may have hired an outsourced recruiter to help you place a key hire. That’s absolutely a good idea in many cases, but the model does not scale well. For example, before I founded Bloom, I worked with a startup that spent over $500,000 on recruiter fees in one year. That spend would have afforded them a senior recruiter and head of people for years, but instead, it went just to place a handful of people.

If you have found yourself spending a lot of money on external recruiters and the hiring doesn’t look like it will slow down, it’s time to think about bringing things in-house. External recruiters can be great partners, but if you are going through a high growth phase, they should be used strategically and not for the bulk of your hiring. For example, if you used an outsourced recruiter to hire 2 engineers at an average salary of $100,000, you’d have spent more than the annual salary of an intermediate full-time in-house recruiter.

If you’re worried that hiring growth will jump then plateau for some time, a third option is to partner with an agency on a retainer. They become your ‘in-house’ team for a flat fee each month (Bloom works with many clients on this model). You don’t pay any contingency fees, can navigate through the growth time and slow down afterwards, and get the benefit of a whole team of senior professionals at a fraction of the cost to hire that team in-house.

Beyond financial and time benefits, recruiters do more than just hire people. They also focus on sharing your narrative, company values, and exciting reasons to join your organization. What’s better is that most recruiters come with their own network of professionals (and other recruiters), giving you a ripple effect for your message. A recruiter may not be necessary at the earliest stages, but the process orientation they bring will help you scale as quickly as you need to, ensuring you can serve your growing customer base and build your team in the best way possible.

Keep growing,


One more thingAt Bloom, we support companies who aren’t ready to hire a full-time HR or Talent but need the leadership on an interim basis. We do the nitty-gritty foundational work like implementing the best tech, tools and processes that are infused with your org’s values. Read this article and still need help? Bloom’s here for you. Book a no-obligation intro call with us to ask more questions and learn how we can help you out as much, or as little, as you need. Book a call with me, Avery, here.

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