Startup recruiting step #1: Defining employer brand

SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide

Chapter 1: Employer branding

By Crystal Guerrero and Josh Constine

Best practices for attracting top talent to your startup and how to define the 10 elements of your employer brand, including your mission, culture, and benefits

Having a strong employer brand can reduce your cost per hire by 50% while scoring you 50% more applicants, according to LinkedIn’s research. Yet most startup waste jump right into hiring before thinking deeply about what makes them an appealing place to work. It’s counterintuitive, but moving too fast can waste time and money. In this first chapter of SignalFire‘s Startup Recruiting Guide, we’ll teach you how to craft your policies and messaging to convince people you’re rocketship opportunity with an inviting company culture.

That all starts with building an “employer brand” – which is defined as how your company is perceived as a place to work, both by your employees and the outside world. Think of it in contrast to your consumer brand, which is how people perceive your product or service.

Your employer brand can be summarized by these 10 elements:

  • Company story
  • Mission
  • Values
  • Company culture
  • Work environment
  • Team
  • Product
  • Challenges
  • Compensation and benefits
  • Recruiting

Developing a great employer brand allows startups to spend less time soliciting job candidates and instead attract inbound interest from top talent.

This post will walk you through codifying your employer brand into a concise “employee value proposition” that you’ll communicate through candidate interviews, a shareable recruiting dossier we’ll teach you to make below, and your website’s careers page that we’ll cover in-depth in the Startup Recruiting Guide’s next chapter. In future posts, we’ll break down how to source job candidates, run structured interviews, make offers, onboard new hires, and more. Subscribe here for access to the rest of the Startup Recruiting guide plus more startup tips, market maps, and industry trends.

Stripe‘s careers page lets its founders explain the startup’s mission, values, and more

So why should you care about employer branding now? It’s hard to stand out on salary or perks alone, but employer brand is where you can differentiate yourself in a crowded marketplace. You’ll know you’re improving your employer brand when cost per hire drops as your inbound applicant volume, staff retention, and profitability grows. Early and executive hires set the tone for talent, and greatly influence who else will want to work with you. That’s why it’s never too early to start. So let’s get to it.

Subscribe for future chapters of SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide on building a careers page and sourcing job candidates

Defining your employer brand

What exactly is employer brand? It’s the “market perception” or the qualities of your company that you share with the public. It’s the personality and voice that defines your company. It exists as a loose set of ideas outlining characteristics like:

  • Company story: Your origin and journey. How did you come up with the idea for the product? Did you experience the pain point yourself? How did you launch, and what traction have you seen since? What important milestones have you hit? Make it an inspiring story that talent will want to play a part in.
  • Mission: What you’re trying to improve about the world. What’s broken without you? Whose lives get better directly because of your product, and what downstream benefits will you generate for society at large? Success isn’t enough. You need to have an impact that employees are proud to tell everyone about.
  • Values – The steadfast ideals and ethics that guide your actions. How do you approach collaboration, transparency, self-expression, reliability, customer focus, iteration, social responsibility, speed, and resilience? What do you prioritize?  Your values can attract, motivate, and retain employees and customers who align with your beliefs
  • Company culture – Your flexible norms and policies for applying your values to work/life balance, shared rituals, hierarchy, inclusion, trust, autonomy, and volunteering. How quickly do people respond to emails after-hours? Does the team socialize together after work or go their separate ways? Are you managed closely or allowed to determine your own solutions?
  • Work environment – Your headquarters, offices, and approach to remote work as well as your policies on open vs closed floor plans, company meals, office events, pets at work, and employee transportation. Do you mostly work in the same space or distributed around the world? How many days a week will local employees come to the office after the pandemic? Is everyone chatting or wearing headphones?
  • Team – The talent that candidates are eager to work beside including leadership and their peers. Is the organization relatively flat or quite hierarchical? Is headcount growing 20% or 100% per year? Who can employees turn to if they have a problem?
  • Product – The purpose and potential of what you’re building. Why are employees proud to make this for the world? How does it solve customers’ problems?
  • Challenges – Opportunities for learning, contribution, and advancement. What will employees get to brag about on their resume after working here? What new skills will the get to pick up? Are their chances to lead new projects?
  • Compensation and benefits – Compensation, as well as your health, time-off, and retirement perks. Do you offer the legal minimum or industry-leading parental leave? Do you have a fixed amount of vacation days or unlimited as long as you get your work done?
  • Recruiting – Your marketing, recruitment style, hiring process, and candidate experience. Do you highlight your business momentum or company vibe? Do you make decisions quickly or deliberate and keep looking for candidates? Is interviewing grueling but efficient or fun but time-consuming?

It’s not just about marketing yourself to prospects and candidates — it’s also about living up to those values with your existing employees, alumni, consumers, and customers. These groups are not as separate as they might appear at first glance: prospects and candidates can soon become employees, current employees can be ambassadors to those prospects and candidates (or they may leave the company and join the ranks of your alumni), and at any stage they can influence or become your customers and consumers.

Now let’s discuss how to refine your employer branding document into a pitch for why people should want to work for you, which will also help you design your careers page.

Creating your Employee Value Proposition (EVP)

An Employee Value Proposition (EVP) is a concise paragraph that communicates what makes your company a great place to work and what you can offer employees that’s unique. The EVP should consist of a few sentences that describe what your company does and what you stand for.

To get a sense of the hierarchy, you start with your employer brand which is a broad concept document with lots of information about your company’s identity. You structure that into answers to key questions about your company and job openings in your Recruiting Dossier. You highlight the most salient, evocative, and differentiated points from your employer brand and dossier in your EVP paragraph. Then you use the EVP as an outline of the top talking points for your careers page, with different sections supported by details from your employer branding document and dossier.

You’ll likely want to base your EVP on some surveys and focus groups with your current employees. That will help you understand why they find your company an appealing place to work and what benefits (beyond compensation and total rewards) they get out of working there. All your research can inform your employer branding doc, while the most commonly cited and memorable highlights make it into your EVP.

You can start with SignalFire’s Employee Value Proposition Template to build your own.

Here are a few key survey questions for your employees to help you determine your EVP:

  • Who are we as a company?
  • What do we do?
  • Why does it matter?
  • Why do people work here?
  • What do people like or dislike about working here?
  • Why do people leave?

This exercise can have a real impact on your business, as point-of-sale startup Clover Network found. They had a largely unknown brand and were trying to catch up to Square’s transaction volume. Their head of recruiting John Vormbaum led an EVP exercise that helped them better define their appeal to job candidates while simultaneously screening out those who were a poor fit. Clover was able to massively increase its rate of hiring, adding 135 engineers in 2017 without sacrificing quality at a cost per hire of just $7,000. The product improved, sales grew, and soon Clover was neck-and-neck with Square.

To achieve this same success, you need full buy-in from leadership and employees plus a mandate to change whatever necessary about your underlying culture and the brand it produces.

As we’ll cover in the following sections, there are tons of activities you can do to build your employer brand, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed. That’s why it’s helpful to have a clear and concise EVP that you can always come back to. If you’d like more perspectives on the topic, check out SignalFire’s EVP templatethis SHRM post on perfecting your EVP, and TalentLyft’s video and visual EVP walkthrough.

Distill your identity into a “Recruiting Dossier”

The next step is to turn your EVP into an external-facing “recruiting dossier” about why people would want to work for you that you can share with potential hires. This includes what sets you apart from the competition and what you are building, both on a team and company-wide scale.

In addition to defining the role and the ideal candidate, this dossier is your opportunity to highlight interesting details (only share what is public information) about your products/services, technical challenges, big ideas, team, culture, and anything that would attract talent to your organization. We were introduced to the dossier concept by recruiting firm Riviera Partners’ founders Ali Behnam and Michael Morrell, and it’s something we recommend for companies of any size.

A preview of the first section of the SignalFire Recruiting Dossier Template

The dossier can be used customized for different roles and departments. These can really come in handy when you know you’ll be hiring a lot for one specific team like Sales or Engineering. You’ll save yourself time in initial calls by addressing frequently asked questions in the dossier, and it’s always helpful to have materials you can link to or share with prospects. To get a feel for what yours should look like, this is an example of OneSignal’s (outdated but illustrative) 2018 recruiting dossier.

For more help with dossiers, here’s our full template (excerpt previewed below) to help you get started: The SignalFire Recruiting Dossier Template complete with two recruiting dossier examples from OneSignal created by their recruiting team’s George Deglin.

 

How SignalFire can help

Don’t want to handle this all by yourself? Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks most of the top tech talent in the Western world and can generate reports on the best and most hireable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is headed by former Facebook Talent leader Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to make sure you score your ideal hires. We made over 1000 job candidate intros to our portfolio companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 96 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor.

SignalFire’s Director of talent operations & development Crystal Guerrero

For first-time founders and serial entrepreneurs seeking a refresher, we start by offering a program based on my (Crystal Guererro) decade of experience leading talent operations for startups. We partner with founding teams to help them establish a world-class recruitment process. We refer to this as a “recruiting engine” — systems implementation, brand building, role definition, recruitment process, sourcing, interview training, and compensation benchmarking to enable teams to identify, attract, engage, close, and onboard top talent quickly and effectively.

This Startup Recruiting Guide is part of our Recruitment Process Optimization program where I work in tandem with our founders and talent teams to devise a comprehensive recruiting strategy, advise on systems development, and aid in recruiting execution via our various individual contributor talent pipelines as well as Beacon Talent. To support this program, the Talent Academy Playbook outlines the nuts and bolts of implementing a well-oiled recruitment machine which is a compilation of best practices and learning from my recruiting career. This should help guide your thinking as it relates to building your talent engine.

Subscribe for future chapters of SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide on building a careers page and sourcing job candidates

Employer branding tactics

Now that we’ve covered the essentials of what your employer brand is and how to match it to job candidates, let’s look at some of the tactics you can apply to your employer brand to recruiting.

Understanding your candidate audience

At its core, employer branding and careers pages are a type of marketing, which means that they rely on understanding your audience. If you don’t know who you’re trying to attract, how will you determine if your efforts are successful? First, you have to build out an ideal candidate persona.

Take the characteristics of your company culture and employee value proposition, and build a vision of someone who’d align with and appreciate them while fulfilling your open roles’ needs. Your candidate persona should include:

  • Work experience, education, and skills
  • Personality, principles, and goals
  • Work style and preferred environment
  • Where they’re reachable with marketing during hobbies, socializing, and job research
  • What selling points from your EVP and messaging will resonate

Take some time to define which characteristics of your company map most closely to your ideal candidate persona. Are you targeting engineers who value autonomy, junior employees seeking a career path, would-be parents excited by generous paid leave, or product managers who want to build a well-known product?

The best employer branding doesn’t just attract the right people to you — it also convinces some people that your company isn’t the best place for them, and that’s a good thing! It’s much better to hire people who have bought into your company culture so you can avoid the expense and frustration of losing people who are a poor fit.

By understanding some key information about your ideal candidates (where they live, which websites and apps they use, and what they value in a job and employer), you can be much more targeted and effective in creating all your employer branding materials across your site, ads, and communication to employees so they talk up your highlights. For more tips for becoming a recruitment magnet, check out The Right Resource & SignalFire’s Talent Branding 101 guide.

Personalized recruitment messaging

There is one branding tactic that costs essentially nothing while also yielding the highest ROI. When it comes to recruiting, there is no better strategy than: 1) knowing your ideal candidate persona and identifying the type of prospect who would find the role most intriguing and 2) creating a personalized message to engage them with your company. People want to feel seen by your company, not like just another generic seat-filler.

Your goal is to create a message that shifts the focus from being about your company’s needs to instead demonstrating your interest in the candidate and addressing their potential needs. If you do this well, not only will you engage more candidates, but you will also show passive candidates that your company is knowledgeable, thoughtful, considerate, and intentional in your approach to recruiting.

Personalized messaging can be segmented by the candidates you’re targeting or the medium through which you’re reaching them. You could mention you know they attended a company-related event, have a particular type of work experience, or have a mutual connection in your networks. If you have the time and staff to do custom 1-to-1 recruitment messaging, mentioning something specific the candidate has accomplished or mentioned on their social media can significantly improve conversion rates, though don’t go so far that it gets creepy. When contacting people directly, ensure your subject line or first sentence feels personalized or mention their name. Stripping out industry jargon that makes it sound like you’re just pasting in corporate talking points can also help.

When reaching out to a candidate, you should always think about how to speak to their needs. How is your opportunity a logical progression in their career? Whether you’re offering greater responsibilities, a larger team to manage, a bigger budget, or the opportunity to build their personal brand through more innovative work, it’s important to spend time crafting your pitch. Similarly, you’ll want to highlight why you’re reaching out to them specifically. What is it about their profile or background that sparked your interest?

Why does personalization matter? A prospect that receives a thoughtful and personalized message is much more likely to respond and be willing to hear about the opportunity, whether the timing is right or not. Responses are important because even if the person isn’t the right fit right now, your conversation can still lead to referrals and introductions to their friends and colleagues.

Employer branding vendors

There are a number of employer branding vendors that are worth investigating, including Glassdoor, LinkedIn, The Muse, and Job Portraits. These vendors offer various services to help you create employer branding content and advertise your job openings. It can be easy to dismiss them when you see the price tag but don’t do that. When you consider what you’d pay in agency fees to fill a single role, you’ll often get a better return on investment from an employer branding vendor, and you can get a lot of mileage out of the assets they create for you by sharing them on your website and through your social channels on an ongoing basis.

Social media

In order to widen the scope of your employer brand, you can create content to share on social media. The most common social media platforms that are used for employer branding include LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. Depending on the platform, you can opt to share videos, photos, links, or short or long-form text, and each platform gives you the option of reaching people “organically” (in other words, without paying), or through various types of paid advertising options if you want to expand your reach.

Look for ways to promote and celebrate the interesting things people at your company are doing — encourage them to share photos, videos, and status updates about work milestones, side projects, or company culture. Keep in mind that these types of posts don’t need to be too polished or professional — try to keep it real and give genuine insights into what it’s like to work at your company. We also recommend keeping a curated list of recent media/articles to share via email once a month (or around any big press releases or events). Send the link along with some recommended text that’s already formatted for social media so employees can easily copy and paste it to share via their preferred social media platforms.

Recess designs funny backdrops and inserts its product for visually appealing social media

Lyft highlights its presence at San Francisco’s Pride Parade to communicate its values through social media

If you don’t have a dedicated social media manager, or they’re struggling to create enough content, consider asking each employee to create one post per month of informative or entertaining content about your product or brand. Then your marketing or comms team can review and schedule them to post consistently so you’re always making use of your company and employees’ reach.

Blogging

Like social media, blogging allows you to share your message with a wider circle and can be a hugely valuable part of your employer branding strategy. You can also link to blog content from your social media platforms, helping to fill out your marketing calendar so you have plenty of things to post about.

If you already have a company blog, consider whether you want to publish employer branding posts there, or on a separate team- or recruiting-specific blog. Posts can include interviews with employees or guest articles written by people from various departments, photos and videos from company events, and anything else you think would be interesting and appealing to prospective candidates. If you don’t have a company blog set up, you may want to share blog posts on a third-party platform like Medium or LinkedIn that come with built-in distribution. Check out Flexport’s Engineering blog on Medium for an example of how to approach this.

Flexport uses a dedicated engineering blog to attract technical talent

Targeted ads

Targeted ads can help you market your employee value proposition to new audiences and people who have already visited your website, social media profiles, etc. Paying for targeted ads can be useful when you want to create multiple touchpoints for candidates and generate a sense of buzz about working at your company. However, they are typically too expensive for early-stage startups. Unless you’re filling multiple roles with the same title, have exhausted other outreach strategies like referrals, and desperately need to fill a position now, you’re better off relying on recruiters and your own labor to spread your employer branding. We’ll cover more cost-efficient ways to source job candidates in an upcoming chapter of the Startup Recruiting Guide, so subscribe here.

Show off your team! They are your best marketing collateral

One in four candidates views other employee profiles immediately after finding out about a job opportunity. Encourage your team to keep their online profiles up to date, and offer resources like quick email reminders, video tutorials, or in-person workshops to help accomplish this. Your employees can also build their personal brands (while contributing to your employer brand) by presenting on panels or writing guest posts in their area of expertise. Feature them on your blog and social media. If job candidates see you invest in your team’s long-term career success and highlight their accomplishments, you could become the next place they’re hoping to work.

Flock Freight highlights employees’ experiences working at the company on its blog

In an upcoming Startup Recruiting Guide chapter, we’ll show you how to build your employer brand into a careers page that can attract top talent. Subscribe here for more of SignalFire’s how-to guides & essays on startups trends.

Read next: How to make a startup hiring plan

How to make a startup hiring plan

About SignaFire’s Talent Program

Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks all the top tech talent in the Western world, and can generate reports on the best and most poachable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is led by former Facebook executive recruiter Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to ensure you score your ideal hires. We helped make over 1000 job candidate intros to our companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 96 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor. Want to start working with SignalFire’s Talent team? Contact this article’s author, our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero: [email protected]

Startup employee value proposition template

Why should someone want to work for you? Because you offer much more than just a salary. 

An Employee Value Proposition is a concise statement outlining what you offer employees that makes you a uniquely great place to work. Your EVP is the core of your employer branding efforts that will help you determine your key talking points for recruiting. It also serves as a tool for self-reflection. It can reveal shortcomings in your mission, values, company culture, benefits, and work environment. This template from our early-stage venture fund SignalFire will walk you through writing up your own EVP.

This template from our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero is part of SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide chapter on building your employer brand and careers page. To get the next chapters, including one dedicated to job descriptions, sign up here

EVP Plan

Purpose: This Employee Value Proposition (EVP) explains why [Company Name] is a great place for its employees to work and advance their careers. 

Goal: Determine key messages that our employer brand should convey to create distinction, build awareness, and attract top talent. Distill them into points you can use throughout your employer branding, including your recruiting dossier, careers page, and job descriptions.

Result: What does your completed EVP look like? A one- or two-paragraph description of your company identity and a set of bullet points about the five pillars of culture, compensation, work environment, benefits, and career advancement.

Process: By surveying our team, we can better understand the strengths we should communicate and the weaknesses we should improve upon.

EVP Research

Questions for our executives and employees:  

  • Who are we as a company?
  • What do we create or offer?
  • Why does it matter?
  • Who does it matter to?
  • Why do people want to be hired and keep working here?
  • What can we do to make the lives of our customers, communities, colleagues, and shareholders better long-term? 
  • How will the world improve if we succeed?
  • How can we align these goals and practices with growing our business? 
  • How would you describe our work hours, after-hours communication, and work environment?
  • Does the team participate in any traditions, rituals, or offsite events?
  • What is the most vivid aspect of the advantages of working for [Company name]? 
  • How can we convince the best talents to join us?
  • What do people like about working here?
  • How does the company support your personal and professional growth?
  • What about our leadership does or doesn’t give you confidence?
  • What do people dislike or think we could improve about working here?
  • Why do people depart the company, and what do they do next?
  • What would you tell someone about our company if they had never heard of us?

Question for top-performing employees:

  • Describe a specific moment you were proud to work at [Company name].
  • Describe the most recent time [Company name] empowered you to achieve a goal.
  • Why did you decide to join [Company name]?
  • Which words best describe the culture or work environment at [Company name?] 
  • What traits make for a successful employee at [Company name]?
  • What excites you about working at [Company name] each day? 
  • What’s your prediction about the future success of [Company name] and why?

Question topics:

To dig deeper into specific areas, ask for opinions about these particular policies and processes:

  • Compensation: Overall satisfaction, industry benchmarks, promotions and raises, bonuses
  • Benefits: Vacation, medical/dental/vision, parental leave, retirement
  • Culture: Mission, social responsibility, values, decision-making, autonomy, accountability, politics, diversity & inclusion
  • Work environment: Office quality, location, remote work policies, pets, social events
  • Career: Personal development resources, career paths, titles, mentorship

For more survey questions, check out this guide to EVP research from Job Portraits, and this list from TalentLyft.

Additional interviews:

Speak with the following groups will help you refine your answers: 

  • Executive leadership
  • Colleague focus groups
  • Employee resource groups
  • Human resources team
  • External communications teams including sales, marketing, comms, and social media

EVP Template

EVP outline

With the research fresh in your mind, outline your company identity within these five pillars of an employee value proposition:

  • Company culture – What are your values around team spirit, ethics, inclusion, and socializing?
  • Compensation – How much do you pay for what work/life balance compared to your industry?
  • Work environment – How you describe your office or remote work atmosphere and autonomy level? 
  • Benefits – What compensation and perks do you offer beyond wages?
  • Career advancement – How do you help teammates grow professionally?

EVP outline example

Here’s what your sets of bullet points on the five pillars of your EVP might look like:

  • Culture: Win as a team. Measure & iterate. A breadth of voices.
  • Compensation: Strong base pay. Bonuses for supporting the team. Carry to align with portfolio.
  • Career: Path to partnership. A fast-rising fund brand. Launch your own initiatives.
  • Benefits: Industry-leading parental leave. Unlimited vacation. Educational team events.
  • Work environment: Work-from-home until it’s safe. A bustling engineer-style office. Work autonomously, improve collectively.

Writing Your EVP Statement

The 4 elements of an EVP statement: Now refine these outlines into carefully worded messaging. Write out each of the following points into a sentence or two to create your paragraph-long EVP: 

  • Positioning statement: Conveys the overarching concept of who we are, what we value in colleagues, and why people should join our team. 
  • Pillars: Top themes from the surveys and interviews about what makes [Company name] unique and appealing. What you’ll communicate is 75% reality, 25% aspirational. 
  • Messaging outline: Highlight the most salient features of each pillar that make you unique.
  • Call to action: An anchor or theme within the messaging that unites the core points of your employer brand into a memorable incentive to join [Company name]. 

Hypothetical EVP:

We’re Transmission Capital, a late-stage venture fund offering growth capital to tomorrow’s greatest companies. Our culture matches the sales-minded companies we fund — constantly seeking a better way to connect and collaborate. Transmission Capital is seeking tomorrow’s best VC talent with a diverse range of perspectives. We offer industry-leading parental leave and career mentorship. If you want a seat at the table of a new style of venture fund, you belong at Transmission Capital.

Now you can apply your version messaging across your recruiting efforts so you’re always on-brand.

This template is part of SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide chapter on building your employer brand and careers page. To get the next chapter, sign up here.

If you’d like to learn more about our fund and talent program, you can contact the author, our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero, here: [email protected]

About SignaFire’s Talent Program

Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks all the top tech talent in the Western world, and can generate reports on the best and most poachable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is led by former Facebook executive recruiter Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to make sure you score your ideal hires. We helped make over 1000 job candidate intros to our portfolio companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 96 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor. Want to start working with SignalFire’s Talent team? Contact our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero here: [email protected]

Startup recruiting dossier template & examples

How do you convince people to work for you? By sending them a recruiting dossier — a document highlighting quick facts about your company as well as your purpose, perks, press, and open positions that you can send to job candidates. It’s like an employer brochure packed with reasons why you’re a great place to work.

Here we’ll walk you through each step of building your own recruiting dossier.

This template is part of SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide chapter on building your employer brand and careers page. To get the next chapter, sign up here

Startup recruiting dossier template

Quick Facts:

  • Focus: [Industry]
  • Founded: [Year]
  • Funding: [Series, Total, Lead Investors]
  • Headquarters: [Neighborhood, City, State]
  • Team Size: [X] Eng: [Y]
  • Website: [URL]

What We Do:

  • One-sentence description of your product
  • Two- to four-sentence explanation of the customer problem and how you solve it
  • One-sentence about how this impacts the world

Traction:

  • Ex. Revenue [if public]…
  • Ex. Daily users…
  • Ex. Engagement stats…
  • Ex. Major partnerships…
  • Ex. Awards or inclusion in Best Of lists…
  • Ex. Backing from top-tier venture capital firms
  • Ex. Hires from top companies and competitors

Reasons To Be Excited:

  • Two-sentence description of the major technology, design, and business challenges you’re facing that would create opportunities for accomplishment and career advancement for employees.
  • Three-sentence explanation of your progress in solving these technologies to demonstrate your momentum, milestones on the horizon, and your plan to address the remaining challenges where new hires could contribute.

What Differentiates Us From Our Competition:

  • A few bullet points on why you’re going to be the winner in your space and why that makes you the best place to work

Company Culture:

  • A few bullet points on your values such as autonomy, collaboration, work/life balance, diversity, work environment, and career path

Perks:

  • Ex. We’ve got you covered with the basics. We cover _% of insurance premiums for employee & _% for dependents, offer generous parental leave, flexible vacation time, and commuter benefits.
  • Ex. Mentorship opportunities & regular guest speakers
  • Ex. Daily catered meals & unlimited snacks
  • Ex. Wellness & health benefits (gym membership)
  • Ex. Paid parking or public transit pass
  • Ex. Quarterly outings, frequent team building, and group fitness challenges (cycling club, running club, book group)

Photo:

  • Photo illustrating your great company culture or perks

Pinterest features fun activities it hosts at its offices to show off its company culture

Executive Team:

  • “Name [linked to LinkedIn profile] – Title” for each co-founder and/or C-suite member

Press Links:

  • Headlines, publication names, and links to your best press coverage
  • Optional screenshot of featured article

Careers Page Link /Job Openings List:

Job titles with short descriptions for your open roles, each linked to a job opening on your careers page, or to anchor text/bookmark for that job opening in your dossier with more info on responsibilities and qualifications

  • Ex. Backend engineer –  Architect, build, and maintain server-side web apps
  • Ex. Business development manager – Lead sales strategy for biz dev reps while handling top customers

Visual Design

Once you have all or most of these elements, it’s time to format them into an appealing document.

Typically, recruiting dossiers are around two pages long. You’ll want to include your logo and screenshots or illustrations of your products. You might also add visualizations of your traction, logos of your customers or software stack, and photos showing off your company culture. Be sure to include an email address where candidates can get in touch, and links to your site or careers page.

Recruiting dossier examples: OneSignal

Now that you know what goes into a recruiting dossier, let’s take a look at this example from SignalFire portfolio company OneSignal, which makes push notification infrastructure.

You can see how OneSignal lays out what it does, quick facts about its traction, testimonials from customers, press clippings, what makes its business exciting, and why you’d want to join its engineering team. This dossier from 2020 takes a more visual, product-focused approach. It’d be perfect for sending over in an initial email exchange with a potential hire.

 

You can contrast that with OneSignal’s 2018 recruiting dossier, which they graciously let us use despite knowing it’s out of date.

Here the startup takes a more text-focused approach, outlining the company, funding, executive team, and blog posts while diving deeper into its engineering challenges and tech stack. By highlight exactly what its staff gets to build and how they work, this dossier appeals to ambitious programmers who want career growth opportunities.

This template is part of SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide chapter on building your employer brand and careers page. To get the next chapter, sign up here.

If you’d like to learn more about our fund and talent program, you can contact the author, our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero, here: [email protected]

About SignaFire’s Talent Program

Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks all the top tech talent in the Western world, and can generate reports on the best and most poachable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is led by former Facebook executive recruiter Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to make sure you score your ideal hires. We helped make over 1000 job candidate intros to our portfolio companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 96 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor. Want to start working with SignalFire’s Talent team? Contact our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero here: [email protected]

How to make a startup hiring plan

SignalFire’s guide to headcount planning, inclusive job descriptions, compensation benchmarking, and interviewer training

by SignalFire’s Crystal Guerrero, edited by Josh Constine

Headcount is your biggest expense, so it pays to plan ahead. You wouldn’t write code without knowing what you’re building, or make a sales call to a random phone number. It’s the same for recruiting. Mapping out the process means when you need to fill a role or talent falls in your lap, you’ll be ready to hire, smart, and fast.This guide is designed for founders, executives, and recruiters alike to sharpen their hiring skills regardless of budget or team size. Whether you’re a one-person hiring squad, an in-house team, or are working with recruiting contractors, we’ll teach you to:

  1. Develop a short- and long-term hiring plan

When should you develop a recruitment plan?

It’s never too early! Founders and CEOs should ideally start thinking about recruitment plans before they even have the money to pay for the talent. That way they can budget or raise to cover their future burn rates. Many investors like SignalFire prefer pitches that include a hiring plan so they know what funding will go towards and which key roles or weaknesses remain unaddressed. But let’s say that you’re coming to this realization a little later in your company’s history, like once you’ve made your first Talent/HR hire or assigned someone else to take ownership of recruiting like your COO or VP of Finance. You’ll still need to understand the process so you can evaluate your team’s work and align your efforts.

Why focus on recruiting so early in your company’s history?

If you only have a handful of employees, you might be hesitant to spend time at this stage improving your recruiting processes and operations. But founders often spend 70% of their time on recruiting. It’s the only way to actually gain time back by having people to which they can delegate tasks. Unfortunately, the explosion in startup formation has created a talent crunch. That means you can’t just be a great place to work or compensate well. You also have to know exactly who you need, when you need them, and how to run a swift and professional recruiting process to sign them.

It’s an especially tricky challenge because every startup wants to hire amazing talent, demand has drastically surpassed supply, and when you don’t have a process in place, everything is slower and less efficient. The stakes are high at this stage: Each subsequent hire will consider your existing team’s quality and culture when deciding whether to join. Great talent wants to work with and learn from other great talent. Meanwhile, diverse talent may be apprehensive about joining a homogeneous team. Putting in the work now means you won’t be digging yourself out of a hole in the future.

That said, don’t limit yourself to only senior employees at name-brand companies. While you might feel like nabbing some VP from Google means you’ve derisked your company, they can be hard to attract without huge cash compensation, and might not fit into a scrappier culture. Instead, look for first hires who could have made great co-founders.

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3 steps to launch your recruitment plan

Step 1: The approval: What is the process to open a role

You need to institute a standard approval process that happens every time you open a role. This process should apply to all departments and positions at all levels, including full-time regular, part-time regular, and temp positions. This process should account for A) budget and B) resources for someone (e.g. founder, executive, recruiter, hiring manager, or agency) to work on the role, and C) defining the role and responsibilities.

Initiating a hire

The hiring leader discusses new requisition needs with the decision-maker whenever a department has a need to:

  1. Open and recruit for a new position

The person who makes these approval calls could be the CEO or CFO, depending on your org structure.

Approving roles: A step-by-step guide

Here’s how to go from recognizing a role you need filled to kicking off recruiting. Remember that depending on your team size, the recruiter, hiring manager, head of HR, and even the founder could all be the same person.

  1. The hiring manager emails the decision-maker to request a new open position — this is called a requisition form. You can make this an easy-to-access template and post on your wiki for all hiring managers to access. This should include:
    • -Is this a new position, refill position, or temp position?
    • -Title
    • -Seniority level
    • -Who the person will report to
    • -Basic scope of the role/responsibilities/skillset required — attach job description if this is a refill for a past role
    • -Compensation benchmarks
    • -The decision-maker approves or rejects
  2. If approved, the requisition form is sent to HR (if you are a small team, this step may be handled by finance). It’s helpful to attach a job description at this point if it is available. For help, check out SignalFire’s job description template and our deep-dive into turning role needs into job descriptions later in this chapter.
  3. HR/Finance reviews the requisition form to verify that the job’s responsibilities, necessary skills, and compensation match the open role, and suggest edits if necessary.
  4. Once approved, HR/Finance updates the compensation benchmark spreadsheet with the new role’s compensation bands and shares with the hiring manager and CEO/Finance for final approval.
  5. The recruiter is given all relevant information and begins working with the hiring manager to launch the recruiting process.

For more on job requisitions, check out the Society for Human Resource Management’s approval process.

Compensation benchmarking

How much should you pay a software engineer? How about an intern vs a manager? How should that be divided between salary, bonuses, and equity? And how much equity should you provide in refresher grants over time? These are critical questions for both attracting and retaining talent, but also for hiring planning so you don’t outstrip your runway.

Hypothetical example, not based on real data

This downloadable compensation benchmark spreadsheet and template from Option Impact (dummy data set previewed above) includes recent data on expected ranges for engineering salaries, bonuses, and equity for a variety of seniority levels. While it’s not perfectly up to date and doesn’t take into account COVID-19 or remote work’s impact on compensation, it should give you a foundation for headcount planning. The additional tabs provide templates for building your own compensation workbooks for engineering, product, sales, marketing, and customer support.

You can click File->Download->Microsoft Excel to download the compensation example and templates for your own use. Check out Option Impact’s compensation data services based on 3000 participating companies for more resources like this look at Bay Area startup CEO compensation.

Given COVID-19 is pushing many companies to be remote-first, it may be appropriate to consider compensation changes for employees that move from near your headquarters to lower cost-of-living locations. Payscale’s calculator will show you the change in housing and living costs for moving between different cities.

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Payscale’s calculator

Step 2: Headcount and capacity: When to hire

Despite uncertainty, it’s important to maintain both a short- and mid-term hiring plan and document where you stand on recruiting each quarter. Tip: Investors and board members appreciate seeing these quarterly checkups in your updates to them.

If you are fortunate enough to have someone besides a founder leading talent acquisition, it’s important to give them (your recruiter, people ops, HR team) guidelines in the form of a headcount plan and forecast. Like salespeople, recruiters are often working with pipelines and managing connections with job candidates over time, so giving them insight into future hiring needs will help them nurture the right relationships.

There are two major points to consider: headcount planning, which is defined as deciding which new employees you’ll be adding to your organization and the rough timeline this will follow, and capacity planning, which is considering how many roles your recruiter will be able to take on at any given time.

Headcount planning

The budgeting process for new headcount typically happens early in Q4 for the following year. At this point, all new positions are discussed and go through the annual budgeting process for planning and approval.

In many cases, circumstances will dictate additional headcount needs outside of the already approved roles. In this case, there should be a discussion justifying the new approval so that the team is aligned as to why the role is being prioritized over the formerly planned roles. The whole team must understand that the recruiter will not be expected to work on or source candidates for un-approved roles.

The executive team should decide how to prioritize roles — determine which three to five you’d like the recruiter to focus on and what ranking roles come in after that. It’s also a good idea to come up with a plan for handling backfill if an existing team member leaves. Be sure to prepare for scenarios where you need to ramp your headcount plan up or down depending on fluctuations in runway or unexpected cash crunches.

Here are a few points to consider when defining your headcount plan and forecast:

  • Which people do you need today, in two quarters, in a year, or even later? If you’re looking to hire mostly executives in a short timeframe, you’ll probably want to work with external recruiters from a capacity standpoint. If you only want to hire a few individual contributors, an in-house recruiter should be able to handle that.

Capacity planning

You need to develop a realistic workload for your recruiters to avoid burning them out. This is why it’s helpful to create a framework for defining the complexity of roles. For example, recruiting software Greenhouse’s 5-point scale allows you to assign a difficulty index to each role. Roles that are easy to fill or already exist and require little setup (e.g. adding another SDR to your team when you already have one) get a score of 1. Roles that are higher levels of seniority or require specialized skills (e.g. senior software engineers or executives) get a score of 5. Recruiters can typically fill around 12 points a quarter, so using this approach can help create alignment around priorities and realistic expectations.

You’ll want to measure or at least estimate your recruiting yield ratio. This is defined as how many candidates will you need to source and move through each phase of the interview funnel to reach your hiring goals.

Here’s a hypothetical recruiting yield ratio pyramid from Workable, though your numbers will vary widely.

Hiring managers and recruiters will work closely throughout the entire recruiting process (which could be quite lengthy if you’re looking for an especially tough-to-fill role), so they need to be on the same page from the outset. Be sure to spend time defining roles and responsibilities as well as creating realistic expectations about how long different steps will take. Hiring is a full-time job, so factor in all the work!

Check out these resources to learn more about recruiter capacity planning:

Step 3: Roles: Who you need to hire

When considering who to hire, start with the big picture: What’s the ideal composition of your company? What distribution of experience do you need? Then you can zero in on questions like what each incremental hire will bring to the table and how to optimize your hiring order. Your management team should discuss upcoming hiring needs within each management meeting. These conversations should then be factored into the company’s annual hiring plan to make sure that growth projections are being hit and the budget is not being compromised.

When you’re ready to think about individual roles, the hiring manager and recruiter should work together to create a detailed job description. We often recommend asking the hiring manager to articulate their needs for the approval process first and then to go back later with the recruiter to refine them at the start of the search.

Here are the questions that should guide these discussions, both at the leadership and hiring manager levels:

  • Why are we adding this role?

Resources in this section:

External links in this section:

How SignalFire can help

Don’t want to handle this all by yourself? Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks most of the top tech talent in the Western world and can generate reports on the best and most hirable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is headed by former Facebook Talent leader Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to make sure you score your ideal hires. We made over 1000 job candidate intros to our portfolio companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 96 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor.

SignalFire’s Director of talent operations & development Crystal Guerrero

For first-time founders and serial entrepreneurs seeking a refresher, we start by offering a program based on my (Crystal Guererro) decade of experience leading talent operations for startups. We partner with founding teams to help them establish a world-class recruitment process. We refer to this as a “recruiting engine” — systems implementation, brand building, role definition, recruitment process, sourcing, interview training, and compensation benchmarking to enable teams to identify, attract, engage, close, and onboard top talent quickly and effectively.

This hiring plan guide is part of our Recruitment Process Optimization program where I work in tandem with our founders and talent teams to devise a comprehensive recruiting strategy, advise on systems development, and aid in recruiting execution via our various individual contributor talent pipelines as well as Beacon Talent. To support this program, the Talent Academy Playbook outlines the nuts and bolts of implementing a well-oiled recruitment machine which is a compilation of best practices and learning from my recruiting career. This should help guide your thinking as it relates to building your talent engine.

Service Level Agreements For Hiring Teams

How to create clear tasks and timelines for everyone who’s involved in the hiring process.

So much of recruiting relies on timing. If you’re too slow to follow up, schedule interviews, or make an offer, chances are that promising candidates will get snatched up by another company. But many steps in the hiring process depend not just on a single person but the coordinated efforts of several people. This is why it’s so important to commit to timelines, deliverables, and success metrics so you can move candidates through the pipeline quickly.

Service Level Agreements (or SLAs from here on out) clearly spell out exactly what each team member is responsible for and the timeframe they have to complete each task. SLAs will help you make more offers, get more candidates to sign, and bring your company that much closer to a world-class team.

Which SLAs should you assign?

The charts below provide an outline of what generally happens in each stage of the hiring process along with some recommended timelines for the recruiter, hiring manager, recruiting team (which may overlap in smaller teams), and the decision-maker (who may be the CEO, Head of Finance, or Head of People). Take a look and consider how these map to the people and processes at your company.

You can use this template below to make your own hiring SLA with tasks each role is responsible for.

How long should it take to complete each task?

Time kills all deals. To put it simply, you want to move as quickly as possible in every stage while accurately assessing candidate value.Still, you need a realistic time frame for each task. These numbers will vary depending on complexity and seniority of the role, the recruiter’s existing bandwidth, etc., so consider them a rough guideline:

  • Hiring manager completes initial job description: 1 week

Hold a kickoff meeting with stakeholders to decide which tasks and time frames should be included in your SLAs. Consider how you’ll hold people accountable to them. For example, you may want to incorporate SLAs into their goals or performance evaluations.

Grade your experience

You’ll also want to gather insight from the candidates who are going through this process. A candidate experience survey can help you collect data to identify if there are any slowdowns or inefficiencies they perceived in the process.

You can use Google Forms, Typeform, Survey Monkey, or another survey tool.Here are examples of a candidate experience surveys to get you started. You can see what the survey should look like in PDF form, and copy text from the Google Docs versions to paste into your own surveys:

  • SignalFire’s Candidate Experience Survey — Downloadable PDF

Defining who you want to hire

Creating a detailed job description that can be used both internally and externally to promote a role.

Your team needs to be able to align around the skillset and qualities that will make someone successful in this role. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting candidates’ time — and your own.

One of the best ways to come to a consensus on your ideal candidate is by crafting a detailed job description. Think of this as a piece of marketing collateral: It should speak directly to candidates and convince them why your company is the perfect place for them. We made this startup job description template to help you out.

Hiring manager kickoff

Before you get started on the actual job description, the hiring manager needs to carefully consider the ideal candidate for this role. What type of company do they currently work for? What are some keywords that define their work to date? What specific work experience and personality traits do they have? We know these are deep questions, which is why we’ve created the Hiring manager kickoff document to walk you through these major categories. Plan to spend about an hour conducting the research and filling out the document, and then you can continue on to the next section. Don’t worry — we’re not going anywhere. This is what we do.

The key elements of a job description

It can be tempting to turn a job description into a wish list of everything your company wants. But if the description seems too broad or demanding, it can scare off applicants. Instead, try to frame your job description in a way that puts the candidate first. Why should they be interested in this role? What will they get, both personally and professionally, by joining your company? This will boost your rate of inbound applications and outbound recruiter response rate.

Here are a few points you should aim to include:

  • Brief description of the company’s product, purpose, and mission

That might seem like a lot to include, but you shouldn’t just lay out a laundry list of prerequisites and projects they’ll work on. Tell them what they’ll actually spend their days doing.Most importantly, you want your job description to be unique. Candidates will likely be comparing yours to several similar roles at other companies and you don’t want to get lost in the crowd. Don’t be afraid to add a little flavor from your work environment and company culture.

Check out SignalFire’s job description template for a deeper look at all the major components. We recommend having hiring managers and recruiters partner on writing this up. Remember that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. You can recycle some wording from previous job descriptions, especially when it comes to your perks, benefits, and company culture.

A note about inclusive job descriptions

Research has shown that the language in job descriptions can affect how they’re perceived by candidates and discourage certain groups from applying. There are a few steps you can take to create more inclusive job descriptions. Here are a few examples:

  • Use gender-neutral terms like “they/them”, “applicants” or “the candidate”, not “he or “she”

To learn more about inclusive language in your job descriptions, see: 5 Must-Dos for Writing Inclusive Job Descriptions.

Textio‘s unbiased writing tool

Resources in this section:

External links in this section:

Choosing & Training Your Hiring Team

How to train your hiring team to conduct consistent interviews and provide vivid candidate feedback

Anyone who joins your company is going to change the team dynamic, and this is especially true when you’re small and early stage. They’ll be communicating and collaborating with the rest of your squad, so it’s critical to have other team members participate in the interview process and consider who would be the best addition to your company. Plus, interviewing is tough and time consuming. The burden shouldn’t only rest on the hiring manager’s shoulders. Spread the love (or to be more accurate, the workload)!

How to choose your hiring dream team

You’re looking to create the right mix of people who can handle the two major tasks in an interview: the assessment and the sell. You need talented specialists and team leaders who can judge the candidates on the skills required for the role, and evaluate how they’ll add to your culture. Meanwhile, you need friendly and persuasive team members to represent your organization in an authentically positive light, and effectively “sell” the role and your company to convince candidates to accept your offer.

Start by reviewing your job description and outlining the key skills you’re trying to assess. Consider which employees would be well suited to evaluate candidates on these skills. If you’re hiring into an existing team that already has a few members, some should definitely be part of the hiring team. If you’re building out a new team that doesn’t have other members yet, you can pull in leaders from other departments in order to get perspective from people with broader work experience.

You may also want to think about conducting cross-functional interviews to get a better sense of the candidate’s personality and general work style. That means including some interviewers for assessing technical skills, and others to judge culture fit. If you’re still relatively small and your executives have the bandwidth to do so, we recommend having your CEO or co-founder participate in the interview process as well.

In addition to the hiring manager, consider one or two interviewers from the same team, one or two cross-functional interviewers, your CEO or co-founder, and potentially one or two hiring team members who can participate in a more casual way, such as taking the candidate to a [virtual] lunch or coffee, conducting the culture-add interview, or participating in the take-home assignment presentation.

Each interview should include no more than four interviewers. That will keep you from soaking up too much of your employees’ time, and ensure everyone has space to participate. If you find some of your hiring team to be off-putting to candidates, it’s important to pull them out of the process as soon as possible so they don’t scare away hires.

How to train your hiring team

Next, you’ll want to create a training experience so that all interviewers use a consistent process for evaluating and giving feedback on candidates. Even if members of your hiring team have conducted interviews before, you’ll probably want them to participate in order to brush up their skills and align them with your company’s unique process. Interview consistency is key because otherwise you’ll have no way to accurately compare candidates who met with different hiring teams or answered different questions. That can allow too much subjectivity or bias to creep in. Most modern applicant tracking systems will provide a scorecard system to make consistency easier.

Illegal interview questions from TheBalance

Here are a few other topics to consider for your training:

Many companies will hold an in-person interviewer training class on a regular basis (e.g. once per quarter) and may require each new interviewer to complete additional online training courses that cover other topics. Some aspects of interviewing are clear cut: There are questions that you absolutely can’t ask candidates, such as their age, race, ethnicity, gender, religion, disabilities, and marital status, for example (for more on non-compliant interview questions, see this article). But there are also many elements of interviewing that can vary from company to company, including the format and length of interviews and processes for collecting and reviewing feedback. We’ll go deeper into all the questions to ask during interviews in future recruiting guide blog posts.

Be sure to schedule time as soon after interviews as possible to sync up with the interviewing team and confer about the candidate. This lets you have the most vivid discussion possible with impressions fresh in everyone’s mind. It also lets you compress the interviewing timeline so you can make an offer or move on to more candidates as quickly as possible. This is particularly critical after the final interview because delays can cause candidates to lose enthusiasm or let other hirers swoop in.

Remember you don’t need a unanimous decision from the hiring team. You’re not looking for the least offensive average of all skills and traits. You want someone who’s the best in the room at something to help level up your company. Still, you’ll need buy-in from at least the key decision makers and people working closest to the new hire.

We recommend dedicating some of your training time and resources to raising awareness of unconscious bias, which has become a hot topic in the interviewing world lately, and goes hand in hand with creating a more diverse and inclusive company. Everyone has natural preferences which can unintentionally shape their opinions of candidates. These can make it more difficult for people from underrepresented backgrounds to get hired, and wrongly favor candidates with similar work or education histories to founders and early team members. Many companies have begun to offer unconscious bias training to help limit some of this bias and make their hiring practices more inclusive. These two blog posts by the recruiting team at Cockroach Labs are a great introduction to this topic: How We’re Fighting Unconscious Bias and Open Sourcing the Interview to Reduce Unconscious Bias.

To the same effect, you shouldn’t tolerate intolerant behavior from candidates. Remind your hiring team to be on the lookout for culture red flags like inappropriate jokes or casual sexism.

Optimize your hiring team

Once you have created or selected a training program, all interviewers should be required to complete it before participating in the interview process. Send out the message that interviewing is both a big responsibility and a badge of honor (not a chore!) — only high-performing employees who embody the company values should be invited to participate in the process. Remember that the individuals you choose to participate in the interview process are representatives of the company and you should be confident in their evaluation and decision-making skills. Consider if there’s a modest gift or reward you can share with employees for being pulled into the interview process given it will eat up time from their primary role.

After you’ve established a cohort of experienced interviewers, you can also create an interview shadowing process, allowing a fresh group of team members to sit in on interviews with more experienced interviewers. While this involves some extra bandwidth initially, it will ultimately expand your number of available interviewers, allowing people to sub in as necessary when someone is not available. This also helps to avoid interviewer burnout and interview scheduling delays while bringing diversity of perspective to evaluations.

Now you should understand how to develop your hiring plan, approve a new role, build out your hiring team, divide tasks, write job descriptions, fire up a recruiting process, and prepare for interviews. Sign up for our next chapter to learn about the hiring funnel. We’ll explore how to source job candidates and move from initial contact to final-stage interviews. To be invited to the next expert talent council event, email our Director of Talent Operations & Development Crystal Guerrero at [email protected]

Image for post

Resources in this section:

External links in this section:

General interviewing resources:

Professional interviewing help:

Compliance trainings, anti-harassment, unconscious bias training, and diversity & inclusion training:

  • Everfi: HR, compliance, and risk training

Subscribe for the latest SignalFire how-to guides & startups trends

About SignaFire’s Talent Program

Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks all the top tech talent in the Western world, and can generate reports on the best and most poachable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is led by former Facebook executive recruiter Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to ensure you score your ideal hires. We helped make over 1000 job candidate intros to our companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 96 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor. Want to start working with SignalFire’s Talent team? Contact this article’s author, our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero: [email protected]

Startup job description template

A list of essential components for writing job listings

by Crystal Guerrero, edited by Josh Constine

A boring job description implies a boring job. By instead communicating the opportunities for career growth instead of just the responsibilities and qualifications, your open positions will help fill themselves. Here we’ll lay out a template for writing an appealing job description.

This template from our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero is part of SignalFire’s hiring plan guide. To get our next startup recruiting how-to guide, sign up here

Job Description Template

[JOB TITLE] Senior Product Manager

[ROLE DESCRIPTION: Overview of the job’s responsibilities and challenges]

[Company name] is seeking an experienced senior product manager who can contribute to… A PM at [Company name] has “full stack” product responsibilities including working hand-in-hand with our designers, engineers, customer success representatives, and sales teams to deliver a timely, high-quality product.

We are interested in a PM who has [this work experience] who can apply [these skills]. The person who will be most successful in this role has [work style traits] and can [solve challenges particular to the job].

[DESIRED JOB CANDIDATE VALUES] Who will love this job:

  • [Attracted to a specific challenge we’re tackling]

  • [Work style trait that gels with our culture]

  • [Alignment with company mission]

[RESPONSIBILITIES] What you’ll be responsible for:

  • Owning the … strategy of the platform

  • Collaborating with … to prioritize features on the roadmap

  • Driving…

  • Working with the … team to develop…

[QUALIFICATIONS/DESIRED TRAITS] What we look for in a candidate:

  • Strong … skills

  • Passion for…

  • …experience a plus

[WHAT WE OFFER] Perks at [Company name]:

  • Competitive salary, bonus, & equity packages

  • 401(k) retirement plan

  • Pre-tax health care, dependent care, and commuter benefits (FSA)

  • Flexible medical, dental, and vision benefits for you and your family

  • Life insurance & disability insurance

  • Parental leave

  • Fitness discounts for gyms or home equipment

  • Unlimited paid time off

  • Option to work 50% of your time in [location X] satellite office

  • Free catered lunches and dinners for in-person employees, and meal stipends for remote employees

  • Office social events including happy hours, parties, and community service projects

  • Fully paid on-site parking, local commuter pass

  • $10,000 referral bonus for new hires

  • Apple laptop and ergonomic home office stipend

  • Employee activity groups for runners, cyclers, rock climbers…

  • Much more

[WHO WE ARE] About Us:

[Paragraph outlining the following: Product description, customers or demographics using the product, location, well-known investors, advisors, executives, and the company mission]

Diversity Commitment: We are focused on building a diverse and inclusive team. We welcome people of all backgrounds, experiences, abilities, and perspectives and are an equal opportunity employer. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, marital status, veteran status, or disability status.

Learn more at [company website link].

Spotify starts by breaking down its job listings into broad categories and acquired companies

This template is part of SignalFire’s startup hiring plan guide. To get our next recruiting how-to guide, sign up here.

About SignaFire’s Talent Program

Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks all the top tech talent in the Western world, and can generate reports on the best and most poachable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is led by former Facebook executive recruiter Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to ensure you score your ideal hires. We helped make over 1000 job candidate intros to our companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 96 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor. Want to start working with SignalFire’s Talent team? Contact this article’s author, our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero: [email protected]

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