When Alison Alvarez is advertising jobs for BlastPoint, the startup she co-founded, she tries to focus on growth opportunities and flexibility.
“It’s what you’ve got if you are a startup,” she said.
Small teams compete for potential hires with tech giants like Google and Facebook, she said, so they have to appeal to job seekers with those priorities instead of salary.
Founded in 2016 and based in Pittsburgh, BlastPoint helps businesses use big data and maps and now has an eight-person team that includes five women. For the past year, the team has grown by about one hire per quarter and continues to grow. Alvarez said she will soon post two more jobs. To fill those positions. she’ll lean on her own “diverse and far-reaching network,” online ads, and local organizations.
But while a growing team is a sign of success, it’s not something all startup founders are experienced with like Alvarez.
“It’s a multiple whammy situation,” Paul Bradley Slay said of hiring at startups.
These are small teams that are typically focused on things like market validation and growing the customer base, and recruiting is not their area of expertise, he said. Plus, the candidate pool is often smaller for startups looking for someone with a specific skill set who is willing to join a new company.
As Pittsburgh’s startup scene continues to grow, two new startups here (including one that Slay co-founded) exist to help other small companies do just that — recruit, hire and expand their teams.
A recruiting mindset
At AlphaLab and AlphaLab Gear Demo Day in October, those two Pittsburgh-based companies took the stage to show off how they help build other companies.
Everhire gives tech startups access to a national network of recruiters and streamlines that process. Founded in April 2017, Everhire works with tech startups of all sizes — largely in Pittsburgh, D.C., and across the East Coast — and with recruiters across the country to find candidates with the right job experience, because it’s easier for companies to find entry-level employees, Slay said.
Co-founder Yannick Cohen dreamed up Everhire when he was working at a D.C. startup and saw how difficult and expensive it was to build out a five-person engineering team, Slay said. “He was coming at it from a real-world pain point.” Cohen and Slay later moved Everhire from D.C. to Pittsburgh to join AlphaLab.
Meanwhile, Women’s Job Search Network aims to be an all-encompassing resource for women. Founded by Tracy Saunders in May 2018, the network fills a gap she saw.
It allows women to find everything they need, from how to figure out what’s next to how to get resumes past AI filters to how to be more confident. It’s a resource for women at various stages who are trying to figure out where they fit, Saunders said.
Branding through job postings
When it comes to hiring at startups, a job description goes a long way.
Take Pittsburgh startup Ikos, which streamlines the rental process for landlords and apartment hunters. The company ramped up hiring earlier this year, doubling the team, and is planning for that to continue as people look for new apartments in the new year.
Christine Marty Kotecki joined the team in October as its director of people development and leads hiring, as well as leadership development and support for staff.
Being at a startup allows for the flexibility to really think about what’s in the job listing and remove barriers for qualified candidates, she said, adding that diversity and inclusion is top of mind in hiring.
That awareness of company branding is exactly what companies need to do when they are hiring, Sauders added. “When women look for work, they’re thinking how is this next job going to improve the quality of their lives?”
She said often times, startups tell her that their whole team is male and they need women. “But it’s not easy for any company to hire women in tech … If they are working, they aren’t looking for jobs.”
Slay said one of the ways Everhire aims to help startups is by partnering with them to be more direct about their hiring process.
It’s always better to hire early than late, added Alvarez, who said she’s adopted the philosophy that it’s either going to be “that ideal person or that ideal time slot — and not one or the other.”