How to Recruit Like NYC’s Smartest Talent Acquisition Executives

Few professionals outside recruiting teams understand how much discipline, thought, and strategy goes into finding and ultimately hiring candidates. Recognizing this, we created #ScoutingTalent as a way to not only unite the talent acquisition community but also share their struggles, strategies and best practices with the wider tech community.

Below are what we consider to be the top 4 tips from our first panel.

  1. Use the right metrics to measure success.
  2. Combat bias (unconscious or otherwise) directly.
  3. Carefully craft your candidate experience.
  4. Advocate for your team and manage expectations.

Watch the whole event to extract your own key takeaways.

#1 Use the right metrics to measure success.
One constant in recruiting is the pressure to quickly fill open positions. However, simply evaluating your team’s success based on how long it takes to fill a position is often counterproductive. Instead, set up a series of thoughtful benchmarks to learn how well you’re converting at each stage of the recruiting funnel. At the most basic level your team should start by measuring how many people are going from: (1) applicant to interview, (2) interview to offer, (3) offer to hire.

“Time to fill [a position] doesn’t matter. Look at conversion metrics instead.” — Lorraine Buhanic, AppNexus

Over-emphasizing time to hire also places more weight on speed than quality of fit. Natalie Ledbetter from Curalate stressed how critical it is to look at post-hiring metrics. At Curalate all hiring managers complete a survey at the 90 day mark: “How long did it take this hire to get up to speed?” “Would you hire this person again?”

Once you establish that your team is setting proper benchmarks and that your process is leading to long-term hires, you’re in a better position to explore ways to streamline your overall recruiting strategy.

#2 Combat bias (unconscious or otherwise) directly.

While many companies publicly accept the need for and benefits of workplace diversity, too few succeed when it comes to building a truly diverse team. Fortunately, our panelists shared a number of suggestions on how to build a team with varied backgrounds.

  • Minimize bias through training. While bias cannot be removed entirely, training helps to reduce its effect. If you’re a part of a small team or start-up, lean on great resources from larger companies (View: Facebook’s guide on managing bias.
  • Include an employee who would not directly interact with a candidate to participate in the interview process. They will bring a more neutral point of view and help to “cross-validate” applicants.
  • Have a diverse set of employees interview every candidate. For example, don’t have only men vet engineering talent. If necessary, small teams or startups can call on a trusted external advisor to provide another point of view.

“If your core values lead you to hire the same person over and over again it’s time to go back to the drawing board.” — Natalie Ledbetter, Curalate

It is tempting to go after an easy hire. Resisting this temptation makes your company stronger in the long run.

#3 Carefully craft your candidate experience.

As an advocate for both your company and your prospects, you need to make sure both sides are properly prepped prior to an interview.

When you’re dealing with your colleagues it is critical to integrate into their workflow as much as possible (ask them how to communicate, create a Slack channel/group). This ensures your search is aligned with their needs. It also makes it easier to review the questions and share candidate information with everyone participating in the process. Your goal is to make sure people aren’t walking into the interview with little or no knowledge of the applicant.

“If you can snatch candidates off the market, the faster the better.” — Charlie Keinath), Intersection

For job seekers you want to make the process flow seamlessly. Give them an indication of the day to day life of your company, and let them know you’re considerate of their needs — this is as easy providing an advanced schedule of the day’s interview process. The upside to more productive interviews is that they help you collect relevant feedback in a more timely manner.

#4 Advocate for your team and manage expectations.

Clearly convey to your organization/managers what your team needs to be successful. When your team needs additional resources reframe the conversation around expenses to consider the return on investment (ROI) of making a strong hire.

“Be honest when you’re having trouble with a position. Be up front. Bring them into your world, maybe there is a ‘plan b’ that you don’t know about.” — Loren Boyce, Digital Ocean

It is also incredibly important to understand which hires are most critical to a company at any given time. This helps you better target your sourcing efforts while creating the opportunity to communicate whether your team possesses the necessary resources to grow at the speed management expects. When growth expectations are beyond what your team can reasonably deliver patiently make a data-backed appeal to obtain the support you need.

Lastly, team up with all invested parties to understand the acceptable salary bounds for every position. When applicable, lean on your VC’s to obtain salary estimates for various roles to help your team set an appropriate contract. Be flexible and adaptable. For instance, if you surface a remarkable candidate who is interested but more expensive than the budget allows, work with the hiring manager to make a business case for making an offer to this person.


Thank you to our panelists & attendees and to Digital Ocean for sharing your event space!

Recruit like NYC hero panel

Our team was ecstatic to see so many of NYC’s leading talent acquisition professionals at our very first event. The turnout was entirely thanks to our moderator (Dave Carvajal) and panelists (Natalie Ledbetter, Loren Boyce, Lorraine Buhanic, and Charlie Keinath). Thank you, all! It is your expertise that drew such a great crowd and your insightful discussion that made the night a success.

Schedule a Demo