I am sure the epithet recruiter is not something PG will lay claim to, but the facts speak for themselves. Their recruiting program may have developed organically but the new application that lets would be aspirants apply to all of the YC companies at once, makes it clear that recruiting hackers is one of the factors that drives the YC startup creation engine.
For an example of a world class technical recruiting program, look no further than Y Combinator.
Sequoia Capital calls Y Combinator “The startup scouting system”. It could just as easily be called “the hacker scouting system”.
Yes, I have written about this topic before. In Paul Graham is Seilling the Children I described (a bit tongue in cheek) how PG cannot go wrong in making money from the YCombinator investments.
The premise was simple. Pay about $ 6,000 for an engineer that will be worth between $ 500k to $ 1 M+ at acquisition. The product doesn’t matter that much. Maybe they make something that generates revenue, but even if they don’t, a talent acquisition can still make a good return. (Parakey, Divvyshot, reMail)
Take a look at this recent interview where he states “the founder is a lot more important than the idea” about 42 seconds in ( a bit out of context, sure, but the point is, YC has more of a recruiting bias than a business idea bias).
A highly successful recruitment program consists of the following components;
Sell your Dream: Why work for the Man when you can start a company, make something people want and possibly get rich.
Build and Nurture a Talent Pool: The YC alumni network alone is probably approaching 1,000 hackers. Add that to the participants on HackerNews, the potentially thousands of companies that apply every year, and it is clear that YCombinator has amassed the largest affinity network of hackers, startup founders and would be start up teams in the world. They also host their version of a Job Fair where the portfolio companies present to groups of vetted candidates.
The latest creation of http://ycommonapp.com/ further increases the reach of the Y Combinator recruiting effort and helps them build an even larger talent pool with the promise of introducing you to 30 startups for 10 minutes of effort .
Source candidates from the Professional Graph: YC companies have been known to acquire each other, presumably these are hackquisitions, (acquiring company for the hackers) “hey I think I coined a phrase”. They regularly hire from other YC companies. They also promote YC through the growing professional network of portfolio companies, their employees, mentors/advisors and investors.
Utilize Social Media: http://paulgraham.com/articles.html and http://news.ycombinator.com/ PG’s series of essays is widely read and each new entry is propigated around the web. NewsYC is a highly engaged community of startup enthusiasts, hackers and has probably the best discussions of all things technical on the web.
Generate Media Buzz: YC companies probably get a dis proportionate quantity of ink on TechCrunch.
Stay on Message: Hackers good:Suits Bad. Read any of these articles and you will see the recurring theme…. http://www.paulgraham.com/future.html or http://paulgraham.com/yahoo.html or http://www.paulgraham.com/boss.html
With a pool worth over a $ Billion dollars (acquiring value) of engineering talent to draw upon, it is clear that the YC recruiting effort is paying off. This fact, I’m sure is not lost on Sequoia Capital and well worth a $ 10 million investment, to tap into.
What does this have to do with Your Company?
First of all, realize that recruiting is a form of direct marketing. Then notice that the marketing YC is doing is permission based.
Your company should; know the audience that will be receptive to the message and focus on that group. Craft a story that will be attractive and draw candidates into the talent pool. Then promote the opportunities on multiple fronts using traditional media, social media and professional networking.
One can only hope to be as effective as Y Combinator at recruiting. What you can do is take these concepts and adapt them to your program to attract and build your talent pool.
What do you think your company can take from the YC recruiting playbook to improve your results?