How one company has hacked recruiting without a recruiter – and saved $500k in the process

Finding top talent and a perfect fit without using a recruiter can be done

Simple Mills, a rapidly growing Chicago-based food startup, has built its entire organisation based on hiring people with passion – and they’ve done it all without the help of a recruiter.

Recruiter fees equate to 20 – 25% of first hire salary – if you’re a company with a payroll of $2m, this can save you $500k. Not only that, but when you work without the help of recruiters, you can end up with better talent for your company.

This is the recruiting formula that Simple Mills uses and swears by:

  1. Use the right tools

Simple Mills top tool for recruiting is LinkedIn.  They use LinkedIn Recruiter Lite, which comes with a whole host of search functions – everything from how long candidates have been in their current role, how many years’ experience they have, industry, past or current companies, company suggestions, title, job function – all of these are found by using filters. This enables you to be super precise and targeted with your search.

  1. Get support

Use a hiring manager to help you search for the right fit. Simple Mills has a dedicated hiring manager who has a background in HR and she now conducts every candidate search.  Each search will take 8+ hours before you even begin reaching out to candidates. The great thing about having a dedicated hiring manager is that they know the company inside and out – they know what you’re passionate about and what makes people successful in their roles.

  1. Identify your target

Search boundaries are defined by the traits that the candidate is required to have – be super specific. Create a thesis of what you may be looking for.  Simple Mills says that for VP of Operations, they wanted a strong, detailed-oriented leader who was process-focused and who had worked in CPG plants. Because of that, they had a thesis that they were looking for someone in a current operations role at a large CPG company, 10+ years into their career, located in Chicago, background with a large consulting firm, and an interest in natural food. These are all things you can search for using LinkedIn’s search functions.  As a result they found Peter.. who turned out to be a great fit! You are able to be more specific here than if you used a recruiter.

  1. Refine

Not everyone that turns up in the search results will be a good fit. Reviewing candidates will be the most lengthy part of this process.  For key roles, you will usually end up with a shortlist and may have to revise your search criteria slightly.  Your first thesis likely won’t be right, but this learning is valuable because it helps you narrow down what you’re looking for, meanwhile learning how other companies are structured in your industry.

  1. Reach out

Don’t be afraid to reach out to potential candidates that fit your search criteria. LinkedIn allows you to attach a job description, to your messages too. Don’t just reach out to everyone – select carefully because you do want to be authentic in your outreach when you say you think the person could be a good fit.

This process is great because it captures people who otherwise wouldn’t show up in your process – or who perhaps may not be actively looking for a new role. It doesn’t just help save on your recruiter fees either. Some recruiters will come back later and poach your people. Or they’ll pitch candidates who aren’t a fit because it’s somebody already in their network. An internal recruitment strategy results in greater control for you – and people who stay with you long term.

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The British Institute of Recruiters is the Professional Body operating The Recruitment Certification Scheme

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