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What is a startup recruiter?

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What is a startup recruiter? Startup Recruitment Agency Gathered around table

Being a startup recruiter or headhunter in the tech industry can be an extremely rewarding challenge. Working with and staffing insanely fast-growth companies can be lucrative, exciting and a ton of fun.

It’s not without its challenges though. The pace is torrid, often faster than other industries, and the margin of error (particularly for smaller startups) is razor-thin.

Sourcing and finding candidates.

Sourcing candidates for a startup is particularly difficult compared to other industries, with a completely different set of challenges. First off, the competition is fierce.

The biggest job board for startups in the world, AngelList. It currently has more than 23,000 startups looking for new staff. With a couple of roles for each.

Because of the nature of the industry, there are new startups popping up on a daily basis. This makes it increasingly harder to stand out.

Not only that, hiring standards are far more lax in startups and roles are much more nebulous.

You’ll often find yourself hiring for very generalist roles, and there’s a lot of difficulties projecting the exact skillset required for the future.

You’ll find yourself spending more time searching and sourcing for soft skills – which is infinitely harder than hard skills, which are much easier to filter for.

Founder hunting.

As a freelancer, headhunter or agency startup recruiter, you’ll find yourself spending hours clicking around Crunchbase. Attempting to keep tabs on funding rounds and new entrants.

Particularly in growth stage recruiting (between 50 to 150 employees, usually), startup recruiters need to stay on the pulse of the industry.

In a more traditional environment, a recruiter is only a single cog in a more complicated HR engine. Startups, on the other hand, are usually painfully understaffed.

In reality, that translates to recruiters working with the co-founders directly instead of a dedicated HR team. Whether as a full-time recruiter or as an embedded recruitment partner. Startup recruiters will find themselves often acting as an executive assistant to the co-founders.

This means significantly more work on behalf of the recruiter. Often times, the sheer number of applicants is too large to sift through.

And often, startup recruiters resort to tools such as applicant tracking systems to cut down on the time spent hiring.

That’s one of the best parts of being a startup/tech recruiter. You’ll find yourself at the absolute forefront of tech. Using the best tools and the most cutting-edge workflows can make you more productive.


Traditional job boards & career sites are often unfriendly to new, dynamic startups. As a result, startup recruiters often find themselves having to resort to other tactics for hiring great talent.

Given how important the first few hires are. Personal recommendations and references are absolutely essential. Referrals drive a lot of early startup recruitment work.

As a result, startup recruiters with an established network in the tech industry will have an upper hand in their hiring efforts.

Ultimately, nothing beats facetime. And more so than most industries, tech talent is everywhere. Aspiring startup recruiters need to regularly attend the hundreds of startup meetups happening every month.

Besides meeting potential candidates, they can get introduced to other startup founders and learn from their hiring practices.

Because of how competitive startups are, there’s no shortage of eager job seekers going the non-traditional route and networking their way in.

At its core, a startup recruiter’s job is still fundamentally the same as another recruiter. The parameters and challenges are just a bit different.

With the right mindset, the proper tools, good founders, and a network of quality candidates, the sky’s the limit.

Personal Branding.

To really cut through the noise within the highly competitive fast-paced start-up world. Start-up recruiters invest time in developing a personal brand gain traction via in-bound leads, being the “expert” in the local start-up scene. 

Personal branding can be developed by creating and sharing content. Gaining a rating and reviews from your customers. And ensuring that everything you share via social profiles at the optimum times.

Here at Recruiterly, we help recruiters build their personal brand and leverage their success to help them rise above the competition. Whether you are a headhunter, agency recruiter, corporate recruiter or talent acquistion leader, you can build an online reputation on Recruiterly.

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