Note: this article is taken from a white paper on IT recruitment.

We had the opportunity at HireSweet to interact with more than 700 start-ups and meet CEO, CTO, COO, HR, and other recruiters. It is time for us to share our learnings.

This guide will be collaborative to continue to collect your tips, methods and other tricks that have helped you in recruiting the best profiles for your tech team. If you wish to have a look at it and contribute in your own way: fill in your e-mail address at the end of this article and we will share it with you as soon as it is finalized.


Recruitment is a key function, but it is not an easy game. Especially for start-ups who have the opportunity to carefully select the people they hire.

More specifically, when it comes to the recruitment of tech profiles, the general problems are compounded in a market with a shortage of talents (i.e. a negative unemployment situation with more offers than candidates). The main obstacle is therefore the sourcing of these profiles. What are the most effective methods?

The referral

It is about encouraging people in your company and network to recommend candidates. This technique is very effective for small companies (2–10 employees) and especially for the first recruitments of a start-up. These recruitments are even more crucial for key positions such as CTO’s: your partners may be in your own network.

The referral is based on mutual trust and commitment to the reputation of the co-opter. This method is therefore considered to be particularly effective and has a higher likelihood of success.

Tip: Identify people in your network who are similar to the profile you are looking for. Contact them by offering them an informal meeting, over coffee for example, it will be an opportunity to ask them for a recommendation. Set goals: meet 3 people per week and get 3 referrals.

The inbound

Inbound sourcing refers to candidates in active search who will apply on their own to online offers.

To do so, simply post your ad via sites such as AngelList, Welcome to the Jungle, JobTeaser or Facebook groups of targeted schools for example.

Tip: Freelancers are a good source of highly qualified and mission-oriented people. They are easier to get in contact with than candidates already in position.

The outbound

Outbound sourcing concerns candidates that you have to approach yourself. According to Stack Overflow in 2018, only 15.9% of developers were in active job research, while 59.8% of them are not in research but open to new opportunities.

To hunt these profiles, LinkedIn, GitHub, Stack Overflow, Meetup groups are, among other things, interesting networks. Meetings, code competitions (hackatons) and school events (EPITA, EPITECH, HETIC, IMAC…) can also be a relevant way to get in touch with developers.

There are also platforms on which you can contact qualified profiles for a fee, such as Talent.io and Hired. Recruiters approach candidates who indicate that they are available and in active job seeking.

A good prospect:

  • matches the search criteria,
  • is potentially interested in the offer,
  • is potentially available.

Fit with the criteria: the search criteria must be precisely defined beforehand. An effective way to do this is to move forward in concentric circles, broadening the criteria if necessary. For example, we start by looking for people with 3 to 4 years of experience, then we go from 2 to 5 years, etc.

Prospect’s interest: customizing contact emails maximizes the response rate. The email must include the description of the mission, and highlight the “unfair advantages” of the company.

When you “hunt” it is important to follow up: sending an email to profiles who did not reply the first time doubles the response rate! To do this, there are emailing tools (PersistlQ, Reply or Hubspot) that allow you to track your recruitment campaigns, create templates and automated sequences.

Availability of the prospect: if your profiles are not available immediately, it is very important to stay in contact with them over time: some recruitments can be successful several years after the first contact!

Augmented outbound

The Outbound is one of the most effective methods, but it can become extremely time-consuming. Indeed, tech profiles — not always in active search — have a plethora of online activities, which opens up the possibility of improving the sourcing activity. On average, a recruiter contacts nearly 280 qualified candidates for a position, at 6 candidates per hour he/she can spend up to 46 hours on specialized networks.

At HireSweet we want to facilitate the work of recruiters and we build tools to optimize your hiring workflows. This smart sourcing allows you to spend less time in profile research by combining the best of man and machine. It allows you to dedicate more time to stages with the highest added value: the evaluation and interview phases.

Want to know more? Contact us: contact@hiresweet.com